Exploring various major and career options at New Mexico State University allowed Aggie Academy Mini College program participants to take a deep dive into geography. The lessons focused on maps, scale and topography, landslide modeling, storymaps and sensors such as satellite images, spectroscopy, drones and citizen science.
“Geography is a diverse topic that studies the relationship between humanity and the Earth,” said Carol Campbell, geography department head and associate professor at NMSU. “Modern geographic skills include programming, modeling and exploring big data across space and over time, in addition to familiar apps such as Google Maps and Google Earth.”
Campbell and a team of geography faculty members and graduate students spent a week with the Aggie Academy participants from the TRIO Upward Bound Gadsden Independent School District/Las Cruces Public Schools Program.
“TRIO Upward Bound GISD/LCPS participants were thrilled after a week of exploring geography,” said Rosa De La Torre-Burmeister, TRIO Upward Bound GISD/LCPS program director. “Some of the comments from the students included ‘we did not realize that geography is part of our daily life and that it could be fun;’ ‘I want to work outside and not in an office and am now excited about the various careers, environmental manager, cartographer, work with national park forest as a national park ranger, eco-tourism planner, available to geography majors;’ and ‘did you know that drones are remote-sensing tools?’”
“Geography encourages the students to think about where. If your question has a spatial component, it is geographic,” Campbell said. “We described economic geography, biogeography, nature writing, biodiversity, transportation geography, geographic terms and field sampling in the context of research questions.”
“NMSU’s geography team is passionate about what they do and the positive impact they make towards the environmental challenges,” De La Torre-Burmeister said. “Drs. Carol Campbell, Dan Dugas and Eric Magrane; graduate students Pablo Viramontes and Samantha Valencia; recent graduate Amber Ransom; and international graduate research students Torit Chakraborty and Otis Akrasi were the key to a successful curriculum. Participants received college-level instruction on physical geography, scale, map reading, landslides, understanding research with state engineers to map culverts in New Mexico, critical analysis of natural vs. non-natural, and a spectrometer demonstration and visit to Spatial Applications Research Center lab.”
Upcoming Aggie Academy topics will include food science; horticulture; entomology; hotel, restaurant and tourism management; dental hygiene; and emergency medical services along with sessions on life skills and learning all about NMSU.