COOP Observer Lester Stufft of rural Elsmere received
 Benjamin Franklin Award Saturday, September 14th

Benjamin Franklin Award Presentation for Lester Stufft

     Since November 20th, 1958 – Lester Stufft of rural Elsmere, Nebraska has served as the Cooperative Weather Observer. His grandfather established the station in 1911, at his ranch outside Elsmere. Lester’s mother Ruby took over taking the observations soon thereafter, and was the first female observer to reach the plateau of 70 years of service. The Ruby Stufft 70 Year Service Award was named in her honor, and she was the first recipient of this prestigious award. She completed her 70 years of service in 1989. 

     Lester began taking observations in a backup role to his mother in the fall of 1958. He continued helping his mother take observations until she fell too ill to continue.

     In 1999 Lester Stufft was recognized as the recipient of the National Weather Service John Campanius Holm Award, for outstanding weather observations. On October 11, 2008 Lester received the Thomas Jefferson Award, along with receiving the Edward H. Stoll Award, in recognition of 50 years as a Cooperative Weather Observer.

     In a major highlight recognizing the Stufft Family – a presentation was held on August 13th, 2011 to honor their family for 100 years of service in taking Cooperative Weather Observations. The Family Heritage was proudly presented to the Stufft Family, for generations of the Stuff Family providing an unbroken weather record for a century.

     On September 14th, 2013 – the Benjamin Franklin Award was presented to Lester Stufft, in a ceremony held at the Assembly of God Church in Ainsworth.  This award was established to honor National Weather Service Cooperative Observers who voluntarily observe and record weather phenomena for 55 years or more. The award was named after Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) the inventor of the lightning rod and a person who had a keen interest in weather prediction among other things. As the first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin received weather reports from a network of observers along the Atlantic coast. This network of observers was the first known group to track hurricanes.

     Meteorologist-in-Charge Ryan Knutsvig from the National Weather Service office in North Platte presented the Benjamin Franklin Award to Lester Stufft, on Saturday, September 14. Observing Program Leader Steve Carmel organized the presentation. A congratulatory letter from NOAA Associate Administrator and Director of the National Weather Service, Dr. Louis Ucellini, was also presented to Lester. 

     Lester and Ben Franklin have a few things in common. They shared a keen interest in weather. Franklin gained international renown as a scientist, for his famous experiments in electricity and for his many inventions – including the lightning rod. Both Lester and Ben Franklin were noted for their colorful lifestyles and working class roots.

     Every day at 6 PM, Lester Stuff has recorded the maximum and minimum temperature, along with the 24 hour precipitation and snowfall amount, and snow depth. If the precipitation came in the form of snow, he would melt it and record the water equivalent, along with the total snowfall accumulation and total snow depth.

     Over the span of 55 years, Lester has taken over twenty thousand observations and had measured 1,386.51 inches or 115.54 feet of precipitation. Total snowfall during Lester’s tenure as an observer has been 2,654.6 inches equaling 221.21 feet. The hottest temperature of 112 degrees occurred during July 2006, and the coldest observed temperature that Lester Stufft notated was minus 34 degrees, in December 1967. The wettest year during his period of record was 40.31 inches of precipitation in 1978, while the driest year of only 12.60 inches occurred in 2012. The Elsmere climate database will be one of the Stufft Family legacies for many years to come.

From left to right: OPL Steve Carmel, Lester Stufft, MIC Ryan Knutsvig, and meteorologist Jaclyn Gomez
From left to right: OPL Steve Carmel, Lester Stufft, MIC Ryan Knutsvig, and meteorologist Jaclyn Gomez
Benjamin Franklin Award
Benjamin Franklin Award for Lester Stufft
Special cake honoring Lester Stufft's Benjamin Franklin Award
Special cake honoring Lester Stufft's Benjamin Franklin Award
Many awards on presentation table for Lester Stufft
 Many prestigious COOP program awards for Lester Stufft on the presentation table

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