Editor's Points: Just a Spark

In early 2010, Bruce D. Bowden, president of the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors (WSLS), had an idea. National Surveyors Week was right around the corner, and everyone was brainstorming ways to help promote the profession. What about a world record land survey to kick off the annual week-long celebration of surveyors?

On March 20, 2010, approximately 30 surveyors around Wisconsin embarked on a project to simultaneously locate points to within 1 cm. Their immediate objective was to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for “The Largest Single Day Land Survey.” On a broader scale, the goal was publicity.

An outsider might have viewed the event as a failure. Aside from a small write-up in the local paper, the event didn’t generate much media coverage. And although the Wisconsin effort quite likely was the largest single-day land survey to date, the Guinness Book of World Records rejected the group’s application without giving a reason. The efforts of Bowden and the WSLS appeared to be for naught.

Several states to the west, however, Debi Anderson, the NSPS governor in Montana, was watching the Wisconsin event with interest. Maybe the decision-makers at the Guinness Book of World Records weren’t impressed with one state’s effort. But wouldn’t they have to acknowledge an event that took place on a national scale? And if surveyors around the nation would be willing to participate in a simultaneous observation, wouldn’t that generate some excitement and publicity both within and outside of the profession? Anderson threw down the gauntlet, and the NSPS governors accepted the challenge. NSPS Surveying USA was born.

On March 19, 2011, I was at Macomb Community College in Michigan for an event led by Craig Amey, PS, NSPS Surveying USA coordinator for the state. The weather was perfect, and the students and local surveyors who participated--about a dozen people total at that location--were excited about the opportunity to be part of a much larger initiative. In a video interview (online at, Amey said that he hoped the national event would inspire more students to get involved in the profession and would also help increase awareness about the profession among the general public. He estimated that the participation in Michigan alone was around 100 to 150 people. Around the nation, the total number of participants was estimated to be over 1,000.

Will it be enough to make the Guinness Book of World Records? That’s difficult to say. But the spark that was lit by Bowden and the WSLS last year has started a fire that just might transform the landscape of surveying for future generations. “I would bet that the event goes international next year,” Bowden says.

I wouldn’t bet against it.

P.S. Share your photos and videos from NSPS Surveying USA events at, and you could win a Trimble Juno SC handheld! Visit for the full contest rules and details.

Share your thoughts on this column at or To contact the editor, send an e-mail to

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to POB

Recent Articles by Christine Grahl

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

HxGN Live

More than 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries attended HxGN Live, the annual Hexagon AB user conference, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 3-6. About 450 keynotes and panel discussions were held, and several companies from around the world exhibited their geospatial products. Here are a few snapshots from the event.


POB March 2015 Cover

2015 March

In this March 2015 issue of POB, we take a look at how a dam project's field work becomes complicated with a river and lush vegetation. Also, read about Williston, North Dakota's population boom due to unprecedented oil exploration and drilling activity.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Is Work Better Today?

Surveyors, how has the newest technologies available to the profession affected you? Compared to five years ago, work today is …
View Results Poll Archive

Point of Beginning Store

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\POB\epubsite\Statues-pic-large.gif
Surveyor Statues

The perfect gift or award for any special occasion.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook logo Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  YouTube logoRPLS small logo

Google +

Geo Locator

Buyers Guide

The #1 buyers' guide for land surveyors and geomatics professionals. Search listings for software and equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and professional services. CLICK HERE to view GeoLocator.