As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, one of the things I wanted to focus on in 2020 was increasing our member engagement. We have taken a look at where and how we engage our members from before the time a potential member engages us, then into the actual process of joining us, and into how we educate them on what it is the club has to offer them. From there, it’s a matter of continual engagement through our club activities and programs. Needless to say, COVID-19 has thrown us for a loop with some of these things, but we’ve been able to adapt pretty well and find new ways continue this engagement forward.
One of the things we’ve done recently is to come up with a New Member Orientation class that we piloted in August for the first time. Roughly 40 new members have attended one of these sessions in August. The purpose of this orientation session is to help familiarize new members, as well as members who might not have been as active with the club recently, with all of the things that our club has to offer. We start off with the history of the Houston Astronomical Society and let people know who the current leaders of the club are, and how to stay connected to the club through various technology avenues. We then dive into all of the great programs, activities, and benefits that they can take advantage of as club members. Some of the more popular areas that get a lot of interest from the people in this orientation class are details about the dark site and benefits like the Loaner Telescope program. It’s incredible to see just how many new members attend the orientation and then go out to the dark site or submit a request to borrow one of the club telescopes.
It’s my hope that as many of our new members can attend these classes to learn about all it is the club has to offer them. While COVID-19 has put a damper on a lot of the things we did in our day-to-day lives before the pandemic, astronomy is an activity that has seen more people get involved in. Joining the Houston Astronomical Society and attending the New Member Orientation are some of those first steps in what we hope is a lifelong journey into this hobby.
Look for one of these orientation sessions soon, and if you haven’t had a chance to attend one yet, please consider joining us soon!