unless AERC is willing to pay more than lip service to gaining membership. This decline will continue. They do a horrendous to nonexistent job of marketing. Also focusing on juniors isnt going to grow the sport.... Richmond VA Horse expo, ZERO endurance exposure, even though its right down the road from the OD 100, I even volunteered to run the booth, AERC wouldnt come up with the booth fee.
They are making a grassroots effort, which, especially in these circumstances, is great. If they paid more for advertising, that would be reflected in our fees for membership and most likely at rides. Frankly, this is more indicative of a much bigger problem: the participation in the sport of endurance is shaky. We have our core dedicated people, a few testing the water, and a few that come and go. However, because of whatever reasons (the economy being a big one), attendance at rides is often barely enough to cover costs, which leads to fewer rides being put on, and then we all loose.
On the other hand, nearly all endurance riders are aware of AERC, so they've done an excellent job advertising amongst the people they need to. As for individual rides and the sport as a whole - that's up to local organizations and ride managers to advertise. It sounds like you tried to volunteer for the wrong people. In our area, the ride managers take care of their own advertisement. My club hosts a booth at our expo and does raffles. The Pacific Northwest Endurance Riders organization also does a great job of distributing our area's ride information throughout the region as well as does awards and lots of other cool things. AERC cannot dedicate its resources to every ride and every endurance organization - nor should it. It is there to help keep our sport organized, and we as participants should be involved in keeping participation healthy. It does, however, do an excellent job of educating both prospective and new riders - if you don't believe me, just take a look at how many people have suggested that the OP's on these forums check out the AERC website and articles.
I see the focus on juniors as making more of an effort to support this special and almost nonexistent segment of our endurance community. They do need our help to get involved and stay active, from sponsors to a little extra encouragement and a helping hand for the parents. Many of us participate despite barriers in our time and finances - juniors often don't have ways to get around those barriers on their own and it is difficult for them to build up a support network without current riders and organizations stepping forward.
AERC wont even require ride locations on the online ride posting calander. Then they wonder why they are not attracting new riders ? Can't come to a ride if the location is kept secret.
Seems the old guard is happy with the status quo and very resistant to addressing any of the issues that are hurting recruiting.
Again, this is not an AERC issue, but a ride manager issue. Oftentimes, the reason a location isn't listed is because there isn't one yet. The most important thing to get when sanctioning the ride is a date and region. Usually, the ride managers will know where the ride is because they've put one on before. However, you don't have to nail down the location of the ride in order to get it sanctioned and on the calendar so you don't run into a conflict with another ride in the area. However, it is the manager's responsibility to update that information when possible and generate advertising for their rides.
I'm glad you sought out an opportunity to volunteer - that's what this sport needs. However, make sure you're talking to the right people to do so. You can also volunteer in other ways like the ones I listed above in the original post.