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Chapters and Associated Groups: Advocacy + Professional Development = the Formula for a Great Association

By Teshia Birts, CAE

Posted on 2012-03-08

This week we are featuring a post from guest blogger, Chuck Hempstead, MPA, CAE.  Chuck is the Executive Director of the Science Teachers Association of Texas (an NSTA Chapter). Chuck also serves as President of Hempstead and Associates, a full-service association management company based in Austin, Texas.  He holds the designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives.

In the past few years, the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) has ramped up its efforts to become a presence in the eye of public policymakers.  We’ve advocated for new supplemental science materials, and urged our members to speak out.  Advocacy is becoming one of our most important member benefits, because when people stand together, they can get a lot more done than when they act alone.  Camaraderie is, after all, the basic reason for an association to exist.
Having advocated for non-profit educational associations for more than 30 years, I’ve made it my life’s work to make sure the voices of our educators are heard.  STAT is becoming a force to be reckoned with.  Our membership is in the thousands.  We’ve become the “go-to” people when reporters, like Erika Aguilar of KUT News, need to get the facts on science-related breaking news (President Ross Ann Hill and TESTA Representative Gail Gant were interviewed recently regarding teaching climate change in Texas schools).  We’re the first to know about important STEM-related issues, like STAAR updates and other TEA news.  We get the word out to our members via social media and email, keeping teachers from across the state in touch with what’s happening in Austin.
We know the times are tough for teachers all across the country.  Every year, without fail, we host the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), where teachers from Texas and beyond gather to collaborate and network.  We had our biggest conference in 2010, when Federal money was still flowing in school districts.  Last year, we still had over 6,000 attendees, even though that district money was long gone.  We know times are tough, but we believe in the power of CAST to sustain our teachers.
Providing professional development opportunities and legislative advocacy are the marks of a great organization with real, year-round benefits.  We’ve offered outstanding teacher awards, conference scholarships, and top-dollar giveaways to our members.  Every year, CAST hosts over 600 sessions so teachers can get the most specific information for their grade level and subject matter.  We are teachers teaching teachers.  We advocate for and protect each other.
I’m proud to call myself the Executive Director of an association with a rich history and an even brighter future.  In all my years of management, the Science Teachers Association of Texas is the association that shows the most promise and can make the biggest impact on the nation at large.
Chuck Hempstead, Executive Director, STAT

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