By the numbers, things are looking up for the National Society of Professional Surveyors.
Thanks to the NSPS joint membership drive, the organization now has 9,000 members—4 ½ times as many as it did a year ago, according to Executive Director Curt Sumner.
In addition, Sumner said 41 state societies, including one from Washington, D.C., have signed memorandums of understandings (MOUs) with NSPS. That’s up 11 from October 2013, and Sumner said five additional states have indicated they will sign MOUs in the first quarter of 2014.
“Different states have different hurdles to get through,” Sumner said. “But we’re really pleased to see where we are at just a year out.”
Sumner believes the membership increase already has paid dividends. He said the new NSPS newsletter has helped the group engage with its members, and it has helped forge valuable connections. For example, a recent call from the Department of Labor’s O*NET program to help define “geodetic surveyors” led to 12-15 responses from experts in the field, and Sumner attributes that success to the newsletter.
“I think that’s one of the biggest advantages of this,” he said. “In a lot of cases, you need to find the right expert.”
In 2014, Sumner hopes the NSPS can continue to build on this success and continue to engage with the organization’s membership. He also would like to see the group expand efforts to reach a younger generation of surveyors, including outreach programs to junior high and elementary school students. For younger professionals, Sumner wants to encourage more face-to-face networking.
Advocacy also will play a big role in the coming year. Sumner said NSPS will continue to push for clarification on the ruling that expanded the Bacon-Davis Act to members of survey crews. The organization will keep a close eye on changes to Biggert-Waters Reform Act and other proposed legislation, such as the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act and FLAIR Act. Sumner testified before a Congressional subcommittee about both of those proposed bills in December.
Although challenges remain, Sumner is encouraged by the growth of NSPS in the past year. Similarly, he sees opportunity for growth in the surveying profession as a whole.
“I think the greatest growth opportunity is getting proficient in the vast array of technology in whatever manner is appropriate,” Sumner said. “If you’re not forward-thinking, you can miss a lot of opportunities that are available to you. If you look back over time, surveyors are slow to grasp this. We were slow to grasp GPS. We were slow to grasp GIS.”
Sumner is quick to say that the organization’s main constituency, particularly boundary surveyors, will remain a vital part of the profession. “That’s not to say our core is going away—it’s not. But you have to be diverse,” he said.
“The idea in my mind is to help people solve their problems,” Sumner said. “I think that’s the key—recognizing opportunity and being able to respond to it.”