US Islands Awards Program

USI: A Look Back and Ahead

by John Reisenauer Jr., KL7JR (former NL7TB)

It was the summer of 1994 when I really got hooked on island chasing, both IOTA and CISA. Why didn’t the US have an island program I asked. I was told the idea had been discussed but no action was ever taken. That would soon change. With my own ideas and advice from others, the United States Islands Awards Program (USI) came to be.

Our philosophy is simple, our state island collecting program would be most professional with minimal rules, operate totally on the Honor System and be the best island program around. In September, my son John, KC7FVA, and I set up on Whidbey Island (WA-001S) and Fidalgo Island (WA-002S), both NA-065, with a tribander mounted on the roof of my motorhome to officially launch USI. More islands started to become activated but not
at the pace I had hoped for.

USI was slow to take recognition as many of the “big gun” island chasers sat back probably wondering just who this NL7TB was and what was he trying to do. The Annual W/VE Island Contest emerged in September 1995 to celebrate the inception of USI. Later, N4VA, KA5TQF, WD8MGQ and others joined KG7RS and myself on the Board of Directors (BOD). USI was being noticed. The BOD accomplished many things, most importantly; the further developement of the rules and regulations, publishing a comprehensive island list, future goals were set and more islands were being activated and others were getting involved (tnx to KD1VE, KD1XD, K2OLG, KA3UNQ, AE4MK, N4VA, AA5ZA, KB5IQJ, N6JV, N6IV, KG7RS, AA7AV, WT8E, NS8O, K3GGN, NC8V, AB7PX, WN5W, KA5RNH, WB3CDX, K0NL, AA5AT, N9WDQ, KL7AK, KL1SLE, WB1BVQ, AD4LX, KF9YL, WB9HIX, VE7IU, VE6VK, VE3NSZ and others).

In 1997 USI experienced growing pains and a new USI team emerged in May. There were a few who had the “ancient thinking” that we no longer needed to promote our program nor did they feel it was important to fulfill the commitments they made. They didn’t last long! Unlike other programs, USI is very “Island activator” friendly because we promote island hopping – the basis of our existence.

News of USI is being published in radio magazines and newsletters, we have three successful contests under our belts, about 1200 state islands activated (up to August 1997) and now we’re known on the WWW – the program has really taken off! Thanks to our followers, both island collectors and island activators, USI’s presence on the Ham bands is strong.

So, where are we headed? Join with us in this ever-growing aspect of our hobby called “island collecting”. The new USI Committee (COM) promises you more new and exciting things for the United States Islands Awards Program. COM is the team who’ll lead USI into the year 2000 and beyond with more new and innovative ideas for island collecting!

USI didn’t come easy but is a great success today because of the hard work of many people and because we listen to what our followers say. Thank you for making your island program so popular! 73 and have fun chasing islands!

John, KL7JR
Founder and past Program Director- USI
(written circa 2000, USI Webmaster, 4 August, 2006)