Esri recently awarded grants of geographic information system (GIS) technology and training to 4-H clubs across the United States, assisting club members in their research of local environmental and social issues.
"The use of Esri's GIS technology helps youth become more spatially literate and engaged in their communities at an earlier age," said Esther Worker, Esri youth and community education manager. "Current projects allow members to experience their communities in new ways through problem solving with geographic thinking and tools. Today's 4-H youth are asking relevant questions; acquiring, examining, and analyzing data; and acting on their findings. GIS technology is helping 4-H empower young people to reach their full potential as tomorrow's leaders."
Selected projects include working with local US Fish and Wildlife professionals to map wildlife refuges and identify areas of concern for future monitoring. Other 4-H groups will collect data regarding the availability of wholesome food within their communities in a pilot project for the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Services Food Environment Atlas.
Winning projects also include the mapping of invasive weed infestations and assisting with local disaster preparedness plans. In addition, the grant program includes a category providing introductory GIS workshops for group leaders who would like to sponsor a GIS club in their community but are unfamiliar with the technology.
"The award of the 2011 GIS grant has given the Boulder County 4-H program a springboard to advance our geospatial project," said Kim Morrison, 4-H program associate in Longmont, Colorado. "It has brought together Front Range Community College and local GIS industry professionals to share their expertise with 4-H youth by exploring the GIS world together."
Esri has supported 4-H clubs with its GIS grant programs since 2004. To date, more than 500 grants of ArcView and ArcPad software and Virtual Campus training have been awarded to selected clubs.
For more information on Esri's education efforts in nonformal education, visitesri.com/youth.