National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Cooperative Observers Recognized for their Service

NWS Cooperative Observers in Byers and Fort Collins were recognized for their volunteer service on January 19 in a virtual ceremony. The Diedrich family in Byers have been faithfully taking weather observations on their family farm for 50 years. Jim Wirshborn, our observer in Fort Collins, was recognized with the prestigious John Campanius Holm Award for his outstanding weather observation over more than 30 years.


The Diedrich Family, Byers CO - Family Heritage Award


The NWS is proud to recognized the Diedrich family with the Family Heritage Award for their 50 years of service of taking weather observations on their family farm near Byers CO.

Shirley Diedrich started taking observations on September 30th, 1970 and continued doing so through February of 2019, when her daughter in law Jeanne took over.  The Diedrich’s farm east of Denver is prone to extreme weather such as blizzards and severe weather. Despite this, they always provided timely and accurate weather observations. The weather data that they provided the National Weather Service was extremely valuable in compiling city, state and national climatology. Sadly, Jeanne passed away in December of 2019. Jeanne’s husband David was not able to continue taking the observations; however, he does allow the Fischer-Porter automated rain gauge on his property to continue the important climatological precipitation record. which is much appreciated.  It is families like the Diedrichs that keep the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer program going strong.


James F. Wirshborn, Ft Collins CO - John Campanius Holm Award


The NWS is honored to present James F. Wirshborn, the observer at Fort Collins 4 East Colorado the prestigious John Campanius Holm Award.

Jim has been a outstanding observer for over 30 years, consistently providing accurate and complete weather observations to the National Weather Service. His observing motto that was taught to him by the ‘old guard' weather observers at other National Weather Service offices is “Take the ob at the same time of the day on the same kind of equipment for as many years as you can." Jim has stayed true to his motto and continues to provide our office with his valuable weather data. 

Jim’s enthusiasm and dedication for weather observing is remarkable. He once said that he takes pride in finding other weather nuts who would watch the weather 24-7, record their data once or twice a day and call in with severe weather reports.

The following quote by former Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken says it all: “He set the bar for timely accurate weather data observing across a network of volunteers, but he also rewarded his volunteers by sharing their data and information in polished professional newspaper articles and radio broadcasts. Somehow, he found time each and every day to talk and listen to each of his network volunteers while helping them hone their observation skills. At least seven or eight of his best volunteers became National Weather Service Cooperative Observers, and most continue to report to this day.”

Jim is a exceptional Cooperative Weather Observer and the National Weather Service greatly appreciates and thanks him for all he has done and continues to do. 

Family Heritage Award Presentation Byers CO
NWS Boulder Observation Program Leader Jim Kalina presents the Family Heritage Award to the Diedrich Family of Byers CO NWS Boulder Observation Program Leader Jim Kalina presents the John Campanius Holm Award to James F Wirshborn of Ft Collins CO


About the Awards


John Campanius Holm Award

The Holm Award, created in 1959, provides the NWS with a way to honor cooperative weather observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations. The namesake for this award is a Lutheran minister, John Campanius Holm, the first known person to have taken systematic weather observations in the American Colonies. Reverend Holm made observations of climate without the use of instruments in 1644 and 1645, near the present site of Wilmington, Delaware. In later years, his son had his records published. The Holm Award is second only to the Thomas Jefferson Award in recognition of Cooperative Observers

Family Heritage Award

The Family Heritage Award is presented in honor of Thomas Jefferson's 1797 vision of a nationwide network of weather observers. The award is given to families who have at least 50 years of continuous cooperative weather observations. These family observations form the backbone of the long-term climatological record with their priceless observations.


About the Cooperative Observer Program


The National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program (Coop) is the Nation's weather and climate observing network of, by and for the people. More than 8,700 volunteers take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountaintops. The data are truly representative of where people live, work and play.

The Coop was formally created in 1890 under the Organic Act. Its mission is two-fold:

  • To provide observational meteorological data, usually consisting of daily maximum and minimum temperatures, snowfall, and 24-hour precipitation totals, required to define the climate of the United States and to help measure long-term climate changes
  • To provide observational meteorological data in near real-time to support forecast, warning and other public service programs of the NWS.

More information on the NWS Cooperative Observer Program can be found at