The CFA Ambassador Program
Welcome to the CFA Ambassador Program
The CFA Ambassador Program will help exhibitors give a public face to the cat fancy and offers knowledge transfer from those of you who know to the interested public. You will see some of us wearing buttons that say ” Ask Me.” The buttons are to provide the public with a contact person. If we don’t have the answer, we will get it. Our Handbook is a wonderful tool for talking about CFA and their positions on many cat related subjects. If you’re exhibiting at a show and want to help the public learn about CFA and the pedigreed cat, understand how the rings work and what the cat show is about, etc., you may enroll in the CFA Ambassador Program to help. You will receive an identity button, a cage topper and a handbook so you can become totally familiar with answers to the most frequently asked questions at a cat show. The CFA Ambassador Program is a first-rate resource for those who are interested in helping people understand CFA.
Welcome From the CFA President
For the past decade, we have had an active Ambassador Program in CFA which has included many enthusiastic Ambassadors at our shows around the world. Spectators attending our shows are cat lovers, but they are often confused by what they see at our shows. Our many volunteer Ambassadors help them understand what is going on and to enjoy themselves. They explain the judging process, what makes our 40+ breeds unique, the important role breeders play in persevering our breeds for the future, and generally making the public feel welcome.
Our Ambassadors are often the public face of CFA with the visitors to our shows. Our Ambassadors really do make a difference. Wearing a smile and an “Ask Me” sticker helps our visitors know you are someone who will take a few minutes to answer their questions and help them make sense of what’s going on around them in the showhall. Most of you are busy exhibiting one or more cats yourself and we sincerely appreciate your efforts on behalf of the program. If you happen to bring along a Pet Me Cat or an Ambassador Cat, you added efforts are appreciated.
On behalf of CFA, let me thank you for participating in this very important program.
Objective: To create an informed CFA-wide cadre of dynamic individuals committed to educating spectators at cat shows and other events about cats, CFA, and the types of opportunities that exist in the broader cat fancy
On February 7, 2004, the CFA Board of Directors heartily approved the CFA Ambassadors Program, a joint initiative of the CFA Mentoring Program and Marketing Committee. The mission of this new project is to create an informed cadre of dynamic individuals throughout CFA, that is committed to educating and reaching out to spectators at cat shows, and other events, with information about cats, CFA, and the types of opportunities that exist in the broader cat fancy. After cultivating an interest in the cat fancy, it is our hope that interested individuals will cross the threshold into the cat fancy, become active members of the CFA Mentoring Program and eventually become fully engaged participants in whatever facet of the fancy that they find most enriching to their lives, be it animal rescue, pet therapy, exhibition, or public education.
As a CFA Ambassador, you have the opportunity to impact the lives of spectators in a positive and meaningful way. The chapters in this handbook address questions and issues which are relevant to cat owners and cat show spectators. Use the information on the following pages as a guideline for answering common questions from spectators. While there is not a “one size fits all” answer for every question, it is especially important to answer spectator questions with care.
The general meaning of “ambassador” is “an informal representative who spreads goodwill.” In CFA, all judges are automatically considered ambassadors. In fact, the Judging Program rules state:
“Each person connected in any capacity with this Program should conduct himself/herself at all times in a professional and dignified manner, in and out of the judging ring, remembering that he/she is serving in the capacity of an ambassador for CFA, and seek to be a credit to this organization.”
As “exhibitor” ambassadors, much of the same criteria will apply. Your “job” will be to make spectators feel welcome at our shows, and help them understand cats, cat care, CFA recognized breeds and cat shows.
Breeders and exhibitors are the backbone of CFA. Our cat shows couldn’t exist without them. In turn, spectators are the lifeblood of our shows. In many ways, the spectator is the future of CFA. Club members spend a great deal of time attracting spectators to our shows. They want them to have such a pleasant experience that they will return, year after year, and perhaps even become so interested that they take on the challenge of exhibiting and maybe even breeding. Making sure that the spectators’ experience is a positive one, reinforcing their interest in cat shows, and educating them will be YOUR task as ambassador!
Spectators at shows are there because they share the same interest as you – a simple love of cats. They take pride in sharing photos of their own cats, as do we. Be polite, and show an interest in their photos. Always find something to compliment them on, even if it is only the color of the cat.
Spectators don’t always recognize breeds, so if someone asks “Is that a Russian Blue?” while they are looking at a Korat, you can say politely “Well, it’s almost the same color as a Russian, but if you look closely you’ll see the head shape and body type are quite different on this Korat.” Think how much better that answer is, and how educational, rather than just a quick, “No, it’s a Korat.”
Time is limited and probably won’t allow for a long conversation. Keep your answers short and simple. Should you need to extricate yourself from a long conversation, do so with grace – “Excuse me, I’m sorry, but they just gave a grooming call for my cat and I will need to concentrate on getting him ready for the ring. Perhaps we can continue our conversation later?”
Probably the most difficult-to-understand etiquette at a show, for spectators, is our “do not touch” criteria. We might think our “Do Not Touch – Owner Bites” cage signs are cute, but they certainly tend to leave a “mean” impression in a spectator. Explaining these signs, and the reasons for them, requires tact. A simple answer can be given, without preaching, that if the spectator watches a judging ring he will notice that the judges washes their hands with disinfectant in between cats, and the cages are also cleaned between cats. Explain that we take the health of our animals seriously, and they shouldn’t be offended if someone refuses to allow them to pet their cat, or asks them to disinfect their hands before doing so.
Above all, ambassadors should always smile, be polite and be extremely tactful in your responses. You may well be speaking to the future of CFA!
How to Contact the CFA Ambassador Program
If you wish to reach the CFA Ambassador Program, please send us an email. We appreciate your input and will get back to you as quickly as possible.
CFA Ambassador Program Committee
Co-Chairs – Karen Lane and Joel Chaney
CFA Ambassador Program – Regional Coordinators
Region 1 – North Atlantic:
- Geri Fellerman, Coordinator (NJ area)
Region 2 – Northwest:
- Mary Sietsema, Coordinator
- Meghan Noecker, Coordinator (Upper NW)
Region 3 – Gulf Shore:
- Harold Bourgeois, Coordinator (Texas)
- Janice Walkingstick, Coordinator (Oklahoma)
Region 4 – Great Lakes:
- Mariane Toth, Coordinator (Cleveland, OH)
Region 5 – Southwest:
- Shari Millar, Coordinator (La Jolla, CA)
- Donna Fujie, Coordinator (Hawai’i)
Region 6 – Midwest:
- Candilee Jackson, Coordinator (St. Louis)
- Bob Farber (Iowa)
Region 7 – Southern:
- Lyn Knight, Coordinator (Mt Airy, MD)
- Jayne Wood, Coordinator (Woodstock, GA)
Region 8 – Japan:
- Masanari Koijimi, Coordinator (Japan)
- Takako Kojima, Coordinator (Japan)
Region 9 – Europe:
- Natalya Gnatyuk, Coordinator ( Russia)
- Ulrike Kneupple, Coordinator (Germany)
International Division (Asia/Latin America):
- Phebe Low, Coordinator (Hong Kong)