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I'm brand new to AMSAT, having been monitoring this list for only a couple
of weeks.  In any case, I'll put in my two cents.

As a veteran manager at Intel, I couldn't imagine a better marketing
opportunity than being able to get in front of some school kids in an
educational setting with my promotional messages and a kick ass demo like
talking to astronauts.  I don't know what the program is costing AMSAT and
perhaps ARISS is no longer affordable in a time of fiscal crisis, but most
commercial organizations couldn't buy that kind of opportunity.  Despite the
shuttle disaster, NASA has one of the most respected "brands" in the country
and any association with ham radio could be tremendously positive.  Sure the
kids want to talk to astronauts.  When I was their age I wanted to be an
astronaut.  It's a great hook.  

If it's not paying off, I'd say that it is more likely that the volunteers
haven't been properly trained or the organization isn't following up with
next steps for the students.  Are there any next steps?  Or, are we leaving
the kids to do it all themselves?

I was fortunate enough that my father helped me build my first transceiver
when I was 8 and showed me how to use a telescope.  If you want to build a
base of young people, you've got to also sponsor school radio clubs,
organize fun events, and devote the time to acting as a mentor.  The star
parties of my astronomy club are packed with kids; it seems that any ham
event I attend is like a retirement gathering (most of the time I feel out
of place).

Outside ARISS, it seems what little promotion AMSAT does, if at all, is
limited to a very narrow demographic: aging white men who are already hams.
It may be the right place to start -- no argument there -- but I can't see
much of a growth opportunity in that.

Mike McGowan - KU1X

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