A recent string of comments on the bulletin board
concerning the subject of fly tying certification
bothered me a bit. It seems a father and son team
has decided to start a fly tying certification
organization to test and certify fly tiers in their
form of art. Considering the involvement both of
them have in the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF)
casting instructor certification program, I can
guess the nature of their new process.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against
certificates of achievement. If you think about it,
every time you visit the doctor's office you see one
of those certificates on his wall telling the world
that he has studied and passed the requirements to
practice medicine. I don't suppose I would doubt
his qualifications if I didn't see that certificate,
but I'm sure he's proud of that accomplishment.
While I don't always appreciate certificates, especially
from the self serving or self appointed, I do believe many
of them recognize specific accomplishments or achievements
that one can be proud of. For instance, I don't agree
with the way the FFF conducts their casting instructor
certification program, but I also respect the accomplishments
of many who have passed that certification course. If it
was easy, I suppose more people would have those certificates.
On the other hand, I oppose the attempts of some who have
tried to force their services on me and others because
they have a certificate of some kind. If their service
was so valuable, I think they would be asked to provide
it without any hard selling on their part. Some people's
services are that valuable and some aren't. I think the
guys who try to force the issue are probably the ones
that offer the least valuable service. On the other
hand, some people offer services so valuable, they are
in constant demand.
Getting back to my point, I also have some certificates on
my walls. Their value is probably only known to me, and I
suppose it's better that way. Why would you care what
certificates I have on my wall? Nothing about them had
anything to do with you anyway. However, they are something
I'm proud of and that's why I have them on the wall.
If you walk into my basement you'll see dozens of deer and
elk antlers on the walls. They are certificates of my skills
as a hunter. I had to earn each and every one of them. Do
they have an impact on you? Nope, but they tell anyone who
enters that I have worked on my hunting skills to the point
that I have true skills in that area. They mean something
to me, but I doubt they could ever mean anything to anyone
I have about a dozen certificates of accomplishment in various
areas of several occupations I have had, including my current
occupation. They tell anyone willing to read them that I
worked hard and showed considerable skills in those areas
of my job. They say that I excelled above the average guy.
Do I think you should care? No. Why should any of that
matter to you?
On another wall I have several dozen certificates I'm
particularly proud of. They are the certificates and
letters of appreciation I have received from various
youth and community service organizations I have helped
with my time and talents. They indicate my willing service
to their needs and goals. They show I care about our youth
and needy. They matter to me and the groups that gave
them to me, but they are worth nothing more than that.
They won't even buy a cup of coffee.
Scattered throughout my basement I have framed photos I
have taken. They are the best samples I have of that type
of accomplishment. Scattered with them are framed pages
of articles I have had in magazines like Outdoor Life and
Fly Tyer magazine. They point out some work and some
talent. They won't buy a cup of coffee either.
There is one certificate I'm especially proud of. It sits
on a shelf housed in a triangular frame with a plaque under
it. More than the Meritorious Service Medals and other
achievement type medals I received while in the armed forces,
this one means a lot to me. It embraces my total belief
and commitment to a type of service many others performed
with me. In a way it is the spirit or soul of a time in
my life. In my lifetime, I have accomplished nothing greater
than the accomplishment this certificate signifies. It is
a folded flag of the United States of America. It was flown
over the United States Capitol building then secured by a
former South Dakota senator to be presented to me at the
time of my retirement from the United States Air Force.
That certificate tells all who would look at it, that I
have served this country in the armed forces for 20 years
of my life. It says I placed the needs of my country above
my own life for the sake of freedom and national security.
It is an enduring symbol of those who served before me and
those who continue to serve after me. A link in a chain
that hasn't been broken, I share its honor with all others
who have served in the same fashion.
With that in mind, I suppose I don't share the enthusiasm
of some others when a family announces that they have started
a new certification program. I see through the core to the
money on the other side and wonder what their true motive is.
Is it honorable, or just another way for two individuals to
make some money? I'll let you decide that question for
yourself. I already know which certificate I treasure
the most. I'm a member of an exclusive club that many
others who will read this share; but it's a membership
that can't be bought with anything other than service