Wagner, SD Cooperative Observer receives Highest NWS Award

Dr. Morris and Mrs. Margarette Schuurmans receiving Jefferson award from Greg Harmon, MIC and Central Region Coop Program Manager Bob Bonack
(l-r) Margarette Schuurmans, MIC Greg Harmon, Central Region Coop Program Manager Bob Bonack, and Dr. Morris Schuurmans.
Photo by DAPM Donald E. Morin and SOO Phil Schumacher.

Dr. Morris and Mrs. Margarette Schuurmans were the honored guests at the second-ever COOP Observer Appreciation Day held recently at WFO Sioux Falls, SD. The event was attended by over 20 fellow COOP Observers, their friends and family, as well as the South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey, PhD.

The Schuurmans were selected to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award for their dedication as the Wagner, SD observers since 1956 and the lifesaving actions on Labor Day in 1970 when Dr. Schuurmans put his knowledge of weather phenomena to work and “read the sky”. He noted rapidly changing weather conditions and knew a dangerous wind/tornado was imminent. Dr. Schuurmans sounded the alarm which cleared the city streets of citizens gathered for a Labor Day celebration. There was some significant property damage in the city and a Ferris wheel was knocked from its axis. However, due to his quick action injuries were few and minor. In addition to a nicely framed and matted rendition of the Jefferson Award, Sioux Falls WFO Meteorologist-in-Charge Greg Harmon, presented our Wagner observers with the Edward Stoll Award to further commemorate their 50 years of service to the NWS COOP program and their contributions to our nation’s climate database.

The Wagner, SD site was established in 1915 very near its current location. There were 5 observers who preceded the Schuurmans as the official observers at the site. The length of service the Schuurmans provided, out paced all of the prior observers combined.

Joining Greg Harmon at the presentation ceremony was NWS Central Region Cooperative Program Manager Bob Bonack, and WFO Sioux Falls Data Acquisition Program Manager Donald Morin.

Mr. Harmon also presented the Schuurmans with a congratulatory letter from NWS Director, retired Brigadier General D. L. Johnson and a copy of the first observation form the couple submitted in 1956 along with a form submitted 50 years later in April 2006.

Dr. Dennis Todey added his praise and appreciation not only for the contributions of the Schuurmans, but for all the COOP Observers and the work they do to make our climate data available for a variety of uses.

The Celebration was concluded with a special cake and refreshments.

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