Mission and Purpose
The North American Mycological Association (NAMA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of professional and amateur mycologists with over 90 affiliated mycological societies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
- NAMA is committed and dedicated to the promotion of scientific and educational activities related to fungi.
- NAMA supports the protection of natural areas and their biological integrity.
- NAMA advocates the sustainable use of mushrooms as a resource and endorses responsible mushroom collecting that does not harm the fungi or their habitats.
What NAMA Does
Conferences — Holds an annual conference/foray in different parts of North America, often with short courses in mycology, always with lectures by professional mycologists.
Regional forays — Organizes gatherings where learning and social time are encouraged.
Newsletter — Publishes The Mycophile, which gives mycological news and reports, notices of events of interest to members, reviews of recent books, and poison information.
Journal — Publishes McIlvainea, a peer-reviewed journal, with scientific papers on all aspects of fungi, toxicology reports, and topics of general interest – with articles by leading professional and amateur mycologists.
Photo Contest — Conducts an annual photo contest and publishes the results.
Educational Programs — Provides teaching kits and activities for K-12 grade levels and professionally produced CDs for club use.
Scholarship — NAMA funds an annual fellowship with the Mycological Society of America to promising graduate students in mycology.
Speakers Bureau — Maintains a list of over 50 speakers who are available to give programs for affiliated clubs.
Toxicology — Provides expertise in mushroom poisoning information on the web and through a group of identifiers for doctors and veterinarians.
Discussion groups — Hosts a discussion group for members and can organize more specialized groups as needed.
History of NAMA
The North American Mycological Association (NAMA) is an organization of amateur mycologists, originally organized as the People-to-People Committee on Fungi in November 1959. Harry S. Knighton (1915-1999) of Portsmouth, Ohio was the founder and first chairman.
The original Committee on Fungi received its impetus from People-to-People Hobbies, Inc., an international friendship program inspired by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. The Committee on Fungi was affiliated with the People-to-People Nature Committee.
Almost immediately, members saw the need for an independent organization devoted to amateur mycology, and the North American Mycological Association was launched on February 20, 1967. With missionary zeal and great energy, Harry Knighton produced a newsletter, The Mycophile from 1960, organized the first foray in Scioto County, Ohio in 1961, and expanded the organization’s membership nationally and internationally through a wide network of contacts. Dr. Alexander H. Smith of the University of Michigan and Dr. Clark Rogerson of the New York Botanical Garden both were early supporters and advisors to NAMA. John Cage, C. Wayne Ellett, R. Philip Hanes, Phyllis Kempton, Elsie Knighton, Lois Long, Margaret McKenny, Guy Nearing, Ellen Trueblood, and Esther Whited were all early important members.
By the 1970s, as interest in mushrooms increased, many local mycological associations had formed throughout the U.S., taking inspiration from and affiliating with NAMA. The organization launched a journal, McIlvainea, in 1972 and formed many of the committees and programs by which it is known today. The annual North American mushroom foray was occasionally augmented by a European excursion. By 1976, the NAMA Toxicology Committee had organized a mushroom poison case registry to analyze and distribute information about mushroom poisonings. NAMA continues to be the premier national organization in the U.S. devoted to amateur mycology, with programs that encompass taxonomy, mycophagy, photography, mushroom cultivation, toxicology, nature study, education, publication, cooking, mushroom crafts, and travel.