Notes by Agnes Reading
The dulcet notes of Moon River put the crowd in the mood for the program. Norma Sarkar’s Inspiration continued the theme with an essay from a young woman who left Seattle to settle along a beautiful river in Arkansas. She wrote about how floating in the river washed away the stress and cares of the day and brought her peace. Richard Ingram, in his debut performance as Song Leader, led us in singing Moon River twice, ably accompanied by Tom Strode.
President John introduced Visiting Rotarians and Guests. Incoming President Greg Stejskal introduced Al Newman, who is Vice President of the Board of Trustees at Avalon Housing. Al told us of a fundraiser for newly released non-violent prisoners. Ten local bands will play at The Ark on February 8. Supporter tickets are $100.00; General Admission is $15.00. There was an appreciative murmur of interest from the crowd.
Karen Kerry announced a bowling event hosted by Ann Arbor North. Proceeds will go to Fisher House Michigan. The event is at 3:00pm Sunday, February 18, at Revel and Roll on South Industrial
President John reminded us of Rotary International President Ian Riseley’s challenge for each Rotarian to plant a tree. April 22 is Earth Day, so a good date to prompt planting a tree. The District Conference, slated for May 3 through 6, will feature a tree planting so if you miss Earth Day, come to District Conference.
President John reminded us that the New Member nomination deadline is February 7. Look around your workplace, your social and community friends and children’s friends to spot potential Rotary members. We have a lot to offer people with many interests.
President John also asked us to nominate speakers to keep out programs stimulating and fresh. There is a lot of information about recommending a speaker on the new website: a2rotary.org.
Amy Kilbourne came to the podium to announce the results of the first Flash Survey. Evidently this is a good way to get responses from the membership – she said 52% of the members responded to the 2 questions on why did you join Rotary and why do you stay? Not surprisingly, the responses clustered around the desire to serve the community and the great projects of the Club. She then had lunch attendees brainstorm via a “table topic” to come up with suggestions for where to recruit new members. Amy told us to be on the lookout for the February Flash Survey, this time regarding membership engagement and development. Results from the Table Topic and February survey will be announced later next month.
Notes from the Program
Jennifer Fike came to the podium to introduce our Speaker, Elizabeth Riggs, who is Deputy Director of the Huron River Watershed Council and several supporting organizations. The Watershed Council (HRWC) was formed in 1965, assembling 24 governmental units to evaluate and monitor the health of the Huron River that flows through seven SE Michigan counties and is home to half a million Michiganders. The Council has no enforcement powers but has become major force in development of the watershed and a widely respected contributor to the science of river monitoring and management. In addition to the challenges presented by commercial and residential development are storm water, climate change, dams and bacterial contamination. a dedicated army of 600 volunteers monitor 90 sites for water quality and biodiversity.
HRWC has been successful in changing the river from a working river to a major economic driver in SE Michigan. Through its River Up! Initiative it has been able to secure the designation of our river as a Water Trail, only the 18th in the nation. The river will soon have 104 miles of paddling available and trail towns host canoeing and kayaking visitors from all over the upper MidWest, changing sleepy towns to destinations. The Huron River provides services for recreation, biological diversity, wetland flood reduction and aesthetic beauty that are valued at $3.8 billion.
Elizabeth brought a brochure on the Watershed Council that in addition to containing a bit of history and many of the accomplishments and philosophies for the Council, has a beautiful picture of Heidi Grix’ son Eirik wearing a big smile and holding a big fish he has just pulled out of the river.
After questions, President John closed the meeting with the familiar JET.
Additional Notes (by John White)
Weekly Meeting Statistics:
A total of 112 Rotarians were on hand to hear Elizabeth Riggs tell us about the Huron River Watershed Council. We also had two U-M Rotaractors (President Sam Ozminkowski and Don Hua) and four guests. Before lunch, there were meetings of the Rotaract Committee (eight Rotarians) and the Membership Committee (two Rotarians). Also reported was a STRIVE meeting on January 19. Thirteen Club members participated.
Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians:
Roy More (our Roy More, not THAT Roy More) visited the Denton TX club on January 18.
Paul Geiger Awarded Emeritus Status:
At our meeting on Friday, January 19, Paul Geiger was awarded Emeritus status. Although he has only been in our club for the eight years since he and Gail moved to Ann Arbor, he had previously served for over thirty years as a Rotarian in Birmingham. Paul is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow. Prior to his retirement, he was a CPA and a partner in Ernst & Young, LLP. Congratulations, Paul! <<Please run the photo I sent earlier>>
Regional Membership Seminar on January 27:
Susan Froelich and John White joined with about 50 Rotarians from five districts at the event in Lansing. Its purpose was to gather and share questions, tips and best practices about membership development, engagement and retention. Lots of past District Governors were on hand. Their experience was balanced by the youthful enthusiasm of reps from the fledgling Southfield Area Club, headed by former Ann Arbor Rotarian Brandon Marsh. The seminar was well run and allowed attendees to exchange a wide range of questions and best practices for membership. Everyone there seemed to be bursting with ideas at the same time they were eager to hear suggestions. A nice touch was to have Haris Sofradzija of RI there for his statistics and a tour of available online resources.