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Thread: AICP CM - anyone else finding it difficult to do them meaningfully?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    AICP CM - anyone else finding it difficult to do them meaningfully?

    Is anyone else feeling less than fulfilled by the CM opportunities out there? I just finished my 2011-2012 reporting period:

    As far as I can tell, there are 4 primary sources of free CM:
    - APA itself (First Tuesdays offers 15 hrs currently, plus 18 hrs worth of AICP symposia and other free "teaser" events) - events tend to be very Chicago policy centric
    - the Utah/Ohio chapter sessions (which are actually quite interesting and can cover law and ethics.. but are currently only offering 9 hrs total across all of their active, approved choices) - very good, but not a whole lot of them and not all relevant
    - Sustainable City Network (now offering 3 points) - good and relevant, but not a whole lot is actually cross-registered
    - Vita Nuova (now not offering) - currently not offering

    I fulfilled my requirements in the 2011-2012 cycle the following way:

    - 14 hrs PTS course (required travel and hotel)
    - 1.5 hrs local APA chapter lecture
    - 8.5 hrs free distance learning (4.5 Utah/Ohio webinars, 2 SCN webinars, 2 APA First Tuesdays)
    - 8 hrs self-reported (all AIA, ITE, and USGBC-CM-approved courses not cross-registered with APA)

    In the end, I was able to get all of my points except for ethics in areas that touch on my areas of practice, but it was a bit of a struggle, and, frankly, I didn't learn a whole lot I didn't already know.

    I'm really wondering why more ITE, ASCE, ICE, USGBC and AIA events aren't cross-registered (I do have a second professional license). USGBC stuff pertaining to planning and the ND standard should be available for credits, everything the ITE does is relevant to transport planners, and a lot of ASCE and AIA stuff is really about planning and should be cross-registered.

    I know that APA's stock refrain is 'we can't force people to register with us' but the fact is, where non-planning organizations like ITE, ASCE, ICE, USGBC/GBCI and AIA offer planning instruction to their own members and then effectively exclude planners from them, then we're effectively encouraging non-planners to play planner... and that is something APA, as our representatives, should be doing something about. Perhaps they need to take a more active role in encouraging other our peer professional organizations to cross-register their credits. It's worth noting that virtually ALL relevant USGB/GBCI, AIA, ITE, ICE, and ASCE courses ARE cross-registered with each other.. just not with the APA... so it's not like they're intentionally trying to protect their own respective professions from each other (architects, engineers, transport planners). It's just that APA doesn't have enough profile with them for them to bother.

    Anybody have any thoughts?
    Last edited by Cismontane; 17 Dec 2012 at 12:27 PM.

  2. #2
    I'm really wondering why more ITE, ASCE, USGBC and AIA events aren't cross-registered
    $$$ for the APA?

    CM is good principle, but the implementation of it makes me wonder if its secondary purpose is to encourage attendance at the national conference and other APA events that charge registration fees.

    (Disclaimer: After doing some research on the pros and cons of pursuing AICP certification, I decided not to pursue unless my employer was willing to pay the vast majority of dues and costs associated with CM. So my opinion is biased.)
    The content contrarian

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    $$$ for the APA?

    CM is good principle, but the implementation of it makes me wonder if its secondary purpose is to encourage attendance at the national conference and other APA events that charge registration fees.

    (Disclaimer: After doing some research on the pros and cons of pursuing AICP certification, I decided not to pursue unless my employer was willing to pay the vast majority of dues and costs associated with CM. So my opinion is biased.)
    The problem with that logic for many of us is that we're presented with two not so great options: (1) don't get certified, get fired and (2) don't get certified, can't get promoted. .. although my employer does pay.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    As a former APA PDO, the quality and actual content of CM activities vary from chapter to chapter, and in larger states, from section to section. AICP establishes criteria for APA chapter officers/staff for registering CM opportunities in order to meet certain minimum criteria, with additional requirements for Law and Ethics CMs. If you have questions, comments, concerns regarding the actual content contact your local chapter.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Is anyone else feeling less than fulfilled by the CM opportunities out there? ... Perhaps they need to take a more active role in encouraging other our peer professional organizations to cross-register their credits.
    Anybody have any thoughts?
    You are not supposed to feel fulfilled. You are supposed to to through the motions to keep those letters after your name, similar to getting lots of these: on facebook. People don't get AICP to be fulfilled, they get it to hopefully get a better chance at being hired or getting a COLA raise (or not laid off). When most in the profession pay for the letters, they lose meaning. As you are learning.

    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post

    CM is good principle, but the implementation of it makes me wonder if its secondary purpose is to encourage attendance at the national conference and other APA events that charge registration fees.
    Of course it is. The conferences are boring and rarely have something you can't get somewhere else for free.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    When most in the profession pay for the letters.
    Actually, the way I see it, it's the opposite problem. What I noted is that virtually all the relevant ASCE, ASLA, ICE, ITE, AIA and GBCI courses are cross-registered with each other, just not with the AICP/APA, because either we're too small and too few people have AICPs for them to bother or APA isn't pushing hard enough with them, as they are with each other. Heck, GBCI actually DROPPED cross-registration with APA at the national level this year because they felt our review process was too onerous and there were too few AICP's out there and engaged for them, for them to bother. It might be the latter, but then, I don't think it's unreasonable for us to ask that APA do something about it.

    Regardless, registration and certification are facts of life in our industry. You're not going to change that. In the built environment profession in this country, we will always have to have a few letters after our names if we want to keep our jobs. My complaint is that, from my perspective, either APA hasn't done a good enough job promoting the AICP credential or they're not doing enough to advocate on behalf of AICPs.. hence the observed problems.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    The problem with that logic for many of us is that we're presented with two not so great options: (1) don't get certified, get fired and (2) don't get certified, can't get promoted. .. although my employer does pay.
    Granted, two of the main but less than ideal reasons to earn the AICP certification. Once upon a time ago, there was another school of thought about AICP. Getting fired or being passed over for a promotion kind of represents that old school of thought, but I realize it is nevertheless the reality of the profession.
    The content contrarian

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    Getting fired or being passed over for a promotion kind of represents that old school of thought, but I realize it is nevertheless the reality of the profession.
    I was trying to engage in some snark.. but, yes, the purpose of certification is not to keep one's job.. it's to assure that the profession is recognized as such and that everybody in it maintains a core of competency - and is recognized to do it by their peers. My point is that the program, as it exists today, doesn't seem to do as much as it could to facilitate that objective.. which is really the point of this discussion, or should be, at least.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    OfficialPlanner, I was in the same boat as you. I was cobbling credits together through Tuesday's at APA, my chapter's annual meeting, and online offerings. While great, it was not meaningful. I then managed to get my employer to send me to APA this year in Los Angeles and that was very meaningful. In addition, because I was cobbling together credits, I now have carryover credits available for the following reporting year. I found the Annual Meeting refreshing and useful to me because like you I am a transport planner and there were not only lots of sessions on transportation planning but the TPD had their business meeting with a great reception that followed after the meeting.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster View post
    OfficialPlanner, I was in the same boat as you. I was cobbling credits together through Tuesday's at APA, my chapter's annual meeting, and online offerings. While great, it was not meaningful. I then managed to get my employer to send me to APA this year in Los Angeles and that was very meaningful. In addition, because I was cobbling together credits, I now have carryover credits available for the following reporting year. I found the Annual Meeting refreshing and useful to me because like you I am a transport planner and there were not only lots of sessions on transportation planning but the TPD had their business meeting with a great reception that followed after the meeting.
    I went to a PTS course and actually found it very useful and rewarding.. met some good people as well. The problem there, of course, is cost.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Actually, the way I see it, it's the opposite problem. What I noted is that virtually all the relevant ASCE, ASLA, ICE, ITE, AIA and GBCI courses are cross-registered with each other, just not with the AICP/APA, because either we're too small and too few people have AICPs for them to bother or APA isn't pushing hard enough with them, as they are with each other.
    APA-AICP "credits" don't do anything for other professions, as their accreditation actually means something. I can also go with APA isn't doing anything.
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  12. #12
    it's to assure that the profession is recognized as such and that everybody in it maintains a core of competency - and is recognized to do it by their peers.
    That may be the intention, but there is an assumption that everyone that maintains AICP certification is competent. There are also plenty of non-AICP planners that have chosen not to pursue AICP or have let their certification lapse by not remitting dues to APA in a timely manner.

    The prior comments may have been said in snark, but there is a lot of truth to them, unfortunately.

    At the end of the day, it all comes down to an individual's reputation and merit. We're kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.
    The content contrarian

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    At the end of the day, it all comes down to an individual's reputation and merit. We're kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.
    That may be the case in the ideal, but, remember, that those of us who work in private sector as planners (and architects, civil engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, etc) are, for the most part, journeymen, and, as journeymen, we desperately need some way to convey our journeymen credentials against a known benchmarking of competence and providing what is essentially a commodity service. "Reputation" and "merit" are great, but there isn't really a way to evaluate those things, for a particular job.. unless you're already a renowned starchitect or planner to the stars - a "master" in the traditional sense of the term. If AICP isn't doing that for us because APA is unwilling or unable to do so, then maybe we need to look at other alternatives, but that doesn't change the fact that, as journeymen, we need a standard.

    Whether we like or not or it is in fact valid, the people who hire planning consultants (journeymen) are using the AICP as an assessment of minimal competence. Many clients will insist that the senior planner on a team be AICP/PP/MCIP.. I've seen at least two dozen contract tenders over the years that do so. That's because, since they're hiring journeymen, they really don't have a choice about it.

    I'm not telling it as it should be.. I'm telling it as it is in my world.

  14. #14
    I did private sector consulting in a related field for a number of years. It was common for the procurement package for professional services to require consultants working on a project have a list of qualifications. Not meeting the minimum qualifications listed in the FRP/RFQ would automatically disqualify the bid. In addition to the minimum, any relevant degrees, training, and certifications is seen to add value, so my firm was very supportive of training. There was also varying degrees of billable rates depending on years of experience and/or certifications.

    Working as a planning consultant, AICP is more or less mandatory because that's what the clients demand. Therefore, a good consulting firm employing full time consultants should pay for the costs needed for CM and additional certifications that are of value since otherwise these costs become the responsibility of the employee (just something for the newbies when presented with a job offer in consulting).

    "Reputation" and "merit" are great, but there isn't really a way to evaluate those things, for a particular job.. unless you're already a renowned starchitect or planner to the stars - a "master" in the traditional sense of the term.
    I fully agree with your post except for the quote above. You're underselling reputation and merit a tad. People do take notice of a job well done and good work ethic. It doesn't take much before word spreads.
    The content contrarian

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    That may be the case in the ideal, but, remember, that those of us who work in private sector as planners (and architects, civil engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, etc) are, for the most part, journeymen, and, as journeymen, we desperately need some way to convey our journeymen credentials against a known benchmarking of competence and providing what is essentially a commodity service. ...

    Whether we like or not or it is in fact valid, the people who hire planning consultants (journeymen) are using the AICP as an assessment of minimal competence. Many clients will insist that the senior planner on a team be AICP/PP/MCIP.. I've seen at least two dozen contract tenders over the years that do so. That's because, since they're hiring journeymen, they really don't have a choice about it.

    I'm not telling it as it should be.. I'm telling it as it is in my world.
    AICP is simply a marketing ploy, replacing portfolios. That some firms boilerplate their RFP and the writer doesn't delete "AICP required" doesn't make it any more credible either. That's the way it is now, but as soon as most are forced to have the same letters after their name, then it will be meaningless and another phrase will be boilerplated into the RFP on the shared drive. That's because there is no real licensure like PE or a profession that needs to show competence so their bridge doesn't fall.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    APA has the most direct impact through activities at the state chapter level. It's not the National Conference, Tuesdays at APA, JAPA, etc. Many of you are passionate about planning, and I think many of you would make outstanding chapter officers, at-large members, or committee members. Yes, there is a time commitment, but again, I had a greater amount of influence in APA programming and events. Even as an entry-level flunky I served for two years on a public relations committee and worked my tail off to get professionals from other professions to speak at CM-registered events. As PDO in another state chapter, I had almost complete control on all CM content through my state chapter and made sure all opportunities were relevant to chapter members. I was contacted by planners from other parts of the country to talk about the impact of coastal planning/hurricanes, LEED for skyscrapers, etc. Well, I was in a mid-western, land-locked state, and those events, though important, had nothing to do with my chapter, so I politely declined their petitions. I've moved to another state, and have been asked to serve as a state APA conference committee member because I had previous PDO experience.

    Bottom line, APA, like anything else, is what you make of it
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    AICP is simply a marketing ploy, replacing portfolios
    No they don't. I can't think of a single planning consultant who's appointed for a project without a portfolio. They demand both. An AICP AND an outstanding portfolio of proven project experience. One does not substitute for the other.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    AICP is simply a marketing ploy.
    Yes. and CM is simply a money-making scheme for APA. Most of the CM elligable seminars and trainings that I took were useless. Useful training I attended from local experts on subjects like biology, wetland delineation, GIS, etc., were not elligable for CM because they were small organzations not willing to pay APA to get credited. When I was meeting the CM requirements, I attended quite a few state and nartional conferences and took online training from APA. The vast majority of those trainings and seminars were completely useless and almost comical in how worthless they were.

    When the economy crashed, my employer stopped paying for any training. As such, I ended up not meeting my CM and letting my AICP expire. I don't even pay APA dues anymore. It's become a giant scam and I've since moved on to actually thinking less of planners who think highly of themselves for having it. some of the best planners I know are not AICP. Some of the worst planners I have worked with have been AICP.

    Simply put, IMO APA has become an organization whose primary goal is scamming planners out of money. It is no longer an organization whose primary purpose it to benefit the planning profession. The materials they put out have substantially declined in quality and usefulness over the last decade or so. Planners and employers who continue to value the AICP in hiring and promotional decisions are doing the profession a huge disservice.
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    APA chapters can invite speakers from other professions to speak at local chapter meetings. If the events are conducted directly by the chapter I don't believe they cost anything. Again, it is up to the chapter to do this, and I think too many APA chapters stick with only planners to speaking to planners, instead of inviting people from related professions. This isn't directed at anyone in particular, but I have seen far too many planners (1) rely on employers to pay the dues (which is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past) and (2) expect to kick back and have their respective APA chapter do all the work. Apart from APA-National, and a chapter or two, many of the officers/commissioners are practicing planners who volunteer their time. Many of us give tons of our time to put on a state conference or even an afternoon of quality programming for our peers and we don't expect anything in return. Certification MAINTENANCE is maintenance: you have to work for it and put in your sweat and tears to maintain your credentials whatever they may be. Be grateful you don't have licensure requirements compared to other fields. I agree APA and AICP have their problems but honestly I don't see many of you running for elected office or taking a proactive stance on improving your chapters. You expect someone else to willingly pick up the slack. To be told that it's an outright scam is an outright insult to many of us who do take AICP and its respective CMs seriously.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Certification MAINTENANCE is maintenance: you have to work for it and put in your sweat and tears to maintain your credentials whatever they may be. Be grateful you don't have licensure requirements compared to other fields. I agree APA and AICP have their problems but honestly I don't see many of you running for elected office or taking a proactive stance on improving your chapters. You expect someone else to willingly pick up the slack. To be told that it's an outright scam is an outright insult to many of us who do take AICP and its respective CMs seriously.
    I certainly don't think APA is a scam of some type.. and I'm sure those who run it are very devoted to the mission and the profession.. What I'm complaining about.. and yes, I am complaining to people like you here, precisely because I hope somebody at least thinks about what I have to say and relays it on.. is the degree of distance AICP keeps from the allied professions represented by the ASLA, AIA, ICE, ITE, ASCE and GBCI, etc. Why is it that these groups - who are my co-workers.. heck, I'm also an architect, all collaborate on CM and AICP/APA doesn't? I could easily fulfill CM requirements exclusively through actual urban planning classes offered by these other associations without getting a single point recognized by AICP. This seems wrong to me. GBCI's decision this year to stop offering AICP CM credits for the first time in a decade was another slap in the face... it's argument is that after repeated attempts to reach out to APA, it and its leaders were basically ignored.

    If they want to survive as perceived leaders in the built environment, APA/AICP need to start leading - not only themselves but in the broader community of the allied professions.. otherwise they will always be seen as a pale shadow of the other professional groups. As a planner, I would not like to see this happen. We need to get out in front of things..

    As for getting involved, I'd love to .. if I could only figure out how.... can't even convince my chapter committee and division to return my emails to find out when meetings are...

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    As for getting involved, I'd love to .. if I could only figure out how.... can't even convince my chapter committee and division to return my emails to find out when meetings are.

    Have you considered contacting your chapter officers about suggestions for improvements? I approached a chapter officer at a state planning conference in 2006 about suggestions for APA public outreach to other professions and eventually landed a seat on a public relations committee in 2008. I did more of the behind-the-scenes work recruiting speakers, preparing marketing/educational material to non -planners, etc. Unfortunately, because the chapters and sections are run by volunteers, sometimes the only way to get things done is to do it yourself. There is no regulatory agency that forces APA officers to do anything and each APA chapter is granted flexibility in crafting its bylaws.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    You expect someone else to willingly pick up the slack. To be told that it's an outright scam is an outright insult to many of us who do take AICP and its respective CMs seriously.
    I stand by my opinion. Nearly all of the training blessed by the APA fort CM that I have taken has been worthless. And nearly all of the training I have taken that has been beneficial to my job has been a nightmare to try to get qualified for CM. The imposition of CM turned AICP into a money-making endeavor on the part of APA. I firmly believe it does the profession a disservice now - specifically as it has started focusing on quantity of trainings over quality. Stricly my opinion, but I believe AICP has become a scam that is doing a disservice to the profession.

    I'm sorry you feel it is an outright insult, but I am insulted by the way APA has treated us. And I'm insulted by certified planners who feel that having taken a certain number of hours of seminars and trainings of repetitive nonsense somehow makes them more qualified than others. When I chose to stop paying my dues and stop trying to retain my credential I sent a letter to national explaining my concerns. I got back a letter that was full of typographic and spelling errors, clearly written by someone in another country. It is a scam. I've become a better planner since giving up trying to maintain my AICP through useless trainings.

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Certification MAINTENANCE is maintenance: you have to work for it and put in your sweat and tears to maintain your credentials whatever they may be. .
    The things that qualify for CM credits are generally worthless and done specifically for the point of just doing it. Little value for excessive cost. People are generally doing this for the perception of professional growth, not actual professional growth. To me, that is a scam.
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I know AICP has some problems and I always feel there is more they could do for me, but I think we as planners need to stop pointing at the problems and try to fix them. If you don't like what is being offered, get onto the boards and start changing things. When I didn't like the local conference classes, I learned the hard way how much work goes into offering the few classes we could get. I asked about helping and was placed on a conference committee. The hardest part was figuring out how to get people to present a topic. We started with a general call to the public to submit topics, but in the end we had to pull rabbits and other things out of our hats to create topics. We can always pull other people into our topics as part of the credit, I just don't know if they get any credit. In my case I pulled in a public CPA to discuss planning budgets (I doubt he gets credit), and a wildlife biologist to discuss wildlife preservation. I'm sure we've all heard enough budgeting and wildlife talks, but if you want to hear something different, create a session and offer it to the conference committee (state or national) or talk to the development officer, they can use the ideas.

    I can't offer much on the credibility argument. I value the idea, but I can't say it makes me a better planner. If our leadership isn't doing enough to make us credible, we should get on the boards and fix that.
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    If our leadership isn't doing enough to make us credible, we should get on the boards and fix that.

    Originally I got involved with APA to market my firm's services (and hopefully earn more compensation). In the end, I learned that employers value professional involvement but you really do it because you want to do it and don't expect anything in return. I served as PDO because I wanted to revamp the AICP exam material in my state chapter and ensure that chapter members had access to quality CM material. But, as you mentioned, there is a ton of time that goes into everything. Most planners assume there is a full time organization/company where people do the traning, conference preparation, magazine articles, seminars, symposiums whereas its really done by other volunteer planners. Two years ago I did a 5 hour AICP exam workshop as PDO. I think I clocked in 60 hours researching through 10 bankers boxes of study material, preparing the presentations, handling all of the marketing material (I invited planners from 4 states), and dealing with the logistics of the actual workshop (where was it going to be? what types of refreshments do I order? what types of handouts do the planners get). Then I stood on my feet for 5 hours and presented a +200 slide powerpoint and fielded AICP exam questions from planners. Then I supervised a state APA conference over the next 2 1/2 days where I spoke at two presentations, moderated another two, and presented the professional development report to the chapter. The time spent preparing and monitoring the logistics for the conference was in addition to the 60 hours for the AICP exam workshop. Then I drove back home across the state and locked myself in my office on a hard deadline for a month.

    I'm not expecting a pat on the back or anything, but I just wanted to share with you what goes in to creating APA programming. It is done by everyday planners who volunteer time. It doesn't make us any better or worse than planners who don't do it.
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  25. #25
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    =
    I'm not expecting a pat on the back or anything, but I just wanted to share with you what goes in to creating APA programming. It is done by everyday planners who volunteer time. It doesn't make us any better or worse than planners who don't do it.
    And you wonder why some of us question its quality, legitimacy, efficacy, relevancy and so on? If it were truly useful or going toward a real license or certification (like a PE), there wouldn't be this problem. That is your clue as to its legitimacy. I'm a member of two other associations (one other peripherally) that have equal or more CM requirements, and staffers do this. But they have legitimate licensure where the letters after your name have actual meaning, weight, bondability, etc.
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