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From its inception, the National Weather Service has relied heavily on cooperative weather observers for establishment and maintenance of the nation's climatic database. It follows that appointing, training, and keeping good observers is a very high priority. Over the years, a method of selecting and rewarding observers for excellence in observing, recording and reporting weather data has evolved into the Cooperative Weather Observer Awards Program.
This award originated in 1959 as a way for the NWS to honor cooperative weather observers for unusual and outstanding achievements in the field of meteorological observations. It is the highest award the NWS presents to volunteer observers. The award is named for Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. Jefferson, the statesman-scientist, made an almost unbroken series of weather observations from 1776 to 1816. His old instruments may now be seen at Monticello, his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Holm Award, created in 1959, provides the NWS with a way to honor cooperative weather observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations. The namesake for this award is a Lutheran minister, John Campanius Holm, the first known person to have taken systematic weather observations in the American Colonies. Reverend Holm made observations of climate without the use of instruments in 1644 and 1645, near the present site of Wilmington, Delaware. In later years, his son had his records published.
This award bears the name of Earl Stewart, a contemporary cooperative observer at Cottage Grove, Oregon. Mr. Stewart completed 75 years of continuous observations in 1992. The criterion for this award is that an observer serves the NWS for a period of 75 years or more.
In 1991, Mrs. Ruby Stufft, of Elsmere, Nebraska, completed 70 years as a cooperative observer, thus becoming the first woman to ever reach that plateau. The NWS presents the award in honor of Mrs. Stufft to observers who have attained 70 years of service.
This award bears the name of Albert J. Meyer, a historical figure and observer at Eagle Pass, Texas. In 1870, a joint resolution of Congress established the "Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce." The Congress also appointed Mr. Meyer to establish and direct the Division of Telegrams and Reports. This government entity served as the forerunner to the National Weather Service. Anyone serving the NWS as an observer for 65 years is eligible for this award.
The NWS created this award in 1986 in honor of Dr. Helmut E. Landsberg, noted professor, author, and lecturer. He was one of the preeminent climatologists of our time; and was, for a number of years, Director of the NWS Climatology Program, before its abolishment in 1973. All observers who have completed 60 years of service receive this award.
This award, created in 1975, honors Edward H. Stoll. Mr. Stoll was the observer at Elwood, Nebraska for over 76 years, and was the first to receive the prestigious Stoll Award. To further honor the "Dean of Weather Observers," as he was called, the NWS flew Mr. Stoll to Washington, D.C., where he met with the President of the United States at the time, Jimmy Carter. To receive this award, an observer must have taken observations for 50 or more years.
As with full time employees, the NWS presents cooperative observers with length-of-service emblems every five years, starting at ten years of service to 50 years of service.