I promised my perspectives on the Groundwater Foundation at the end of the first installment of this blog. It is surprising to realize that relationship is measured in decades.
|Attendees at the 1990 Children's Groundwater Festival|
I was wrong. Hundreds of students went through presentations all day long. They were excited. They had fun. They were engaged. That certainly wasn’t my last Festival and I was never surprised by the enthusiasm of a Children’s Groundwater Festival again.
|Participants at an artesian spring at Groundwater University in 1995.|
The team of faculty, volunteers, and staff that Groundwater Foundation assembled for Groundwater University created an experience that few actual university students were receiving at the time. I found a kinship in the common interest, learned more than I thought possible, and came away refreshed instead of exhausted.
|Bob Swanson receives the USGS Groundwater Guardian plaque in 2008.|
Following a few years in a location without Groundwater Foundation interaction and upon accepting the position of Director of the USGS Nebraska Water Science Center I found myself involved in an early tradition of the USGS Nebraska Water Science Center and the Groundwater Foundation. One of my duties, as Director, was to visit Congressional staff and report on the activities of my Center. Early in Groundwater Foundation’s history, Susan Seacrest, founding President of the Groundwater Foundation, began accompanying the Center Director on those visits to leverage interest in groundwater science and to visit with leadership at our national headquarters. Jane Griffin continued that tradition when she became President of Groundwater Foundation. I would prepare to try to communicate in a 10-15 minute period the progress of the previous year’s science activities for a USGS Science Center. I could only focus on so many things. It seemed inevitable that I would pick projects and programs that the Congressional staff already understood. Susan and Jane have an innate insight into people and I found myself always focusing on the science. They would always point out the projects that connected critically with the people that the Congressional staff represented. Now maybe I wasn’t wrong, but I wasn’t focusing on the right thing and Groundwater Foundation helped me to learn that lesson. I found that insight to be invaluable. That leaves me proud to be wrong.
One last observation is that I never met a Groundwater Foundation employee that I wouldn’t count as a friend. Thanks, Groundwater Foundation.
Next time...Perspectives on data.__________
Robert Swanson was Director of the USGS Nebraska Water Science Center (NEWSC) from 2004 until his retirement in 2017. The NEWSC has 40 dedicated water science professionals, support personnel, and students and offices in Lincoln and North Platte, Nebraska. He oversaw a science program that is managed through two sections, Hydrologic Surveillance and Hydrologic investigations. The USGS operates over 130 streamgaging stations, about 70 continuous groundwater recorders, and compiles ground-water levels for over 5,000 wells in Nebraska.
Prior to 2004, he gained a wide range of experience in the Hydrologic Surveillance (Data) Section as a hydrologic technician and hydrologist in the Lincoln, Cambridge, Ord, and North Platte Field Offices. He served as field hydrologist for the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program's Central Nebraska River (CNBR) Basins Study Unit research team and later as CNBR Study Unit Chief. From 1999 to 2004, Bob was assigned to the USGS Wyoming Water Science Center as the Chief of Hydrologic Surveillance. He has also been Acting Director for both the Iowa and Missouri Water Science Centers. He has served on numerous committees for the advancement of science and technology in the USGS, as well as business practice committees.