Even in the best of times, establishing a new SAME Post is not without its serious challenges. Members need to be recruited and kept engaged, programming schedules need to be developed, and connections need to be made with other like-minded organizations in the community. When a historic pandemic and restrictions on in-persons gatherings are added, the challenge is only multiplied.
For the Minot Post, which was established in 2018, it has maintained its early momentum through the coronavirus and then some, leading the Society in 2020 with 62 percent year- over-year membership growth. TME recently sat down with Sam Beaudoin, Post President, to talk about lessons from transitioning its slate of programming to all-virtual offerings, keys to recruiting new members and keeping them energized, and what he sees as the future of Post events in a post-pandemic world.
Bricks & Clicks: Can you share how the Minot Post got established and ways it is providing value in the North Dakota area?
Beaudoin: The Minot Post was established in 2018. Maj. Mark Johanning, USAF, saw the benefits of SAME to a squadron at a previous Post he was part of, and felt it was worth the effort to stand up a Post at Minot AFB. The first email inquiring about membership went out in March 2018 after he had three local companies interested in being Sustaining Members. On July 3, 2018, the Post was officially recognized!
“In our short history, the Minot Post has been most impactful in promoting STEM in the local community. We have numerous members who are extremely passionate in STEM outreach.”
In our short history, the Minot Post has been most impactful in promoting STEM in the local community. We have numerous members who are extremely passionate in STEM outreach. Each year, our members have helped the local high school prepare for the state science Olympiad competition by acting as judges/mentors in a mock competition to train the students for the real thing. As our Post’s STEM champion, Tech. Sgt. Eric Tucker, USAF, drives the initiative, keeps us relevant, and is guiding the Post toward a successful STEM future. Our most recent venture is preparing a STEM camp with the directors of a new Children’s Discovery Center, which is set to open in Minot in 2022.
Bricks & Clicks: Has the pandemic led the Post to adapt how it engages members, and how do you see the approach evolving in the future?
Beaudoin: The pandemic has very much impacted how we engage our members. Overnight we had to go from hosting local mine tours, baseball games, golf tournaments, and having Sustaining Members host informative luncheons, to logging into Zoom calls.
As an extension of the squadron, our Post thrives on comradeship. The pandemic took away that fellowship, which did dwindle enthusiasm. We have tried to keep the meetings engaging, informative, and entertaining but have failed to draw the crowd that a night together at the baseball diamond did. Still, we have continued to provide thought-provoking presentations on topics such as local flood prevention, a member’s deployment to Germany and Africa, and two different teams of airmen combining their trades to solve one problem. I have enjoyed all our Zoom meetings, and those who have joined us are never disappointed.
In 2021, we have learned to utilize SAME national events to supplement our member programming and keep engagement up. Ultimately though, we will be happiest when we are able to all be together again.
Bricks & Clicks: How has the Post been able to assemble an expansive slate of programming in so short a time?
Beaudoin: The answer to success is the people behind the scenes and the motivational leadership that drives them. Col. Mathew Altman, F.SAME, USAF, was Minot Post’s second President and my predecessor, and his enthusiasm for the Society was contagious.
The drive that he was able to install into the Post was nothing less than remarkable. I would be lost not to thank him for his contributions to our success. He inspired me to keep the Post going during these unprecedented times. His passion was instilled in me and is why I will bring Minot out of the pandemic mud and back to our full glory!
Bricks & Clicks: What initiatives has the Post used to engage and recruit more military members and also deepen engagement with the local community?
Beaudoin: Minot Post set a goal in February 2020 to gain 100 members for 100 years of SAME. Tech. Sgt. Travis Krebill, USAF, took this goal as a personal challenge, quickly adding members from his shop and calling out other members to do the same. He would send the team an updated email for each new member. This made each addition meaningful and not just a number closer to our goal.
In terms of making connections and engaging the local community beyond the base, we are currently developing a new relationship with the Magic City Discovery Center after the center reached out to us. It is bringing a new facility to the area to help promote STEM to the children of the region. The first activity we are working on is a late summer STEM camp.
Bricks & Clicks: What advice would you give other Posts looking to further their outreach to servicemembers or add to their programming?
“We plan on incorporating our local contracting squadron to host an event that will focus on how Minot AFB can leverage local industry better and also discuss the challenges local contractors have while working on base.”
Beaudoin: Utilize and promote all the programs, events, and benefits that the SAME National Office provides, including through the Post website, which is a national service Posts should leverage.
Showing value in the membership is the best way to gain and retain new members. Additionally, encourage enlisted members to partake in leadership roles—they have been a huge component of Minot’s success.
Lastly, it’s important to identify what aspects of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan are most relevant in your area, and then focus on supporting them. For us, Goal 1 (Strengthening Industry-Government Engagement) is very important. Sustaining Members are the backbone of the Post, and we know that giving value back is essential to maintain. We plan on incorporating our local contracting squadron to host an event that will focus on how Minot AFB can leverage local industry better and also discuss the challenges local contractors have while working on base.