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The National Map Users Conference: Awards Ceremony
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Awards Ceremony


Mark DeMulder: Well good evening and welcome all of you to the 2nd Henry Gannett Award for Excellence in Topographic Mapping in the United States. We're so thrilled to be hosting this award ceremony at this conference to the very very first National Map Users Conference. We're so thrilled to have our Director, Dr. Marcia McNutt, able to present the award. And we are also thrilled to have some special guests with us tonight that I'll introduce into later in this, in this little introduction to the award ceremony.


So the program this evening is all, to give a little bit of background about Henry Gannett, about the award. We'll offer our special guests the chance to say a few words. Director McNutt will come to the podium and read the accomplishments of the award winner and present these awards jointly with one of our special guests. And I should go ahead and introduce her. This is Alison Gannett, a great niece of Henry Gannett and she has other family members with her here tonight whom I will introduce in a moment.

So let me just repeat, welcome to the 2nd Annual Henry Gannett Award ceremony. This award commemorates the USGS' first chief geographer, Henry Gannett and his many contributions to American geography and cartography.


This award is designed to recognize and celebrate talented individuals for outstanding recent accomplishments to the topographic mapping of our nation. We're pleased and honored that Dr. Marcia McNutt, the USGS Director is here today to present the award this evening.

Henry Gannett is not a household name. Many devo-- even in the mapping field probably don't know much about him. He was a quiet person who didn't seek the spotlight for himself. But when you hear his accomplishments. I think you'll realize like we have that, when we look to the great founding fathers of the geological survey and the mapping program that we have now due to the responsibility for, Henry Gannett was probably the most outstanding figure in our history.


Henry was born in Bath, Maine in 1846 and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1869 in Civil Engineering and Masters of Science in Mining Engineering in 1870 both from Harvard University.

Shortly after that he began his career in topographic mapping with the Hayden survey to the Yellowstone region in 1871. He quickly recognized the importance of geography as the basis for many other sciences. Most of Gannett's early survey work was in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah where he helped create high quality reconnaissance maps of vast areas.

Hired by the USGS in 1879, Henry Gannett was appointed chief geographer under Director John Wesley Powell, a position he held until 1914. Many enduring methods and standards of map making at the agency were developed under his leadership.


He recognized the value of organizing and integrating physical and human information into national scale programs and he put great emphasis on communicating this information in ways that the public could understand, the key component of his success as a scientist. The USGS mapping program was established under his command and the bureau's first topographic map sheets were produced. The sheets wouldn't be called quadrangles until 1888.

In addition to more than 50 USGS bulletins and annual reports, he also have many research reports for the census bureau. Several books for the general and statistical atlases demographics of the United States, American forests, the importance of conservation. He was a prolific mapper of a wide range of topics. Among them geology, topography and other geographic features.


He created three-dimensional panoramic views of the grand tetons and its lakes and glacial marines, its transportation, alkali, and prime deposits, copper and uranium mines, water supply and irrigation and wheat and corn production. He also started the geographic documentation of the federal forest reserves in 1897 prior to the work conducted by Gifford Pinchot and the US Forest Service.

In 1908, he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as geographer of the US National Conservation Commission chaired by Gifford Pinchot. He finished his purpose, was to assemble authority of data on all the nation's resources. Gannett was assigned by the president to write the report. Through his work as a geographer, the US Census's of 1880, 1890 and 1900 and the Philippine, Cuban and Puerto Rican censuses, Gannett became interested in place names.


His efforts to resolve inconsistencies in place names resulted in the establishment of the US board on geographic names in 1890. He served as the board's chairman from 1894 until 1910. Gannett was also one of several founders of the Cosmos Club in Washington DC, the National Geographic Society, which he served as president of from 1910 to 1914; the Geological Society of America and the Association of American Geographers. All of these organizations are active and thriving today.

In August 1953, retired colleague of Henry Gannett, a man named OJ Mitchell wrote a first hand account of his friend's capabilities. I'll read this brief quote. It says, "In the 1880's, I used to be a clerk in the survey in the topographical division of which Henry Gannett was head.


Gannett was one of the greatest men and minds I have ever known. He could write a letter with his right hand, draw a map with his left, dictate to his stenographer dear old Jim Mayer and hold a conversation with Professor Schaler all at the same time."

Before we present the award, I'd like to reintroduce Alison Gannett and introduce her nephew Brady, our special guests and they're here to join us in the celebration and in just a moment, we'll say a few words of reflection about their relative. Cassie and Kobe Gannett are also joining us in the audience. They're the parents of Brady and we very much appreciate sharing this event with us. As you can see in the awards ceremony program, Alison is herself quite accomplished in several varied fields.


She's a global explorer, a world champion extreme skier, founder of Save the Snow Foundation and an award winning global cooling consultant. So I'd like to bring to the podium, Alison and Brady Gannett.


Alison Gannett: Well it's such an honor to be here tonight to honor Henry Gannett because he, well let's see I'm his great, great, great niece and Brady here is his great, great, great, great nephew.


So now that we have that all cleared up. So when I was 17 years old I was actually in Alaska, it was my first large expedition and I was going out for a month of mountaineering. And I was studying all these USGS maps and there in front of me was Matt Gannett.


And I had no idea. No idea that here my most famous relative was one of the most impressive cartographers in the United States and all over, several parts of the world. A year later, I was actually in mountaineering in Wyoming at 18 years old and there was Gannett Peak. And, I was like, wow this guy was just brilliant. And maybe only someday I could live up to his accomplishments.

As Mark mentioned I'm a climate change consultant. I further document glacial recession around the world and I think Gannett glacier on this map right over here is calling my name as one of my next expeditions for sure. I think I'm very luck in a sense that I've gotten to make first sense on shower curtain walls in crazy countries like Bhutan and India and Pakistan.


And I think of what Henry must have thought because I would get these pieces of paper, here's where you're going in Pakistan, a line for a river, a couple peaks like X's with no names, a couple ridges. And the I would go out on foot for two or three months to ski some glacier, photodocument its recession. And I think in those days I really was trying to understand what Henry must have thought back in the day out there with the unknown of not knowing if the Grand Canyon was right there or Everest was right there.

And I hope that all of us can grab that inner explorer in us and go out and make a difference in this world. And now I'm going to introduce Brady who's going to tell you a story about Henry.


Brady Gannett: Hi. I just want to say I'm a bit nervous.


Well for starter I heard about Henry was we were all supposed to do a school project and I had no idea what to do about it. So my dad started talking about Henry Gannett. And I decided to survey searching him. And when I started looking him up, one of my favorite stories was that when they were in Hayden survey he was hiking ahead of the group and he started going up the mountain but a storm start coming in, which really isn't the smartest thing to do. And he kept climbing and started feeling purpling in his face and his fingers. And then I think his whole crews started coming and they kept going and their hairs are standing on end and started hurting all over.


And finally they just decided to head back down due to the worsening conditions but one man kept going and every time he took a step he kept getting electrical jolts violently and all... yeah I remember that.



Mark DeMulder: Brady, don't feel bad I'm a little nervous too. You did a wonderful job. Alison thank you very much. We're honored to have you both here with us. Then I would like to introduce Dr. Marcia McNutt, the Director of the US Geological Survey. Dr. McNutt will present the awards this evening in conjunction with Alison. As US director, Dr. McNutt is responsible for leading the nation's largest water, earth, biological science and civilian mapping agency in its mission to provide a scientific data that enable decision makers to create sound and unbiased policies for a changing world.


She previously served as president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Dr. McNutt.


Dr. Marcia McNutt: OK. When I agreed to come out here and do this, no one told me I had to follow Brady.


I'm afraid I don't have any really good stories about Henry Gannett to entertain you with but fortunately I do have two wonderful honorees and I have the distinct pleasure of telling you about their accomplishments.


And the of course are the two wonderful people who are going to be the recipients of the Henry Gannett award. And the two recipients are Tommy Dewald of the Environmental Protection Agency and Keven Roth who's retired from the USGS. And they are both being honored for their work on developing division and building the National Hydrography Dataset better known as NHD.

The National Hydrography Dataset has materially advanced the mapping of the United States by more wholly integrated mapping into the age of the computer. Rather than simply enabling traditional visual mapping using computers, the NHD has fundamentally changed how maps are used to solve problems. This has been accomplished by designing a model for representing our surface water fish on its fundamental behavior. And plus giving the computer access to the underlying principles that drive cause and effect and hydrologic processes.


Although the National Hydrography Dataset performs admirably and represents surface water and the spatial dimension of our surface. It's true breakthrough has been the ability to simultaneously represent water in the dimensions of a network system. In doing so, problems of mass complexity are now available to the analytical powers of the computer to generate solutions involving mankind's most fundamental resource, water.

Tommy and Keven's vision was based on their own experiences but also it was a reflection of the knowledge of their colleagues. Tommy and Keven worked within the missions of their own organizations and the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Geological Survey. They methodically canvass water science across the country to determine the elements that we've created the solutions that they had envisioned.


What they didn't know they learned by building a consortium of advisers through our government industry and academics. They tested their conclusions through public forums and debate that led to the most plausible solutions with the greatest consensus. In doing so they created not only the optimum technology but they did this in a free and open environment that produced a democratic science. One that would find for broad appeal throughout their constituents.

Although they held firm to their beliefs, they convinced each other of the need to compromise when the community demanded another look. The result of their work became then a truly National Hydrography Dataset. They built their vision by building consensus amongst the user community and convinced them that this vision for a national hydrography dataset was worthy of the investment and that the plans they laid out to bring water science to a new level.


Their own agencies came to believe in this vision and the strategy that was produced. Now thousands of scientists have produced hundreds of published studies in which the NHD has been a contributing factor. With this the vision drawn and leadership of Tommy Dewald and Keven Roth have been proven to be an outstanding success.

A key part of the division of the National Hydrography Dataset was the built in design for continuing maintenance of the dataset through stewardship by the same community that band together to build the program in the first place. Just as the community was motivated to build the dataset, the community is just as inspired and motivated to maintain it. Now our widespread consortium of partners are dedicated to the continued success of the program. This long-term commitment is true testimony to the success of the dream founded by Tommy Dewald and Keven Roth.


In addition to success of the sciences, the National Hydrography Dataset, has found its place as the mainstay for hydrography coverage and cartography. An easily accessible resource in the public domain the quality and robustness of NHD has made it the data source of choice for many cartographic allocations and web mapping services. It is a key component of the US Geographical program. It is the anchor dataset for the national map, the NHD has continually demonstrated the thoughtful vision and design our interval to success of a National Geospatial program.

And now I'd like to invite the recipients to say a few words.



Keven Roth: Oh boy. Well, I do wanted to say thanks. I mean especially with this group, I really appreciate it. I love working on the programs and I really think that I'm still lucky to be able to work on it still. I mean I'm engaged in it. I love working with the good people and the good programs at USGS and the fact that I'm working with stewards still from all over who are making the NHD great. Now I do have to say, you know I did my little research on Henry Gannett. And I thought what do Tommy and I have in common with Henry Gannett? And you know, we knew he was out there putting his life on the line, you know he was fighting the bears in the wilderness and lightning bolts. Yeah.



And it's like I don't think Tommy did too much of that but we did spend three years all week every month, Monday to Friday in a stuffy conference room trying to work out the data model. The only way we really got that done is every Monday Tommy would walk in with a huge bag of candies that he would throw on the table to keep me in a sugar induced high. But the other thing I did read about that struck my mind. It was a quote, this is from Wikipedia by the way, on Henry. And one of the things that struck me even more was he says, it says that he was among those lobbying in 1879 for centralizing the mapping functions into one government agency.

Previously individual map makers and agencies had to compete for money from congress for funds for projects. And I read that and I said, well we do have a lot in common with Henry because we tried to centralize, it wasn't all the agencies but it means centralizing the NHD and telling everybody to work together. I think we made a huge, you know, certain improvement in that.

So I think what we did is act as cheerleader. I mean that's for sure what I did. And I have a feeling that Henry Gannett was also a cheerleader trying to get the, you know, the agencies and the mapping program going and I'm happy on that level to compare myself to Henry Gannett but everything else not so much.


But I also wanted to say, I want say, I want to thank Justin Lee and Mark DeMulder for not forgetting about me when I retired and moved to Montana. I appreciate the fact that you still think about me and Tommy would like to say a little bit, my partner here and thank a few other people and again thank you I'm really, I'm very happy.



Tommy Dewald: I'm going to quote Jenna Gallagher for this morning, wow!


This is very humbling to be nominated for such an award and even more so to be the recipient. My observation over the years is that mostly everybody wants to use these national geospatial datasets like NHD but not so many are interested in producing and so this not just about Keven and I, it's about hundreds of people that did contribute to the production of these datasets and still contribute to their maintenance to support the thousands of people that are using the data.


I'd like to thank a few individuals, Cindy McKay who is, Cindy would you mind standing up? Cindy is the...


Cindy is the technical lead for ETA, for NHD and NHD Plus, the follow-on product. At USGS she has to await for picking up Danny Siebel after Keven took for Montana and I had to say it wouldn't be we're conceiving NHD, we figured we could produce it. It took a while.

The stewardship part in the long term distributing maintenance was IBS and just taking those IBS in the zone and turning those into a thriving national USGS led stewardship program. Thanks.



I'd like to thank Karl Zewitt who's relatively new to the NHD program. He is just lost even if he's just doing descriptions. Mark DeMulder who had been at this for a while as well. And I'd like to thank you all for your stage advice over the years and support and your good sense of humor and I'd like to thank Director McNutt for her support as well. As the saying goes behind every good man is a good man.


Last but not the least I'd like to thank Keven for her share of vision and her commitment and her tenacity. And I say that in the most positive way. And I think it is, the discussion, maybe it's more perfect to call her pioneering spirit because without that I don't think there would be NHD.


So I'm here to thank folks personally and on behalf of Environmental Protection Agency and our partner organizations and I'll close by encouraging you to continue to do good things with the data and don't forget to maintain it along the way. Thank you.



Dr. Marcia McNutt: Yeah hand it to him. OK. Here we go. All right OK. So Keven...

Keven Roth: Yeah?

Dr. Marcia McNutt: Congratulations well on the Henry Gannett award and well deserved and for the life of your accomplishment.

Keven Roth: I will. Thank you very much.


Dr. Marcia McNutt: And thank you for the, well working with me today and this has been a great inter-agency partnership.


Tommy Dewald: How about the award for the photography.

Keven Roth; Oh yeah.

Tommy Dewald: Everything's fine.


Mark DeMulder: Thank you. And now Dr. McNutt has one additional presentation to make.

Dr. Marcia McNutt: Right.

Mark DeMulder: So I'm going to turn the podium back to Dr. McNutt for that presentation and then we will return for some refreshment.

Dr. Marcia McNutt: So some of you may have seen the topomap that's right behind Alison here and what we've done is framed for her the seven and a-half minute map of Gannett Peak because we just felt that it was very important that for someone with her accomplishments as a famed outdoors woman and one who has particular talents towards climate change as well, combating climate should have framed USGS map particularly because this one is of Gannett Peak because this is of course named after her very famous relative.


This map, Gannett Peak is at 30,804 feet. It's the highest peak in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem in the Wind River range. In 1922, the Bureau on Geographic Names officially named this peak after Henry Gannett. It lies on the continental divide in Wyoming. It's surrounded by five glaciers of which one is Gannett glacier. These glaciers are the largest in the American rocky mountains. And as Alison already mentioned, there's also a Mount Gannett in Alaska but that one is at a mere 9,700 feet. So that's the lesser of...



Alison Gannett: I just have to say thank you. I'm a complete cartoholic.


So thank you very much. Henry would be proud and it's really amazing to be here presenting this award with people that have worked so hard. Thank you.


Mark DeMulder: Thank you very much. We have food and drink. Please enjoy.



Title: The National Map Users Conference: Awards Ceremony


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sponsored the inaugural The National Map Users Conference (TNM UC) in conjunction with the eighth biennial Geographic Information Science (GIS) Workshop on May 10-13, 2011, in Golden, Colorado. The National Map Users Conference was held directly after the GIS Workshop at the Denver Marriott West on May 12-13.  The focus of the Users Conference was on the role of The National Map in supporting science initiatives, emergency response, land and wildlife management, and other activities.

The National Map Users Conference Experience: Short interviews of Conference attendees. (4:29)

Opening remarks and plenary speakers, Thursday, May 12, 2011 (UC Day 1)

Award Ceremony, Tommy Dewald of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Keven Roth “semi-retired” USGS are the co-recipients of this year’s Henry Gannett Award, presented by Marcia McNutt, Director of the USGS and Alison Gannet, great-niece of Henry Gannett. Roth and Dewald were cited for their development of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD). (30:03)

Continuing remarks and plenary speakers, Friday, May 13, 2011 (UC Day 2)

Closing Session:  “What You Said: Shaping the Direction of The National Map”.  (33:50)

Selected Sessions, Thursday, May 12, 2011 & Friday, May 13, 2011

Location: Golden, CO, USA

Date Taken: 5/12/2011

Length: 30:03

Video Producer: Michael Moore , U.S. Geological Survey

Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

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