My 1st AP Certificate – Association Volunteer

My intent was to chronicle my progress as my journey unfolded. However, I was too busy while on My Quest getting things done to spend the time here.

At this time, I am actually picking up where I fell short by writing a series of articles for the NMRA Magazine. By doing so, I believe I will reach a wider audience to share my experiences with and it also gives me a deadline to get each article written. In the articles I may mention “to see or learn more” and reference this website. In those cases I will try to at least have posted what I am referencing, if it’s not already up then I will try to have it up by the publication date.

That’s me teaching my first Railroading merit badge clinic!

The January 2017 issue of the NMRA Magazine has my article about my first AP Certificate. Eventually I may have the article reprinted here but for now I will just include a brief recap and a few other thoughts not in the article.

After getting my Golden Spike Award I was now excited to really begin the Quest for my Master Model Railroader in earnest. I looked at the requirements for each of the different certificates and tried to determine which would be the easiest to achieve first. As mentioned in the article, I had considered myself a “lone wolf” modeler for many years (and sometimes I still do) but beginning around 2011 I joined a new 100% NMRA club and enjoyed the fellowship and enthusiasm of that club. Prior to this, several years earlier, I had found where the local NMRA Division meeting was and attended it only to be sorely disappointed in the lack of fellowship. I was hardly acknowledged and it seemed like a bunch of old fuddy-duddies who could care less that I was there. In contrast, the theme of the new club was “Fun, Learning & Fellowship” which were all great things! Eventually, the local Division received a new Superintendent, which I like to claim I had a hand in – I made sure my vote counted – and he began to “stir the pot” by changing things up. Just because that’s always how things were done did not mean that’s how they should continue to be done.

To make a long story short, the 100% NMRA club and the Division were rolled into one and the Division was renamed to reflect the change. Many of the same people where doing “double duty” in leadership in the Club and the Division. The name change reflected how the Division was changing for the better and ready to grow! Now the motto of the Division became “Fun, Learning & Fellowship” where we now have monthly Events instead of just meetings, including Clinics, layout tours and other activities, and involving the community and getting new members involved. We have partnered with a children’s museum that has lots of hands-on activities and started a new model railroad kids club.

This change has not happened overnight, it’s been over the last five or six years. I mention it because it’s good to have a group that meets often and is supportive and has a good program. I have been on the Division Board of Directors for much of that time as well as the Division AP Chairman, webmaster and other various positions. Going back, however to when I was looking for the easiest certificate to get first, I figured the Association Volunteer could be the first one. When I had first heard about the AP Program in 2000 I truly was a lone wolf modeler and figured I would never get the Volunteer certificate. There are many was one can earn “time points” for various positions. For me, I was already a Boy Scout merit badge councilor for Railroading. I had not signed off any boys yet but being involved as I was starting to be, I agreed to help teach the Railroading merit badge clinic. I think that first one I signed off nearly 20 boys over two clinics.

Not everyone would care to be a merit badge councilor (you do have to register with the Boy Scouts of America) but there are many other opportunities to volunteer. It might take a couple of years to earn enough points but while you are working on structures, cars or another certificate, the points will be accumulating as you serve. Remember that just because you are “volunteering” doesn’t mean it qualifies for the certificate. Check the different categories so you won’t be surprised. My advice is to see if something on the list sparks your interest. Opening your layout (if you have one) earns you points! Being on a committee can earn points. Basically, giving back to the model railroading community is what it is about. Helping others and that’s how we can enjoy the journey together!

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