As reported previously, the Arizona Mushroom Club disbanded last month upon the retirement of its longtime President, Dr. Chester Leathers. Several other leaders of the club have also decided to take a well-earned retirement, including the Melgaards and Terry Beckman. I helped them wind down the affairs of the Club, and can attest to just how much volunteer work goes on behind the scenes to make it possible for us all to meet in the woods a few times a year for our club forays. These folks deserve our sincere thanks and commendation for all they have done to promote our unusual hobby over the years.
But that’s not the end of the story of organized amateur mycology in this state, not by a long shot. Some of the members of the old Club have formally incorporated a new non-profit mycological society, the Arizona Mushroom Society, Inc. This successor organization has taken over the old Club’s records and role as the home base for mushroom hunters all over our state. There’s lots in the pipeline for this new society, and all of our local fungus fans are invited to take part. Your participation will help us become bigger and better than ever.
How will things be different in the future? We now have an elected Board of Directors and written bylaws. We are set up for on-line registrations, communications, and dues payments. And we’ve created a number of committees that are going to work hard to expand the number and variety of mushroom-related activities and events throughout the year. These presently include the following:
- Foray Committee
- Culinary Committee
- Scientific Committee
- Program & Education Committee
- Communications Committee
- Cultivation/Medicinal Committee
- Membership Committee
- Development Committee
- Venue & Hospitality Committee.
We are looking for volunteers from our membership, not only those who have experience relevant to each of these committees, but also those with nothing more than a desire to contribute to their missions and socialize with others who share those interests. You do NOT need any particular knowledge or skill or experience with mushrooms to be an integral, important part of any of these committees. We can also use general volunteer helpers with less myco-centric skills such as budgeting, bookkeeping, publicity and promotion, and non-profit management.
Some of the initiatives that these committees will be working on include the following:
- Forays that are limited to smaller numbers of people, but held more frequently, more focused on a variety of specific objectives, and scheduled farther in advance. Proposals include introductory forays for beginners or newcomers to Arizona, scientific forays for experts, 4×4 forays or strenuous hiker’s forays for those wanting to go deep in the woods, mountain bike or horseback forays, and long-distance trips to places such as the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, or Mt. Graham and the other “Sky Islands” of southeastern Arizona. Joint forays with clubs in neighboring states are often suggested. There’s no doubt we’ll hear lots of opinions on where we ought to go, so chime in.
- More frequent member meetings, occasionally taking place in Flagstaff, Pinetop, Tucson, or other areas outside metro Phoenix. We also intend to bring in more guest speakers for meetings and visiting mycologists for forays. This will depend on growing the Society large enough to be able to pay for some expenses and stipends, modest though they may be.
- Instructional workshops in various facets of mushroom knowledge and culture, e.g. microscopy, DNA sequencing, fabric dyeing, medicinal mushrooms, mycoremediation, mushroom cultivation, and photography. I just returned from the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair, and you might not believe the amount of talent that exists in these fields.
- Culinary events such as mushroom cooking and preservation classes, small-group potlucks in private houses, chef’s dinners in restaurants, and wine and mushroom tastings. There are some safety protocols and liability concerns to be ironed out, but when I ask for comments about what we ought to be doing as a society, this is one of the most common requests I hear from members and non-members alike.
- Cooperative events with other organizations that have overlapping interests. Proposals include joint meetings and projects with gardening clubs, wild-plant or wild-food societies, nature photography or art associations, hiking clubs, environmental and naturalist organizations, or cooking and gourmet clubs. This will reduce the costs associated with staging such events, and should be a rich source of new members for the Society as well. If you belong to another organization of this sort, drop me a line about what you think we might do together.
- Organizational development such as publicity and public relations, new member outreach, fund-raising, and grant writing. Some of our sister Societies in other states raise thousands of dollars a year for their programs from events like tasting dinners and fungus fairs. There’s no reason we couldn’t do something similar.
- Reviving our old club newsletter in an email format that will keep you up to date on news of the Society as well as developments elsewhere in the world of fungi, with new recipes to try, and photographs and stories contributed by our members. Your contributions are requested!
- Sponsoring a North American Mycological Association Regional Foray in the White Mountains in August 2017, which will help us make contacts among visiting mycologists and members from other clubs all around the country. You’ll find this to your advantage if you wish to hunt mushrooms elsewhere in different seasons. Local knowledge is critical.
The new mechanism for on-line registration and dues payments on the Arizona Mushroom Society web site, including automatic renewal reminders at the end of every year, will make things much more convenient for you. It is still possible to mail in a check if you must, but on-line payments are preferred. Dues are $15 per year. This is cheaper than most other mycological societies.
Our new web site will also help you meet up with other members and sign up in advance for limited-enrollment forays and other events. Note that your directory profile is kept on a members-only page, and does not show your address or other contact information to the other members. Messages between members are sent behind the scenes by the web site without exposing your email or phone to the person you are trying to reach.
To improve the efficiency of running our forays, you can now take care of your mandatory liability waiver on-line, long before we get out in the field. Adults must each check a box accepting the terms of service and liability waiver when joining the Society and whenever registering for an event. Minors must be listed on their parent or guardian’s registration, who must accept the same terms on their behalf.
Be advised that some parts of the site remain under construction, so the functionality will only get better in future.
If you’ve never been a member, or your membership lapsed before 2015, go to our “Join Us” page at this address:
Those who were members in 2015 are already in our database, and should renew for 2016 at their own member profile:
Current members’ passwords were recently e-mailed to them from email@example.com, but if you can’t find yours, you can also ask for a password reset at this link:
[Note: You can also use our permanent Society domain name, www.arizonamushroomsociety.org, in the URL addresses noted above, instead of the arizonamushroomsociety.wildapricot.org name that links to our hosting provider Wild Apricot. Be advised that this may cause difficulties with certain browsers. For more discussion of this issue, see below.]
Now for a personal note. As the administrator of this Arizona Mushroom Forum web site and the affiliated Facebook group, I’ve taken a keen interest in our local fungal goings-on for several years now. I was punished for my inquisitiveness by being sentenced to a term on the Board of Directors at December’s election, and subsequent appointment to the office of President of the new Society. It has turned out to be about four times as much work as I expected. I’m not complaining, though; in reality it is tremendously exciting and interesting. But I am asking for some help from the local fungal community. There are over a thousand members of the Facebook group, the vast majority of them local. If even half of them joined the Society, we would be one of the biggest and strongest mycological associations in the whole country, and the range of events and experiences we could offer to the membership would be staggering.
The Arizona Mushroom Forum and its Facebook Group still belong to me, and these resources will remain available to the general public for the foreseeable future, to Society members and non-members alike. However, I feel that I now owe my primary accountability to this Society of which I have recently been made President. This means that some of the mushroom scuttlebutt previously published on this site and the Facebook page will in future be found instead behind the “Members Only” wall of the AMS. And there will be no more ad hoc forays organized by me on the Facebook page as we’ve done in the past; instead, there will be “jackrabbit” forays organized on short notice to places where the rains have fallen, but they will be held under Society auspices and require registration.
So don’t depend on the Forum to keep you fully informed. You might miss out on the next morel flush or members-only wine and mushroom tasting. Join or renew your AMS membership today!
I’m really excited about the opportunities in store for our new organization. I’d like for you to be part of this new adventure too. Please join us.
Christopher C. May, M.D.
President and Chairman of the Board
Arizona Mushroom Society
P.S. If your Web browser has strong security settings, and you use an address beginning with www.arizonamushroomsociety.org, you may get a message similar to the snapshot shown below. Don’t worry, there is no funny business going on. Wild Apricot is the company that (at least for now) is hosting our membership management software and web site. Go ahead and trust the SSL encryption certificate, and continue on to connect to our website in full confidence. You can also discontinue using the www.rizonamushroomsociety.org address, and instead use our hosted addresses noted above, of the form:
This should make the warning message go away. Someday we’ll be big and flush enough to afford the $150 per year it would cost us to buy and install an SSL encryption certificate of our own to make this problem disappear, but for now we’ll work around it. Just keep in mind that if we ever change our Web provider, the Society’s own domain name will transfer to the new site, while the Wild Apricot site will cease to work.