women playing baseball

The Young Surveyors on the Young Surveyors Network

This entry is part 19 of 22 in the series Field Notes

Note from Editor Scott P. Martin: As I read and absorbed the Young Surveyors Network response (below) to last month’s Field Notes, I realized that I have been ignorant of the perception and perspective young surveyors have of our profession and the old guard. We have contributed greatly to our own demise (I touched on this here) and thus aren’t likely to be able to retool our minds to successfully address and correct the problems we face. At least that is how the YSN members see it. Can’t say that I fault them.

We are the National League, still sending pitchers to the plate to flail away to an almost automatic out. We’re exposing our star pitchers to retaliation, all in the name of “how the game is supposed to be played.” The YSN is the American League, sending nine hitters to the plate because they were willing to make a drastic change to provide a better brand of baseball, in their opinion. They both play in the Major Leagues and meet for the annual fall classic, and they occasionally cross paths over the course of the regular season. This is the first time in my 40 years of surveying that I have used a baseball analogy, but it seemed apt.

Thank you to Carl and the YSN for their contributions, which hopefully stimulate debate and discussion for the betterment of our great profession.


This article is in response to Carl C. de Baca’s submission in the May edition of xyHt. If you have not read Carl’s article in Field Notes here, please do.

From the Young Surveyors Network:

Carl, you’re not entirely wrong. The time for action is now, and the need for new ideas and a fresh perspective is profound. However, we’re not the kale and quinoa salad you make us out to be and we can’t continue down a path that was forged by generations and generations before us. That well-worn path leads right to where things are today, a status quo we have no interest in.

The fear of change and refusal to embrace technology have allowed other geo-related industries to grow exponentially. Instead of collaborating and mutually succeeding, surveyors have parted from groups that don’t quite beat the same drum (GIS, machine control, sUAS to name a few). Regardless, it is disintegrating our relationships, while our committees tirelessly try to dream up a fix-all solution to entice teenagers to jump head-first into land surveying. It’s becoming a larger leap each generation.

Whether it be an attempt to protect the profession or concern about losing control, surveyors have earned the reputation of being difficult to get along with. This mindset has left us isolated. Luckily, the up and coming generation’s strengths lie in the very gaps that have become evident in NSPS and the surveying profession. Young surveyors are eager, creative, interconnected, team-focused, rely on instant communication, and are willing to be wrong.

If we understand you correctly, Carl, what you’re saying is that we don’t need a separate organization, we need to just step up in NSPS and take over. But NSPS didn’t turn grey overnight. No one joins an organization hoping for stagnation. It just happens, over time, when things get too big and too structured. That is why the Young Surveyors Network must exist.

Part of our mission is to prepare young surveyors to take over at NSPS and the profession in general, but we can be far more effective if we operate at our own pace and do meetings our own way and keep things untethered from tradition and procedure. If we were just to barge in and take over, then the few of us who have the time and energy to take over positions in NSPS will quickly become part of the status quo and just disappear into the organization. However, if we form an army of our own, quick and agile and able to change and evolve, we have a better chance of sending our message to NSPS in a way that will effect real change.

The Young Surveyors Network is an energized organization of U.S. surveyors under age 35. We consist of licensed land surveyors, business owners, professors, technicians, students, and overall concerned persons. Structured and robust, yet flexible and cooperative, the YSN is anything but child’s play, and, since its inception, has already increased participation within local, state, and national societies.

Established in 2014, the YSN has gone through the belly-aches that any start-up may encounter but has survived and is thriving. Officers have been elected, bylaws have been accepted, and membership continues to grow, with over 200 new members in the last year alone. In September 2016, we became an official affiliate of NSPS, and although Robert’s Rules of Order are not used at the monthly officer meetings, we still manage to keep ourselves organized and moving forward.

The members of the YSN are eager for involvement and change. Rather than being in competition with each other, we enjoy being part of a team and focus on collaboration and sharing ideas. Instead of being distracted by barriers, or process, we accept the challenges and welcome change. We like accessibility and are proficient in forms of technology, including the multiple aids that assist in communication. (Note: this article was written on a google.doc, instantly sharing ideas with others across the country). The members of YSN are not interested in remaining in the same position for the next hundred years. We want to jump in, make a difference, and move on to something else. (This is why we cap the membership age at 35. After that, you may be an ally, but you are speaking from a different perspective.)

The barrier that exists at the NSPS is pretty obvious. If you aren’t a sitting governor or on a committee, it can be difficult to feel involved. It can also be difficult to be one voice among many. As our network grows, we are starting to send our representatives into the organization to sit on committees and join meetings. We are stepping up to take the keys.

But rather than just merging in and joining the gridlock, we are in the carpool lane and we’re helping each other navigate. There are things for both groups to gain as we build our future leaders, and, in a sea of older voices, we hope the YSN will stand as one strong, clear voice to promote the ideas of the younger surveyors.

The surveying profession will continue forward, whether the YSN has the wheel or not. The good folks at the NSPS are starting to embrace our presence and are realizing our intentions are real. Instead of navigating a millennial-driven bulldozer, we are here to assist.

I can assure you that our folks are passionate about this organization and will continue pursuing their ideals of promoting what surveying has to offer. We will continue to collaborate with outside organizations to establish new relationships, because we see the benefit it has on the profession and us as people. We will move the profession into an era it is not accustomed to, while maintaining the integrity and ideals that we have learned from your experience.

Carl/NSPS, we are one of you, and we will always find comfort under the same umbrella. But, we need to do things our own way.You are us, or rather you were us. And, someday, we will be you. And the Young Surveyors Network will be there to greet the next generation and be the united voice that will keep NSPS and the profession moving forward.

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The Young Surveyors on the Young Surveyors Network” Comment

  1. I just read both articles and all I can say is, more power to the YSN. Participation has long been a problem. Sure, people send in their dues every year, but all they do is sit on their hands, while a dedicated few try to promote the profession.

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