The Wisconsin Taxidermy Association — What does it mean? Audio English.com lists no less than 8 senses of association. I was astounded as I read them. We are very aptly named. Our founders nailed it! Some are plain as day in how they apply to us. #1 - A formal organization of people - sounds like us. # 2 - The act of consorting with others - sounds a little criminal, but, I can see that one. 3 - A social or business relationship - yup. #4 - A relation resulting from interaction or dependence - that's us for sure. #5 - The process of bringing ideas and events together - absolutely, twice a year, even. #6 - The state of being connected in memory or imagination - no doubt. And then a couple were a little tougher to draw a connection, just play along...#7 - (chemistry) any process of combination (especially in solution) that depends on weak chemical bonding - hmmm, I don't know about you, but, that sounds like some kind of reference to having some drinks if you like to read between the lines like I do. And you know that one can imbibe knowledge as well; see how slick that was? The having some drinks thing also confirms the mention of memory, back in #6, because if memory serves, I remember some shows better than I don't remember others. That last line doesn't sound right, but I'm sticking with it. And finally #8 - A group of organisms that live together in a certain geographic region and constitute a community with a few dominant species - now, we don't often refer to one another as organisms, but, we are, and we come from the same state, for the most part, and at the end of the awards banquet, you can usually see the dominant species by the amount of trophies on their dinner table. I think all eight fit just fine. An empty brown bottle on your dinner table does not constitute a trophy, by the way. Plus, while I read this, I learned all about synonyms, meronyms, hypernyms, hypOnyms, homonyms, and antonyms. I never knew that there were so many "nyms". Made me feel like a nymbecile. Read that once or twice, you'll get it.

So, what's this all about? Well, I've thought about all that I've gotten from my association with our association. Because I was chosen for the McKenzie Award last winter and wasn't there to accept it, they called me out at the Rendezvous and completely caught me off guard with little to say. Now, apparently, I have too much to say.

I've learned so many things, other than good Taxidermy techniques, by being part of the WTA. How about organizational skills and team work. How about being a small part of something that's bigger than any one person? How to teach and how to be taught. Keeping my ears open a little more and my mouth a little less. Constructive criticism, how to give it and how to take it. Being given the opportunity to make decisions that affect others, and believing in your decisions. I'm pretty sure my business may have failed were it not for some guidance. And the friends and watching their families grow. The list is so long...and have you seen the people that have been recipients of this award? It's a group of friends and heroes of mine, all talented and dedicated folks who built and maintained the WTA. We probably need to go back and recognize some that gave their all before the award existed. It's a group that I'm humbled to be a part of, and I must thank my wife, Terry, for being part of it too. Not enough can be said for the non-taxidermist support that we enjoy in our club. And that's just not brought up nearly enough.

So, chase the Best of Categories, the State Champions, the WASCO’s, and Breakthrough's (we all do), but give chase to the McKenzie Award too. I swear it'll make you, not only a better taxidermist but a better person. I know that this got lengthy, but, if it sounds like I'm proud of the WTA, well, I guess that I'm guilty by association.