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Commitment to Education

Several Opportunities to Help Strengthen the Hobby

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In November, Ken Martin and I traveled to the 129th annual Chicagopex held in Itasca, Illinois. The show is impressive with more than 80 dealers and nearly 300 exhibiting frames, and an enthusiastic group of volunteers from the Chicago Philatelic Society welcoming visitors from all over the world. We were also joined by the Society of Australasian Specialists/Oceania, the India Study Circle, and the Éire Philatelic Association. Before the show began, the Institute for Analytical Philately held its second International Symposium covering a range of topics on expertizing and techniques for spotting fakes and forgeries.
     For those who braved the highest November snowfall in Chicago in the last 120 years, it was an excellent show.
     Thanks to show chairman Jerry Nylander for leading the effort to put together a great event for collectors, new and old. On Saturday, Cheryl Ganz delivered an educational talk on “The 50-cent Graf Zeppelin Stamp Design of 1933” to a standing-room-only crowd, reinforcing how important stamps are to our history, with a great Chicago flavor. The education area, located near the exhibiting frames, introduced great educational videos put together by Andrew Oleksuik, and I got the chance to help a 5-year old young lady gather Christmas stamps for her and car stamps for her baby brother, while her big brother shopped with dealers. I would encourage any of our members to stop by the education area at their local shows and welcome additions to our family of collectors.

     What happened in Chicago happens to some degree at stamp shows around the country. Among the dealer booths and exhibiting frames, are experienced collectors who have a passion and a depth of knowledge they are waiting to share with the new collector and even the non-collector. Transferring that knowledge to the next generation is the education challenge.
     While those education programs at stamp shows are incredibly important, we live in a world where so much information is available at our fingertips. When looking at ways to boost our educational mission, we will be working to meet people where they are, in hopes of making them collectors.
     There are three different places we are looking to help build the knowledge of our members:
Youth Programs
We offer educational programs, from Stamps Teach for third- to fifth-grade students, to Young Stamp Collectors of America, to the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program for the high school to college-age collector.
     Our new education director, Cathy Brachbill, a former educator and curriculum director, will be working to make stamps a teaching tool for the demands of the classroom of today.
     We also need to evaluate the programs to ensure that the people we are serving can grow into collectors. To
learn more about our youth programs, you can go to stamps.org/young-philatelists.

Collector Classrooms
We offer in-person educational opportunities for collectors to learn with teachers in the classroom.
     We offer “On the Road” courses at a stamp show near you and every year, members travel to the American Philatelic Center to participate in our Summer Seminar on Philately.
     For years, these courses have proved invaluable to the participants.

StampCampus
We offer online courses where you can learn about different elements of collecting from the comfort of your own home.
     We recently concluded courses on the basics of stamp collecting and another on exhibiting, but more courses will be available soon.
     To sign up for those courses, please go to stamps.org/stampcampus.

What Can You Do?
The knowledge and resources of our APS members can help in many ways:
— Give us feedback. In our monthly e-newsletter, we have started surveys on the educational offerings that we have and those you would like. We hope that you will provide us with feedback there or feel free to contact our education department at any time.
— Offer to be an instructor. We have many great educators who teach online or in the classroom, but your knowledge can be incredibly important. We are also starting courses on being an instructor and welcome you to sign up.
— Enroll in a class. One of the things we hear often is that people would like to learn more and interact with fellow members. Each course has an interesting group of students and a great instructor. You will not only learn more about the hobby, but you will also make friends across the country.
— Donate stamps. Thanks to the kindness of our members, we are able to provide students young and old with stamps to begin their collections and learn through stamps. We have volunteers at the APC who help us with these donations and prepare them for students. If you would like to donate, please go to: stamps.org/inkind-gifts.
— Be a mentor and recruiter. Each of us knows someone who has that collector gene whether they are just starting out or have reached retirement. Many collectors give of their time and help us grow the hobby. We offer mentor services for new collectors through some amazing volunteers around the country. To find or become a mentor, go to: stamps.org/mentor-service.
— Provide financial support. Especially with our youth programs, so many members kindly give of their time and their wallets in order to make these programs available. We recently received hundreds of donations for the Stamps Teach program with just one request. If you would like to donate, please go to: stamps.org/online-mail-or-phone.

     The one area we will be adding that will, hopefully, be meaning for our members is in the area of on-demand videos. If you’ve ever visited the Khan Academy or watched a TedTalk or even a do-it-yourself video on YouTube, you know there is a vast amount of information at your fingertips any time.
     By developing those resources both in short videos and longer presentations, we can document and retain hundreds of hours of knowledge and teaching that will be available to you and other collectors for years to come.
     We hope you will take us up on the education challenge and help us serve you and the rest of our APS membership. Tell us what you think and contact me at scott@stamps.org.
     I also receive letters from members around the country and respond to all of them. Please feel free to share your thoughts in writing to American Philatelic Society, Attn: Scott English, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
     Thanks for the thousands of APS members who give so much of their time and knowledge to advance collecting and teach our community.
     We look forward to increasing those opportunities in 2016 and beyond.

 

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