Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

There is always something to be thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving 
from the National Society of Professional Surveyors and Staff

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Meet Indiana's oldest state employee - Bob Vollmer - Professional Surveyor

By Kevin Rader, WTHR political reporter
CORYDON, Ind. - Bob Vollmer has so many things he wants to do every day. The only difference between Bob and the rest of us is that he actually does them and has done them for going on 99 years. 
Vollmer has just about seen it all, but Indiana's oldest state employee sees it from a different perspective.
He has surveyed nearly every inch of O'Bannon Woods State Parkin his job as surveyor with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

"This is totally a one-man operation," he says as he sets up his equipment in the park.
It used to be a two- or three-man operation all across the state, but technology has changed quite a bit over the span of his 55 years with the department.  He does put out a few reminders to keep his mind sharp like the "dummy, get the battery" note on the dashboard.
"It would be awful to get all the way out here and find out you did not have the battery," he explains.
"Starting robotic connection," an electronic voice says to him emanating from his equipment.

The job requires staying up to date with the latest technology, which is no small feat.
"You just turned 98. Is that right?" I ask him while he works.

"I'm getting close to 99," Vollmer corrects me.  He says he will turn 99 in four months.
That makes him the oldest state employee in Indiana and most likely the oldest state employee in the United States, which has not gone entirely unnoticed.
"One of my great grandsons asked his mother the other day if I knew Adam and Eve. I couldn't believe it. I know I am old, but I didn't know Adam and Eve," he states emphatically.
But he does know Morse code and tells me FDR was the first president he ever voted for.

"You remember FDR?" I ask. 
"You betcha I do.  He is the guy who saved our ass," he remembers.
"You've got to remember the Depression. You don't want a depression.  Anything but that, 'cause you got to feed your kids. If you don't have money to buy it, you are going to steal it. It is just that simple," Vollmer says. But he also shared a story about how his father was shot in the shoulder while trying to prevent a robbery at the family run warehouse during the Depression.

"How long are you going to keep working?" I wonder aloud. "At 98 you should have retired 40 years ago."
"I know," Vollmer says.  "I really don't know [if I'll retire.] Maybe you don't want to quit working. Nobody should quit. Just do something," he answers.

"Is that the secret to long life, if there is one?" I ask.

"When you quit working, you start what they call rocking. I don't like the term, but that is what you do," Vollmer says.
The man who was born when Woodrow Wilson was president, graduated from Purdue and started working at the DNR when JFK was inaugurated still has his draft card from World War II.
"October 16th, 1940.  It says, 'carry it with you at all times' and I still got it. I stopped carrying it because it is about worn out but I don't think they are going to call me anymore," he shares.
That's because he is still needed here.
"Now see that instrument is still pointing at me. It will follow me no matter where I go," he shares his amazement at the latest technology that he is able to conquer. The gadgets that should intimidate him, only serve to invigorate him.
Vollmer says the only thing that really burns him up these days is when kids say they have nothing to do.  He says that really blows his mind.
Vollmer  himself is not ready to rock. He's still on a roll. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys standards approved - (Effective February 23, 2016)

The Board of Governors of the American Land Title Association (10/8/15) and the Board of Directors of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (10/9/15) have each approved the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land TitleSurveys  This approval comes after continual acceptance, review, and response by the joint ALTA/NSPS Liaison Committee to questions/suggestions related to the standards since they were last approved in 2011. Members will note the name change for the standards. In consideration that ACSM was merged into NSPS a few years ago, both organizations agreed that the name should be reflective of the organizations approving the document.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Musings from your CT Director - NSPS Business Meeting October 8th & 9th, 2015 - Sandusky Ohio

To all of my fellow NSPS Directors, Good day!

It was a pleasure to see all of you last week for a pleasant and productive meeting.  As observed by Mr. Sargent, there were many familiar faces in the room and it felt like the participants experience made for a calm, orderly meeting.  Then again, perhaps the 800 lb gorilla in the room (in all its various forms for the last several years) has simply been put out in the hallway where it belongs.  Thank you Kalahari Resorts!  Past Presidents Bob Dahn (CT) and Wayne Harrison (MA) have agreed to do their best to keep it there. :)

The Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio were wonderful hosts.  The meetings flowed smoothly and the facility was very interesting and capacious.  Being surveyors, many of us could not keep ourselves from pacing those hallways!  Also being surveyors, I heard of more than one way to get it done.

Setting the fun aside, most all of us in that room have played important roles in bringing our state societies together to form one unified voice for the surveying profession.  I would offer that we can consider our 100% initiative a success.  Congratulations on a job well done, it is truly a pleasure to serve with you all.

Here than are a list of initiatives and observations from our fall meetings:

  • The ALTA/NSPS Standards have been approved by both organizations and we will have new standards that take effect on February 23, 2016.
  • NSPS will prepare a position statement on U.A.S. (unmanned aircraft systems) regulations and operations. We’ve also signed on with other mapping organizations in crafting a letter to urge the F.A.A. to codify the government’s regulations for operating this technology in a more urgent manner.
  • The young surveyors group had a productive meeting and started to think about bylaws, sub committees and addressing tasks that many have offered up for them to consider.  Approximately 11 of them attended the Board of Directors meeting on Friday.
  • We intend to broaden the awareness of the Young Surveyors and our National Society at educational institutions across the country by inviting a student to attend our meetings as our guest and write a short review that will be shared with all surveying programs.  The program will be administered by the Young Surveyors and funded through NSPS Board of Director donations.  We intend to have a student in attendance at the 2017 spring meeting.
  • Our President Jon Warren & President-Elect Tony Cavell have each made a significant effort to re-align our committees and offer specific charges for these committees to work on.  PLEASE consider having your constituents sign on to the email distribution lists for a committee by contacting the chair of that committee.  It’s a great way to be involved without the commitment of attending our meetings.
  • The Director from Alaska requested support regarding the setting of monuments by the BLM when creating Townships that would be further subdivided and sold by the State of Alaska.  As you might have guessed, the number of monuments being set has been drastically reduced.  Our Government Affairs Committee will review and comment on the matter.
  • Certified Survey Technicians (CSTs) at all levels and existing membership can now have their annual certification fee waived by maintaining a membership in NSPS.
  • The NSPS Joint Government Affairs Committee shoulders a great deal of responsibility in representing surveyors across the nation on Capitol Hill.  Please review their report for the many tasks and/or accomplishments they have had over the last 6 months.  Mr. Pat Smith, Chair of the Committee, requested direction from the BoD on the following matters:
    • NSPS will provide a position statement on the PHMSA (Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Agency) Proposed Rule which contains a number of references to surveying and mapping – and provide a standardized position to our state affiliates
    • NSPS will provide a position statement to the House Financial Services Committee which is considering modifications to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), either to implement an improved working process or privatize the effort
    • Support the addition of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council – given that many small businesses are effected by FAR regulations.
  • The NSPS 100% Membership Program has been very successful.  We currently have 47 states and the District of Columbia participating, just under 17,000 members, and continue to offer our help to those still considering the program.
  • We continue to collaborate with NGS and participate in quarterly meetings on various initiatives.
  • We are designated by ABET as the Lead Society among its professional organization members for evaluating Surveying Programs seeking either initial accreditation, or renewed accreditation. Currently, NSPS evaluates 31 such programs.
  • Our CST program that has been a monumental success and run by several individuals for many years, and even decades.  Their succession plans require them to look for individuals who are interested in serving on the CST Board and upholding the fine standard which has been set.  Please consider this opportunity and contact President Warren if you are interested in this appointment.
  • The NSPS Foundation Concluded their Cruise Raffle – The winner is Randall Myers. He is Past President of both the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Surveying Societies.  Congratulations Mr. Myers.
  • We had previously decided that an At-Large Director(s) would represent those NSPS members who did not belong to a 100% Membership state.  Given that we are now down to three states who do not belong, we passed a motion whereby the Past-President will provide representation to those individuals, albeit in a more cost effective manner.
  • The NSPS Foundation has been instructed to rename the NSPS Board of Governors Scholarship to the NSPS Board of Directors Scholarship.  The Board of Directors has agreed to continue providing personal funds at the conclusion of our meetings, as a means for funding this and the Trig-Star scholarship.
  • The new web site for NSPS should be rolled out this fall.  There have been many improvements in appearance and functionality.
  • The NSPS Board of Directors approved pursuing the following meeting schedule:
    • 2016 Spring: National Surveying and Mapping Conference, Alexandria VA March 14-18th (NSPS Business Meetings 17-18th) – agreement finalized
    • 2016 Fall – Joint meeting with Western Federation of Professional Surveyors, Phoenix AZ –  pending
    • 2017 Spring – National Surveying and Mapping Conference  - pending
    • 2017 Fall – Joint Meeting with Texas Society of Professional Surveyors, Frisco, TX -pending
Those are the things that readily come to mind.  Please chime in if I've left out something important that I should include in my report.  I’ve attached a few photos and captions below for your use.  Cut and Paste, as well as blatant plagiarism are all encouraged.  If you have a unique observation, please share with the rest of us.

Many thanks to the NSPS staff for all of their efforts.
Be well.  Stay thirsty my friends.

Rick Howard
NSPS Director – CT

President John Warren addresses the Young Surveyors group.

We honor those for length service
Standing Left to Right: President Jon Warren (WA) presiding; 
5 Years – Bob Akins (OH), John Lloyd(ME), Bob Neathamer (OR),
 Ed O’Brien(RI); 20 Years – Alan Dragoo(MD)

Pat Smith, Past President and Chair of Joint Government Affairs Committee addresses  the board during his report.

Young Surveyors Group in Attendance at Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A message to all members from Jon Warren, NSPS President

To all our new members, “Welcome to your National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS),” and to our previous members, “Welcome to your new NSPS!”  And, borrowing a phrase from a past NSPS President and Chairman of the NSPS Joint Government Affairs Committee, “It’s a great day to be a Professional Surveyor!”

I wish to also express my sincere appreciation to all the previous NSPS Presidents, Officers, Directors, Governors and staff.  They built the strong foundation for us to grow our new NSPS!  We have finally become what our founders envisioned back in 1981 when NSPS was created.

Who and what is the new NSPS We are now 16,000+ members from the United States, Canada, and many other countries.  The majority of NSPS members are from the 47 Joint Membership Affiliate States. And, we are your national voice and advocate; here are some examples.

Congress: We are strongly represented in the Congress by our lobbyist, Mr. J.B. Byrd, of John M. Palatiello & Associates, opening doors and getting us heard, while our NSPS Government Affairs Committee continuously reviews legislation, provides guidance to our lobbyist, and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors for decisions.  We are your vigilant national eyes, ears, and voice. You may have noticed that we recently reported that LightSquared is again in the news. We are watching!

ABET:   NSPS recruits and supports a team of Program Evaluators (PEV) who are our advocates in support of our responsibilities to ABET as Lead Society for the review and evaluation for accreditation of multiple 4-yr and 2-yr degree surveying programs.  This obligation is among the most important roles for NSPS in protecting the integrity of the surveying profession. Surveyors, not others, must fill that role.

MINIMUM STANDARD DETAIL REQUIREMENTS FOR ALTA/NSPS LAND TITLE SURVEYS: Gary Kent and the NSPS/ALTA Committee continue to answer questions from members on an ongoing basis, and utilize those interactions to develop an issues database from which to negotiate with representatives from ALTA in developing updated standards every five (5) years.  The new 2016 ALTA/NSPS standards are scheduled to become effective February 23, 2016, and will be the subject of a workshop during the NSPS/MAPPS 2016 Surveying and Mapping Conference to be held in the Washington D.C.

COFPAES (Council on Federal Procurement for Architectural and Engineering Services): the organization, currently comprised of NSPS, MAPPS, and ASCE, has traditionally been responsible for the continuous defense of the Brooks Act, which dictates that the Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) process be utilized for the procurement of professional services (such as architecture, engineering, surveying, and mapping) for projects on which federal funding is utilized.  COFPAES also acts at the request of state societies on issues related to the use of the “mini-Brooks” Act in that state for state-funded projects. COFPAES acts regularly your behalf, making immediate direct contact with offending agencies, reminding them of their responsibility to utilize the QBS.

CFedS (Certified Federal Surveyor) Program: NSPS administers a contract between BLM and its third party contractor for the development and delivery of CFedS program/training materials. NSPS manages the financial aspect of the program for the facilitation of payment to the contractor. This is a good example of a benefit for our members by assisting in the management of an excellent federal agency program that many appreciate.

CST (Certified Survey Technician) Program: NSPS created this program more than 30 years ago as a mechanism for survey technicians to be able to demonstrate their competence during the multiple components of serving as a surveying intern, and as an evaluation tool for employers and educators to evaluate the progress of their respective employees and students.  Also, NSPS recently entered into an agreement with the U. S. Air Force to provide CST examinations to Airmen, and has begun dialog intended to include members of all branches of the military in CST. This is a good example of how NSPS facilitates a national program across the nation, thereby helping the states by removing the need for each to develop different and possibly incompatible or inconsistent tests.

NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying): NSPS is a member of the NCEES Participating Organizations Liaison Council (POLC), and is an active participant in the NCEES Surveyors Forum. Recently, NSPS Executive Director Curt Sumner was appointed to serve as an advisor to the NCEES Future of Surveying Task Force. NCEES also works with NSPS to promote the surveying profession to potential future surveyors.

NGS, BLM, FEMA, USGS (Survey/Geospatial related federal agencies): Curt Sumner, NSPS Executive Director, and members of the NSPS Executive Committee routinely meet with staff at those agencies to provide our support, feedback, council, and exposure for their initiatives. NSPS has representative on FEMA’s Technical Mapping Advisory Committee (TMAC). A past president of NSPS sits on the National Geospatial Advisory Council (NGAC) of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).

NSPS Foundation, Inc.: Serves as the Steward for over $25,000 in scholarships, funded by a variety of individuals, companies, and organizations, to encourage and support college education in surveying and the geospatial sciences. The Foundation also maintains a Disaster Relief Fund for surveyors, and their businesses and employees who are impacted by disastrous events.

NSPS Trig-Star: Is a long standing nationwide high school student math competition. The 2015 competition included students from across the country in the local and state competition, with 39 state winners participating in the national competition. The top three (3) national finishers were from Alaska, Wyoming, and Alabama, respectfully. While not specifically developed to recruit students into the surveying profession, Trig-Star helps them to understand what surveyors do. In recent years, NSPS created the Trig-Star Scholarship, a $5000 award for which any high school senior who has participated in Trig-Star during their high school career can apply when they can confirm acceptance into a four-year or two-year surveying-related college curriculum.

What else is NSPS doing for our membership? NSPS is working to be involved in the development of the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act: This bill will call upon the professional surveyor community to assist the Department of the Interior in creating a single, federal multipurpose cadastre in accordance with standards recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, while also encouraging the integration of state and local government real property data and holdings. Such an inventory will assist in improved federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection and utilization of real property, as well as identify property the federal government no longer needs to own."

With COGO (Coalition of Geospatial Organizations): NSPS is a founding member of the group, which is collectively engaged in issues affecting the entire geospatial community which includes more than 170,000 individual producers and users of geospatial data and technology.  Recently, COGO published a Report Card on the status of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) efforts on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), pointing out areas in which improvements are needed. The group is also working together to find common ground to advocate for the Geospatial Data Act (NSDI Framework Data).

Closely with other organizations on business issues affecting private-practice surveying and mapping firms through the Business Coalition for Fair Competition (BCFC).

Your society reaches members, the industry and the public through our Media Outlets:
NSPS Radio Hour – Curt Sumner, our Executive Director, hosts this one-hour broadcast each Monday at 11am Eastern, which typically has more than 100,000 downloads per year, in addition to those who listen live.    
NSPS News & ViewsTrish Milburn, our Executive Administrator, works with Curt, our Government Affairs team, and various other media sources to assemble this weekly e-mail/ newsletter. 
Social Media: Trish and Curt also collaborate to maintain our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages and our YouTube channel and Dual Frequency Blog.

On the international stage, NSPS supports travel for its delegates to FIG (International Federation of Surveyors) conferences as your representatives to FIG, as well as its member commissions. NSPS members can develop a presence and partnership with other international firms; as members of NSPS, they are members of FIG.  An example of the benefits of this international networking is that you or your organization may be able to bring advanced technology or thinking in surveying to other countries of the world that are looking to utilize them, but need your assistance to apply it.  FIG meets annually for a “Working Week” (Christchurch, New Zealand June 2016; Helsinki, Finland June 2017; Hanoi, Vietnam June 2019), and every four years for a Congress (Istanbul Turkey 2018). NSPS is considering submitting a proposal to host the FIG Congress in April 2022!

NSPS hosts an annual Student Competition, providing students with an opportunity to hone their skills in organizing a project and presenting it using various media (Paper, Map, and Oral Presentation) utilized in surveying professional and/or scientific work.  The competition also provides the opportunity for students to directly interact with practicing professionals.

The NSPS Young Surveyors, connected with the FIG Young Surveyors, is a program through which Surveyors who are 35 years old or younger can develop a greater connection with each other and with NSPS to share their perspectives, influence, and expertise with their peers and to contribute to the dynamism of NSPS.

During April 13-16, 2015 NSPS partnered with MAPPS a U.S. association of firms in the surveying, spatial data and geographic information systems field for the first in a series of joint conferences.  Some highlights of the conference were:

·         NSPS 14th annual Student Competition;
·         Geospatial symposium presented by NGS;
·         A very successful joint “Capitol Hill Day”, (meetings with over 80 senators and over 100 representatives);
·         3DEP (3D Elevation Program), a very well attended Stakeholders Meeting including participation by federal agencies (USGS, NGS, FEMA) and members of COGO (NSPS, MAPPS, ASPRS, NSGIC, NGAC);
·        NSPS committee meetings; and
·         The NSPS Board of Directors meeting.

A 2016 joint conference is being planned for March 14-18 in the same location.

How does the fact that NSPS now has over 16,000 members, enhance our influence with Congress and federal agencies?
This five-fold increase from only a few years ago, not only provides more clout to open doors in Congress, it also provides a much larger unified group of Professional Surveyors who have personal and/or professional relationships with their respective Senators and Representatives, and who can visit with those legislators in their home states/districts.

In the best-case scenario, where do you see NSPS a year from today?
We would be very pleased with having an agreement in place with all 50 states and Puerto Rico, bringing our membership numbers close to 20,000 and rising as the economy improves.
We also want to re-establish our National Surveying and Mapping Conference.  We need to lead the way to our Geospatial future!

What are my primary goals for NSPS for 2015-2016?
·          Strengthen our National Voice for advocacy with Congress and federal agencies related to such  issues as the FLAIR Act, National Geospatial Data Act, QBS, etc.
·          Develop Promotional Materials to Market our Profession for all states
·          Promote, support, and grow the NSPS Young Surveyors Program at each state level and FIG to have an active role in the mentoring and preparation of our future NSPS and profession leaders
·          Promote, support, and grow the NSPS CST Program—3500 members, and growing with military program addition
·          Connectivity, Networking, and Strength in Numbers through activities like the NSPS Spring and Fall meetings: sharing, listening, and gaining ideas and creating a Survey Summit Forum for all state Society Presidents
·          Continue, and strengthen, our roles and responsibilities with ABET, COFPAES, COGO, FIG, NCEES, and many other organizations and agencies that are a part of the geospatial, surveying, and mapping community.


Jon Warren, P.L.S.
National Society of Professional Surveyors

Friday, September 11, 2015

NSPS Radio Hour — Sept. 14, 11 a.m. EDT

At 14, Jacob Heck helped his father with a survey of the family farm. Today, he is nearing the end of his PhD at Ohio State. Jacob’s story between these two milestones in his career has taken him through the Surveying Engineering program at Michigan Tech, summer surveying jobs, projects in South America, and recently being named among the 12 (under the age of 35) NCEES Emerging Engineers and Surveyors.

Join host Curt Sumner for a discussion with Jacob about his experiences and perspectives on surveying.

If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcast, listen to the archive of the show at

Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.