Surveyors of Tomorrow: GIS and Families

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series October 2016

Over the past few years, I’ve been gathering quotes and anecdotes­—from the kids of survey practitioners­—about what they think other kids might find attractive about their parent’s chosen profession and why they might (or might not) choose the same path. Here’s a sampling that represents what I hear.

The three children of Brad O, the sole proprietor of a small-town, multi-generational surveying business in the Midwest, offered the following:

Katie, 18: “One thing that is the main appeal for me is the opportunity to be outside and work in all kinds of different types of landscapes. For example, some days we work in the middle of the woods; other days we work on job sites with construction crews; and other times we are in the middle of downtown Indy.”

Johnathan, 15: “Outdoors work, technology, freedom, working with friends (possibly), and different locations to work in.”
Joseph, 12, offered a very literal idea about how to expose kids his age to the joys of field surveying: “You could bring them in the field to work with an ATV and show them what to do, and don’t yell at them.”
While none of Brad’s kids have shown a strong interest in entering the profession—thus far—none has discounted the idea entirely.

A path for multi-generations of mapping and GIS is less obvious but more common than I had thought. As for what kids make of their parents’ mapping activities, our GIS editor Nick Duggan quizzed his kids, numbering, as he quips, “one short of a five-a-side football squad”:
Shannon, 9: “Daddy makes GIS maps and writes for a comic.” (Perhaps she meant our colorful magazine?) Shannon also pointed out that her dad makes maps like those they see on the popular UK animated series, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. See! Inspiration can come from unlikely sources, so don’t discount the outreach potential of things like Pokémon Go!.

Xander, 8: “He makes maps and helps other people understand where to go. He gives directions and he makes his own blogs.”
Ethan, 4: He draws Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom (not exactly true, but relatable).

Would Nick’s kids follow in his footsteps for a career? Shannon said maybe as a hobby, and she would rather be a gymnast. Xander said it is too boring and would like to be a police detective (surveyors are a kind of detective, but there are no TV shows about them). Ethan said yes! And Kit wants to be a doctor.

Sometimes the most valuable and viable pool of recruits is sitting across from you at dinner. My kids did enjoy the adventure side of surveying but have other paths in mind. I had to confess to my son, a film student, that I had tried to study film, and finances had me return to my surveying roots. He noted that he is going to study harder.

Send us some of your “multi-generational-recruiting” tips and anecdotes.

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