It has been a great privilege to serve as your President and it is with great enthusiasm that I am humbly seeking your vote for my re-election. I have a great deal of energy and passion for this breed and club. It would be an honor to serve another term.
Thinking back to my childhood, I cannot remember a time when my family did not own rabbits. Some of my fondest memories from being a child involve visiting the rabbit hutches at my grandparents’ house. One of my first pets in the very early 90s was a blue Tan doe. I was an animal lover from an early age and I decided very quickly that I wanted to show rabbits. Soon thereafter I started to breed white New Zealands and lilac & blue Tans. Around 1998 I purchased my first black Tan pair from Steve McKinley in Monticello, Indiana. I was hooked!
From the start I actively showed in both 4-H and ARBA shows at the local, state and national level. I was a member of the Vigo County 4-H Rabbit Club and was under the tutelage of Jean & Caleb Thomas. Jean & Caleb taught me the importance of giving back to the rabbit community and instilled in me a passion for serving others. I was also fortunate to meet three former Vigo County 4-H members who became lifelong Tan mentors and friends -- Joe Kim and Brad & Katie Boyce. Joe gave me stock that had a profound impact on my herd. It is with Joe’s generosity in mind that for the past several years I have hosted youth giveaways twice annually for breeding pairs. Brad and Katie have taught me more about rabbits and friendship than they probably realize. They and countless other friends in this hobby have truly become my family. For me this is more than just a hobby. The showroom is like a second home.
Upon completing my tenure in 4-H I made the decision to maintain my herd of Tans throughout college and into adulthood. Tans have been my main breed for many years and for the last several years have been my sole focus. I maintain a small, but competitive herd that consists of all four varieties. In 2012 and 2013 I was honored to win Best of Breed at the National Tan Show and the ARBA National Convention, respectively. I have also had the honor of winning Best Opposite at the 2013 and 2014 National Tan Show. I have won Best Black, Chocolate and Blue at the national level and I would one day love to win Best Lilac as well.
Prior to being elected President of the ATRSC I served several terms as District 8 Director. This experience allowed me to bring with me years of understanding about how the club worked prior to stepping into the role of President. Currently I am tied with one other individual as being the current longest serving board member. In addition to my current role as President of the ATRSC I am also a member of the club’s standards committee and serve as the webmaster. I am a founding member and President of the Indiana Tan Rabbit Club (ITRC). In 2012 and 2013 the ITRC hosted the two biggest national shows on record. As show superintendent for both shows I was responsible for the promotion and success of the shows.
Additionally, I am a licensed judge (#920) with the ARBA. Being a judge allows me to travel the country throughout the year. I see this as a great opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the breed and club. It has been a great pleasure to speak with Tan breeders from all over and be a witness to the continued improvement and growth of this magnificent breed. I have also had the opportunity to speak at several judges conferences and other club meetings about Tans. Most recently at the 2013 ARBA National Convention in Harrisburg, PA I was a featured speaker on full arch breeds at RabbitCon.
I have served the club for many years now in the capacities of District 8 Director and now President. During this time the breed has continuously improved both in terms of number and quality. Our club has made great strides over the last year and a half that I have been in office.
Improved Dynamic: Tans are a fantastic breed and our club has many wonderful breeders. With any group of individuals with differing personalities and backgrounds there will be some disagreements. But as a club we have made great strides over the last year and a half and I have seen an increased amount of respect afforded to fellow members. Additionally, the board functions with a greater deal of respect than it has in the past. As a result, we are able to accomplish more.
More Youth Involvement: Youth are the future of our breed and our club. For years our youth have asked us for more opportunities. As someone who was once a youth member of this club I knew from experience that we could do more. In 2012 I implemented the first ever youth contests that were held in conjunction with the national show. Youth contests are an important way for our young members to learn about the breed, develop leadership skills and express their creativity. It is exciting that subsequent national shows have continued to host these contests. I have also added youth members to committees, as I believe it is important that our decisions are representative of members of all ages. Currently I am working with an educator and club member to create guidelines for the implementation of a youth committee that will provide the board with feedback.
Membership Driven: It is essential to the success of our club that our members be involved in running the club. Before I came into office many members expressed to me that they felt they were being left out of the decision making process. In response to those concerns I have revitalized defunct committees and created many new committees. Now decisions are made by many different members of the club rather than just one or two individuals. I have also encouraged membership feedback in the form of both anonymous surveys and direct contact with me. And because two (or more!) heads are better than one I have made an effort to discuss issues with the board on a regular basis, even when their vote has not been needed for action.
Increased Communication: One of the greatest disservices we can do to our members is make it difficult for them to get an answer to their questions or concerns. I am easily reachable and always respond in a prompt and professional manner. Also, as noted previously, I have made an effort to stay in frequent contact with the board. Showing often and in various parts of the country only serves to make me that much more accessible.
While we have made great strides recently there are always areas in which we can work on improvement.
Goal Orientation: According to the club’s constitution the goals of the club are to: 1) promote, encourage, and improve the breeding of the four varieties of the Tan Rabbit. 2) maintain an active publicity program 3) disseminate authentic information to the members and any interested persons regarding the four varieties of the Tan Rabbit and 4) encourage the exhibition of the Tan Rabbit. I would like to see the ATRSC reflect on these goals and refocus our attention in the future.
Membership: Members are the heart of any club. Without a strong membership we will find it difficult to reach our goals. In order to encourage club membership, we need to focus more on outreach and create more incentives so that we can both gain and retain members.
Education: It is important than we focus both on the continuing education of breeders and judges alike. I would like to see us to do more outreach and become more involved in judges conferences, speakers series, roundtable discussions, etc. I have also been working over the last year or more to amass a collection of Tan specific articles for the club’s website. And finally, I believe it is important that we review and redo the club guidebook every few years rather than wait a decade or more before releasing a new edition. I would also like to see us go back to having a print edition be the default, with an electronic version being optional.
Spirit of Compromise: It is sometimes said that no one wins with compromise. I think that statement could not be more false. We have members with various backgrounds and ideas and there will always be disagreements. Rather than promote one agenda or attempt to “win” an argument I believe in most instances there is a fair, middle of the road compromise. I need the help of our membership and board going forward if we wish do better on making decisions that are best for the club as a whole and not one segment.
Fundraising: The ATRSC has sufficient income to function, but we do not have a great deal of extra money. Additional funds would allow us to create new membership perks, increase the size of our educational scholarship and do other things to further promote the breed.
On a personal note for those who do not know me, I live in the Indianapolis metro area with my husband Peter and our two (furry) children – Harry, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Tony, a Shetland Sheepdog. Peter works as a civil engineer and I am an attorney. We are members of Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis. In my spare time I volunteer at Indy Reads Books, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving adult literacy.
I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone/text at: 317-210-0787. You can also message me on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/blueribbonrabbitry. I would love to hear ideas you may have for the club in the event that I am re-elected President. Regardless of how this election turns out, I will continue to do my best to promote the breed and improve the club. My love for the breed and club is unwavering.
Thank you for your time,
[Pictured: Myself and youth breeder Emma Persoon (left) at the 2014 National Tan Show]