In today’s society, certification means everything to a client who wants quality work done. It tells the client that the contractor has passed an examination in his chosen field of expertise; it is the contractor’s degree.

In 1983, I became the fourth person to be Master Ground Water Certified (MGWC), known today as the Green Jackets, by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA). I have other degrees such as Foreman Engineer by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the MGWC designation has meant the most to me over the years. It tells me that I am one of the tops of my peers in my field. I can’t say that the MGWC designation has made me more money than my peers, but I am proud to be among the elite.

When I recommend a contractor to people, I always recommend that they hire an NGWA-certified contractor or individual.

To continue to be currently certified by the NGWA, a person is required to pay an annual fee, plus earn a number of continuing education hours. We have lost many people because for whatever the reason they didn’t or couldn’t pay their annual recertification fees. They have one year to renew by paying the membership fees, recertification fees, have proof of eight hours of continuing education, plus pay an additional $100 after their certification expires.

After that, they must rejoin the NGWA, and retake the exams like they had never been certified. Usually, when this happens, many expired members have told me, “To hell with it!” They wouldn’t retake an examination that they already had passed once.

I’m disappointed, but I tend to agree with those people. If I was decertified, I wouldn’t go through it all again, however, I’m 75 years old and don’t really need it. I feel that once certified, always certified, maybe just not currently. If that happened, I just would wear my green jacket without the MGWC insignia.

After 30-plus years, many people – some in the ground water industry – still don’t know that the Green Jackets are the master ground water contractors; they just think we play golf or are doormen for a hotel.

Don’t misunderstand: I think it is important to be certified and a member of your state well drillers organization and the National Ground Water Association. The NGWA does a lot that people seldom realize for its members. I encourage everyone who is a driller or pump installer to support the National Ground Water Association by becoming a member and get involved. We have strength in numbers.

Over the years, as a member, I have stated my disagreements with the NGWA, but if you aren’t a member, you don’t have a right to complain. I’ve never ran for or served on the board of directors, as I feel I’m better at being behind the board of directors and the presidents.

I’ve been a member of the National Ground Water Association since its inception, and I’m probably the oldest active certified well driller to date. A second-generation drilling contractor, I’ve enjoyed drilling all of my life. I know drillers who have retired and don’t even want to think about drilling. Drilling is my life; I love it (almost as much as I love my wife, Bess), and I don’t plan on ever retiring. Like my dad said before he passed away: “Just bury me face down so that I can keep digging.”