Forum on the Future of Surveying
I’ll admit that I didn’t know what I was agreeing to (or getting myself into) when I accepted the offer to attend the second Forum on the Future of Surveying meeting to represent the NSPS Young Surveyors. I read the summary of the first forum meeting and was extremely intrigued about how 20 people were planning to save the entire profession of surveying. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
The second forum meeting was held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 9 and 10, 2016. Mostly the same players attended as the first meeting, with a few new additions such as myself.
The goal of the meeting was to use the national questionnaire results, the ideas from the previous meeting, discussions over the past months from the players, and the brainstorming of the current group to come up with an action plan to make something happen.
Trying to save an entire profession can sound like a daunting task, but that’s why I wanted to be at that table. The NSPS Young Surveyors group has been working for the last two years to establish ourselves and has been having the same discussions, brainstorming, and hopes for action plans. It seems many organizations in the surveying profession have been trying to attack this single-handedly and with minimal success.
The idea of the forum with the different organizations taking a stand together makes perfect sense. Why not leverage all our strengths and our networking abilities and work together?
As the weekend meeting progressed, the ideas for the action plans became clear within our work groups. We focused on national image, recruiting, and education.
The national image group worked on 1) a plan for a surveying definition to use at a high level with the public, 2) discussion of a national symbol or logo, and 3) a marketing timeline at a national level.
The recruiting group discussed “toolkits” focused on multiple target audiences. The audiences could include teachers and elementary, middle- and high-school students, college-driven individuals, and other groups–to help present them the excitement of surveying but with focused marketing. In the past, “toolkits” have been discussed and prepared but focused on creating a one-size-fits-all approach. The idea of having multiple focused toolkits really opens up the potential for reaching different audiences and, hopefully, future surveyors.
The other group focused on education, not the recruitment side but how to keep surveyors educated, offer education opportunities, and figure out where the next generation of teachers and educators is coming from. This topic was a challenge to understand and develop an action plan for, as this really pulls the entire circle of surveying together. You have to get people in the profession, keep them in the profession, and get the next group into the profession. The education and support really is a key component of that circle of the profession.
Based on these action plans and the overall discussion in the room, one thing that continues to stick out for me is that the surveying profession will not be saved by these 20 people sitting in that room making these action plans. Nope, the surveying profession will be saved by all of you out there reading this article.
This forum can prepare all the image tools, marketing plans, “toolkits,” and anything else we can dream up, but without the support of the surveying community, it will all be for nothing.
I am still young in my career, but what I love about the surveying profession is the passion and enthusiasm that I find when talking with other surveyors. From the “war stories” to just talking about your daily adventures, you can draw a crowd and get people interested in what you do for a living. This is what we need to capture and use as we roll out this national image, these recruitment materials, and just our continued interactions with the public.
We need you! I volunteered the NSPS Young Surveyors group to help, but that isn’t going to be enough. We need to start working together as a solid community to show the public that we are a profession that plans to be around for at least a while longer.
So get ready, stay tuned, and be poised for action as the Forum, with the help of NSPS, starts to roll out these action plans and provide you with the tools to grab and invite the next generation of surveyors.