MONTICELLO — If you own property, are constructing a building, or simply wanting to know about whether your house is built in a flood zone, you’ve most likely used a land surveyor.
Even though land surveyors play such an important part of our daily lives, most people have no clue what a land surveyor does. It’s a career as old as history. Surveying has been described as an element in the development of the human environment since the beginning of recorded history. The University of Arkansas at Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources (CFANR) offers one of the oldest and well-established programs in the state. The College offers both associate and bachelor’s degrees in land surveying.
The UAM-CFANR will offer a new component to its Land Surveying Program beginning the fall semester this year. CFANR Dean, Dr. Michael Blazier announced the college’s new hybrid learning concept. Blazier said the hybrid is an offshoot of what the school learned from its adjustments made during COVID-19. Blazier said, “It’s not a fully online program. It’s introducing virtual class attendance as an option, with some attendance in-person at flexible times for important course activities. It’s what we call a hybrid approach to instruction.”
“This is a larger issue within higher education,” said Blazier. “We are realizing that students are needing flexibility more and more. It’s a lesson we are all taking from our Covid period. During that time there were forced needs to go at least partially online with instruction. If we have gone through that entire experience and don’t take some positives away from it, then we haven’t gained where we could have.”
He said, “We learned a lot of lessons and fast by necessity on how we can offer coursework online.” Blazier expressed, “now that we are back to our regular operations, we want to marry together what we learned about online class instruction with what we traditionally have done. That is where this term hybrid attendance comes from. We have our normal instruction but also co-offering some online flexibility.”
To help administer the newly designed teaching format is recently hired surveying instructor Robert Blakeley. Blakeley was hired in June this year as UAM’s Instructor of Surveying. Blakeley spent nine years as a land surveyor with the Arkansas Department of Transportation. There he performed control surveys, topographical surveys, construction surveys, and boundary surveys.
The Hamburg native and alumnus of the UAM surveying program is passionate about land surveying. Blakeley said, “One of my primary resources to grow the profession will be offering the degree programs through flexible virtual platforms. This will allow students who cannot attend traditional on-campus classes to receive the same content.”
Blakeley said the technology has been all worked out. He will be on a microphone and widescreen classroom camera. “If I have a Power Point presentation, they’ll see everything full screen that’s on the Power Point. Not only can they log in and see it live, but those lectures will also be recorded so they can access them on their own schedules. Blakeley said that works well, especially if they have full-time jobs during the day, they can now view the lectures in the afternoon or evening. Blazier stressed the expectations will be the same for students attending lectures virtually as those attending in-person.
“When it comes to lab work,” said Blazier, “students will still have to come to campus from time to time to exhibit proficiency in some of the lab assignments. “We will also work with them on scheduling some flexibility on a set date.” Blakeley added that there are some flexibilities for the traditional lab work. “If the student is working for a professional licensed surveyor, that surveyor can work with me to administer how well the student displays competencies in lab exercises.”
Blakeley said CFANR encourages students to become licensed professionals. He said, “Regulations were changed in 2017 about substituting years of hands-on experience for education. The law now requires any individual wanting to be a licensed professional to have an education, whether that be an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree.”
The University of Arkansas at Monticello has a long history in Arkansas offering degrees in surveying. Earning those degrees has become more accessible than ever with the opportunity to attend courses online. Enrollment in the fall 2022 semester is open, and there is a campus-wide registration scheduled for the evening of August 2. UAM Classes start August 17th; it’s not too late to get signed up. Please call the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources office at 870-460-1052, or email CFANR@umont.edu.