Outreach and Extension
The Department of Geography is active in bringing geographic knowledge and perspectives to the public, and in introducing students to service activities. Some of our activities are conducted in collaboration with faculty in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and with the service organizations described below. Geography faculty have been active in leadership for the these organizations, and in organizing activities listed below.
- Faculty-led service learning courses have partnered with organizations such as Harding Avenue Elementary, Virginia Department of Health, Micah’s Backpack, Head Start, YMCA/YWCA, and the Humane Society.
- On a regular basis, our department brings geospatial outreach to public events on campus, including the Virginia Science Festival and the university’s Kids’ Tech University, a one-day program tailored to introduce Middle School students to science and technology.
- We conduct workshops throughout the state to introduce government employees, and workers in private industry, to tools for analysis and applications of remotely sensed data.
- Design and installation of a geospatial exhibit at the Blacksburg Children’s Museum, which features a 10 x 15 ft. Landsat mural of southwestern Virginia, designed to encourage children’s interest in aerial imagery, and in their region.
- We have conducted workshops for K-12 teachers, and exhibits and displays at Career Day Programs in neighboring counties.
- Installation of 11 weather stations within Roanoke City Public Schools, to promote science education in general, and more specifically, student interest in meteorology, and in their own community.
- Classes and activities at local K-12 schools.
- Departmental faculty participate in Virginia’s Master Naturalists Program through lectures presented to both the Roanoke and New River Valley chapters, and through certification for, and participation in, Virginia’s Save Our Streams program that monitors water quality of local streams.
Geography students, and those in other departments, who participate in these activities often find them to be enjoyable and valuable experiences.
Geography faculty have been active in leadership of two established service organizations, noted below, that promote geographic outreach throughout Virginia.
Virginia Geographic Alliance (VGA)
The Virginia Geographic Alliance is an organization of Virginia educators organized to support the K-12 teaching community in Virginia. It promotes geo-literacy by providing effective professional development programs that enhance the teaching and learning of geography and that demonstrate the value of geographic knowledge and spatial thinking for educators, the public, and community leaders.
The VGA, formed in 1986 by the National Geographic Society and the Commonwealth of Virginia, promotes geo-literacy by providing effective professional development programs that enhance the teaching and learning of geography and demonstrate the value of geographic knowledge and spatial thinking to educators, policy makers, and community members. To promote these objectives, the VGA has conducted hundreds of professional development activities for teachers and pre-service teachers. These activities range from three-week field based summer institutes to one-hour workshops on basic themes and skills in geography. Leadership has been coordinated from university settings for most of its history, often with other co-leaders from the secondary schools or the Virginia Department of Education.
Virginia View is the organization that represents Virginia within America View, a national non-profit organization, funded by the U.S. Geological Survey, that promotes local applications of geospatial data in research, outreach, and education for most of the US states. VirginiaView is a consortium of Virginia institutions, including universities, state agencies, non-profit organizations, service organizations, and a federal technical affiliate.
The VirginiaView project focuses on the AmericaView missions of research, outreach, consortium development, and promotion of public understanding and applications of geospatial data to a spectrum of users at state and local levels. Since 2004, the Department of Geography (in partnership with FREC) has developed programs to support local understanding, and applications of geospatial imagery and within local businesses, K-12 educational programs, community colleges, and universities.