NGA celebrates Geography Awareness Week

By NGA Office of Corporate Communications

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency joined in the Geography Awareness Week celebrations with a variety of activities, from Missouri to New York to Virginia, Nov. 11–17.

NGA Executive Director Ed Mornston met with U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly to introduce NGA’s mission and capabilities. (L-R: Mornston, Dan Opstal, Executive Secretary/Team Lead for the Civil Applications Committee, USGS National Civil Applications Center, Timothy Newman, USGS National Land Imaging Program Coordinator and Reilly)

We kicked off the week with an introduction to human geography. Elizabeth Lyon, NGA Senior GEOINT Authority for Geography and Cartography, provided a short geo-education on the geography that tracks how human activity affects or is influenced by the earth’s surface, during a Facebook Live video. Also on Tuesday, NGA Executive Director Ed Mornston met with U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly to introduce NGA’s mission and capabilities. They discussed opportunities for the two organizations to strengthen collaboration and partnerships in order to complement, not duplicate, efforts supporting national security initiatives and civil government missions.

On Geographic Information System Day, NGA engaged with geography lovers from elementary through college by reading the Dr. Seuss classic, “There’s a Map on My Lap!” to kindergartners at Mount Vernon Community School in Alexandria, Virginia, speaking with college students at George Mason University’s career fair in Fairfax, Virginia and leading 64 fourth-graders from three St. Louis elementary schools in the second annual GeoPlunge geography card game tournament in St. Louis.

Elizabeth Lyon reads “There’s A Map on My Lap!” by Dr. Seuss to elementary kids at Mount Vernon Community School.

During the GeoPlunge tournament, students from Hodgen, Dunbar and Columbia elementaries of St. Louis Public Schools showed off the geography knowledge they developed the past months. NGA volunteers visited the schools twice a week since the beginning of October to teach the children the card games and practice the games.

Joshua Thompson, 11, from Hodgen Elementary said being part of the tournament was “pretty exciting.”

“Learning states help you in life,” he said. “I’ve learned my states, where they are located and how they are spelled. Today has been really fun.”

Megan Devore, fourth-grade teacher from Dunbar Elementary, said playing the game has helped her students not only learn about geography but also about how to work better together.

“At the beginning, the students barely knew the states,” she said “It’s been pretty cool to see them improve and understand where states are located. They ask to play the game at school.”

Five teams of students tied for first place, and each team took a trophy back to their school. Students from all three elementaries also earned medals for sportsmanship during the tournament.

Students from Hodgen, Dunbar and Columbia elementaries of St. Louis Public Schools play GeoPlunge.

On Thursday, NGA Director Robert Cardillo provided keynote remarks at Geography 2050, an American Geographical Society event, at Columbia University in New York City, New York. He shared vital parts of NGA’s mission with the audience, including foundational data and environmental and human geography.

Photo courtesy of Geography 2050

“A firm understanding of geography is necessary to sketch the destiny of our future planet,” said Director Cardillo. “Whether it’s defining a nation-state, a mega-city, oil fields, uranium deposits or even a water source.”

While in New York Director Cardillo also met with local secondary educators to discuss the importance of geographic literacy.

NGA’s Partners in Education program allows the agency to connect with public K-12 schools to bolster reading comprehension, geographic literacy and STEM programs through mentoring, GIS fairs and robotics competitions.

Although Geography Awareness Week 2018 has ended, NGA will use its maps and charts to continue providing decision makers, military customers and first responders with the best data possible so that they can make better informed choices to enhance the sustainability and security of our world.


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About NGA: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency delivers world-class geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, that provides a decisive advantage to warfighters, policymakers, intelligence professionals and first responders. Both an intelligence agency and a combat support agency, NGA fulfills the president’s national security priorities in partnership with the intelligence community and Department of Defense.