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TOPIC: Why is AFA membership so low?

RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 27 Apr 2007 19:27 #46

Dick Fanguy wrote:
We do have a new ED, Jon Bonci, and he is working very hard to come up to speed. He has a great resume and work ethic. He has the people skills that I think will be an asset to the AFA.
Dick,

Thank you for confirming that particular rumor. It would have been nice to have heard it from the EC before hearing about it from someone outside of the organization. I know you think I am trying to beat you up about this and given our history I don't blame you. But this bit of news and the fact that a non-member had it before I, a member, did is a part of the problem that we have all been talking about in re communication from the leadership. This is a major development and as soon as the deal was inked I believe that a general announcement to the membership should have been forthcoming.
Dick Fanguy wrote:
As far as getting information from the office, you abused that during the campaign. You had staff members looking up so much information that you wanted for personal gain, they did not have the time to get their work done.
You may believe what you want about my reasons for making the requests that I made. Just as you may believe what you want about how proper or improper it was for Mr. Ferguson to attempt to influance the process with his orders. But you are just wrong to suggest that I had anything personal to gain other than the knowledge required in order respond to questions that were posted or to address issues that I believed needed to be addressed as a part of my attempt to present the membership with a viable and completely honest and accurate alternative. I am sorry that you don't or can not see the effort I put into the campaign for what it was, instead of what you though it was, even what you may need it to have been.

That was then and this is now. To expect people to support you is reasonable but to expect people to agree with you or keep silent about their disagreement or questions is not. NOr is it reasonable to expect or even try to control the forum in which people choose to express their thoughts and feelings.
Dick Fanguy wrote:
There should not be any information, short of personel information, that a member could not get from the AFA. It is my hope that we can get the Web Sight set up with an archive with all the information you or any other member would want.
I am glad to see that we are on exactly the same page on this issue.
Dick Fanguy wrote:
You claim to be an IT person. Write up a plan and send it to the office. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
I do not claim to be, I was. I am now a farrier. I have not done what you suggest because I have the basic belief that the effort would be cast aside given the source and my time is more valuable than that.

If you are requesting on behalf of the EC that I do so, then I would be glad to discuss the parameters of the project with the EC to insure that the EC's goals will be met. I'll be happy to contribute in any way I can to furthering the AFA. I made that commitment to you personally before the election results were anounced and I will keep my word. I am however not willing to engage in the level of effort necessary to develop a viable plan without the EC’s endorsement for the effort because I am already committed to a project for the Certification Committee that is proving more difficult to deliver than I had originally anticipated. Will I make time for your project if ask, yes. Will I just up and do it on my own, no.
Dick Fanguy wrote:
You asked about membership numbers for reg. and life members. I will have that answer for you today.
Thank you. I have always believed that the numbers were distorted by those concerned and it will be good to see how and if the real membership level has fallen off as much as the nay Sayers have predicted.
Ronald E. Kramedjian, RJF

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 27 Apr 2007 19:50 #47

Tom Stovall, CJF]Your premise presumes the necessity of answering your questions when none exists wrote:
Actually I believe that it is been demonstrated repeatedly, by you too as I recall, over the last couple of years.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
Alas, there is no compelling reason for anyone to answer your questions, here or on any other forum, unless they choose to do so.
I disagree with you. The officers of the AFA represent the membership and as a member I have a right to ask them questions. If necessary I even have standing to compel such answers in a court of law. So it seems to me that just answering the questions politely and accurately would save everyone concerned a lot of effort.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
Perhaps you should ask yourself if the AFA office has any reason to respond to your requests.
See above and Dick's own reply to me as to access to the information of the AFA.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
Since the ED serves at the pleasure of the BOD, your question would be better directed to that body, as well as any complaints you might have about his job peformance.
I'll refer you to the following quote of the AFA's bylaws. It looks to me a lot like he serves at the pleasure of the EC as the authority to hire him has been delegated by the BoD to the EC.
ARTICLE VII. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Executive Director: The Executive Director shall be an employee of and the chief operating officer of the Association. The Executive Director shall manage and control the operation of the office and its staff and have the responsibility for carrying out the daily activities of the Association in an efficient and economical fashion through the coordination of facilities, staff, and resources of the office. The Executive Director shall be selected by the Executive Committee of the Association and shall assist the President in conducting the legal and fiscal matters of the Association and shall perform such additional duties as assigned by the President or the Board of Directors. The Executive Director may attend meetings of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, and all other committees, except the Nominations & Elections Committee, and make presentations, proposals or requests directly to the Board of Directors or committee as a non-voting, ex-officio member.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, now would you just answer the questions?
Why should he?
Because whether he likes it or not he is my Vice President just like he is every single member of the AFA’s Vice President.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
Whatever they were, they increased by one about March first. :)
Welcome to the AFA, I'm glad you joined us.
Ronald E. Kramedjian, RJF

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 27 Apr 2007 23:00 #48

  • Gary_Miller
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tbloomer wrote:
Good. Then you can report on the budget line item assigned to promoting certification to horse owners!
As soon as I know whats going on and the committee can get a good working budget put togeather. Then we will start working the issue on how to fund promoting the AFA and certification to the horse owning public.

Tom Pariss, the committee co-chair, is suppose to be contacting me bring me up to speed with the committee and to explain my duties and responsibelites.

For those who may want to know my qualifications. While in the military I worked for serveral years as a Resource Advisor (Finace manager) for my unit. I was reponsable for managing all aspects of the funding for maintaining all the facilities on the base. This included building budgets, managing funds, building reports and keeping the commaders updated on funding status.

On of the things I would like to see done is a quarterly funds status posted on the AFA web site so all members can see where the funds are comming from and where they are going.

But before anything can happen we must first get our arms around the budget problem and get a good solid budget to worked with.
Gary Miller, PF

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 00:24 #49

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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Ronald E. Kramedjian in gray, my old stuff in brown, deletia

Your premise presumes the necessity of answering your questions when none exists; it also presumes the AFA has "membership problems" when none have been demonstrated existent.

Actually I believe that it is been demonstrated repeatedly

When and by whom? Please cite the problem, it's source, its resolution (if any) and the exact means by which you feel the membership was adversely affected. Kindly spare me any of the usual tempest in a teapot stuff, I want to hear about who did what to whom and where the bodies are buried, I'm not interested in the inconsequential rumormongering that often pervades this forum.

by you too as I recall, over the last couple of years.

I've been a vocal proponent of certification and an outspoken opponent of useless shoeing/forging contests, as well as consistently calling for some form of health/hospitalization insurance for the rank and file, but those are matters of the AFA's focus and direction, not "membership problems", which is a term that implies wrongdoing and/or malfeasance.

Alas, there is no compelling reason for anyone to answer your questions, here or on any other forum, unless they choose to do so.

I disagree with you. The officers of the AFA represent the membership and as a member I have a right to ask them questions.

You have the right to ask, but they have no compulsion to answer.

If necessary I even have standing to compel such answers in a court of law.

I asked my attorney about this and she said you've been getting some bad legal advice. :)

So it seems to me that just answering the questions politely and accurately would save everyone concerned a lot of effort.

Allow me to offer another possibility. The officers can simply ignore your questions without fear of penalty. The salient point is that while you have the right to ask, you have no legal right to demand that the officers of the AFA answer your questions, no matter how important you might feel they are.

Perhaps you should ask yourself if the AFA office has any reason to respond to your requests.

See above and Dick's own reply to me as to access to the information of the AFA.

While an officer may choose to reply, their reply is strictly a matter of their choosing; you have no legal right to demand a reply unless you can convince the authorities that some illegal activity has taken place and are able to provide substantiation for your accusation.

Since the ED serves at the pleasure of the BOD, your question would be better directed to that body, as well as any complaints you might have about his job performance.

I'll refer you to the following quote of the AFA's bylaws. It looks to me a lot like he serves at the pleasure of the EC as the authority to hire him has been delegated by the BoD to the EC.

ARTICLE VII. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Executive Director: The Executive Director shall be an employee of and the chief operating officer of the Association. The Executive Director shall manage and control the operation of the office and its staff and have the responsibility for carrying out the daily activities of the Association in an efficient and economical fashion through the coordination of facilities, staff, and resources of the office. The Executive Director shall be selected by the Executive Committee of the Association and shall assist the President in conducting the legal and fiscal matters of the Association and shall perform such additional duties as assigned by the President or the Board of Directors.


Your point? Simply direct any complaints you might have to the EC. If they feel they have merit, they may respond.

Why should he? [Why should the vice-president answer a member's questions?]

Because whether he likes it or not he is my Vice President just like he is every single member of the AFA’s Vice President.

Allow me to dab a little ad absurdum on your argument: If every one of the 3,000-odd AFA members asked a single question and could legally demand an answer for that question, then the officers would literally have no time in which to perform their duties because they'd be too damn busy answering questions. Since the officers serve the organization, not individual members, it follows that each officer must necessarily separate the important from the unimportant - perform interrogatory triage - when it comes to answering members' queries. Obviously, no officer of the AFA is under any moral or legal compulsion to answer every question offered by every member of the organization.

Welcome to the AFA, I'm glad you joined us.

Thank you. Quite unashamedly, I plan to devote a considerable portion of my Golden Years to furthering my personal agenda which consists primarily of extolling the benefits of AFA certification to one and all.
Tom Stovall, CJF
"The only foolish question is the one left unasked."
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 00:52 #50

  • Cyber Farrier
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Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
...I'm not interested in the inconsequential rumormongering that often pervades this forum.
Ahem... whilst there occasionally is a happenstance of misinformed (though well intentioned) expressions of "fact" (or wishful thinking) on this forum, I dare say it does not deserve the derisive monicker of "rumormongering." Mud slinging, back-stabbing, waffling, obfuscation, yes. But rumormongering, never.

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 01:45 #51

Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
I've been a vocal proponent of certification and an outspoken opponent of useless shoeing/forging contests, as well as consistently calling for some form of health/hospitalization insurance for the rank and file, but those are matters of the AFA's focus and direction, not "membership problems", which is a term that implies wrongdoing and/or malfeasance.
I do not agree with your supposition as to what the term implies. To me the fact that the AFA is issuing membership numbers in the 10,000+ range and can only show just over 3000 members is a good and fair example of a "membership problem." I’d say that this is a good example very poor member retention. That the AFA actually has only been able to retain representation of less that 10% of the estimated 35,000 practicing farriers in this country is in my mind a bit of a "membership problem" in that it is not effectively recruiting members. There is no bad guy here, just bad facts that it seems the elected leadership past and present seem to want to ignore, rather than have a substantive conversation about.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
I asked my attorney about this and she said you've been getting some bad legal advice. :)
Well, you know that where there is the potential to earn fees lawyers are likely to disagree. :( Personally I hope that it never come to the point that members in good standing actually have to try to compel communication.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
The officers can simply ignore your questions without fear of penalty.
Maybe, maybe not. It is certainly easier than having to take heat for ******, ill-informed, bad, inappropriate or unproductive behavior. Heck, it is even a good way to avoid having to deal with the discontent of those that think your decisions, process or communication skills are abysmal.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
Since the officers serve the organization, not individual members
On this we disagree. IMO, in an member owned organization they do in fact serve us because we own the organization. Given the AFA’s organizational structure and tax status I believe that they have an even higher obligation to serve the membership, but then I have always been a bit idealistic.
Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
I plan to devote a considerable portion of my Golden Years to furthering my personal agenda which consists primarily of extolling the benefits of AFA certification to one and all.
Then the AFA has gained a free and powerful advocate for its certification program and is lucky to have you.
Ronald E. Kramedjian, RJF

Visit the Guild of Professional Farriers, Inc. Website

"What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular." Unknown

"In matters of style swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a...
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 03:31 #52

After following this thread for a while I am curious as as to just how the roles of the ED the EC and the BOD are handled within the AFC. Before becoming a farrier I spent many years as a consultant and specialist in organizational structure and board development, specializing in not-for-profit organizations. My work included regional, national, and international organizations. It has been my experience that when a Board of Directors role in an organization goes beyond determining the policies (which should reflect the desires of the membership) and direction of an organization that staff turnover is high and organizational conflict and strife even higher.
The Executive Director should be the goto person to put those policies into action and make sure everything is moving according to the direction set by the Board. The ED or other staff in the office should be the people membership goes to for answers and when they are not happy with the answers then it should go to the board. Going the other way only usurps the ED and often confuses the members since different board members often provide different answers.
What I am seeing here (based on this thread) is an organization where it sounds like the ED is little more than a placeholder, and board members are performing the day to day tasks of operating the organization. Did I understand right that a Board member is working to clean up the books? How then does that board member make an objective decision on the financial reports of the organization and the accounting practices if they were an active participant in revising entries. If the books are in such bad shape why was a full audit not done and the auditors recommendations taken to the board? So much of what I read just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
So back to the original question "Why is AFA membership so low?. Well from my perspective why would anyone wish to add to their everyday stresses by joining into such organizational disarray. When I read about board decisions being made based on 100 year old reports with substituted words (the Miller report) and now what appears to be in many ways a structureless, rudderless, almost directionless organization - well I just see far too many better places to put my money and support.
Lawrence Nault
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 03:34 #53

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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Ronald E. Kramedjian in gray, my old stuff in brown, deletia

I do not agree with your supposition as to what the term ["membershp problem'] implies.

Agree, disagree. No me importa.

To me the fact that the AFA is issuing membership numbers in the 10,000+ range and can only show just over 3000 members is a good and fair example of a "membership problem."

Do you know what the first card number was? Do you know the yearly rate of attrition among working farriers due to injury, retirement, death, etc.? Do you know whether or not chapter members were once counted as AFA members? I think you're trying to make a mountain out of an inconsequential mole hill. Personally, I don't know or care how many members the AFA has had in the past because I can't do anything to change the past; on the other hand, I may be able to play a small part in helping the AFA in the present and future. As the saying goes, "Lead, follow, or get the hell outa the way."

I’d say that this is a good example very poor member retention. That the AFA actually has only been able to retain representation of less that 10% of the estimated 35,000 practicing farriers in this country is in my mind a bit of a "membership problem" in that it is not effectively recruiting members.

Who determined there are 35,000 practicing farriers in this country? I'm kinda shaky on out-of-the-hat "data," and I don't know that any industry-wide survey has ever been done by any credible entity, so I'd take that pie-in-the-sky number with a large grain of salt. That said, relative to the AFA's membership numbers, without knowing for sure how many farriers there are in the country (and nobody does), how many have joined the AFA over the years, how many have joined and failed to re-up for whatever reason, and whether or not chapter membership is/was included in membership figures, one cannot possibly know what kind of job the AFA is doing, vis-a-vis membership rentention.

There is no bad guy here, just bad facts that it seems the elected leadership past and present seem to want to ignore, rather than have a substantive conversation about.

LMAO! You appear to be confusing your conjecture with "facts."

I asked my attorney about this [the ability of a member of an organization to force an executive to answer what can be perceived as meaningless questions] and she said you've been getting some bad legal advice.

Well, you know that where there is the potential to earn fees lawyers are likely to disagree. :( Personally I hope that it never come to the point that members in good standing actually have to try to compel communication.

Personally, I don't deal too well with threats, I tend to tell folks who threaten me or mine to just pick a soft spot and jump on - so, if you want to sue the AFA for what you perceive to be a "lack of communication" or some such foolishness, have at it. In the USA, anybody can sue anyone for any damfool thing. Winning is another matter and litigation is costly.

The officers can simply ignore your questions without fear of penalty.


Maybe, maybe not. It is certainly easier than having to take heat for ******, ill-informed, bad, inappropriate or unproductive behavior. Heck, it is even a good way to avoid having to deal with the discontent of those that think your decisions, process or communication skills are abysmal.

While assessing the alleged foibles and poor behavior of the AFA's administration is certainly your right, I hope you won't mind if I point out that your incessant and apparently groundless nitpicking appears to be a serious case of sour grápes caused by your loss in the recent election.

The officers serve the organization, not individual members

On this we disagree. IMO, in an member owned organization they do in fact serve us because we own the organization. Given the AFA’s organizational structure and tax status I believe that they have an even higher obligation to serve the membership, but then I have always been a bit idealistic.

Idealism or no, your dead wrong: The first responsibilty of any leader of any organization is to the organization, not to the individual.
Tom Stovall, CJF
"The only foolish question is the one left unasked."
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 03:53 #54

One other quick thought on this. There is at least one (or so I have heard) long time member of the AFA (whose membership number is in the lower 3 digit range) who has become so disenchanted with the AFA (I am sure he would use much stronger words) that he has asked them to revoke his lifetime membership - and the AFA refused to do that. Now if that is what it takes to retain members and keep membership numbers up it is a sad commentary on the state of the organization.
Lawrence Nault
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 06:18 #55

reillyshoe wrote:
Danvers,
I have never heard of the NCTE. I believe the "big gorilla" of educator associations is the NEA- with a membership of 3.2 MILLION members. That makes the ratio of farriers in the AFA comparitively low (I would guess) by comparison.

Nope... The NEA is a group that addresses all teachers (and interested parties)--whether they're teaching pre-school or college and whether they're teaching calculus or basket weaving.

The NEA, then, would be more along the lines of the AHC, functioning as an umbrella organization for numerous smaller organizations, which are focused on specialized concerns.
~~Danvers

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 06:33 #56

Ronald E. Kramedjian wrote:
To me the fact that the AFA is issuing membership numbers in the 10,000+ range and can only show just over 3000 members is a good and fair example of a "membership problem."

Actually, they're issueing numbers in the 9,600 range.

So... if you were to pick 100 graduates from farrier schools across the country and follow them for the next year, how many do you think would be shoeing horses at the end of the year? If you followed that same group for the next five years, how many do you think would continue as farriers? Do you think it would be 30? I suspect it would be a much lower number.

Everyone wants to talk about how many farriers the AFA loses, but they don't put it into the perspective of how many farriers simply move on to become truck drivers or hair stylists or whatever it is that the masses of short-timers do with themselves. All of those among us who are active in our chapters see the new folk come and go more than we see them come and stay. Sure, some are quitting on their affiliation, but many--if not most--are quitting on their career choice.

Yes, the AFA loses members, but let's place that within the framework of the profession....
~~Danvers

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 06:46 #57

SteppinOnTheFrog wrote:
One other quick thought on this. There is at least one (or so I have heard) long time member of the AFA (whose membership number is in the lower 3 digit range) who has become so disenchanted with the AFA (I am sure he would use much stronger words) that he has asked them to revoke his lifetime membership - and the AFA refused to do that. Now if that is what it takes to retain members and keep membership numbers up it is a sad commentary on the state of the organization.
"or so I have heard" ??!!@@??
Would that be a member of the American Farrier's Association

or a member of the



???? If the AFA is so inherently bad, one would think you would actively distance yourself from it rather than co-opting it and attempting to capitalize on the recognition.

In addition to the images above, I have an image in my mind of a farrier going into a barn and bad-mouthing the regular farrier's work in an attempt to get clients. In general, I think it's best when we get work by showing what we can do, rather than attempting to run down what someone else is doing.
~~Danvers

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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 10:35 #58

Nobody is saying the AFA in inherently bad. Nobody is inherently bad, I believe that everyone is inherently good. With that said, I find Steppingonfrogs analysis pretty interesting. Sounds like the AFA is not letting the EC do his/her job. Look at the last two EC's, gone. Did the board and Pres. drive them out? From what Steppingonfrog says if the board has the best interest of the membership then let the EC do his/her job. It appears (APPEARS JMHO) that the BOD still wants to make all the decisions and as Steppingonfrog has said this is a disaster waiting to happen. We have seen several disasters already, how many more can the orginization take. A few of you die hards and good ole boys may think everything is just honkydory. But in my opinion the BOD has to prove to membership fiascos have come to hault and that the BOD has learned how to act like learders instead of a bunch of farriers with big egos. The BOD needs to look at the purpose of and benefit of the EC's posistion. Don't control the EC let the EC do his/her job objectively and trust the process. If you cannot do that, then do the AFA a favor and step down.
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 12:03 #59

Tom Stovall, CJF wrote:
I hope you won't mind if I point out that your incessant and apparently groundless nitpicking appears to be a serious case of sour grápes caused by your loss in the recent election.
Actually I do mind. This is an allegation that I figured someone would through out the second I opened my mouth about anything of consequence. I was a bit disappointed that Dick was the first to hint at it, but I am completely and totally ****** struck that you would use such a tactic.

If you do not like my approach, you have a right to your opinion. If you don't agree with me fine. If you think I’m full of merde, cool. But don't try this kind of garbage, because that is all it is **** filled garbage and you of all the people here are capable of so much more.

The facts haven't changed and no mater how much you, Danvers, Dick or anyone else try’s to obfuscate them they are still there for everyone to see.

There are just over 3000 members. Just barely half of those members have achieved certification at some level. Growth is currently stagnant or falling slightly. When contrasting our current growth rate with the membership number that increased by 1500 regular members over the 12 years preceding there appears to be a major decrease in momentum. All of this combined doesn't look like real health to me or to a whole lot of other people.

Unfortunately it appears that instead of having a open honest conversation about the apparent problem there seems to be a lot of interest in attacking those that are raising the issue for discussion. If that is the style of leadership you want Mr. Stovall cool, based upon your approach in this thread you are going to fit right in. Again, welcome to the AFA.
Ronald E. Kramedjian, RJF

Visit the Guild of Professional Farriers, Inc. Website

"What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular." Unknown

"In matters of style swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a...
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RE:Why is AFA membership so low? 28 Apr 2007 12:11 #60

danverschild wrote:
Actually, they're issueing numbers in the 9,600 range.
Opps. I was off by 400. I had been told that they were at 9600 last november and just assumed that we had hit the 10,000 mark already.
danverschild wrote:
Everyone wants to talk about how many farriers the AFA loses, but they don't put it into the perspective of how many farriers simply move on to become truck drivers or hair stylists or whatever it is that the masses of short-timers do with themselves.
I don't thank that anyone has done a creadable study that can be referenced as a useful point in the discussion. But it would sure be a great study wouldn't it.
Ronald E. Kramedjian, RJF

Visit the Guild of Professional Farriers, Inc. Website

"What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular." Unknown

"In matters of style swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a...
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