Donald Hoffman, president of the American Nuclear Society – or ANS – said the society should be the No. 1 nuclear organization in the country.

Hoffman made this declaration during Tuesday's 50th Anniversary of the American Nuclear Society-Savannah River Section celebration. The section is one of the oldest within the national organization as it was founded only a decade after the ANS.

“It's your individual commitment and our collective commitment that makes the American Nuclear Society what it is today,” Hoffman told local section members. “The most important thing I want to do is bring a business acumen to our society.”

Hoffman executed that point by highlighting what the local section, as well as others sections, can do to become more involved. He said the society should work to become more transparent to the public, and recalled times when that was the case.

“We used to be the single organization in the country that was the vehicle for all of the dialogue about nuclear,” Hoffman said. “We were huge, and people saw us as a valuable resource. We need to get back to that.”

Section Chair Kevin O'Kula echoed those sentiments of transparency by speaking about the society's scholarship opportunities for students. O'Kula said the local section attained a status that will allow it to increase its charitable giving.

“It will open up a lot of frontiers to us,” O'Kula said. “The challenge for us is to restore what we used to do on scholarships by amassing enough money so that we can be self-sustaining in our scholarship programs.”

Pete Shaw, the secretary for the local section, is one of the youngest members of the section. Shaw said the society could benefit from the younger generation by funding trips to conferences.

“Young members have the most growth, but our employers don't always see it, especially when we can't get the funds to go on these trips,” Shaw said. “With help from the ANS, I'm looking to change that and prove to my employer that attending these meetings is good for me and the company I work for.”

Tuesday's celebration came about two weeks after the local section was honored with several awards from the ANS.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.