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Officials of NOAA’s National Weather Service forecast office in Dodge City, Kan., will honor four generations of Herlan S. Jennison’s family in a ceremony marking the family’s 104 years of volunteer weather observations. This year, NOAA’s National Weather Service is recognizing “Heritage” volunteer observers for more than 100 years of service.

“Cooperative observers, such as the Jennisons, are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, USAF (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Satellites, high-speed computers, mathematical models and other technological breakthroughs have brought great benefits to the nation in terms of better forecasts and warnings. But, without the accumulation of accurate weather observations taken by volunteer observers, scientists could not begin to adequately describe the climate of the United States. We cannot thank the Jennison family enough for their century-long service to America.”

Larry Ruthi, meteorologist-in-charge, and John Orgler, Data Acquisition Program manager, of the National Weather Service forecast office in Dodge City will present the Family Heritage Award to Jennison family descendants at a ceremony to be held on December 6 at 10 a.m., at the First State Bank of Healy.

“Volunteers like the Jennison family are crucial to National Weather Service operations,” Ruthi said. “Of more than 10,000 volunteer observers around the country contributing to the daily collection of weather data needed to maintain forecasting parameters and climatological records, only a handful has been in operation for 100 years or more. That is a small amount of time when compared to the planet’s existence, but covers a significant portion of North American history.”

Since 1901, descendents of Herlan S. Jennison have provided the nation’s weather forecasters with precipitation and temperature data for the Healy observing station. Since the station was created, no fewer than 16 family members have taken part in the volunteer program to maintain an unbroken record of weather observations. Jennison established the original observing station in 1901 at Farnsworth, about four miles northeast of Healy, and kept records until August 1903.

The 24-year-old Herlan ceded duties to his brother, Charles Jennison, from 1903 to 1914. Charles had remained in Farnsworth, while Herlan moved to Healy to help establish the First State Bank. Herlan resumed observations when the station was moved to his home in Healy in June 1914. Herlan’s wife, Katherine, and his six children, all served as his backups.

Herlan’s son, Robert Jennison, took over the station in August 1944, with his wife, Tille, and their two children, as backups. Tille took over reporting duties when Robert died in 1977, with his brother, Harold Jennison, as substitute. Tille passed reporting duties on to Harold’s son-in-law, Stephen R. Fenster, on May 5, 1980. Stephen’s wife, Lois, and son, Kurt, are his assistants.

Vowing to continue the family’s record-setting volunteer service, Stephen and Lois Fenster are the current volunteer observers at Healy, reporting daily temperature, precipitation, and snow data. Copies of all of the family’s weather observations dating back to 1902 are stored at the First Bank of Healy.

Stephen and Lois will receive an award for their 25-years of service during the December 6 presentation of the Family Heritage Award. In addition, Aaron Von Schriltz, a cousin of Lois Fenster, will receive an award for his 15-years of service as a backup observer to Stephen and Lois. His participation keeps the weather data collection history in the family.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the official source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA's National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather-and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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