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CGIA Member Spotlight: Jeff Orton

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Job: Director of GIS, Wonderful Citrus, Delano CA

Bio: I have been working in digital mapping and GIS since at least 1990.  I have worked as a data editor for a photogrammetric mapping company, a GIS Technician for the City of Provo, the GIS Administrator for the Utah Transit Authority, and the GIS Coordinator for the County of Kern.  I currently work in the agriculture industry helping map and analyze data for over 90,000 acres of citrus in California, Texas, and Mexico.  Each different job has been a different application of my geography training (CSU Fresno, BYU, and University of Utah) and my interest in GIS.  Along the way I have done everything from (very) local mapping projects to working on the development of federal transportation data standards.

I love that GIS brings me in contact with a wide variety of disciplines and is constantly challenging me to learn and develop new skills.   As I have entered the second half of my working years, I have come to realize that while my accomplishments at work are a great source of gratification, the greatest pleasure of my years in GIS has been the quality of people with whom I have had the opportunity to interact.

Project(s): While at the Utah Transit Authority I was able to work on several national standards efforts (NCHRP 20-27 (3), Transit Communications Interface Profiles, Bus Stop Inventory Best Practices).  Each of these presented its own challenge and had its own unique connection to my interest in spatial data.

At the County of Kern, I had the great privilege of being the first GIS Coordinator/Manager that the County hired.  What followed was almost 9 years of rolling out new tools, building data repositories and helping enhance the spatial awareness of county employees and residents.  Along the way we built up a good team of talented people who continue to provide great service to the community.

Wonderful Citrus has been an enormous change from the wide multidisciplinary interactions of local government to the deep focused work of agribusiness.  The speed at which a large company moves coupled with the rapid change of technology, particularly in the mobile environment, has challenged me and provided great opportunities for GIS to shine.

Anything About Yourself: One of my first interests in GIS (and my dissertation topic) was the coupling of GIS with Family History (genealogy) data.  I still work on Family History and find the challenge of data exploration and the thrill of discovery interesting after all these years.