The Rotary theme for January is Vocational Service. Well, so what? I hear some thinking. In fact I too had to think 'why?' Delving back into my Rotary history I realised that a cornerstone to Rotary's diversity, and perhaps its longevity, is the focus on including in each Rotary Club a diverse range of vocations.
So what? I asked myself. Having a diverse range of vocations certainty broadens the perspective of Club views, capacities, competencies and inspirational desires. But something was missing from this reasoning.
I then it occurred to me that it was the other cornerstone of Rotary, Service. Vocational Service. I wondered how we Rotarians might interpret this 'Service' component. In many clubs Vocational activities include visits to different workplaces - of Rotarians, other businesses and services, manufacturers, and various industries in our local areas (eg mining, education, health, welfare, corrective services, and so on).
Some Clubs have successful Pride of Workmanship programs where local employees are recognised for their customer service or quality of their work. There are special categories supported by some clubs for Police and Emergency Services workers.
Indeed the District has an annual Vocational Excellence Award. I am pleased to report that Awards chair, Murray Paterson, has advised that there is a strong field for the Awards this year. It is great to be able to recognise "a commitment to high ethical standards and a record of outstanding achievement in their chosen vocation which has been to the advancement of that vocation and the nation".
Yes this is all very good, but how does this relate to Vocational Service for Rotarians - where is the 'service' component?
Recently, your Club may have considered its constitution, in which you would have noticed (wink) Article 6 - Five Avenues of Service. The second 'Avenue' for serving as a Rotarian, is Vocational Service, which:
"has the purpose of promoting high ethical standards in businesses and professions, recognizing the worthiness of all dignified occupations, and fostering the ideal of service in the pursuit of all vocations. The role of members includes conducting themselves and their businesses in accordance with Rotary’s principles and lending their vocational skills to club-developed projects in order to address the issues and needs of society."

I think there is another angle we can take in this Avenue of Service. That is the Rotarian providing service back to their vocation through participation on industry committees, representation on local, regional, state and national committees, working with your vocation mentoring juniors, providing your knowledge and support to ensure the vocation's ethics and standards are maintained, and to foster a sense of service within others.
Read on to see how one Rotarian turned his craft into art!
As we visited clubs and spoke with Rotarians, it is surprising how many provide Vocational Service through their links to their vocational/industry associations, sitting on local committees representing their vocation, providing leadership through supporting interns and students, and generally demonstrating how as Rotarians they conduct themselves and their businesses in accordance with Rotary’s principles. I am sure many Rotarians have been recognised by their peers and achieved high recognition (even Life Membership) of their professional/industry associations - to all of you, Congratulations!
And then there are the Rotarians who use their vocational skills to create something completely different to what you would expect. I am referring to the great sculptural work of Murrumburrah-Harden Rtn Carl Valerius, who has created a life size re-creation of 'Bill the Bastard'. Carl spent 1,650 hrs (close to 48 weeks equivalent full-time work!) creating the model from which casts are being made for the bronze statue. All the detail can be found HERE [or at ] and watch a short video [] Well done Carl, your are an inspiration.
Is the Vocational Mix in a Club Important?
Over the years, clubs have interpreted the '2 Rotarians-per-vocation' rule with a degree of flexibility. In my Club, some years ago, there was a strong push to have a number of Rotarians from the real estate vocation. We got around the '2 rule' by classifying them as Rural Real Estate, Housing Real Estate, Commercial Real Estate, etc. From a numbers point of view this was great, and all these Rotarians performed admirably. However when there was some kind of disagreement, outside of Rotary, they all resigned. The Club then had a substantial gap in person-power!
Obviously in smaller rural communities there are likely to be a number of potential Rotarians in closely linked vocations, so the challenge for Clubs is to ensure that your MIX is sustainable.
Summing-up Vocational Service, Athol Jackson, Rotary Club of Narrandera, said: "Rotary is an opportunity for people in business to gain significant experience from others, to learn respect and develop dedication."   
What do you think? How do you see this Avenue of Service?