The Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA) recently launched â€œMASNA Speaksâ€. The program is giving MASNA member clubs the opportunity to bring in a speaker of their choice with MASNA covering up to $300 of the travel expenses. The program, sponsored by Reef Nutrition, was built on the premise that a live presentation by a speaker at a local clubâ€™s meeting adds tremendous enjoyment of the hobby and the added the knowledge for the attendees is very valuable. How the program works is the local club selects a speaker from one of over 70 listed in the speaker database andÂ MASNA will pay 50% of the speaker’s actual transportation and room expensesÂ up to $300. MASNA member clubs will be able to apply for the MASNA Speaks program beginning on January 1, 2010. Each MASNA member club will be able to participate once each year but is limited to only 24 speaking engagements total for all member clubs. Reef Builders was able to catch up with current MASNA President Steven Allen to discuss the program in more detail, the full Q&A is after the break.
Reef Builders: What was the main reason to implement this program?
Steven Allen: Two of the main parts of our mission statement is to educate the hobbyist and to assist the clubs. What better way to do that than through a live speaker presentation at a club’s event. We also realize that the cost of travel for a speaker can be high. This tends to put having a speaker at a club event or meeting out of reach to the smaller clubs. By having this reimbursement program, almost any member club can now provide this to its membership.
RB: How has the level of response been from MASNA member clubs?
SA: So far the response has been great. We have had several inquiries as to how the program works. We have also heard lots of comments from the folks about what a great idea they thought this program was. Admittedly, most of those have been from people at the MACNA XXI event. Now we need to really reach out to the clubs and that should be starting this week.
RB: How many speakers do you have available to choose from?
SA: The MASNA Speaker Directory has 92 speakers in it. However, only about 70 are available for speaking engagements. We are always looking for new speakers to add to the list and are just honored to have folks willing to be listed in the directory. We ask for some simple information like contact information, list of presentations, fees if any, and a short biography. This information in only available to the member societies. If you know of a person interested send them to either Linda Close (linda.Close@masna.org) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
RB: MASNA Speaks is currently limited to 24 speaking opportunities, if the response is high do you foresee adding more opportunities for clubs?
SA: I definitely think that will be the case. Of course it may not be this year but it is something that we will look into doing. My personal goal is to have every member club get at least one speaker a year covered by this program. Later we can evaluate how to expand that. But we must crawl before we can walk. So let’s see how this goes.