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Two of the more prestigious awards are the Thomas Jefferson award and the John Campanius Holm award. Both were created in 1959 for the National Weather Service to honor cooperative weather observers, and the first of each was presented in 1960. To be eligible for these awards, observers' excellence must include accuracy, promptness, legibility, cooperation, consistency and care of equipment. These things must have been done over a long period of time.
Thomas Jefferson This award is 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 US. Jefferson made an almost unbroken series of weather observations from 1776 to 1816. No more than 5 Jefferson awards are given annually. This certificate is signed by the Secretary of Commerce and the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere. To be eligible for the Jefferson award, a candidate must have received the Holm award at least five years prior, and must still be performing her or his duties in an outstanding manner.
John Campanius Holm This award is to honor cooperative observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations. It is named for a Lutheran minister, the first person known 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. No more than twenty-five Holm awards are given annually. The certificate is signed by the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Earl Stewart This award was named for an observer in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Mr. Stewart completed 75 years of continuous observations in 1992. The criterion for this award is that an observer serve the NWS as an observer for a period of 75 years or more.
Ruby Stufft In 1991, Mrs. Ruby Stufft of Elsmere, Nebraska, completed 70 years as a cooperative observer. This award was named in her honor, and is presented to any observer attaining 70 years of service.
Albert J. Meyer The award was named after an observer at Eagle Pass, Texas. In 1870 Mr. Meyer was appointed to establish and direct the "Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce," now known as the NWS. Anyone who serves as an observer for 65 years is eligible for this award.
Helmut E. Landsberg This award was created in 1986 in honor of Dr. Helmut E. Landsberg, one of the preeminent climatologists of our time. This award is presented to all observer who have completed 60 years of service as cooperative observers.
Edward H. Stoll This award was created and became effective in 1975 in honor of Mr. 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 receive this award, an observer must have taken observations for 50 years.
The Stoll, Landsberg, Myer, Stufft, and Stewart awards are all signed by the Assistant Administrator of Weather Services (Director of the NWS)
Length of Service awards, emblems and letters
Cooperative observers may be given length-of-service emblems every five years, starting at ten years of service to 50 years of service. There are also length of service certificates that may be issued every 5 years through 50 years. The 10 and 15 year certificates are bronze, the 20 and 25 year are silver, and the 30 through 50 year are gold. 60-year observers and higher will receive a letter signed by the President of the United States.
Institutions include schools, power stations, Corps of Engineer dams, local governments, and other entities, where an individual is not identified as the observer. Often, whomever is working at observation time will record the data. Institutions shall receive an award for each 25 years of service. The certificate is signed by the Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and the local official.
Special Service Awards
These are presented from a local level, and may be given for any reason that is appropriate. This may include recognition for an individual who has been the primary observer for many years at an institution, and otherwise would not be officially recognized.