I am a member of the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) since 1993.
During the National Convention in Madison WI in 1997 I got in touch with the achievement programm and decided to jump into this adventure although I knew that it would certainly take me some time to complete the required certificates. At that time I did not know exactly how I would get my different models judged. Carrying locomotives and rolling stock in the luggage would be possible, but structures. As I got more involved I learned that there was a Contactgroug NMRA in the Netherlands. They held occasional meetings where judging of models was possible. In 1998 I completed the requirements for the Golden Spike Award. Various job and family matters kept me from working seriously on my certificates until in 2003 I started for good and entered my first structure, a model of the ATSF depot in Protection, KS, into a national contest. The model failed due to lack of detail. Shortly after the convention I became a member of the British Region and attended their convention in September 2003 with my reworked and more detailed depot model and another structure of the San Bernardino Sanding Tower. Both models won a Merit Award.
I have completed the Certificates for Master Builder Structures, Scenery, Model Railroad Engineer - Civil and Electrical, Chief Dispatcher, Association Volunteer and Author (SOQ and Paperwork completed).
Currently I'm working on my last certificate before MMR, Master Builder Cars or Motive Power. Depends on which one gets the Merit Awards first.
For me as a European member this journey took me almost 10 years now to get through the different certificates. Attending a convention or meeting easily takes several hundred miles to get there or a flight ticket to the US.
Therefore one of my goals with this blog consists in documenting and publishing my various steps to help others "get the clue" through the paperwork and what actually has to be done to complete a Merit Award earning model.