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Russell E. Kastelle, RLS and member of the North Dakota Society of Professional Land Surveyors created the “Trig-Star” program. Russell was the ACSM Delegate / National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Governor from North Dakota, and in 1983 Russell was looking for something to accomplish during his tenure. The idea for Trig-Star came from the success of Engineer’s Week. Russell thought there must be something Surveyors could do to promote the profession, so he wrote a proposal for the “Trig-Star” program and presented it to the NSPS Board of Governors in Salt Lake City Utah in the fall of 1983. The idea was embraced, and by the fall of 1984 Trig-Star contest packets were being sent to Land Surveyors across the United States. The contest is still run in much the same way as Russell proposed, and Russell still sponsors the contest at the local level every year.

Although Russell’s vision was that the contest would be a local event, matching surveyor with high school, the program has evolved into a National Contest with scholarship awards. The initiative for the National Contest began with a Trig-Star sponsor from the North Central Florida Chapter of the Florida Society of Professional Surveyors, Kent Green, who had been successful in promoting the program at the Chapter Level. In 1993 Kent proposed that NSPS sponsor the program as a national contest. Kent was assisted by Richard Lomax, then NSPS President, and NSPS began a National Contest. The process of determining the National Trig-Star winner began. NSPS formed a Trig-Star Committee, and Larry Doss from Tennessee became the first chair of the Committee. Larry crafted guidelines and implemented the national contest format. He secured scholarship awards from NSPS, and money to bring the contest winner and their teacher to the ACSM Annual Convention.

I was active on the Trig-Star Committee for two years and took over as Committee Chair at the ACSM Annual meeting in 1998. My first task was to standardize and improve the quality of the contest materials. With the help of Don Murphy of Cedar Rapids Iowa the test has improved every year. The format is one that allows teachers to teach for the test, allows students of varying abilities to score, but also allows the best and brightest to be identified. With the help of the dedicated volunteers on the Trig-Star Committee and input from State Societies like the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors we have developed complete and easy to follow instructions to insure the success of each local contest.

The Trig-Star Committee has also created the NSPS Foundation Trig-Star Scholarship Endowment Fund (a 501 c (3) entity) in 2000. The purpose of the Scholarship Fund is to provide financial assistance to high school graduates who demonstrate excellence in the field of trigonometry and to enhance and expand the Trig-Star program. The 501 c (3) status means that all donations are fully tax deductible (see form in the magazine to add your contribution). Scholarship fund distribution is limited to high school graduates who became the Trig-Star of their respective high school, became the State Trig-Star winner, and placed First, Second, or Third in the National Trig-Star competition.

The Trig-Star program operates on a budget of $12,000 per year, of which $7,000 a year is given out as awards. The program depends on the hard work of many volunteers at the national, state, and local level.

John Chagnon, Trig-Star Chairman


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Phone: 240-439-4615
Fax: 240-439-4952

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