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Faculty Increases Geographic Literacy Through State Program

May 12, 2014
Geographic Literacy Project
Geographic Literacy Project

Keene State College is helping students in New Hampshire achieve a higher level of geographic literacy through participation in a statewide partnership called the New Hampshire Educational GIS Partnership (NHEdGIS) with New Hampshire Department of Education, New Hampshire Fish and Game, New Hampshire Geography Alliance (NHGA), US Forest Service, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and software company, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). The partnership makes it possible for every public and private K-12 school in New Hampshire to access ESRI’s ArcGIS program. ArcGIS is software that allows people to view, understand, and visualize data in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. Dr. Lara Bryant, NHGA Coordinator and assistant professor of Geography at Keene State, is actively guiding the partnership, and training students on ArcGIS for use after graduation when teaching in classrooms and conducting research.

“In New Hampshire, and throughout the country, there exists a need for increased geographic literacy, including an understanding of spatial skills and geospatial technologies. Training students on tools such as ArcGIS plays a critical role in engaging and preparing them for success after graduation,” said Dr. Bryant.

Baylee Boulem, a junior who is majoring in elementary education and geography, says that GIS is useful and valuable to learn because every area of study, from business to education, can benefit from it. Geography student Keith Pancake works with the ArcGIS program to create lesson plans for elementary students. Using weather pattern data Keith creates lesson plans that incorporated math, physical geography and data gathering.

Earlier this year, Governor Maggie Hassan recognized ESRI for this partnership with the National Governors Association Public-Private Partnership Award.