In this installment of the SSAR leadership profiles, Ariana Rupp, a current co-chair of the Student Travel Award Committee, explains the committee’s activities and her experience getting involved with the committee.
The Travel Award Committee is composed of three to four student members including a chair or two co-chairs each year. This committee has four main duties: 1) soliciting student travel award applications from current SSAR students who will present their research at the annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH); 2) compiling and checking applications; 3) conducting a random drawing to select recipients of travel awards prior to the JMIH early registration deadline; and 4) overseeing the SSAR silent auction at JMIH to raise funds for future travel awards.
Activities throughout the year, including at the annual meeting
In the late winter or early spring of each year, the committee solicits applications for the SSAR student travel awards via the JMIH meeting website, SSAR website and newsletter, and social media postings. We compile a list of complete applications, then we use a random draw to select travel award recipients. We aim to announce the results by email around first week of May, before the early registration deadline. The co-chairs help coordinate the new option (effective 2019) for travel award recipients to receive some or all of the award prior to the conference rather than as reimbursement afterwards. The co-chairs of the committee also receive travel awards to ensure that they can attend the meeting to coordinate the silent auction and volunteer duties of the travel award recipients. Prior to JMIH, we put together a schedule for each travel award recipient to work shifts at the SSAR silent auction viewing room during the meeting. We also compile an annual report of the number of applicants and the selected recipients.
At the meeting, the Student Travel Award Committee ensures a complete schedule of student volunteers to cover all open hours of the SSAR silent auction viewing room. The SSAR silent auction receives donations of herpetology-related items from members of the society and auctions them at JMIH in order to raise funds for future student travel awards. Award recipients and committee members collect silent auction donations both prior to and during the annual meeting, filling out individual descriptions and bid sheets for each item to use as a record. The Travel Award Committee also works with the SSAR treasurer to conduct the sales of the silent auction items at the completion of the auction.
Interactions with other SSAR committees and leaders
The Travel Award Committee works with the SSAR secretary to find out how many awards will be given each year, and the committee chair submits an annual report to the secretary prior to JMIH. The committee also works closely with the SSAR treasurer to collect payments after the silent auction.
Path to joining the Student Travel Award Committee
I received the student travel award the year before I became a co-chair for the Student Travel Award Committee. After JMIH 2017, Vincent Farallo, the previous chair, sent an email to previous travel award recipients announcing that he planned to step down as chair and asking if anyone would be interested in serving in his place. Dan Paluh and I happily agreed to serve as co-chairs and are now in our second year. I decided to serve on this committee because I wanted to give back to the society. The silent auction is always a highlight of my time at the annual meeting, and seeing the generous and unique donations each year make volunteering in the silent auction room a blast.
Students do not need to have any special experience serving on a committee in order to join the Student Travel Award Committee. This entirely student-run committee is currently looking for one or two more people to join. If you are interested in joining, you can contact one of the co-chairs (contact info above).
Organizational skills and the ability to respond promptly to emails have helped me in my role as committee co-chair. I previously strengthened those skills by helping out with the Herpetologists’ League student calendars. Although I was in SSAR for four years before joining this committee, there are no length of membership requirements for students interested in serving on the Student Travel Award Committee and we encourage all interested students to reach out to us. The Student Travel Award Committee would be a great place to start for someone wanting to get more involved in SSAR.
Future of the committee
I would love to see more students get involved in the Travel Award Committee for the continued success of the silent auction, which helps fund the SSAR’s generous student travels awards each year.
If you are a student who would like to join the Student Travel Award Committee, please contact Ariana Rupp (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dan Paluh (email@example.com). If you are interested in applying for a student travel award, you can find instructions on the SSAR website. Anyone interested in donating items for the silent auction can find more information near the bottom of the General Information page of the JMIH website.