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Rhonda Miller, Ph.D., President Elect for AMSA, discussed hitting the $1 million milestone for the Educational Foundation and what new initiatives helped drive the donations.

Andy Hanacek: Rhonda, thank you for joining me here at IPPE 2017. We are here at the AMSA booth. I spoke with Lauren Sammel about some of the strategic initiatives going on for AMSA, and one of the things she brought up was the Foundation and the fact that it’s topped a million dollars in funding. Congratulations! Obviously, that’s a big goal to reach. I wanted to get your opinion and perspective on what that exactly means. Why it is a big deal for AMSA to get to that goal?

Rhonda Miller: We’re really excited about the $1 million mark, because that gives us some financial stability within AMSA. The Foundation, while it is separate, it is still part of AMSA, and it is our vehicle to help support some of our initiatives and our student functions. As part of that one million dollars are some of our mentor recognition. Some of our members who have been the leaders in AMSA… they have a mentorship and they choose where those dollars will be used. Most of our mentors have been involved with education and student programs. We are using some of those mentorships based on the request by the mentoree to fund student programs like Student Leadership Conference. We’ve been able to provide some scholarships for our students. One of those is for an international scholarship to the ICoMST [International Congress of Meat Science and Technology] meeting. Any time we take any of those students in and bring them into the fold and introduce them to RMC or RMC events or ICoMST, we hook them for the meat industry and for the future of the meat industry.

Hanacek: What is on the docket within the next year that the Foundation is looking to help build money and build more gifts and supply some of that money for in 2017?

Miller: One of the big programs they initiated in 2016 was the Century Club, and this is where members can give $100 and be part of that. In 2016, we almost tripled the amount of giving from 2015 and a lot of it was from that program. We’ve also teamed up with the Gates Foundation where if people give in a certain period of time, they give 50 percent. What we’re trying to do is find some ways to increase people’s ability to give but without asking them for too much. We all have important places that we want to give and we want to help make that an easier opportunity. When I first looked at the figures of the increase from 2015 to 2016 in giving, it amazed me, because we went from $56,000 to $166,000, and a big component of that was through the century club.