Bill, Ken, you both know I love and respect you more than most, but at some point we're simply going to have to talk about this subject and the details involved in making them happen. I've been in this business for 59 years this October. There are only a couple who hang around here who've been here longer and I know one of them, a dear friend, Richard Christoforo whose heart is broken by the mere fact of the obvious: taxidermists simply don't play well together. So let me start out with a clean slate. I was nothing more than a hack doing backwoods taxidermy for almost 20 years. When I got a letter from William Lee Birch in the 70's that the NTA was forming and read all those great and grand ideas of sharing information, I jumped on the train and was swept away. I absorbed as much as I could, and though my work will never be considered "world class", it is unrecognizable compared to the stuff I did in the 60's. Then along came Ken Edwards and with the Internet, I found this site. Never one to hold back and always having my mouth into things, I became notorious rather than famous. I met even better artists and became actively involved in organizations, even forming one in my own state. I served for 7 years on the NTA board in one capacity or another. It was during that time I opened my eyes and saw the impending train wreck. Not only did I see the wreck of my own train, I saw it happening to all the other organizations as well. I'm not a rocket scientist, or a brain surgeon, but I began to think AND SAY things that made people uncomfortable. What I'm about to say isn't going to change that and it's going to piss of some of you. Sadly, it's not going to change the irrefutable fact and no matter how much you argue, the clock is running. Taxidermists simply don't play together well. I'd bet 99% of you are one man operations, perhaps with a helper, usually a family member including and most times your spouse. You're a "A" type personality and independent thinker. Sadly a large percentage of you are a nickel propping up a dime to continue. Some of you maintain work order residue and a very few of you keep a skeleton inventory in case of a rush job or something of your own perhaps, but most simply order supplies as they become depleted and when the demand for them appears. Few of you order in bulk and most of you bitch about the cost of shipping simply because you don't include that in your overhead. Few of you have actual "store fronts" and instead work out of basements, outside sheds, garages, barns, or warehouses. You use some DIY program or Aunt Matilda to your book work and accounting. Some of you have actually run your personal credit card through your reader so you can pay your bills at the end of the month. Then you want to "get better" so you begin the competition circuit. You join an organization and are only interested in what's in it for you. You spent 6 hours on a customers piece but put 50 on a "competition mount" only to have some know-nothing, egotistical judge give you a third place ribbon. So it's time for you to create an organization or join one to insure that doesn't happen to someone else. Then you form a board and elect one president though each of you knows you could personally do a better job than that idiot. You have a secretary who doesn't keep the minutes straight and a treasure who's hiding money away from the reports you read each month. You send out ballots each year but know the CPA is cooking the election. You hire judges for the shows and pay them under the table and each member expects $75 worth of return for their $50 membership fee. Oh, I know. YOUR state doesn't have that problem. Yes it does, you're just in denial. Even if it DOESN'T happen, you have some members who swear it does. Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope. ALL TAXIDERMY ASSOCIATIONS ARE ON A SLIPPERY SLOPE. Even though yours is running well, if or WHEN that core group of players quit, retire, or die, the association goes with them. Less than 5% of your membership works on keeping its head above water. The majority of your membership wants to know how much they can win , when they can drop off their mounts, and when they can pick them up afterwards. They only come to the banquet if they win and they expect to have a meal of prime rib, backed potato, steamed vegetable, small salad, tea or coffee with dessert and all for under $25. Dress is come as you are. That might include a jacke and tie for the guys and gowns for the ladies, but work boots, old blue jeans, logo T-Shirts and a baseball cap due its 10,000 mile oil change will be more common. In the last 40 years, only TWO SHOWS have worked and worked well. JUST TWO. #1 Piedmont. Held at Piedmont Community College in Rocksboro, North Carolina and hosted by the school's instructors, Ralph and Sandy Garland, this was the epitome of down home taxidermy. A small town, all the motels were sold out yet people came and slept in cars just to be able to attend that show. Admission just paid for overhead and before the Internet, there was no single source of information any better than what happened in this little town. Unfortunately, Piedmont got greedy and wanted full time academic students, The taxidermy course closed down and though the show continued for a few years, it was dead and gone . #2 The World Show. Can any of you wise guys come up with a good reason why only these two shows make my list?? MANAGEMENT. You see, neither of them had/has a "board of directors", a president, a executive director, or any contrived PooBahs. They are privately funded and privately managed by a single person. There's no voting as to what each individual would like or want, but rather a professional pattern and decision used. Volunteers are not needed as there are paid employees there. It's no one's business how much money is made and the participants are contractually obligated to perform. When it's over, one person reviews what worked and what didn't and without having to ask permission, makes changes to improve operations. And when Larry and Kathy tire of it, I'm not sure there'll be anything close to filling that void just as happened when Ralph and Sandy left Piedmont. When money was introduced into taxidermy, the death knell was sounded. There are no saints left and we are all crooks in one way or another (some just less than others). The appearance of impropriety is always more damaging than an actual impropriety because it creates doubt. It destroys friendships and increases greed. Everyone wants their share. We have our share of dolts and jerks, obviously, but the taxidermy family is basically a good, loving and wholesome group. They enjoy each others company and respect each others respective standing as a business person, but when sides are chosen and some given the responsibility of deciding what's best for others, the accumulatnig friction creates cliques and chinks in the armor. In her book, "Still Life", Melissa Milgrom follows the history of the industry and the associations that formed along the way. Not a single one of those early groups exist today and all for the same reasons as cited above. The NTA was formed with exemplary intentions but an early divide led to it splitting into the International Guild of Taxidermy. The IGT and then the NTA tumbled. From there, the United Taxidermists Association form. The UTA is fledgling and I've told its founders that there are pratfalls ahead that I'm not sure they can survive. The current NTA is foundering because it desperately wants to reinvent the wheel that was broken long ago. And it all comes down to the cold hard truth: the rank and file taxidermists simply can't play well with others. Those who're educated beyond my have better ideas, but tend to be ostracized for acting as if they're better than the guy in jeans and a ball cap. We're ALL too damned independent to be talked down to by our peers, and as long as our peers are trying to make decisions for others, that stigma is not going away. Now I've had my say. Each and every one of you is sitting there thinking I'm talking about someone else. Yet the guy you think I'm talking about is thinking you are the "someone else".