Jefferson, Washington and Today’s Surveyor: Celebrating National Surveyors Week

In February 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated a weeklong celebration to outline the important role surveyors play in the expansion of America. At the time, he highlighted the surveying work done by his predecessors George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, according to the American Surveyor.

“I invite all Americans to look back at the historic contributions of surveying and look ahead to the new technologies which are constantly modernizing this honored and learned profession,” Reagan proclaimed.


Today, there are more than 43,000 professional surveyors navigating worksites across the country, according to research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These surveyors leverage expert insight and cutting-edge technology to map the surface of the Earth. These professionals determine property lines, proper depths for building foundations and so much more. Surveyors also work with civil engineers, landscape architects, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and urban and regional planners to develop comprehensive design documents.

In the decades since Reagan’s proclamation, many have done as the former president directed. Local surveying groups scattered in communities throughout the U.S. use the week to honor key surveyors, past and present, and to help preserve the important profession by engaging the youth via hands-on educational initiatives. This year, the design and construction industry celebrates National Surveyors Week March 18 through March 24, the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) announced.

The NSPS encourages industry associations to lobby for proclamations from local, state and federal government officials who wish to follow in President Reagan’s footsteps and publicly recognize the contributions of surveyors. Approximately 19 state governments have made proclamations honoring National Surveyors Week, as have the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. In 2016, former President Barack Obama did so as well.

In addition to raising awareness around the criticality of surveyors, the NSPS encourages participation in the GPS on Benchmarks campaign, a program directed by the National Geodetic Survey designed to expand the National Spatial Reference System via independent surveying contributions. The NSRS is an extensive nationwide network of mapped points, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the NGS. The NSRS contains more than 1.5 million marks, each of which is cataloged with accurate latitude, longitude and height readings.

During National Surveyors Week, let’s celebrate the importance of surveying work, an activity that dates back to the founding of the U.S. when early surveyors like Washington and Jefferson quite literally staked out the nation.


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