Around the State
Sterling Harris Retires, Leaving GIS Legacy at GLO

Every day, people retire from their jobs and go off quietly to enjoy free time with their family and pursue the interests they love. For the colleagues left behind, we simply pick up where they left off without too much fanfare. But every so often, a key player retires who has made a big difference and impact in your industry.

Sterling Harris, from the General Land Office (GLO) is just such a figure. TNRIS had the chance to hear his thoughts on retirement and reflect on years of innovation and service to the State of Texas.

TNRIS: Where did you grow up? Describe yourself as a child and reveal what you remember most about your childhood.

Sterling: I grew up in Wimberley Texas, the heartland of the Hill Country. I grew up in a ranching and farming family, enjoyed being outside and swimming in the pristine waters of the Blanco River!

What would you consider to be your greatest acheivement?
Being able to build an enterpise GIS system that now supports the entire business areas of the GLO.
T: Where did you get your education? College, degree...

S: Sul Ross State University, Alpine Texas. I received a BS in Industrial Technology and a minor in Business (1979).

T: How did you arrive in this industry? What path brought you here?

S: I started working in the Oil business for Clayton Williams mapping Oil and Gas Pipelines. My love of mapping and the oil and gas industry started there. The downturn in the mid eighties forced me to seek stability with the State of Texas and that is when I start with the Texas General Land Office. I was hired to work in the Surveying and Mapping division in 1987.

T: How long have you been practicing GIS?

S: In 1991, the GLO started an Oil Spill Response division. Part of the responsibilty of that division was to create a GIS system. I was one of the first to start working on creating this new GIS system.

T: What was the single biggest challenge you faced in your work with GIS in the State?

S: Funding, GIS systems are costly and funding can be hard to achieve. Luckily we were able to obtain grants for certain mapping projects related to the Oil Spill division.

A photo of the GLO's GIS team with Jack Dangermond
The GLO's GIS team accepts the ESRI SAG award from Jack Dangermond
T: What would you consider to be your greatest acheivement?

S: Being able to build an enterpise GIS system that now supports the entire business areas of the GLO.

T: What was your most rewarding part of your career?

S: Meeting and working with the GIS professionals across this State.

T: Where can we find you when you’re not working? What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon?

S: Between holes number 1 through 18 in Llano Golf Course and working with my new team of border collie's herding sheep in Ozona.

T: Any awards or medals, or even medallions? Personal okay, too.

S: The GLO GIS team received the SAG (Special Achievement in GIS) award at the User Conference this year as well as the GIS hero award from ESRI.

T: What does the next chapter in your life have in store for you?

S: Good bye Tension, Hello Pension!!

We can cheers to that!

Sterling Harris along with friends, raise glasses in a restaurant

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