Direct From The Association: APOS - Becoming a Member-Driven Organization

Jeana Schuurman, Managing Director of the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society, gives us an inside scoop on the APOS and its members.

Changes in membership dynamics, engagement, and advocacy. What is in store for members of the APOS and like associations this upcoming year? Be on the lookout for this story and more in our Guidefitter Winter Journal, coming soon. Interested in learning more about the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society? Visit their website at

Jeana Schuurman
Managing Director of the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society -
At the time of writing, it is the beginning of hunting season. After a year of anxious member calls about the border, it has been great to hear about hunters coming back up to Alberta to enjoy doing what they love.

Although we are not out of the woods yet, I am already becoming aware of the ways the pandemic has shifted APOS’ relationship with its members. For some members, APOS has always simply been the place they go each year to renew their permits and allocations. It seems that many who did not engage with APOS in the past found a greater reason to do so since March of 2020. Through this time, I have had the opportunity to connect with many different members. Sometimes it was very hard to take these calls when I had no answers on when the border would re-open, but the benefit was the opportunity to connect with members on topics related to COVID-19 and beyond.

Evidence of a changing member dynamic can be found in the climbing open rates on the emails we send. For better or worse, email is our primary means to contact members. In response to member feedback, we started sending the newsletter on a monthly basis in 2018. Honestly, sometimes it can be a real grind to get that email together and out the door on time, but it’s rewarding to see members using the information to support their businesses. Recent email open rates have climbed to around 73%, which is heads and shoulders above where we were a few years ago. Since the start of the pandemic, APOS has also sent over 60 COVID-specific communications to members in addition to the monthly newsletter. I know for some members this is far too many emails, but there is always a lot going on and email is the most timely and cost-efficient way to stay connected.

Having higher than usual member engagement and an active board of directors has been so valuable for keeping us on track as an organization. One of my grounding mottos has been “better input, better decisions” and it comes in handy if I’m feeling especially stubborn or territorial. Over the last two years, I have never walked into a government meeting alone. Board members who are out hunting have joined conference calls from the roofs of their trucks just to get enough reception to engage in the discussion. This level of involvement has been so important because the input we provide and outcomes we achieve are much more likely to meet the business realities of, well… all those whose jobs mean they might need to stand on a truck roof just to get cell reception.

For the APOS members reading this article, I hope you will consider joining us for the annual general meeting this December 9-10. The internet is great, but we can only do so much by email! We truly are striving to be a member-driven organization, but we can’t do a good job of this unless people come and join us at the table. I understand and respect that many members have histories with the industry and APOS that stretch long before my time in this chair. However, if you’ve felt the benefit of our advocacy over this last year, I hope you’ll consider joining us this December for the input, information, and camaraderie of the AGM.

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