State Officer Blog: A Big-Picture Perspective and The Growth of Chapters

Joshua Famous's picture

With the State conference quickly approaching, everyone’s focus is understandably on the frenzied completion of events. However, there is also incredible value in taking some time to look at TSA from a larger perspective and consider just how we might individually factor into the progress of our organization as a whole.

Outside of the state officer team, I serve as president of the Boyertown TSA chapter. This year, we were able to break a national TSA record for largest ACS donation in a single year, at $11,000. Through a wide array of fundraisers, strong membership, and ambitious work program, our entire chapter is heading to the state conference with confidence as a chapter. As proud as we are of our achievements this year, I was recently delving into my school’s shared folders when I made an intriguing discovery.

Buried deep within the digital confines of Boyertown high school’s servers, I found the TSA files of our chapter from as early as 1999. Navigating the labyrinthine mess of utterly unorganized folders, I was able to paint a picture of our chapter twenty years ago. With fewer than ten members and only six regional conference placements, it became clear how far our chapter has come. It also imbued a recognition that many chapters find themselves in a similar situation. The invaluable question for me then became : how did we grow as a chapter over the past twenty years, and how can this understanding be positively utilized for the general betterment of our organization?

Within my chapter, I have determined that the first step was a general growth of membership derived from publicity and advances in technology. Moving forward through the years into 2008-09, I began to recognize a definitive increase of promotional files, pictures, and membership records. When promoting the activities of the chapter - including the state conference and event diversity - our chapter was able to increase membership moving into 2010.

With increased membership followed competitive success. The performance of Boyertown TSA improved after 2010 as generational/long-serving TSA members began to gain a better grasp of the rules and procedures. The importance of senior members with a thorough understanding of procedures who are also able and willing to share this knowledge facilitates the competitive success of a chapter.

Moving into 2015, with a new adviser and heavily involved class of graduates, our chapter began to increase its activities from simple hoagie fundraisers to include community events. The first real activity Boyertown TSA found involvement with was our school student council’s homecoming carnival. An easy way for a developing chapter to establish itself in the school community is by participating in standing events. Some further examples used by our chapter included our local technology festival and club recruitment day.

Having an established presence in the school, our chapter proceeded to attempt bigger and better things. Taking advantage of our technology department’s screen-printing capability, our chapter began to sell annual ACS-awareness t-shirts for a “pink-out” at a school pep rally. From there, our chapter continued to expand with the adoption of a spaghetti dinner at a school chorus concert and a bag bingo night for older members of the community. It is clear to see that effective growth as a fund-raising chapter relies first on involvement with the school and community.

This year, taking the next step in our advancement as a chapter, Boyertown TSA embellished our audience to include local businesses. We chose at the beginning of the year to conduct a charity 5k run/walk - a momentous task. For such an event to succeed, we needed a strong base of sponsorships and donations. The name TSA was already widespread in our community thanks to a strong portfolio of fund-raisers, and many businesses were willing to donate to our charitable cause. The success of this final event capped off a massive expansion of our chapter’s activities representative of twenty years of steady improvement.

Stumbling upon an archive of historical files opened my eyes to how far our chapter has truly come, and by writing this article to share the experience, I hope that some other chapters will recognize the similar steps they might take to enhance their chapter’s program of work. While our competitions and events are at the core of our organization - and with a rapidly approaching conference it may seem especially so - the humanitarian and community applications of TSA chapters cannot go overlooked. It is through this involvement that we can more effectively learn to lead in a technical world.

Sincerely,

Joshua Famous, PA-TSA Sergeant-at-Arms