Volunteers: The Soul of Certification

October 1, 2018

A Guest Column from Merry Mott, FNGLA director of certifications and career development

Having been a part of FNGLA’s certifications for the better part of 20 years, I have shared in successes, such as reaching the milestone of 2,500 individuals having earned professional FNGLA certifications, as well as the challenges of the belt-tightening economic downturn.

Through the highs and the lows, there has been one constant: volunteers who have never wavered in their support of - and passion for - FNGLA’s certifications.

The indelible impact of these industry leaders became most apparent this year as certification has gained recognition, and the number of exams hosted across our state has increased, particularly FNGLA’s Certified Landscape Technician (FCLT) exam.

For those unfamiliar with the FCLT exam, it measures landscape installation skills and is peer-judged. This means professionals who have already earned their own certifications volunteer a full day of their time to judge the next group of testers.

Landscape certification would not exist without these exam judges who take their roles very seriously. They understand the future of certification rests on their ability to uphold the exams’ validity. They must fairly assess the exam applicants’ skills according to a set of industry standards – the same standards they met when they earned their own certifications.

Being an exam judge usually means enduring the Florida heat with a hat and a clipboard as the judges watch every step of the process - whether it’s measuring the planting pit of trees or testing a repaired irrigation pipe. Other times, it’s trying to keep the scoring sheets dry when the afternoon rains come, all while they juggle to check the tightness of a palm tree brace.

Yet, these solid volunteers return exam after exam. They are a professional group of colleagues who share a love for their industry by upholding its professionalism.

FNGLA’s certifications boast more than 100 of these dedicated annual volunteers for the landscape exams alone.

And, for these stalwart judges, all certified professionals themselves, FNGLA offers 100 “thank you’s!” •

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