A little reminder about our mission and information about how the
website fits into our mission:

Our first objective is to field a team of people who are trained and
professional in their ability, presentation, and results. This
objective, as part of our mission, cannot be accomplished if we don’t
cast a wide net and provide information and support for all types of
tracking interests, in the hopes of raising up individuals who will
aspire and succeed in joining a field ready team.

A public forum is required. The caveat in having a public forum is
that individuals who may have little insight into the art and science
of tracking could act as though they are representing GTA, or at least
be perceived in that way, and prolong our growth or acceptance as a
team in the Southeast United States.

This is partially why we had a private board for the first 13 months
of forming. Although we could have pressed this issue and had a
website with no discussion capability and a clear statement of our
present state and future interests, it wasn’t a bad thing that our
first few runs at starting a website didn’t materialize.

Now our position is substantially different. We have a growing crowd
of persons who are either established or growing as SAR professionals
and who have also attended 1 or more significant presentations and
practice sessions related to tracking. We, as a group, are becoming
track aware, and many who have taken advantage of some of our training
opportunities are seeing sign. Some have been on this journey for 3
years, many more for at least a year, and a few for many years beyond
that. As a skill that requires time and effort to build, we are
demonstrating the patience and effort and building up “sweat equity”
in ourselves, and with this team.

Almost as important as seeing sign, we have a growing community of
people who understand the process of learning to see sign, and how
that differs from reading a book and understanding the mechanics of
relying only on tracking tools and tactics. Our group is becoming
self-aware in addition to track-aware, and nothing we do is more
valuable than spreading the notion that tracking works, and tracking
is an important resource on every search.

To take the next step, we must broaden our discussion. Our website is
based on a web tool that manages “blogs” or “weblogs” as a fundamental
capability. This familiar form of communication is typified in tools
like facebook and myspace. It is a simple way to start a conversation
and log the stream of thought, comment and opinions in reverse
chronological order. We have no desire to limit our public presence on
the website to just commentary, so Ken Hughey has worked hard to put a
“face” on our website that we now present to the public. We are also
populating as much content as possible as a public service, to provide
the background on our group and to promote and support tracking as
much as possible. If you haven’t been watching it form, you should.
Many around the US have commented very favorably about the website and
some are almost as excited as we are that the site is moving forward.
One of the other tracking sites that has been popular with trackers
for over a decade has actually given us full access and permission to
use and extend anything they had done previously, and I look forward
to that collaboration reaping huge rewards for the tracking community
overall.

Even those of you who have been hesitant to start a new topic on the
message board should feel comfortable just joining into the middle of
conversation on the website. LOOK on the right side of the board under
“categories” or “recent posts” and click on them, then click on the
comment button to open up the conversation….and JOIN IN. It is easy,
there is no grade and it will help us become a more useful tool on the
internet.

FUTURE ——

Change is inevitable. And change is always both good and bad. In our
case, and as many of you have been putting up with from me for several
years now, we WILL be incorporated….and soon. That is an important
step for us. Once that occurs, we will implement our bylaws and SOP’s
and bring a level of formality to our program. As I have said before,
I wish it weren’t necessary, but it is a crucial step. I believe some
of our more qualified and practiced trackers on this team have been
waiting for this to occur, by the way, and I look forward to old
friends stepping back up and working with us when we cross this
threshold. In other cases, the formality may not fit others’ styles
and whatever interest we managed to hold with them up to this time may
diminish. I regret this, but it is necessary for us to move forward.

So what does this mean specifically? In many ways, it may require
little change. We will keep our broader, public discussion moving
forward through the blogs on our website and I hope everyone continues
to keep up with team activities and continues to learn from those
posts. It does mean that we will have some form of a private forum for
GTA members only however, and members will soon be defined as those
who choose to join our group formally. Membership will involve filling
out some information about yourself and paying some very minimal dues.
On this form, you will need to consider if you will be an associate
member or an active member. See the website for more information, or
look for the new draft SOP’s that will be posted shortly here on our
yahoo group.

Dues are being voted on through another poll Ken Chappell has put up
on the yahoo group board. I encourage you to vote, but at the same
time, realize, whatever option is selected, it will only be used to
help cover startup costs and possible recurring bills related to
future hosting, callout notification, printed brochures and as seed
money to help us get some logo’d items ordered.

As state above, the latest draft of the SOP’s will be posted by this
afternoon in case you are interested in reviewing them before you make
a decision about applying for membership. I expect the SOP’s to be
finalized within a few days, and comments are still welcome.

Thank you all for joining your leadership team on this journey and I
hope to see many of you this Saturday at Fort Yargo state park.
“Section B”.

Mark

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4 Responses to “GTA”

  • Mark says:

    As we have discussed since the formation of the team, we will all be given an opportunity to choose our desired type of membership, and to chart our course for where we want to head within this organization. If you desire to beat the rush, you may want to download our membership application form from our yahoo message board, or you can obtain it from this site, by looking under the “JOIN!” tab.

    Remeber, there are 4 types of membership:

    1. At Large Member: Honorary Members

    2. Associate Member: For those who want to learn to track but tracking
    certification, SAR tracking or becoming field ready for mission
    callout may not be desirable.

    3. Probationary Member: Someone who has applied for active membership
    and are in their first year of participation.

    4. Active Member: Active members are classified as Novice, Basic,
    Apprentice, Journeyman and Sign Cutter.

    Levels of Active Member classification and advancement also exist.
    Advancement as an Active Member is based on three things. 1)
    Participation in GTA training events, outside training events,
    demonstrating certain skills and reporting these activities
    appropriately 2) specific certifications with third party
    certification organizations, and 3) participation on actual SAR
    callout events, as a tracking resource or other SAR resource.

    GTA does not certify an individual’s level of tracking or SAR skills.
    Individual certifications are based on the Joel Hardin Professional
    Tracking Services (JHPTS) organization for tracking skills, and NASAR
    for SAR skills.

    For now, you may want to just fill out the GTA Application and watch
    for the general announcement that we are ready to accept team
    membership applications.

    Thank you all,

    Mark

  • admin says:

    Just as a reminder in case anyone missed it previously, GTA has been a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation, since 2/20/09.

  • admin says:

    Thank you to all who have already sent your application and dues payment in for full membership with GTA.

    Here is a summary of the requirement that Ken announced, based on some emails I have received:

    1) Everyone has to fill out a membership application and mail it in to Mona (Director and Corporate Secretary – see her email under “Join” on our website georgiatrackers.org). She is mandated to maintain records for us for all members.

    2) Everyone will have to decide whether they are interested in an associate membership or an active membership. If you are one of those who don’t have the time, interest or availability to even consider any type of certification or attending any actual search callout, you will be an associate member. All others are active members. You can find the SOP’s in the files section of this message board or on our website to review this in detail.

    3) A check must be mailed in for $15 if associate or $25 if active. This should go to Mona as well.

    4. Charter members, those who get the application in on or before June 1, will have their probationary period begin with the date they joined the GTA Yahoo Message Board. Everyone all others who have not been on the board previously or who join after the specified date will have their probationary period begin at the time they make application and send in payment.

    Email me or one of the other directors (Ken Chappell, Mona Hand or Susie Braswell) if you have any further questions.

    Mark

  • Mark says:

    It is my pleasure to announce that Susie Braswell is our new training officer and will be heading up the training committee. She is still very busy with several distractions but she has recently freed up enough time that she can again join our efforts and take on her previous leadership role.

    Please help me welcome her into this role and watch for more coordination and planning in our coordination efforts with her help.

    Thank you Susie, and we look forward to your help.

    Mark

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