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The following article was published in the January 1999 AFMS Newsletter- in abbreviated form.  Included here is complete article that was published in the Northwest Newsletter.

The Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies

An Editorial about a Wonderful Association of Rockhounds
By Bill Luke, [Past] Editor, Northwest Newsletter
From Northwest Newsletter, Vol. XXXVII, No. 9, June, 1998

The other day when Betty and I were at a show, someone suggested that I write an Editorial on the Federation. I have seen many such writings in Club Bulletins that Betty and I have received over the past few years, and I am hesitant about whether this is necessary, or how it will be received. But, each year at the NFMS meetings where Federation directors from the Member Clubs meet, and at shows or club meetings where we have gone, the questions, suppositions and opinions always seem to come up; so I will try to address some of things that we are aware of. Remember, this is an Editorial; other people have different views and opinions.

For the past two years, I have been reviewing all of the Operations of the NFMS as Chairman of a Special Committee established by Betty when she was the NFMS President. Before that, Betty and I were Editors of the Northwest Newsletter, and Betty served on the Executive Board from 1995-1997. I have also served on the Rules Committee and Public Relations. As such, I believe we have a pretty good, in-depth knowledge of just what the Federation is, and what it does. I hope this Editorial will be of some use to those rockhounds who question the need for such an association or for those who simply want to know what the Federation is and what it does.

Why do we belong to rockhound clubs or any other organization serving one of our special interests? To "rub elbows" with people who are interested in the same things that we enjoy. To share our experiences and benefit from the knowledge of other people involved in similar activities. To learn more about our special interests. Many of us also belong to Stamp, Photography, Sewing, Gardening, Birding, or other clubs, which also have regional and national associations. Because of these affiliations, we are able to meet, to learn from, and join with other people who share common interests and hobbies. We choose to belong to the Northwest Federation to affiliate with other Rockhound Clubs throughout the Northwest, and other Federations nation wide.



AFMS– The American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) consists of seven regional federations, one of which is our own NFMS. Through this affiliation we now have contact with rockhounds across the nation. A portion of the dues collected by the NFMS ($.50 per member) is sent on to the AFMS for dues to that organization.

ALAA- At the AFMS Annual Convention in Brunswick, Ohio, a few years ago some of the members got together and formed the ALAA. Because of the non-profit status of the Federations, the ALAA was incorporated as a separate, but allied, organization for the purpose of working on regulatory and governmental concerns of rockhounds.

State Organizations- Although the Northwest Federation is not affiliated with the state organizations, there is an alliance and many of our Federation members are also active members of the council in their state.

Regionals - Many clubs join together to form Regional Show committees to work together to put on the show in a metropolitan area where a few clubs are in close proximity. Some of the clubs in a Regional are not affiliated with the Federation, but are still supported.

NFMS Structure:

There are 5 Board members, 21 Standing Committees, with 66 committee members. Occasionally, a president may decide to add Special Committees during his or her term to perform specific short-term tasks. All of these committee positions are listed in the side bar columns of the Northwest Newsletter. Each and every one of these committees provides a service to Federation members. Although not all Federation members take advantage of all these committees and the services provided, the NFMS Board feels that if you take advantage of one or two of them, then, for you, it has provided a service and has served a purpose.

Services Provided by the NFMS:

Almost everyone lists the Northwest Newsletter and the Membership Directory as the most obvious (and apparently the most appreciated) services. However, every one of the committees was initiated at sometime, for some reason. All of the officers and committee people would like to feel that their efforts are necessary and recognized.

The Northwest Newsletter- published 10 times a year and sent to each member household. Hopefully, it contains some information that is of interest, and useful to all members. The Northwest is the only one of the 7 regional federations that mails its newsletter to each and every member

Membership Directory - lists all members, clubs, club officers, and meeting locations with dates and places. This is an invaluable reference source to locate people to assist you with field trips when you are out of your area. The Northwest Federation is the only one to list all of its members. The other regional federations list only one or two club officers as contact people.

Also included in the printing of the Directory, and under the same cover, are your Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, and Operating Procedures. Every member should read them and be aware of the definition and rules of the organization. Any thing written here is changed only by procedure at an Annual Meeting by and vote of the Directors or Delegates from the Member Clubs.

NFMS Annual Conventions and Shows - planned each year in various locations around the Northwest to give members an interesting place to go to see what other clubs are doing, to display their work, to take part in special field trips in other regions of the northwest, and kindle or renew friendships with fellow rockhounds. Educational seminars relating to the hobby are also a part of these shows. The annual convention includes the meeting of all Federation Directors where the business of the NFMS is conducted.

Competitive Displaying- Takes place at annual NFMS shows and is designed to encourage NFMS members to display their work and have it judged in order to improve their exhibits. The judging and competitive display guidelines and rules are established and overseen by the Rules and Awards Committee.

Awards Banquet, Luncheons, Editors' Breakfast- To recognize and reward excellence, to make and renew acquaintances, to have a good time at the convention.

Collecting Sites, Regulations and Public Lands:

PLAC- Public Lands Access Committee tracks public land issues and governmental regulations concerning collecting on federal, state and public lands.

Collecting Site and Acquisition Control- Committee devised to seek out collecting for the use of Federation Clubs and members. (This committee will be absorbed into PLAC)

ALAA- our affiliation with the American Lands Access Association gives us our contact with and information about Federal issues that could affect our ability to collect. We should all belong to and support the ALAA as individual members. The latest report is that membership, and dollars, are dwindling drastically. Does this mean that we, as rockhounds, are not interested in preserving our ability to collect? The ALAA can only represent and support us if we are active in our participation and monetary support to them. Again, "them" are only a few active individuals who put in many hours and much energy to this cause - gratis, and, apparently without appreciation or thanks. If you are concerned about your future ability to collect and to enjoy other uses of our great outdoors, join the ALAA, now. Maybe you could even offer to be their Editor, or some other helpful position where needed.


Slide and Video Library- offers a selection of educational, entertaining videos and slide programs to assist clubs in putting on interesting programs for their meetings.
Speakers Roster- To assist clubs in locating live speakers to present special programs at club meetings.
Past President Council- A committee devised to assist clubs in hosting Federation Shows.
Society Officers Council - A committee set up to assist club officers. This committee has been inactive ever since Dorothy Lee has not chaired it. With an effective chairman (volunteers, anyone?), it could and should again be one of the most helpful services the NFMS provides for the Member Societies!

Juniors- Designed to assist clubs in enhancing juniors membership and activities throughout the Federation.

Bulletin Aids- To assist club bulletin editors in creating better bulletins, or in starting their own club newsletters. Club bulletins are sent to the chairman, who arranges for judges, coordinates with AFMS, and presents the awards at the NFMS Awards Banquet and Editors' Breakfast. Editors and authors are recognized for their excellent contributions.

Safety- To keep the NFMS membership informed of items pertaining to field trip, shop and other safety concerns relating to the hobby.

Show Information- A complete list of shows taking place around the Northwest, published monthly in the Northwest Newsletter. This is a free service to NFMS Clubs. The show information is also sent on to other lapidary publications such as Rock and Gem and Lapidary Journal for publication in their show listings.

Stamps- A committee set up to collect canceled stamps from Federation Clubs, to locate buyers for these stamps, with proceeds to be donated to some worthy cause or charity. The current proceeds go to Cancer Research.

Supplies- Maintains an inventory of Federation related publications such as Directories, Guidelines for Exhibitors and Judges, Rules for Competitive Displaying, Mineral Classification Lists, etc. Competitive exhibitors should be sure they have the current AFMS Rules and Lists. A couple of times in the past, I have ordered one each of everything from Wes for my club for the club library.

This is only a highlight listing of some of the services provided by the Northwest Federation; it is by no means a complete list. All of these positions are staffed by volunteers who devote their time and energy to the organization and its members. Although most of these committees are budgeted a small token amount to cover postage, telephone calls and limited out of pocket expenses, most committee people never submit a request to the NFMS for reimbursement of these expenses. Any of these committee people will answer questions, at any time from anyone, relating to the functions of their particular committee.

"How is the money spent?" or, "What do I get for my Dues?"

Many people have said they do not have any idea how the money is spent. The first answer is usually the newsletter, since it is the largest single item. Or, there is the misconception that the officers are paid travel expenses like a Government Contractor.

I believe that we must first ask ourselves if we want to be part of an organization, and then if the organization is structured properly, and finally, if the expenses are reasonable and proper. As in the case of the Federal Government, we want to be part by being U.S. citizens. As to structure (programs, departments, etc.) and reasonable and proper expenses, I will not editorialize on that one! However, for the NFMS, I believe each program or department (committee) is reasonable, that management (the Board) exists because of and responds to the Member Clubs through the Federation Directors, and that the expenses incurred are reasonable. Many expenses are borne by officers and committee people and are not submitted for reimbursement from the NFMS Treasury.

To find out how the money is spent, it is up to you to ask! You should ask your Federation Director for a copy and explanation of the Annual Budget and the Treasurer's Report from the packets prepared for the Mid-Year and Annual Meetings. If you don’t have them, or don’t understand them, you should ask any of the NFMS Executive Board members. They are responsible to you, a dues paying member.

Generally, the finances are summarized as:


Primarily from dues and show profits, when there are any. Some small amounts also come from advertisements in the newsletter, interest, and miscellaneous other. The Endowment Fund is now large enough to provide assistance to the revenue, and a long-range plan is being initiated to define goals, philosophy and controls for its use. With continued support, this might be a major revenue generator in the future.

Expenses are for:
Administrative- "Office" expenses
Officer Travel- A mileage allowance (nowhere near the actuals incurred). No allowance for meals, lodging, or any other incurred expenses.
Newsletter- Printing, Postage, and Editor's committee expenses.
Committees- Postage, Telephone, and Printing of reports and articles.

Roughly, the expenses to conduct the business of the Federation, expressed per member, are:


< $2.00,


~ $1.00,


< $3.00,


~ $1.00.

The total is about $6.00 - from your $3.50 dues.


Lastly, the role of the Federation Director- Did you send your Federation Director to one of the Mid-year Meetings? Did you hear a report on the meeting, on the luncheon, on old friendships renewed? Did you listen attentively to the report? The Federation meetings are held so that every club has opportunity to read or hear reports from all of the officers and committees, to discuss issues of interest or concern to any and all members, to take info back to the clubs for voting instructions, and to bring to the Federation any questions, opinions, or gripes from any member of any club affiliated with the NFMS. Yes, the Northwest Newsletter is the medium to inform members; but it is a one-way communication, and contains only the information sent in to, or selected by the editor. What the Federation is and does is directed and guided by the Assembly of Directors at the Annual Meeting.

nwfms.gif (10215 bytes)

"The Federation" is

every member,

every club,

through their

Federation Director.


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