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​​Office of Public Relations and Outreach

Current OPRO Members​​

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Mission Statement

The mission of OPRO is to:

  • Promote awareness of ​plant health, plant diseases, and associated microorganisms to the public and APS members
  • Increase media coverage of plant health issues in order to demonstrate the value of plant pathology to society
  • Assist Public Policy Board in strengthening advocacy for science-based public policy
  • Promote the science of plant pathology to students and educators and support the Office of Education in their endeavors

General Responsibilities

OPRO is charged by Council with primary leadership for the society’s public outreach and media relations programs and is empowered to dispense funds allocated by Council for outreach programs as well as to utilize staff time for execution of these programs. It is recognized that much responsibility for public outreach resides with individual APS members, Council, and various APS committees, boards, offices, and divisions. It is the responsibility of OPRO to coordinate, enable, and nurture public outreach from various sectors of the society. OPRO will provide a forum for discussion of outreach opportunities and initiatives and a mechanism for funding special projects. OPRO will choose the highest priority audiences for outreach efforts, and periodically, will reassess these priorities.

Organizational Structure

To carry out its responsibilities, OPRO is comprised of the following:

  • A director (The director is appointed by Council to a serve three-year term.)
  • Immediate past director, for one year term immediately following director term (ex officio, non voting)
  • 6-8 voting members representative of the society with interest in: extension, research, teaching, industry, government, and international programs.
  • Two graduate student members​, for two year terms (with a one-year overlap between incoming and outgoing graduate students), with interest in outreach, and previous outreach experience (voting)
  • A post-doc/early career member defined as being within the first five years after receiving their last academic degree, for a two-year term, with interest in outreach, and previous outreach experience (voting)
  • The Public Policy Board chair (ex officio, voting)
  • The Office of Education Director (ex officio, voting)
  • The immediate past president (ex officio, voting)
  • OPRO staff liaison(s)

Appointments and Term Length

  • ​OPRO members will be formally appointed by a majority vote of the “board” and will serve a three-year term but may not serve more than two consecutive terms. 
  • Graduate student appointments will serve a two-year term, with a one-year overlap between incoming and outgoing graduate students. 
  • Post-doc/early career member may qualify​ to join OPRO as a regular member following the completion of a two-year term.

General Responsibilities of the Director​

The director will lead OPRO and staff in establishing priorities and individual assignments for follow-through. The director will serve as the primary societal contact for all issues relating to communication with the public. The director will represent OPRO to the society’s leadership and work with the leadership to assure that OPRO shares information with the public that is consistent with the society’s interests. Prior to issuance, the director will review all press releases and similar public pronouncements for relevance, consistency of message, accuracy, appropriate crediting, avoidance of liability, and compliance with society policies and then forward for approval by the APS president. The Director shall appoint an official note taker at each meeting of OPRO. That individual will provide their draft to the director to be disseminated, approved, and archived. The Director prepares and submits reports to the Internal Communications Officer of APS upon request. The Director coordinates and submits reports from OPRO committees as well. During the Director’s second year of their final term OPRO will nominate potential candidates for the director position to bring to Council. Council appoints the new director. Upon appointment, the incoming director is requested to attend the OPRO mid-year meeting that precedes their term as director. The Director serves ​as ex- officio member of the Public Policy Board.

General Responsibilities of OPRO Members

OPRO will meet twice annually (once at the APS annual meeting) to make programmatic and financial decisions. However, planning, decision-making, and program execution occur on a daily, year-round basis. OPRO members are expected to participate actively in regular discussions via E-mail and to respond in a timely manner to requests for information/opinion by the OPRO director and staff. Rapid feedback is often necessary in response to media inquiries and public policy questions. OPRO members are responsible for maintaining regular liaison between OPRO and specific societal constituencies (either ex officio or as assigned by the director). They will also become broadly familiar with public affairs and education issues of the society and will be proactive in bringing issues to OPRO's attention and in pursuing opportunities to increase the visibility of APS. Its members will ensure OPRO is developing timely messages to inform the public and society members on contemporary issues of plant health, plant diseases, and associated microorganisms, and will help society members become more effective in their interactions with the public. OPRO members are charged with maintaining the highest professional standards of scientific objectivity, dispassion, and ethical conduct. They may be called upon to serve as authors and reviewers of outreach publications and products, and to assist other groups in APS with their outreach projects.

Committees of OPRO

To carry out its mission and responsibilities OPRO may form committees as needs dictate.