I have been with MUFON for about about ten months, and when I first started the State of Wisconsin had roughly six members (including the state director). However, since that time, our membership has seen a bad decline, falling to the point where there is just one active member: me. There are no trainees, no other field investigators, and no state director.
Just one person to investigate the entirety of Wisconsin. The director of Minnesota has stepped up as acting director and she is working on some cases as well, but one must remember that she has her own state to take care of, which is why I say that there is only me. With this being said, I have been asked to attempt to recruit new members by providing the information found on MUFON's website (you can click on this link to see that information). However, before you do, I would like to share my experiences so far.
First, the bad...
1. I have investigated about 22 cases so far in one form or another (either fully by myself, or providing analysis for other's cases), of which you can find on the NLPRS website by clicking this link
. I maintain this online record as a sake of completeness, so that others can see what is going on, and maybe as a record in which future information can be added. I also have an electronic back-up copy on a dedicated MUFON external hard drive, as well as a physical copy of all note and reports (more on that later). This makes it extremely useful when you research previous cases on the MUFON case management site only to find that some cases have been deleted or reassigned; yes, I have investigated cases that the findings have been deleted, with the case being reassigned to another investigator. This is my biggest peeve, and I've already complained about such actions... again, maintaining a record of the conversation for future reference.
2. At times there seems to be a push for investigators to classify their findings as being of a particular nature. When I perform an investigation, I utilize numerous sources so that I can eliminate different possibilities; I also take the evidence at hand as the foundation of the investigation, and if there are a number of possibilities still open, or if there isn't enough evidence to tip the scales one way or the other, I report that, I will not proclaim something being one thing if there isn't enough to back that claim. But, with some of the cases I've performed, it would seem that they were "misidentified". I will not falsify a report or twist it to meet some other agenda or requirement, and I've made that known. Now don't get me wrong, I haven't been asked to rewrite a case or anything, I've just been told of the disparity of what I'm doing versus what MUFON wants done.
3. Sometimes you'll need to contact the witness, either for additional information, or just to introduce yourself as being the investigator assigned to the case. With me, I try to contact the witness two or three times, giving the witness ample amount of time to contact me back. This is mainly done via email so that I can maintain a copy of the communication for record purposes (maintains the date and time sent), and there have been a couple times that I've physically mailed a correspondence. However, MUFON now requires that all contacts should be done via phone. I do disagree with that, as not everyone has a phone plan that covers long distance communication, nor is there a record of a phone call having been made. This is important because it seems MUFON follows up on investigations, and if the witness says you never contacted them, then that's that... whether or not you sent them mail, email, or called them. That's why it's good to maintain the record, as proof to cover yourself.
4. Time to investigate cases seems a bit tight. Between researching the event itself to trying to establish contact with the witness, to the understanding that this is voluntary and that work and personal life does and should come first, there's going to be some time involved. But it does seem that there's a desire to rush the cases, to hurry up and get them done. It could be in part due to there being so few investigators with cases still awaiting to be assigned. This isn't really too much of an issue with this, as whenever I've been questioned as to why it's taken a week or two, I simply tell them the truth, that things happen.
I want to stress that the bad isn't extremely bad, and it isn't on-going. It's just something that could be handled differently... and without any real solid direction with everyone having their own ideas, there isn't any clear cut or well defined methodology.
The biggest reason I joined is because I got to join an established and internationally recognized organization. I was able to expand my interest in the unknown, in seeking the truth of things, and to join with like-minded individuals, and to experience or become part of something that I otherwise would not be able to.
Reading this, one might get the impression that there is more negative than positive, but that isn't really the case. The good does far out weight the bad, it's just that I am more vocal about the bad. There's always going to be problems with management, whether in the private sector or in any voluntary organization, but you just have to keep in mind what it is you are doing this for, and for me, it's to know, it's for the knowledge.
All of this isn't with some cost though. There is an initial up front cost that pays for the field investigator's manual, testing, background check, and so on (in addition to a one year subscription to the newsletter). Once you pass the test, you'll receive an identification card which does expire after a year... but I do not know if there's a cost involved with renewing that or not; I just emailed the director to find out.
*laughs* If you buy the electronic version of the manual, they tell you it isn't for printing. But, if it's like mine, it's a PDF. Of course you can print it. I have two electronic copies and the printed copy.
Let's see... the test is easy. You'll need an 80% to pass, but I was able to take it with but a slightest of glances at the manual. A lot of it was common sense, but I really can't say that as I've got a background in investigations and field work.
I think that's it. If you have any questions about this, if you'd like some additional information or clarification, by all means let me know! I will do my best to help you and provide the information you're seeking.