Young Professional Survey Results: Member and Nonmember Perspectives on Decisions to Join the American Fisheries Society

The American Fisheries Society (AFS) recently extended the eligibility period for the young professional membership category from 3 years to 5 years post‐graduation based on a recommendation from a committee formed by the Fisheries Management and Education sections. The basis of this recommendation grew out of a survey conducted with fisheries professionals from across North America. This article provides the results that were generated from the survey, which was specifically designed to identify factors or components of the Society that influence fisheries professionals’ decisions to become members of AFS. Most respondents were AFS members (80%; 499 of 625), 63% of which felt that AFS was important in their careers and professional development. However, respondents felt that employers valued their membership and participation at the Chapter level (46%) more than at the Society level (31%). Of the nonmembers surveyed, 59% had previously held AFS membership, and the top contributing factor was financial cost (61%). An alarming result was that 30% of respondents were unaware that Chapter‐level membership does not constitute Society‐level membership within AFS, and 60% of nonmembers were current members of Chapters. These results highlight important information that AFS can target in an effort to educate and serve a more diverse group of professionals.

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