I Think I ACE’d The Lottery

Have you ever won the lottery? I’m not talking about small potatoes money on a scratch card. I’m asking…. the REALLY big one? I haven’t either. Well, maybe not in the sense that I received actual money. I did have, what I could guess is, that same type of endorphins running through me when I got a passing score on my Associate Certified Entomologist exam.


Some former managers and a couple of Board Certified Entomologists that I know asked me several times, “Why haven’t you gotten your A.C.E.?” I don’t know. I guess I was scared to look like a fool if I failed. It took a few inquiries from those respected folks to make me agree to at least try.

I was trying to figure out when I would have time to study. The recommended investment is 40 hours. That’s an entire work week!


Credit: John C. Maxwell

I decided in February 2018 that I was going to do this. I ordered the study guides, attached two Letters of Reference, made copies of my certified applicator information, paid the fees, and signed the Code Of Ethics.

In less than a week, I was approved to test. My chosen proctor got confirmation of my intentions, and was excited FOR me. I still wasn’t sure. My heart started racing. My palms were clammy. A small panic attack set in. Breathe. Just breathe.


When it was time to crack the books, I didn’t actually start my studies right away. I just half-heartedly glanced through the pictures. My first instinct was to look at all the information about stored product pests. That’s what I really know about. I thought, “I need to focus on the pests I don’t know anything about.” That was a challenge for me.

I started thinking about where I could get more information. Hhmmm? A sister company does that every day. So, I borrowed some training manuals for ants and termites. For me, this was like reading a foreign language, but I knew I had to gain this knowledge.

I read each section and answered the review quizzes. I failed miserably, but I was determined to keep trying. It’s my habit to WAY overthink things, so I backed off a little to gain some perspective. I didn’t need to know every single little detail. Habits, habitats, identification information should be sufficient. After a few days thumbing through the termite training, I returned it to the manager who had reluctantly loaned it to me.


Service work had to get done, and it was the busiest time of year for all things “bug”. Residual sprays, rodent control, fumigation work, and my managerial duties had to be completed. That study guide lay on my coffee table for almost 5 months. Time was running out to test before my one year deadline of applying.


I was scheduled to test on a Friday. I hustled to get my daily schedule completed by Wednesday. I left the service work in the charge of my employee, and took Thursday off to study. I spent all day sitting at my kitchen table reading and highlighting words, phrases, and chemical information, that I thought I should know. Two words that are memorable – fly spit. Good thing I’d already had lunch.


On Friday, September 14, 2018, I met with Jerry Heath, my proctor, for a quick review. We had lunch and good conversation. I was getting really nervous. This is it, I thought, as I drove to the testing location.

After logging into the Entomological Society Association testing site, panic set in. Three hours, I had 3 hours, to complete testing. Questions number one and number two were familiar. I was breathing a little easier. My proctor was looking over my shoulder, taking notes. He had helped write some of the questions.

Question by question, section by section, I muddled through. I don’t remember what the last question in that nerve racking exam was, and I don’t care. I remember not being able to breathe. Here goes nothing……as I hit the SUBMIT button.

My favorite “lottery ticket”

For the next half hour, I couldn’t tell you what was said, except one sentence: You don’t know a damn thing about ants or termites. I had my picture taken for the company newsletter and was made me a member of the company’s 🎀BowTie Society, a way to acknowledge the group of individuals who have passed their A.C.E.

❤️ A few weeks after testing, I received my certificate in the mail. I was pleasantly surprised at the official signature. It was one of the B.C.E.’s who had told me I would be successful. I had no idea Chelle Hartzer was one of the certification members.❤️

It’s been two years, and I am renewing for the first time. This is a certification I will always treasure.

Published by Melisa Arnold, A.C.E.

My career in pest management began while working in a flour mill as the “in-house” technician in 2008. I am certified in multiple states. I began working full time as a fumigation-pest control tech in 2010. I achieved my Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) in 2018. I have a Master Tech certification from Kansas State University/Kansas Pest Control Association. I hold a Bat Management certification from NWCOA. Every day, I realize how much I DON’T KNOW. My goal for this blog is to share my every day experiences from the field and to make us all think outside the box for solutions to make pest control make sense.

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