“For most astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and solar physicists, the AAS is, at best, a peripheral part of their lives. Given the ever-accelerating pace of modern life, peripheral things get neglected — non-urgent emails get deleted, deadlines get skipped, dues renewals get forgotten, and calls for support get ignored. Political parties overcome this problem by having a hierarchy of unpaid, partially paid, and fully paid volunteers and staffers, and a party’s effectiveness on election day comes not from the leadership but from the precinct captains. I have proposed the AAS adopt the precinct-captain model and, at the January  Council meeting, we agreed to proceed.”
— David J. Helfand, AAS President
The AAS Council established the AAS Agents program at its January 2013 meeting in Long Beach, California, for a trial period of two years, i.e., 2014−2015. The program is designed to improve communication between the Society and its members and to enhance the profile of the AAS in the wider community. Key features of the AAS Agents program:
- AAS Agents will be recruited from colleges (or consortia thereof), universities, and research institutions that have at least a half dozen practicing astronomers.
- AAS Agents will receive a half-price registration discount for one AAS meeting each year for a designee of their choice.
- AAS Agents will have specially tagged badges at AAS meetings and will be invited to a reception and discussion session at each winter AAS meeting.
- AAS Agents will receive training and support via the AAS website and will have their own electronic communication channel.
The responsibilities of AAS Agents will include some or all of the following:
- Recruiting new AAS members.
- In the case of universities with PhD programs, developing a systematic approach to graduate student membership in the AAS.
- Holding annual or semiannual meetings about AAS-related issues.
- Providing suggestions to the AAS concerning improved/new/outdated services.
- Acting as the point person in getting people to respond to action alerts when crucial policy issues require citizen participation.
- Providing an annual report to the AAS Council in a format to be specified.
Evaluation of the program will consist of an analysis of membership statistics and the data contained in the AAS Agents’ annual reports.
We welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer to play this new role at his or her institution. To sign up, please fill out our short AAS Agents Sign-Up Form (note that you must be signed in to aas.org to fill out and submit the form).