I’m pleased to announce a generous $150,000 grant from the USDA-ERS to the Association in support of AAEA professional development activities with a focus on strengthening the skills of new members of the profession. We aim to expand the diversity of the profession across many dimensions; including the types of careers and backgrounds of members and build ties between individuals from different institutions. The funds will be used to help support workshops such as the Early Career Professional Symposium that will be held this summer, and more generally, we will be able to expand travel grants to the summer meetings and other symposia and workshops. We are also working to expand the resources available on the newly created Online Mentorship Portal, and to re-ignite the successful one-on-one mentorship program held in previous years. Many thanks to ERS!
The aforementioned symposium is just one example of the kinds of activities AAEA encourages and supports. Have an idea for a meeting but don’t want to deal with all the logistical headaches? Submit a proposal for a symposium and let the AAEA business office help with the logistical details. We can even help provide some financial support or travel grants. Sometimes the symposium route is not quite the right fit for every activity, so we also offer the opportunity for AAEA Workshops and even AAEA Endorsed Events.
One might wonder where the money is coming from to help sponsor such activities. As you might have noticed, the AAEA budget has been running at a deficit for the past couple of years. This is on purpose. We have enough reserves in the bank to cover three years of operating expenses, and a couple years ago we were in the fortunate position of receiving some larger-than-expected payouts from our contract with Oxford University Press. Past AAEA board members have made decisions to spend down a portion of these reserves on strategic activities such as mentoring, symposia, government relations, and outreach (mainly C-FARE), and on media and communication. We will ultimately have to bring the budget back into balance, but we are hopeful the current expenditures will have long-term payoffs for members of the association.
Speaking of media and communication, we want to promote your work. But, we need your help. If you have recently been in the news, let the AAEA business office know. In addition, we have initiated efforts to generate press releases for selected AJAE and AEPP articles prior to publication. If you are contacted by the AAEA business office about one of your articles, help us tell your story. I am a firm believer that our profession does important work relevant to multiple stakeholders. However, the work is useless unless people know about it.
Planning is already underway for the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago. We are likely to tinker a bit with the schedule for reunions, posters, and other activities in an effort to improve the meeting experience. Be on the lookout in the near future for the call for invited papers.
Finally, I recently had the opportunity to participate in the planning and strategy meetings with Oxford University Press and the editors of AEPP and AJAE. We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of skilled editors. Spiro Stefanou and Terry Hurley will soon be rolling off as editors of the AEPP and will be replaced by Craig Gundersen and Chris McIntosh. For the AJAE, JunJie Wu and Jim Vercammen will be finishing up their term at the end of the year, and we will soon start the search for their replacements. Submissions to the journals and downloads to papers in the journals continue to climb. We are continuing to investigate ways to improve the impact of the journals and explore whether our current offerings are meeting the needs of the profession.
As always, I welcome your suggestions and comments.