My first plant biology meeting was Austin 2016. I had followed and interacted with the #PlantBio15 hashtag, but I was nervous about my first in-person meeting. How was I going to learn about this new society that I was joining? How was I going to navigate such a large gathering? I went back to my childhood. As a kid, my family were always the helpers. My mom would always jump up and start helping where ever there was a need (to the point of being lectured by the hosts before as she was a guest, but our nature is to help!). That's why I decided to investigate volunteer positions at the meeting. 

That first year I volunteered at the ASPB booth and at the Plantae Pavilion. I handed out flyers, chatted to people about things I had only just learned about, and got to interact with the really amazing ASPB staff who keep the meeting running smoothly. By the end of the week, I felt I knew a lot about ASPB and the programs! I had a Plantae profile, knew what ASPB Ambassadors did, and met a few Tweeps. It was really rewarding. 

Fast forward a year to Honolulu 2017 where my volunteering morphed to Twitter and blog coverage. I would Tweet and Retweet all day and write nightly recaps about the meeting. Live-tweeting became a way for me to be more engaged at talks, trying to distill the talk into manageable tweets. Then at Montreal, and soon San Jose, I became the community catalyst. Posting on Plantae, tweeting, blogging, etc. I get to use my online skills to support the society. 

Personally, I can think of no better way to express your support for the society and the meeting by helping out. These volunteer activities have led me to meet many amazing people, join impromptu hangouts during the meeting, and keep those connections going through the year. I hope you will consider volunteering this year! 

Help is needed every day at various locations: The #ASPBForward Innovation Pavilion, Blogging and Tweeting events, and welcoming people to workshops while scanning their badges. Signing up is easy! Go to the Volunteer worksheet found here: https://docs.google.com/spread... Read the Please Read tab, then click on each day to see what help is needed. Enter your name and carry out your duties in just a few weeks. Easy peasy!