President's Message June 2016

It’s hard to believe that spring is here, especially when I saw some white flakes just the other morning. It is starting to warm up though, and I’m excited that I am finding myself more busy than ever.

Back in March, I represented WSLS in Washington DC at the NSPS Spring conference. This is held in conjunction with MAPPS and has really become a wonderful event. There are educational seminars, the Capitol Hill Lobby Day, and the NSPS committee and board meetings. I have met so many great people in the NSPS organization from all over the country. It is great to find out what other state organizations are doing, the problems they are facing, and the successes that they are achieving.

This was my second time participating in the Lobby Day efforts. NSPS and MAPPS really work hard to make all of our congressional appointments; they prepare talking points for each legislator based on their involvement with governmental committees, and prepare information packets for us to leave behind. The experience is like none other, and I highly recommend to anyone to participate if you get the chance. I will say that we are starting to really make an impact up there as well. It feels really good when the staff that you met with a year ago recognizes you and your organization and is ready to get down to business. Two topics that we discussed last year, the FLAIR Act and the Digital Coastal Act, really have support and momentum up on Capitol Hill, with our own Senator, Tammy Baldwin, sponsoring one of the bills. We were glad to thank her for her efforts while we were there. Even if you can’t pay them a visit in their offices in Washington, a phone call or an email can still make an impact. I recommend paying attention to the active legislative efforts that NSPS is making on your behalf and contacting your legislators regarding those efforts. They always want to hear how they can benefit their constituents.

As for the WSLS Board, we have been busy here as well. We held our spring board meeting just last week and discussed quite a bit. One hot topic has been the election process for board officers. The chapters were also tasked to discuss this at the chapter meetings, and great information has been coming back to the board from those discussions. We are planning on sending out a poll very soon to the members of WSLS, so look for that in the next month. We are also preparing a letter taking a position on WISCORS network access fees that will be sent to WisDOT soon. We also quickly touched on the progress of Administrative Code A-E 7 revisions. They are now complete and will be effective June 1, 2016. Please see the WSLS website news article for more details.

Last week, I was truly honored to be a part of a donation presentation at the Berntsen International, Inc. facility. Phil Peterson, founder of Berntsen, was always a supporter of our profession, our organization, and the future of surveying. This past institute marked the 25th year that Berntsen sponsored a scholarship. In honor of Phil Peterson, Berntsen made a significant donation to the WSLS Foundation which will help support the education of future surveyors for many, MANY years to come. It was truly an honor to be there and take part in the celebration.

Lastly, many of you know that Mark Teuteberg, Oconto County Surveyor, became gravely ill about a year ago due to complications with West Nile Virus. Mark has always shown leadership in efforts pertaining to land surveying and its involvement with Wisconsin land information and land records modernization. While his condition is improving daily, he is still in a very serious state. He has very limited use of one hand and is learning to use a motorized wheel chair. While his mind is fully proficient, he struggles with speech and communication. The Teuteberg family is looking toward investing in adaptive equipment for him, as well as continued therapy to improve his daily life. Tom Leslie and the Northeast Chapter have been very active with helping out the family any way they can. They have started collecting donations to help the family. If you would like to contribute, please contact Tom directly, or by mail at 665 Trumpeter Trail #7, De Pere, WI 54115; please make the check out to Northeast Chapter WSLS. Mark and his family are so appreciative and proud that their biggest support group through this challenge has been the surveyors.

I hope to see you at the WSLS Summer Meeting in Eagle River!

Emily K. Pierce

“One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.” Lewis Carroll


President's Message, March 2016

Hello everyone!  I am grateful to be composing my first President’s Message to you.  Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks visiting our neighbors in both Michigan and Minnesota, and I have been having a really great time.  I have met so many great people, and we all seem to be facing the same challenges.  First and foremost, the average age of the general membership seems to be increasing everywhere.  Both Michigan and Minnesota observe that their number of life members will nearly doube in the next 10 years.  Michigan, in fact, has projected that 35% - 45% of their membership will be eligible for the “life” status by 2026.  The fact is that there just aren’t that many new members coming in to sustain their organization.  Michigan just passed a by-laws change to have a fee for their life members at one third the regular membership.  Minnesota has not taken any action yet, but are exploring their options to increase the criteria for life membership, making it more challenging.  

Efforts to increase the awareness of the profession within younger generations is crucial.  Minnesota has hired an outside public relations company that has been helping with outreach efforts to every high school in their state.  This has seemed to spur a little momentum and there has been an increase in inquiries into the surveying programs in the state.  Michigan has also been working on something similar that will come to a head during National Surveyors Week.  Members have been challenged to take posters that the organization has created to their local high schools to help raise awareness.  This, of course, is a good idea, but I wonder if we shouldn’t be starting a little earlier.  Many kids are already figuring out what they are interested in during their middle school years.  I think this age group is a perfect target for educating about the basics of our profession.  A simple level of understanding of what we do, why we do it, and of course, the really cool technology that we get to work with, can be very attractive to these kids.

Speaking of National Surveyors Week, it is coming up pretty quickly.  It is from March 20th to 26th this year.  I want to challenge everyone to do at least one thing to raise awareness on the importance of your profession.  Go observe a control point, get your local legislators to do a proclamation, talk to your local press, or come up with something creative on your own.  I only ask one thing; don’t do it alone.  Get your local Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts to come with, involve the local high school or middle school science or math club.  It does no good to be involved with National Surveyors Week activities if no one knows you are doing it.  Like a tree in the woods, if a surveyor observes a point for four hours, but no one knows he is doing it…well you know how this ends.  National Surveyors Week is all about raising awareness, so get out there and do it.  

Lastly, I have a message for the younger surveyors out there.  After attending the FIG Young Surveyors of North America meeting that took place in conjunction with the Minnesota conference, I have been truly inspired.  Proof that we are working to increase involvement at a younger level is encouraging.  To see the number of young surveyors getting involved at both the national and international level is really great.  Coming from only a handful of young surveyors 1.5 years ago in San Diego to having 22 states represented, some of them with multiple representatives at the national level, shows that there is great momentum in the young surveyors.  I hope that the young surveyors in our organization can help sustain that momentum, and we can be the industry leaders in this movement.  If there is something that you need or ideas you would like to share, please do so.  Many of us are open to new and innovative ideas.  So please speak up, share your ideas, and ask questions.  

“The key to our success rests in people like you, who embody the spirit of greatness by saying, ‘Yes I can’, and you can too!”  - Unknown


Emily K. Pierce