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Give ... volunteer: 'tis always the season.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States of America, was credited with saying, "Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere."

I agree with Roosevelt (except for making his statement gender neutral) and encourage each and every member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) to consider ways that they can give back to the profession of agricultural and biological engineering.

Volunteer organizations that are effective and useful have members who care enough to give time and energy and money. ASABE has had many members over the years who have made sacrifices to provide leadership to the Society. At this time also, ASABE needs its members to step forward and volunteer for various tasks and positions. These efforts are needed in the local sections, in section and national committees, for efforts such as the review of technical papers, for leadership to the preprofessionals, and for service to partner organizations to ASABE such as NCEES, ABET, and ANSI.

Agricultural and biological engineers are also needed to serve on state boards of licensure for engineering. Find out what the process is in your state to serve in that capacity. I found it exposed me to other perspectives that are very enlightening. I met a diverse group of professionals who are committed to making Minnesota a good place to live, seeking to protect public health, safety, and welfare through their efforts. I may not always agree with other board members, but I respect them and their opinions as important in our combined effort to make the state a better place to live and work.

Consider serving within your local unit of government, perhaps on a planning commission, task force, or other entity where your talents as an engineer can shine.

Volunteer your time for a non-profit organization which can use your talents. This may involve oversight of an environmental education project, involvement in a construction project, writing documents, and other endeavors. A non-profit camp needed a new septic system, but the board was comprised of teachers, accountants, clergy, and retired business people--no engineers. What an opportunity to give back and still to take pride in what can be achieved! Volunteers allow non-profit organizations to stretch their budget and serve the public more effectively.

The second part of the quote attributed to Roosevelt speaks of giving money as well as time. Each person needs to search inside themselves and decide whether the effort concerns them enough to share financially, and then decide the appropriate level of monetary contribution. When I was given training about serving on a board of volunteers, the trainer stressed that those who really believe in what they are doing support the effort with both time and money.

One opportunity to give is offered by the ASABE Foundation. Established by the ASABE Board of Trustees, contributions to this non-profit foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The principal is invested such that the returns are used to support awards, scholarships, and special activities of the Society, such as the online technical library and the upcoming 100th anniversary.

Colin Powell expressed a thought with some similarity to Roosevelt's: "Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up." The world is a richer place when people share of themselves for causes and organizations they believe in. Yes, this may mean missing a fishing trip or giving up a couple evenings a month. But it's worth it. Weigh the choices and consider carefully how you can give back--to ASABE, to your community, to your state/province, to your nation, and to the world.

ASABE member Sonia M. Maassel Jacobsen is a hydraulic engineer with USDA-NRCS, 375 Jackson St., Suite 600, St. Paul, MN 55101 USA; 651-602-7879, fax 651-602-7914,

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official position of ASABE.
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Title Annotation:Last Word
Author:Maassel Jacobsen, Sonia M.
Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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