Out of more than 10,000 volunteers who send weather data to the National Weather Service, two of the most dependable volunteers in the nation live about 15 minutes apart from each other.
Marvin Seyer of Ipswich and Leland Treichel of Roscoe were each presented with an award from the weather service for their consistency and commitment to providing the weather service with accurate data.
"They are responsible for giving us the high and low temperature and the precipitation reports 365 days a year," said Tim Kearns, data acquisition program manager for the weather service in Aberdeen. Leland hasn't missed an observation in 24 years, Marvin hasn't missed one in 38 years."
On Sept. 3, Treichel, a real estate broker, insurance agent and the Edmunds County emergency manager, was one of 17 people to earn the John Campanius Holm Award, which is granted each year to a maximum of 25 observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of cooperative observing. A person must spend at least 20 years running a cooperative weather station to be eligible to win the award.
One week later, on Sept. 10, Seyer, a retired school teacher from Ipswich High School, was one of five people nationwide who received the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest honor the weather service can bestow. To win the Jefferson award, a person must have already won the Holm award then spend a minimum of five years running a cooperative weather station. Seyer won the Holm award in 2006.
Treichel and Holm were honored with a ceremony by the weather service, a plaque and had the day named in their honor by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
"It's a routine, like having a daily cup of coffee," Seyer said.
Each of their routines is slightly different. Treichel takes his measurements at 7 a.m. each morning, while Seyer takes his at 10 p.m. just before his bedtime. But they have always collected the data. Day after day, year after year.
"You don't have too many people stay with it," Seyer said.
They use similar equipment, each of them has a solar-protected so they can record the air temperature without being affected by direct sunlight and a collection tube to check how much precipitation fell during the previous 24 hours. The only difference is Treichel bought an anemometer to track wind, which Seyer does not have.
Each of them have made arrangements in case they have to go out of town or are unable to collect the data for some reason. Treichel said he has several neighbors he can depend on and Seyer said he can rely on his son-in-law or daughter-in-law if necessary.
Year after year
Their levels of dedication, consistency and organization are not traits limited to their weather data collection. It's embedded in their personalities.
When Treichel, now 62, was growing up, his best friend's father had houses for purple martins. He used to watch them fly in his friend's backyard and decided he wanted to have purple martins, so 24 years ago he bought purple martin housing.
Because purple martins are notoriously picky when it comes to choosing a nesting site, it was 12 years before the first birds established a nest, but for 11 consecutive years he maintained the housing and researched ways to attract them.
This year, Treichel said he had 136 adult birds that hatched 278 babies. Watching them fly around with his wife, Tracy, gives the couple a great deal of joy.
"We spend hours sitting on the deck and watching them," he said.
Inside the Ipswich High School's gym lobby is an example of Seyer's dedication. In 1975, Seyer, who started teaching social studies in 1964, established what he calls the athletics "hall of fame" and has kept up with it since.
He helped established the criteria to make the hall of fame. An athlete must earn 10 athletic letters, make All-State or complete sport-specific achievements.
"We have a lot of recognition for our athletes. We display everything," Seyer said. "Too many schools keep their trophies in the coaches' office or a trophy room."