Coordinators bid a fond farewell to the Utah Geographic Alliance

Dear UGA members:

You may be wondering why you have not been receiving regular updates from the Utah Geographic Alliance regarding geographic education, resources, and opportunities. We want to bring you up-to-date on what has been happening. Over the past 6-7 years, National Geographic Society and National Geographic Education Foundation (NGEF) have made major changes in the focus and priority of geography education. Those who have been around awhile might remember fabulous resources from NGS like Geography Awareness Week packets, 2 or 3 week long national and state institutes to train teachers "to do" geography, engaging students with "state of the art" technology, lobbying Congress to federally fund geography as part of NCLB, an incredible National Alliance Network that included each state, Canada and Puerto Rico, the insurgence of GIS, and a marriage of public education with higher education and career geographers. But as leadership, organizational structure, and even ownership of NGS has changed, so has the direction of the National Geographic Educational Foundation.

More recently, resources were spent in Alliance "strategic planning" in hopes to find business partners to support the wavering funding and focus toward geography education. It was becoming a model that created (in our minds) a "business" heart, rather than a "student/teacher/professional geographer" heart. Being professional educators ourselves, it was a difficult transition. We became involved in the Alliance network because we believe that a geographically literate population is critical for our future and want students in Utah to have the best opportunities to experience geography. We are not comfortable as fundraisers or business managers.

That said, we wholeheartedly agree with the critical attitudes, skills and knowledge outlined in the National Geographic Learning Framework ( But we are disappointed that the NGEF has chosen to cut off funding (see below) to the Utah Geographic Alliance, halting any momentum we tried to create in supporting and disseminating innovative approaches to teaching and learning geography.

All this background is to simply say that the last year the UGA was fully funded was 2013-2014 and even that year, much of the funding was prioritized toward strategic planning. In 2014-2015 half of the money from the payout of our $1M endowment was withheld by National Geographic Education Foundation because, we were told, they were keeping it for the new alliance coordinator as start-up funds. This was the first we heard that our 501(c)(3) model was no longer going to be funded and that the Alliance would have to be housed at an institution of higher learning in Utah if the Alliance was to continue to receive funding from the endowment or NGEF. A formal search for a new alliance host was initiated by National Geographic Education Foundation. Although a few universities inquired about hosting the UGA, none submitted an application. We are told that search is still on-going.

In February of 2015 at the Alliance Network meeting in D.C., we were both recognized for our contributions and energies promoting geography education in Utah. We accepted that recognition graciously, and are grateful for the opportunity we had to work with so many wonderful and dedicated educators across the nation.

As National Geographic Educational Foundation insists on every alliance being hosted by a university, the UGA 501(c)(3) was dissolved last October, when the remaining grant from 2014-15 ended. As a result, there is no Alliance in Utah associated with the National Geographic Education Foundation, and we are no longer the coordinators. Despite our best efforts to sustain an organization that has been serving teachers and students since 1988, the UGA is, in effect, dissolved until an institution of higher learning agrees to host the UGA. This was a unilateral decision made by the NGEF board. In short, NGEF would not release any funding to the UGA 501(c)(3), even though there was no other host institution in place.

We were lead to believe that Robert Austin (our State Social Studies Specialist) would be allowed to write for funding for some professional development in Utah from the endowment money held back, but we have had no confirmation that any money has been released.

This Utah Geographic Alliance website is in name only, and has not been maintained in any professional way. It is NOT affiliated with the Network of Alliances for Geographic Education or the National Geographic Education Foundation. While we wait for the NGEF to find a host institution, this website can be used to communicate geographic education opportunities to a network of amazing Utah teachers and geography professionals. This can remain until the small amount of revenue (generated separately from NGEF) that is used to maintain the website and domain name is exhausted.

We have cherished our association and friendship with so many dedicated educators and professional geographers in the state. We look forward to our continued collaboration to promote geographic literacy in other capacities.

With sincerest thanks,

Norma Jean Remington and Doug Andersen

3 Community Mapping GIS/GPS Workshops Offered this Summer

The Community Mapping Program involves teachers and students in a community-based project that incorporates geo-spatial technology and other characteristics of active and inquiry-based curriculum. Students use GIS/GPS in the process of discovering and answering questions about their community rather than learning technology for technology’s sake. The five day Community Mapping Workshop models active classroom and fieldwork with community partners as participants design a classroom project. Teachers create a free ArcGIS online account and learn how to create Story Maps to tell their community story.

3 Community Mapping Workshops offered this summer in
St. George (June 20-24)
Utah County (June 27-July 1)
Salt Lake (August 1-5)

Build relationships with local community leaders and GIS professionals
Analyze real-life issues in the community
Use GIS, GPS and other geospatial technologies to enhance the understanding of issues and facilitate informed decision-making
Design a local community project for your classroom
Free GPS unit!
3 Semester hours credit
Required course for GIS endorsement through CTE

Participant Costs
$50 Registration fee payable to Utah Council for Social Studies
Travel to and from Workshop
Registration fee for SUU credit (optional)

To register, go to:

Weather, Water, Wildlands and Community: Teaching Climate Change in Utah.

NOAA's Climate Stewards Education Project CSEP is collaborating with Federal, State and other partners to explore regional impacts of climate change, with a goal of connecting educators and their students/audiences to the best-available, science-based information and resources about climate change.

Weather, Water, Wildlands and Community: Teaching Climate Change in Utah

Dates Times:
Monday, June 13 through Thursday, June 16, 2016. 8:30am - 5:00pm with some evening events

Utahs Hogle Zoo
2600 E Sunnyside Ave.
Salt Lake City, UT 84414

Register at:

Primary Contacts:
Chris Schmitz
Kelly Gallo
Bruce Moravchik

Featured Presentations
Dr. Robert Gillis, Director/State Climatologist, Utah Climate Center, Utah State University
Dr. Robin Kundas Craig, Professor, College Of Law, University of Utah Affiliated Faculty, Global Change Sustainability Center, University of Utah
Dr. Jim Steenburgh, University of Utah Professor, Author: The Greatest Snow on Earth and Blog: Wasatch Weather Weenies
Mathew Bekker, BYU Professor specializing in Utah drought and dendrochronology
Brian McInerney, Senior Hydrologist, NOAAs National Weather Service
Nancy Mesner, Professor, Watershed Services, Utah State University
Natalie Little, PE, Regional Sustainability and Climate Change Coordinator, Forest Service, Intermountain Regional Office
Mike Golden, Research Biologist, Dixie National Forest, US Forest Service

Hands-on Activities from:
NOAA, Westminster College-Great Salt Lake Institute, Utahs Hogle Zoo, HawkWatch International, Red Butte Garden, Natural History Museum of Utah, Clark Planetarium, Thanksgiving Point, US Forest Service, National Phenology Project, The Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network, Utah Water Watch, Utah State University Extension

Availability will be on a first come first serve basis, so register early for your workshop of choice. Participation in all workshops is free, but attendees are responsible for arranging their own transportation, lodging and meals unless otherwise indicated in workshop details see attached document.
All attendees will receive a certificate acknowledging their full participation in the workshop and the number of professional development hours engaged.

State Geography Bee Volunteers Needed

The State Geography Bee is on the horizon, and they are looking for additional volunteers this year! Volunteering at the Bee is a lot of fun and a great way to support Geography education in Utah while working with other great people in the field. They can use moderators, timers, scorers, judges, and people who want to work behind the scenes to help move things along. There is money to provide substitutes for those who need one. If you would like to help out, please contact Kevin Poff and let him know of your interest.

What: State Geography Bee

When: Friday, April 1, 2016

Where: Thanksgiving Point Garden Visitors Center (Lehi)

How Long: Volunteers are usually there from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Contact: Kevin Poff - or 801-402-5555, ext. 56324

Application open for 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program

Applications for the 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program are now open! The application submission period will close January 3, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. But act fact because this program accepts a maximum of 3,000 applicants. If that number is reached before the application deadline, the application will close.

What is the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program?

The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow (GTF) program is a professional development opportunity made possible by a partnership between National Geographic Education and Lindblad Expeditions. The program is named in honor of Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Chairman Emeritus National Geographic Society and Education Foundation Board. This opportunity gives current K-12 classroom teachers and informal educators from the 50 U.S. states, Canada, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico the opportunity to extend Grosvenor’s legacy of excellence in geographic education. Exemplary educators are recognized for their commitment to geographic education and given the opportunity to travel aboard the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet. Through this experience, they bring new geographic awareness into their learning environments and communities.

2016 Program Highlights
Selected educators will travel aboard the ship National Geographic Explorer or National Geographic Endeavour on expeditions to regions including the Arctic, British & Irish Isles, Canadian Maritimes, Iceland, the Galapagos, Antarctica and more. While aboard, Fellows will share the importance of geographic literacy with fellow travelers, develop activities to bring back to their classrooms, and have an adventure of a lifetime. Prior to the expedition, all 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C. (April 14-17, 2016) with all expenses covered to participate in a pre-voyage workshop sponsored by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

Explore! The Power of Maps Geography Awareness Week November 15-21, 2015

Maps are powerful tools to help us know where we are, where we're going and where we've been. This year we want to hear from YOU. Join us in sharing your stories, photos and videos about how you Explore! The Power of Maps. How do you use maps? How do maps impact your life? Have you made a map of all the places you've been or want to go? Have you been lost and maps helped you find your way?

Watch this inspiring video from Juan José Valdés as he talks about the power of maps in his life.

Visit the following for resources, ideas, and contest rules: