We Are "They"

As we’ve noted many times, the surveying and geospatial professions are in the midst of many changes. Likewise, our staff, our publications, and the means by which we communicate with you here at Professional Surveyor Magazine (PSM) also continue to grow and change.

With that in mind, my stint at the helm of PSM comes to a close, although my association with the magazine will continue. As I write this final editor’s column, I can also re-introduce you to someone you likely already know—Jeff Salmon. As I transition to the role of surveying editor, Jeff transitions to the role of full-time editor of the magazine.

Our regular readers will recognize Jeff’s name from our Pangaea e-newsletter and as a regular contributor to the magazine for over seven years. Jeff will continue to edit Pangaea, and he brings his experience in surveying and an extensive background in communications to focus full-time on PSM. Realigning our roles will allow the magazine to expand while also remaining focused on our key markets.

You will continue to hear from me through Field Notes and elsewhere, but I’ll leave you for now with one final thought for this space.

My wife and I recently attended an award dinner given by an organization affiliated with our daughters’ school. The award recipient happens to be a retired U.S. Marine, and the keynote address was given by his long-time friend and commanding officer, a general. The general’s speech was well delivered and inspiring, and, as could be expected, he commanded the room.  And, of course, the speech had nothing to do with surveying.  Or did it?

He spoke of the three “Corps Values” of the Marines and how those principles applied to the recipient, both as a Marine and as an individual. The values are honor, courage, and commitment, and as he spoke about these I drew distinct parallels (of course …) to surveying.

He said the Marines uphold their honor first by learning their history. They take the time to learn the legacy of those who came before them so they can pay respect and project that legacy into the future. Don’t we surveyors hold a high appreciation for our history and those who preceded us? Aren’t we to uphold their legacy by following in their footsteps? But do we cherish the value of that legacy and work to project it into the future as something others will recognize and appreciate?

Next he spoke about courage, which consists of two parts: physical courage and moral courage. Certainly Marines have physical courage, for which I have the utmost respect. But it was the moral side that I connected to surveying: the courage to do the right thing. As surveyors we’re tasked with protecting the rights of the public. When establishing boundary lines, do we have the courage to do the right thing, even if it’s the difficult choice with respect to our client?

The general finished with the third principle, commitment. He talked about the recipient’s commitment to the Corps and to the school organization. Indeed, it was his commitment and dedication to the organization that earned him the award. I wondered if we, as surveyors, have that level of commitment—to our state associations, to NSPS, to advancing and promoting the profession as a whole.

As the award recipient gave his acceptance speech, he described some of the challenges he had faced through the organization, things like volunteerism and fund-raising. He talked about the mindset that is becoming too prevalent today: that “they” will take care of it. He had discovered in his efforts that there is no “they.”

The same concept applies to surveying. If we want to be recognized as professionals, if we want to be respected by the public, if we want to better the profession for the future, there is no “they.” We are they.                                     


About the Author

  • TJ Frazier, LS
    TJ Frazier, LS
    TJ Frazier is the magazine's editor for surveying and has more than 20 years experience in the surveying profession, currently as senior land surveyor for VanMar Associates in Mt. Airy, Md. He also worked in survey equipment sales for Loyola Spatial Systems, now part of Leica Geosystems. He earned a bachelor of sciences degree in business at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. He is married and has two daughters. Frazier can be reached at tj@profsurv.com.

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