With increased concern about the profession's future, many conversations begin and end with gloom, worry and fear. What will the fate of surveying be?

What type of reputation will it have? Who will carry on the legacy of the age-old profession?

At the recent ACSM spring conference in Orlando, my spirits were raised as to the future of the profession. Shining examples were seen at conference events. Here's the view from my eye:

The student competition under way. Photo by James P. Hohner Jr.

Student competition.

This is by far one of the most enjoyable events for me at each year's conference. The enthusiasm of the students is exhilarating. Take the students from the University of Maine's Surveying Engineering Technology program, who entered the competition for the first time this year. Coming from a reorganized program that was once deemed dead, the students were fired up to be part of this year's competition and spoke of plans for next year as well. They praised Prof. Knud Hermansen, fundraising help from the Maine Society of Land Surveyors, and the addition of a one-credit class on solar observation that prepared them for the competition of the same theme.

Another newcomer to the competition was the especially impressive University of Puerto Rico. Boasting 40-plus faculty members and 400-plus students, the surveying and topography program within the college of engineering at the University of Puerto Rico exemplifies a positive note for the future of the profession. Hard at work in the hot Florida sun, the mostly female six-member team representing UPR performed solar observations using Wild T2s. Professor Magda Galloza oversaw their performance, which earned them third place in the competition, following first-place winner Ferris State University and second-place winner the University of Akron.

The student teams, which also included New Mexico State University, Community College of Southern Nevada, University of Alaska-Anchorage, Oregon Institute of Technology, Troy University (Alabama) and Old Dominion University (Virginia) bring hope to those who fret about surveying's future. Stop by next year's competition to see these students in action; the theme will be railroad surveying.

Puerto Rico surveying students at work. Photo by James P. Hohner Jr.

Excellence award.

Also humbling to me is my opportunity to present thePOB-sponsored Surveying in Excellence Award to one individual for outstanding contributions and dedication to the surveying profession. Sometimes I know the individual, sometimes I meet the recipient for the first time at the awards banquet. This year, I was honored to meet and award Patrick J. Beehler, PLS, of Washington (see photo above). With more than 32 years of experience in land surveying, Patrick has developed a rich and full professional life comprised of an impressive resume and valuable education. He began with nine years at the Department of Natural Resources in Olympia, retracing and restoring General Land Office corners and sections. He worked in private practice for nine years and for the Tumwater Public Works Department in Washington for six years. In 1992, he ventured out on his own, founding and operating Pat W.F. Kroger & Associates. He later renamed and incorporated the firm as Southwest Surveying in 1994.

In addition to this well-rounded employment experience, Patrick attained licensure as a professional land surveyor in 1978, and served as president of the Land Surveyors Association of Washington in 1998 and on its executive committee for seven years. Pat's efforts were pivotal to LSAW's three-year drive and final success in getting continuing education legislation passed by Washington State this year. He currently serves as LSAW's representative on the NSPS Board of Governors and was recently elected vice president of the NSPS.

Pat has also served as a consultant to the state board of registration for engineers and land surveyors, continually working to advance the profession. As his collegues from Washington proudly noted in his nomination, "He is an inspiration to all, and aspiring professionals would do well to emulate him."

ACSM scholarships.

The caliber of recipients of the various scholarships awarded each year under the ACSM umbrella is extraordinary. Hard-working high school, college and university students, college-level professional land surveyors and certified photogrammetrists, and affiliates of ACSM are honored with fitting and deserved awards and scholarships. The five main categories boast of exceptional individuals and teams who are sure to take the profession to heights we can all be proud of. For a complete listing of this year's recipients, click towww.acsm.net.

Overall, I am enlightened to believe that the future of surveying and mapping is in good hands. Keep your eye out for brilliant leaders in your area-I bet you'll find some shining examples.