4-H Members Present Health Project at ESRI International GIS Conference

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Tim Prather, Extension Specialist, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science

Three Tennessee 4-H members representing the National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team presented the group’s health study project at the Esri International Users Conference in San Diego on July 10. Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is the use of location-based data to study relationships, make informed decisions and create maps. The group used GIS to examine the relationships between several possible contributing health factors and adult obesity rates in the United States.

Esri, the largest producer of GIS software, selected the project to showcase youth-led GIS projects during the plenary session of the conference of more than 16,000 professionals from over 150 countries. The 2016-2017 National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team is 10 youth from California, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee that partnered with GIS professionals to learn how to use GIS and better understand their communities, explore careers involving GIS, and en- courage other youth to use GIS.

The 2017-2018 team of 10 youth from Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee will continue using GIS and online maps to examine health issues in their communities.

Using ArcGIS Pro software live onstage, Austin Ramsey (Sullivan County) and Amanda Huggins and Elizabeth Sutphin (Unicoi County) created maps and charts showing obesity hotspots and how strongly four possible contributing health factors correlate to obesity in every county of the Lower 48 states. You can view their map project and link to the conference presentation at the National 4-H GIS Leadership Team website.

Tennessee members of the National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team are winners of the Tennessee 4-H GIS Contest, which is coordinated by Extension Specialist Tim Prather of the UT Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department. Travel support is sponsored by the Tennessee Geographic Information Council (TNGIC) and other donors.

If you are interested in learning more about the Tennessee 4-H GIS Contest, or how you can be a supporter or geomentor in your community, please contact your county Extension office or e- mail 4-H GIS.