Tim Prather, Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science Department
4-H members Ian Bailey and Beatrice Shea were awarded 2nd Place in the Student Map – up to age 12 category at the Esri 2017 Users Conference Map Gallery. The 7th grade students at Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee selected their mapping project because their school is unique by having wooded and protected areas near it. They learned that these areas provide a habitat that is important to the local ecosystem. Jefferson Middle School has taken a strong interest in protecting these resources and has taken steps to add more habitats; for example, creating a wetland, maintaining trails, eradicating invasive species, and providing bird boxes in the Cedar Barrens.
Their map, Cedar Barrens, is an online Story Map created using ArcGIS Online to display efforts to engage Jefferson Middle School students in their surroundings in a meaningful way. Students collected the locations shown on the map using GPS, add- ed photos and text to explain each location.
Teacher Brian Smith provided GIS training and guidance, and the map was produced using a free ArcGIS Online Organizational Account that is available to any K-12 school globally, courtesy of Esri. A poster of their map was one of six maps from the 2017 Tennessee 4-H GIS Contest that were displayed during the Esri Users Conference in San Diego. Other maps displayed were from Fayette, Shelby, Sullivan and Unicoi Counties, plus maps by 4-H members from Louisiana, New York and North Carolina. There was also a map by the 2016-2017 National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team produced for the health study that was presented during the conference plenary session and featured in last week’s 4-H News and Ideas.
Youth interested in learning to use geographic information systems (GIS) and the many career opportunities it enables, and GIS users willing to serve as mentors to teach GIS skills, should contact their county Extension office or send an email to 4-H GIS. Youth can also enter the 2018 Tennessee 4-H GIS Contest and apply to become a member of the National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team, which meets in San Diego each July and conducts GIS projects during the following year.