Atlanta Reef Club (ARC)
The Atlanta Reef Club informally started in 2000 with a small group of people meeting in a basement and later became official in 2003. Since then, the club has grown leaps and bounds to be one of the largest clubs in the world with over 500 members and almost 40 club sponsors. Due to the commitment of the members, the size of the club, the proximity to the new Georgia Aquarium, and exposure from our outreach programs, we are proudly associated with some of the finest aquarists and researchers in the industry.
Our monthly meetings were the cornerstone on which the club was founded, and continue to be the main social and learning event. Every second Tuesday of every month, we hold a meeting, either with a formal speaker, or as a social event. We’ve had speakers on lighting, chemistry, flow, photography, and every other subject, and we’ve had social BBQ’s, Martinis and IMAX, tavern meetings, a GA Aquarium behind-the-scenes meeting, and even a Christmas party at Dave and Buster’s. Some of our members have gone diving together as far away as the Solomon Islands and as close as the Bahamas. Our pride and joy is the annual frag meeting, where we give away a couple frags to everyone that shows up; we had 130 and 150 people last year and this year – that’s a lot of frags!
The ARC website has become not only a place to post announcements, but our primary form of just chatting between members. It’s fun to look at our websites in 2001, ‘02, ‘03, and ’04, but a major overhaul in 2006 brings us to our current rendition. The site is very active, with around 500 new posts each day, visited by about 3,500 different people each month! Sponsors are given their own forums to post announcements in, and all club communication is handled through the website. The club has grown with the times, and we hope to continue to do so going forward.
The club and its members have made an exemplary effort in outreach to the community. To list a few successes, the club members have collectively donated $14,000 to the Georgia Aquarium and approximately $1000 each to Tsunami Relief, Reef Check, and to Katrina Relief. The donations of time, money, and equipment to help fellow reefers is too long to list; however, there have been some noteworthy examples, such as helping a patient with cancer with a new tank to help divert some attention away from the illness, helping Iraq soldiers (or their spouses!) with their tanks while away, donations when babies are born within the club, and countless other acts of altruism. It’s these types of both formal and informal giving that make the club so great.
SaltwaterU was organized in 2005 in an effort to both bring talent to the club and to outreach to the general public through “Preservation through Education,” the program’s motto. SWU was an outstanding success, as was SWU2 and SWU3. SaltwaterU prepared the club for our upcoming MACNA XX conference in ways that no one expected, but everyone now appreciates. Perhaps the greatest legacy left by the conferences was the Teen Program, an outreach program that helps underprivileged teens, many who have never seen the ocean, learn about marine conservation by exposing them directly to a weekend of workshops held on the Georgia coast; this program continues to this day. Many of these teens had never before seen the ocean.
The club continues to thrive through the commitment of its members, the achievements of past members, and the vision and direction of our current leaders. We feel that MACNA XX is the club’s "coming of age" event, and hope to see everyone there with us!
-The Atlanta Reef Club Members
For more information, please visit our website: www.atlantareefclub.org.
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