Weaving in the colorful history of Norwegian immigrants in Alaska, Bernt Balchen Lodge 2-46 President Terje “Ted” Birkedal took a creative approach with ramping up momentum for Sons of Norway’s 2017 recruitment campaign, Growing to 2020.

In his April President’s Message in The Flyer, the lodge’s monthly newsletter, Birkedal provides an engaging overview that outlines how it came to be that Norwegians are the fourth largest ancestry group in Alaska. The narrative notes the arrival in 1894 and 1898 of Norwegian Sami who taught the native Inupiat the ways of reindeer herding, Norwegian adventurers seeking wealth during the Gold Rush era and the story of Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant who was key to developing a thriving fishing industry in Petersburg – also known as “Little Norway,” which boasts the largest Sons of Norway lodge in Alaska.

Birkedal then lays the groundwork for his recruitment challenge to the members of Bernt Balchen, located in Anchorage, where he estimates that today there are at least 19,000 people of Norwegian heritage, numerous others of Swedish, Danish and Finnish descent, plus many who are simply interested in Nordic culture and heritage; all who are “… swimming just below the surface in Anchorage” and waiting to be caught. Birkedal then makes the important point that “catch and release” is not an option – content, long-term members of Bernt Balchen Lodge is the goal.

In closing his column, Lodge President Birkedal makes his pitch to members, asking them to “put your oars in the water and become fishermen and women for Sons of Norway,” and to also increase their own involvement in their lodge.

Does your lodge have a story or strategy to share that demonstrates success in recruiting new members? If so, let’s share them to ensure success with our recruitment goals! Please send your tips to [email protected].