I am Steve Johnson, Governor of Lions District 5NE. That means I’m the administrative head of Lions Clubs in the eastern half of North Dakota for a year. My year began July 1st, 2011. Among my responsibilities during this year is to visit each of the 59 Lions clubs in the district. Fifty-nine is a moving target. If we establish new clubs during the year the number goes up; if clubs fold then the number goes down.
I’m told by my predecessors that visiting clubs will be the best part of being a district governor or “DG”. As I view it from the start of the road it seems like something between a leisurely stroll across the United States and the Bataan Death March.
In my training over the last two years I was taught what to do and what to say when I visit each club. Besides meeting and greeting and maybe sharing a meal, I’m typically given fifteen minutes to speak. During these fifteen minutes I’m supposed to greet members on behalf of our international president, support his agenda, inform and educate on every new Lions program, tell of the district’s goals and ask for support, encourage, praise, challenge, entertain, and if possible keep them awake. I can say from personal experience, that not every DG is successful in meeting all of those expectations on every visit.
I wear a bright red jacket or sportcoat when I visit clubs. It’s bright red because someone or some group many years ago chose that color; lucky us. The color offers new meaning to the term “blazer”. At least I’m not likely to be mistaken for wildlife and shot while in remote areas of North Dakota.
Lions Clubs International encourages the district governor’s spouse to accompany the district governor on club visits. They don’t pay anything for it; they just encourage it. My wife Brenda–at least in the beginning–is eager to go with me. I coerced her into doing the monumental task of scheduling our trips and making the lodging reservations. She’s also the official photographer, general reminder person, and behavior critic.