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Colorado Foundation for Water Education

2011 President’s Award & Emerging Leader Award The Colorado Foundation for Water Education is proud to honor Nolan Doesken with its 2011 President’s Award in recognition of his work to advance the understanding of how climate shapes Colorado’s land, wildlife, people and, especially, its water. The award pays tribute to those who demonstrate steadfast commitment to water resources education and embody the Foundation’s mission. CFWE has also bestowed its 2011 Emerging Leader Award upon Hannah Holm to honor her work in promoting better understanding of water resources and issues in the Colorado River Basin. These awards were presented during CFWE’s annual fundraising reception held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder on April 8.

Nolan Doesken

President’s Award Honoree

By Justice Greg Hobbs Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s State Climatologist, proclaims the weather like a prophet the scriptures or a farmer the rain cloud. He stands tall at a podium, black moustache and lanky arms. At the most recent Colorado Water Congress Aspinall Award program, his colorful talk highlighted how extraordinary it is that Colorado “for the first time ever” had achieved its third-in-a-row average water year. For Colorado, an average year is 17 inches of precipitation averaged from weather station data statewide. John Wesley Powell told us in his 1878 Arid Lands Report that any place with less than 20 inches per year requires irrigation to grow crops and reservoirs to manage floods and drought. The Climate Center Nolan heads at Colorado State University is responsible for monitoring climatic conditions across Colorado. The agricultural, municipal and recreational economy of the state depends upon the careful conservation and use of an often scarce water supply. Farmers and water utility managers, drought and flood 36

response planners, rafting companies and engineers who testify in water court about water availability and crop water consumption all depend upon the data and reports Nolan and his colleagues faithfully prepare and make available to the public. When I hear him speak and learn about his life, I am reminded of the Scripture, “I am poured out like water” (Psalm 14). Nolan grew up in a rural area of central Illinois, his father a Lutheran preacher and his mother a seventh grade geography and English teacher. He recalls, at five years of age, running out the door at a thunderstorm’s clap to see the clouds boil up. The gift he most liked giving his father in those

years? A rain gauge. “In high school I was good at math and history but didn’t like it much and wasn’t thrilled with education.” Nolan says his English teacher, Mrs. Curry, pushed him into writing. “She had me write about the weather and big storms, because she could tell those topics stirred me.” He entered the University of Michigan’s engineering school and took all the meteorology and oceanography courses he could find. Returning closer to home, he explored atmospheric science at the University of Illinois for his master’s degree. Ask Nolan why he loves so much what he gets to do. His answer: “The atmosphere in motion, the tilt of the axis of the earth, its progress around the sun, the marvels of the seasons, the solar forces of the sea, the drumbeat of nature, all that energy, it’s so beautiful.” In this we hear the voices of his preacher father and his teacher mother. We can also hear the Old Testament poets: “Lord, I have loved the habitation of your house, and the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26). How fortunate and fortuitous are we to have him in Colorado? He spotted a thumb-tacked job announcement on his grad school’s bulletin board. The assistant

Colorado foundation for Water Education

Profile for Water Education Colorado

Headwaters Summer 2011: The Mighty Colorado  

As the Colorado River flows through its seven-state, canyon carving traverse, it is tapped and retapped-- supporting acres of irrigated agri...

Headwaters Summer 2011: The Mighty Colorado  

As the Colorado River flows through its seven-state, canyon carving traverse, it is tapped and retapped-- supporting acres of irrigated agri...

Profile for cfwe