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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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
are a list of initiatives and observations from our fall meetings:
ALTA/NSPS Standards have been approved by both organizations and we will have
new standards that take effect on February 23, 2016.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Survey Technicians (CSTs) at all levels and existing membership can now have
their annual certification fee waived by maintaining a membership in NSPS.
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:
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
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
the addition of the Small
Business Administration (SBA) to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council – given that many small
businesses are effected by FAR regulations.
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.
continue to collaborate with NGS and participate in quarterly meetings on
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
new web site for NSPS should be rolled out this fall. There have been many improvements in
appearance and functionality.
NSPS Board of Directors approved pursuing the following meeting schedule:
Spring: National Surveying and Mapping Conference, Alexandria VA March 14-18th
(NSPS Business Meetings 17-18th) – agreement finalized
Fall – Joint meeting with Western Federation of Professional Surveyors, Phoenix
AZ – pending
Spring – National Surveying and Mapping Conference - pending
Fall – Joint Meeting with Texas Society of Professional Surveyors, Frisco, TX
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.
thanks to the NSPS staff for all of their efforts.
well. Stay thirsty my friends.
Director – CT
Warren addresses the Young Surveyors group.
We honor those for
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
To all our new members, “Welcome to your National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS),” and to our previous members, “Welcome to your newNSPS!” 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 NSPSGovernment 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!
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
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
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
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.
NSPSNews & Views – Trish Milburn, our Executive Administrator, works with Curt, our
Government Affairs team, and various other media sources to assemble this weekly
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
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.
How does the fact that NSPS
now has over 16,000 members, enhance our influence with Congress and federal
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
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
·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
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.