This article is from the WSSF 2011 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
Anyone may organize a local club composed of fanciers in their area for the purpose of creating interest and advancing the fancy.
You may choose to affiliate yourself with a larger organization and use their Standards and Show Procedures for your club but use your own bylaws and club structure, or become a chapter of that organization if they have chapters.
You will need to decide what kind of club you will be:
If you decide on a Pet Club or a Show Club, you will need to decide how many officers to have in your club and what duties they will hold. There should be a minimum of a President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer. All clubs should have a copy of The Scott, Foresman: Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
For a Pet Club or Show Club, you will need to decide what type and how many meetings per year you will have. These could be monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly. The meetings could be held in conjunction with a show if time warrants. You could have monthly social meetings, then quarterly business meetings.
For Pet or Show clubs, you may conduct seminars, shows, pet shows, displays, fun get-togethers, social events, training days, group outings, etc. It is suggested you put on an event at least twice per year to keep interest in your group.
To spread the word about your upcoming events you should notify newspapers, radio stations, cable TV bulletin boards, computer bulletin boards, list on your web site, send out e-mail announcements, notify through rat and mouse chat groups/forums, social sites, etc., put up flyers and posters in pet shops, vet offices, feed stores, etc.; put on displays at pet shops, fairs, pet expos, etc.
It is recommended that you get judge training with your parent affiliate/chapter club if you are doing serious competition shows (many will require a certain amount of training to qualify as one of their groups). If you are not affiliated or a chapter of a larger organization, then getting training from an established showing club would be to your benefit. Hands-on training is important in learning to judge the structure (type), color, and other features of each variety of rat or mouse.
If you would like to bring in a fully-qualified judge to judge one of your shows, give your club assistance in running a show or your club, or to give your members and future judges training, you should be prepared to pay most of the expenses for the judge to attend your show, especially if they are a long distance from you.
If you have a handy person in your club, you could see about having them make your show boxes (plans are online for AFRMA rat www.afrma.org/pp_ratboxes.htm and mouse www.afrma.org/pp_mseboxes.htm show boxes). Many clubs will use the clear plastic pet carriers (1 gallon size for mice; 2–3 gallon size for rats) in their shows (one animal per container). If you are an affiliate or chapter of a larger club, see their rules for what they require in show boxes and what substrate (bedding) that is allowed in each one. Show boxes should be owned by each exhibitor and your club could also offer some for rent.
All clubs must be sure to health check all animals at every show and event they put on. You can see the “AFRMA Health Checker’s Guideline List” online on what we look for during our health checks www.afrma.org/pdf/hlthckrs.pdf. See also the “Disease Control” sheet www.afrma.org/diseasecontrol.htm and the Quarantining articles at www.afrma.org/quarantining.htm and www.afrma.org/quarantiningp2.htm for more information.
If you are an affiliate/chapter club, see your parent club’s rules on what they require from their groups. You should keep track of all exhibitors, entries, judge’s comments, winners, etc., for the various awards you will be giving out. AFRMA has a Show Procedures pack available for clubs that would like to use our show paperwork and standards or get ideas on the paperwork they would like to use in their club www.afrma.org/affiliate.htm.
There are many types of awards you can give for show class winners—ribbons, rosette ribbons, trophies, plaques, medals, certificates, animal supplies such as food or bedding, treats, figurines, glassware, crystal, etc., or get companies to donate items to your club.
Getting donations for your club is always beneficial so you not only don’t have to come up with the additional expense to be able to offer that item, but it gives variety to awards and sellable items you may offer at your shows and events. You can ask your members to donate items, companies that have items you can use for rats and mice, or local businesses to offer items such as certificates that any member or exhibitor could use, e.g. for a free dinner or discount to their store.
Your club could also put on fund raising events such as car washes or pet washes, or get various items at a discount and sell to your members or the general public at your events. Other ways to bring in money for your group are raffles/drawings, show box rental fees, sales permit fees for members to be able to sell at your shows, entry fees, selling items such as t-shirts, books, pet supplies, etc., having sodas and snacks or lunch at your shows, charging a fee for a seminar, making or having the show boxes available for purchase to your exhibitors, ask talented members to make cards, posters, calendars, jewelry, rat hammocks, etc., to sell, offer copies of photos to the proud owners of the prize-winning rats and mice from your shows, sell booth spaces or sale tables at your shows to bring in crafty people and local businesses that have items your attendees would like to buy, offer to clip rat toenails for a small fee, have a donation jar at each event, etc.
The ideas are endless on ways to get the money your club will need to operate. Also, don’t just look at rat and mouse items to offer for sale, but look at other animal theme items as most people have more than just rats or mice.
NOTE: Clubs should have a first-aid kit at their events; also have a mailing list availble for people to sign up to get the information for your upcoming club activities. Getting sponsors would be another way of bringing in money to cover your show expenses.