John Nehrich works full time for the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society club of the New England, Berkshire and Western model railroad. In 1989 he was hired by the student union of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to work there. At that point, they had opened the layout to the public on a weekly basis.
A year earlier they had traveled to San Diego to see how their club had managed a museum type open house and at the same time operate a volunteer club. John’s job is to work on the layout and teach new members how to model. He also keeps the materials and research available for members. He keeps the projects organized and runs the administration of the finances. John works for the student union which is under the university, but the union is run independently by the students.
Allen Keller asks if this job a dream come true for John, as he is paid for what he used to do for free? In the past, John’s position was a full-time volunteer job, but he also kept another job because he needed the income. After being hired, it has been less hectic for him.
The club also has a gift shop, but they have found that they didn’t get enough visitors for it to be sustainable. This helped start the move into serious hobby items and even the selling of information through books they have written. When John thinks about it, modeling is the most significant thing he can do with his life. He is doing something enjoyable every day, his life’s calling. Modeling is a trivial thing to some people, but to him it is fulfilling.