National Council for Geographic Education

NCGE President's Column - April 2017

April 14, 2017

Earth Day 2017: Let's Celebrate & Participate by Gary Gress, NCGE President

As Earth Day approaches (April 22), being the eternal educator that I am makes me believe that everyone needs to know about this day. We should take pause and think about this stage that we’ve inherited, this place that we call home, Planet Earth. Globally, millions of people celebrate and participate in Earth Day events in their own communities and regions. Sure, on a daily basis there’s plenty of news about the past and recent environmental events. People and countries take actions that challenge life on Earth each day, actions and policies that we may all agree on or disagree about. But let’s FIRST think of the many gifts that we receive, that make life sustainable for us and future generations.

Most everyone has questions or concerns regarding Earth’s natural capital and resources, as did non-partisan folks in the 1970’s. We’re all connected and concerned about water, oil, food and quality of life. Led by Senator Gaylord Nelson and congressman Pete McClousky, along with many others, their efforts became reality on April 22, 1970. That Earth Day resulted in coast to coast rallies designed to educate people about human interactions with our precious environment. Those events led to the establishment of the EPA and the passing of The Clean Air, The Clean Water and The Endangered Species Acts. By 1990 Earth Day went global. It is now recognized and practiced in more than 140 countries!

Each of us has an opportunity to celebrate this day and get involved in our classrooms and communities. We at NCGE are proud to join with The American Association of Geographers, the American Geographic Society, and many others in supporting the March for Science on April 22nd. Geography is an interdisciplinary science that helps us understand our planet from a culmination of perspectives and processes. We are an active discipline, exploring, seeking out why things happen, where they take place, and in many scenarios being involved with solutions. Earth Day is a day of awareness and activity that really should be every day.

Try googling Earth Day slogans…one of my favorites is, “There is no planet B”. Have your students come up with their own slogans, generate an action or project in conjunction with this day, launch a new club or research famous environmentalists and spread the word. President Theodore Roosevelt was considered an environmentalist and conservationist who made sure wilderness preservation, as well as soil and water conservation, were a priority. So it’s our turn to let someone know our concerns and thoughts about “home”. Let’s help make our planet a greener, more sustainable, and a less polluted place by celebrating and participating in Earth Day. What’s to lose?! 

International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women of NCGE

March 8, 2017

Celebrating the Women of NCGE by Zach Dulli 

On this International Women's Day of 2017, I am grateful to the countless women who have served, supported and led the National Council for Geographic Education over our 102-year history. Since our founding in 1915 women have played a critical role in our success.

The 1990 NCGE publication by James W. Vining, “The National Council for Geographic Education: The First Seventy-Five Years and Beyond” explains the role women played in the early years of our organization;

  “From the very beginning, women were active in the National Council. They helped in establishing the organization and in nurturing it after its birth. Mabel Stark of Illinois State Normal University actively promoted membership in the NCGT* during its early years. She served as treasurer of the Council in 1920 and as a member of the Executive Committee from 1921 to 1923. Several women were members of the important administrative committee during the 1920s and 1930s: Bessie P. Knight, Erna Grassmuck, Alison E. Aitchison, Zoe A. Thralls, Angela Groening, Alice Foster, and Isabelle K. Hart. Women geographers served in all four of NCGT's national offices during the early years. The first woman to serve in this way was Stark, the Council's first woman treasurer.

   Erna Grassmuck was the first woman second vice-president (1923), first vice­president (1925), and president (1926). George J. Miller appointed her as an associate editor of the Journal in 1922, and she served in that capacity for many years. Nine women filled the office of second vice-president during the NCGT's first quarter century: Grassmuck (1923), Julia Shipman (1924), Stark (1925), Ella Jeffries (1927), Selma Abrams (1928), Myrtle Grenels (1929), Edith P. Parker (1932), Ella Hunting (1934), and Marguerite Uttley (1938). Seven women filled the position of first vice-president during the period 1915-1940: Grassmuck (1925), Knight (1928), Thralls (1931), Parker (1933), Aitchison (1935), Cora P. Sletten (1939), and Alice Foster (1940).

   During more than half of the Council's first 25 years, it was not standard practice for the first vice-president to become president automatically. Nonetheless, five women were elected to the presidency after having served as first vice-president: Grassmuck (1926), Thralls (1932), Parker (1934), Aitchison (1936), and Sletten (1940).

  The woman who gave the longest continuous service in one position was Cora P. Sletten of the State Teachers College in Mankato, Minnesota. She served as assistant editor of the Journal of Geography for 23 years, 1925 to 1948."

Past women NCGE Presidents have included: Almon E. Parkins; Erna Grassmuck; Zoe A. Thralls; Alison E. Aitcheson; Alice Foster; Katheryne T. Whittenmore; Mary V. Phillips; Mamie L. Anderzohn; Elizabeth Eiselen; Gail S. Ludwig; Dorothy W. Drummond; Gail A. Hobbs; Jody Smothers-Marcello; Susan W. Hardwick; Gwenda H. Rice; Martha B. Sharma; Jan Smith; Kristi Alvarez; Susan Hume; and most recently 2016 President Ellen Foster.

The George J. Miller Award, NCGE’s highest honor has been awarded to many of the most well-respected people in geography education including the following women: Almon E. Perkins; Alison Aitchison; Alice Foster; Edith Parker; Zoe A. Thralls; Cora P. Sletten; Erna G. Gilland; Katheryne T. Whittemore; Mamie L. Anderzhorn; Mary Viola Phillips; Elizabeth Eiselen; Barbara J. Winston; Ruth I. Shirey; Janice Monk; Martha B. Sharma; Osa E. Brand;  Sarah W. Bednarz; Dorothy Drummond; Susan Hardwick; and most recently Barbara Hildebrant in 2015.

In my time at NCGE I have had the privilege of working with some of the smartest, most dedicated individuals whose commitment to geography education is unmatched. Since many of these individuals also happen to be women, and with it being International Women’s Day, I would like to send my sincerest message of thanks to the countless women who have led so remarkably well and will continue to lead the NCGE into the future.


Zachary R. Dulli, CEO
National Council for Geographic Education

  • I look forward to celebrating the amazing work of more women in geography during our annual Women in Geography Education reception. This event is held annual during the annual conference so if you will be in Albuquerque this summer I encourage you to attend.
  • It would be impossible for me to list every amazing woman in geography today, so please help me out. In the comments below please list the women(s) in geography that inspired you the most.

*Our original name was the National Council for Geography Teachers (NCGT) before it was changed, several years later, to the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE).

NCGE President's Column - March 2017

March 8, 2017

Albuquerque Adventures by Gary Gress, NCGE President

What is most amazing to me over the many years of conference-going (aside from the wonderful networking opportunities) are the field experiences that are offered and the beforehand trips and sessions. Many great memories of the diverse landscapes that NCGE has traveled to are part of what geographers do; we explore and interact with the uniqueness of places. The focus may be the local food, drink, history, natural, or other cultural gems that our conferences offer.

The local cultural and historical walking tours are always a great way to get to know a place from a local perspective. My first urban trek was in San Antonio, Texas experiencing the river walk and the Alamo. Other favorite trips I’ve taken include the Rio Camuy Cave Park in Puerto Rico, the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, a plantation visit in Savannah, the tour of Bonneville Dam near Portland, Tangier Island-Chesapeake Bay, and most recently learning the fascinating morphology of Ybor City in Tampa.

At the risk of dating myself (I think I already have), these and many other NCGE excursions (with my camera and iPad in hand) have been exciting, memorable moments for me. I’ve been able to take these moments back to my classroom, where I’m able to represent a myriad of concepts and content that are applicable to my teachings.  

Having traveled to Albuquerque (our 2017 conference city) and the majority of New Mexico both personally and professionally, I can see why the state has been nicknamed “the land of enchantment”. To mingle with the vast breathtaking landscapes including deserts, mesas, plateaus, and surviving cultures, is something you must see firsthand. Consider signing up for at least one outing. If you have never been to Santa Fe, or have yet to visit the Taos Pueblo or hike on the spectacular Tent Rocks National Monument trails, now is the time! Don’t leave out the Albuquerque Thursday trolley ride or the Friday “brew cruise” trolley rides for a taste of the town featuring local libations. Get ready for exciting sessions, workshops, and trips; mark your calendar and register now for our NCGE annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico July 27-30th, 2017 (Field trips begin July 25!) where your adventure begins.

I’ll see you there!

-Gary Gress, President, National Council for Geographic Education

NCGE President's Column: What One Award Can Do!

January 31, 2017

As our NCGE awards deadline approaches (February 24, 2017), I can’t help but reflect on some of the most meaningful and not so meaningful awards that I’ve accumulated, as I’m sure all of you have over the years, as well. Actually, there are good memories connected with most of them, along with a certificate or some other winner’s artifact. A few were ridiculous social challenges dealing with food; the pie eating contest, and participation in the ice cream adventure (consuming an item called the “destroyer”), and another involving hog calling among other things, landing me surprise recognition for abilities that I had no idea that I possessed. All were lighthearted endeavors with temporary peer recognition, but nothing close to the honor and pride that I remember in getting my very first nationally recognized “professional” award, the NCGE K-12 Distinguished Teaching Award! This was the official validation and recognition that my classroom content teaching strategies and the impact my practices had on my students were regarded by my geography peers as something special!

It’s really wonderful that we recognize all educators that are excellent at what they do, and have such a strong commitment to geography education. The teaching landscape is frustrating at times, littered with cut backs, local, state and national requirements, and professional tasks that seem impossible, however, the vast majority of folks in our profession choose to focus on students. We find ways to encourage, inspire, innovate and motivate our best national asset every day. These infectious positive practices need to be recognized.

We all know educators that we would like to honor for their outstanding contributions; however, we never nominate them for an award. If you know of a K-12 classroom teacher, a college instructor, possibly one that mentors, or a worthy graduate student, or folks that work outside of these settings supporting geography and geography education, I strongly urge you to nominate them for an NCGE award.

We are excited to announce that we are instituting a newly established award, The Brunn Creativity Award for Outstanding Teaching of Geography. You can learn more about the criteria for this award here. Please let us know if you or someone you know merits this award, and submit a nomination/application by March 3, 2017.

Just think what one award can do… For me, it was a real “game changer,” and chances are it could be for someone else, too! 

Gary Gress, NCGE President 

Announcing the Appointment of New Members to NCGE's Board of Directors

January 5, 2017

The National Council for Geographic Education is proud to announce the appointment of two new members to its Board of Directors. Joining the Board of Directors are Dr. Erin Fouberg, and Mr. Ram Balasubramanian. Both of these appointments reflect NCGE’s commitment to seeking out individuals that will bring new expertise, talents, and perspectives to its board. We are thrilled to have them both join us as we enter 2017 and embark upon the implementation of our new strategic plan, incorporating innovative programs to better serve our members. 

Dr. Erin Fouberg joined the NCGE in 1997 and is a lifetime member. Erin is professor of geography and director of the Honors Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Erin’s research in geography education focuses primarily on how students learn geographic concepts and has been published in the Journal of Geography and the Journal of Geography in Higher Education. In 2015, Erin’s paper “’The world is no longer flat to me’: Student perceptions of threshold concepts in world regional geography” was recognized by the editorial board of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education with the Biennial Award for Promoting Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Erin co-authors two textbooks: Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture (with Alexander Murphy and H.J. de Blij) and Understanding World Regional Geography (with William Moseley). Erin actively teaches undergraduate students at Northern State University in human geography, world regional geography, physical geography, political geography, and regional geography (South Asia and Europe) courses. Erin works directly with K-12 teacher candidates, as every education major is required to take world regional geography. She has structured the course to integrate writing for learning, theories of concept learning, and summative and formative assessment.

Mr. Ram Balasubramanian currently serves as the VP, Analytics, Data Strategy & Reporting at Marriott international. As the head of Analytics, Data Strategy & Reporting, Ram leads Marriott’s transformation into a data-focused, analytically driven organization. His team is charged with making data readily accessible for all levels in the company, and implements cutting-edge analytical techniques to improve the effectiveness of Marriott’s marketing, loyalty, sales, and digital activities. In the last 14 years at Marriott, he has held various roles in pricing, distribution strategy, revenue analysis. Prior to his current role, he led the revenue maximization efforts for all select service and extended stay brands in the Americas Division from 2012-2014. Ram started his career in the travel industry working for US Airways from 1996-2002, holding various roles in analytics and revenue management. He has an advanced analytics degree from the University of Arizona and his undergraduate education is in Engineering and Math from BITS Pilani in India.

NCGE President's Column: Auld Acquaintances

December 20, 2016


We twa hae run about the braes,

and pou'd the gowans fine;

But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,

sin' auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,

frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar'd

sin' auld lang syne.


And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!

and gie's a hand o' thine!

And we'll tak' a right gude-willie waught,

for auld lang syne.


For auld lang syne, my jo,

for auld lang syne,

we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

Thus ends another academic semester and my term as President of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the National Council for Geographic Education.  I chose the last verses of “Auld Lang Syne” (Burns 1947/1788) to open my last NCGE President’s Column of the year as much for their geographic allusions as for the remembering of times and friends passed.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Zach Dulli, President-Elect Gary Gress, and I met in our downtown Washington, DC, office space to discuss the transition plans for 2017.  For most of 2016, the BOD engaged in the strategic planning process.  We looked at our mission and vision statements and handed a well-tooled, three-year plan to the headquarters staff for their input and implementation.  Every person serving on the “new,” streamlined nine-member Board of Directors approved in the 2015 amendment to the Constitution provided important insight into a perspective of geographic education and NCGE’s role in the next 100 years.  The planning process was a team effort!  I extend special thanks to Mr. Robert Dulli for his facilitation of the Board’s conversations and organization of the final documents.  I feel quite confident the documents created will guide the Board of Directors and headquarters staff into the future.

A special thank-you must go out to our spectacular headquarters staff.  Our full-time staff of three people: CEO Zach Dulli, Director of Communications & Membership Shana Gruenberg, and Events Coordinator Melissa Lepak share the Board’s passion for NCGE’s mission and vision.  Without their daily efforts on our behalf, NCGE would not exist, as we know it.  Additionally, the support staff brought on-board for special events (e.g. the annual conference), the Editors and Editorial Board of the Journal of Geography and The Geography Teacher, and our Webinar Coordinator make light work of the many tasks that make NCGE a vibrant and dynamic organization serving the geography community.

Finally, I enjoyed sharing my year as President of NCGE with all of you and look forward to working with the Council as Past President in 2017.  In the meantime, don’t forget to nominate a friend or colleague for an award or scholarship, apply to participate in GeoCamp Iceland 2017, submit a proposal for the 2017 National Conference on Geography Education in Albuquerque, bring a friend or colleague with you to the meeting in Albuquerque, and remember NCGE as you finalize your institutional gifts for the 2016 tax year.  Best wishes for 2017, and see you all in Albuquerque!

~Dr. Ellen J. Foster

2016 NCGE President

Help Support NCGE & Geography Education!

November 29, 2016

Join the worldwide #GivingTuesday movement and help redefine the giving spirit this holiday season by really making a difference and donating to NCGE! #GivingTuesday harnesses the collective power of individuals and connects diverse groups of people, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose--to celebrate and encourage giving. It inspires people to take collaborative action to support causes they believe in and help create a better world. Be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity and make a difference by helping support NCGE and geography education! You can show your support and donate directly to the National Council for Geographic Education here.

NCGE President’s Column: Geography Awareness Week--Explore the Power of Parks!

November 10, 2016

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~John Muir

Americans have celebrated Geography Awareness Week (GAW) the third week in November since 1987.  In 1999, GIS Day celebrations were added on the Wednesday of GAW to highlight the application of geographic information systems in applying geography to the professional world.  This year, we continue the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) with the GAW-theme “Explore the Power of Parks.”

In 1872, the federal government established a groundbreaking way to think about geography and civic responsibility to the environment by setting aside land in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as Yellowstone National Park.  Never before had a national government set aside land as a park, for the public good.

Scottish-born naturalist and Sierra Club founder, John Muir championed the preservation of wild spaces advocating for national parks from Yosemite (1890) to the Grand Canyon (1919).  Perhaps, Muir would have been a social media specialist and blogger today.  He found writing to be tedious, but wrote nevertheless about the beauty and power of Nature to friends (through letter writing) and strangers (via books and articles).

By the time Muir met with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 to ask for the combination of state and federal lands to serve as an additional layer of protection for wild spaces, specifically the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite Valley; the interests of a growing population, conservation, and preservation were often at odds with each other.

Stephen Mather accepted the position as the first director of the NPS in 1916 and with it the responsibility for 12 parks across 9 states and territories.  Mather’s leadership and environmental ethic helped to bring the parks to the people providing “creature comforts” for visitors while preserving the natural beauty which drew them to the wilds.  (More specific information about the creation of the NPS can be found in Shaping the System.)

Today, our 58 national parks are only the beginning of the public land story which now includes 413 units managed by the NPS. People from all over the world flock to our national parks.  The #EveryKidInAPark and #FindYourPark social media campaigns helped increase park visitation during this centennial year.  If you just can’t make it to a park, you can visit the NPS Centennial Photo Gallery or one of the Esri Story Maps Team GIS apps featuring national parks.

For educators, many of the NPS unit Websites provide lessons and activities for real and virtual tours.  You may also choose to partner with a park to create content for students and teachers.  In 2014, graduate students at the University of Mississippi School of Education partnered with the Natchez Trace National Parkway to make a series of story maps and lessons available for teachers, which you can find here-- service learning at its best.

This summer, our family visited six units of the NPS (Carlsbad Caverns, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, and Wind Cave) and two state parks (Balmorhea in Texas and Custer in South Dakota) in fifteen days -- tent camping in, or near, each of park.  Keep in mind that park visitors contribute to the sustainability of many of our national and state parks by providing much needed funds to provide access and comforts.  This GAW I hope you can take time to visit a park near you and let your “cares drop off like autumn leaves” (Muir 1901).


Dr. Ellen J. Foster

NCGE Board President 2016, National Council for Geographic Education

Me on the Map: A Song and Lesson Plan for Geography Educators

November 2, 2016

Brady Rymer, a twice Grammy nominated children’s musician, recently released a music video for his song “Me on the Map.” The song from Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could’s 2016 album, Press Play, encourages kids to explore the geography of their hometown and develop a relationship with the world around them.

The chorus of the song proudly proclaims, “That’s me on the map, there’s my town, that’s my street winding round, that’s me on the map – hey, hey.” When the chorus repeats, the song zooms out further to the state and finally the world with lines such as, “That’s us on the map, here we stand, this is our world big and grand.” 

The inspiration for the song came from the book Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney. “It's a catchy tune that kids will sing together, like This Land is Your Land,” said Rymer. “It invites kids into a discussion about their hometowns, communities and the geography of their region – identifying and exploring their own place on the map, where they are in the world and what it means to call a place home.”

Want to incorporate “Me on the Map” into a geography lesson? Check out Brady’s very own classroom activities:

First play “Me on the Map” for the class. Then, with a local map of the surrounding area, ask students to identify their spot on the map – either the school or their neighborhood where they live. Then ask them to describe their spot with questions like the following:

  • What do you like about it?
  • What makes it special?
  • What do you like to do there?
  • What is unique about your town?
  • What are the town’s natural aspects?
  • How does it compare to other places you've been?

Then, assign or have students pick one of these three projects:

1.Explore Your Hometown

Visit a favorite spot in your town – take pictures, draw and describe the landscape and the natural elements around you. Look at it in detail. See what you can find there and bring back samples!

2.Plan an Adventure

Look at your town on a map.  Find another place close by and try to arrange a trip there with your family. When you go, identify how it's different or similar to your usual spots. How far away it is? What was it like getting there?

3.A Day in the Life

Record everything you’ve done in a day (or a few hours) of exploring your town. Visit familiar places and new spots. Spend time with people you know and meet new friends. Describe everything.

“I hope the song helps students and teachers consider what makes their place on the map unique and special,” said Rymer. “I hope it encourages greater understanding and appreciation of students’ environment, and fosters a sense of adventure and curiosity to explore and learn how the world is different, how geography affects community, cultures, cuisine and all the things we do. I hope the song encourages a desire to preserve and take care of the natural world and communities around us.”

Brady Rymer’s 2016 album, Press Play, was recently awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award. To watch the “Me on the Map” music video and learn more about Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could, please visit  Press Play is available on Amazon and iTunes

*Photo Courtesy of Alex Rappoport

President's Column: The Role of Travel in the Professional Development of Geography Educators

October 20, 2016

“ occurred to my mind, one day, to travel again to the lands of other people, and I felt a longing for the occupation of traffic, and the pleasure of seeing the countries and islands of the world, and gaining my subsistence.” From “The Second Voyage of Es-Sindibad of the Sea” in the Stories of The Thousand and One Nights.


Why I travel? As a child, my family made short day trips across the border, usually on foot, to eat and shop in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  Not like the hundreds who traversed the border for jobs, we were tourists - day trippers and observers.  In his 1956 address to the membership, then AAG President Carl O. Sauer said “The geographer and the geographer-to-be are to be travelers, vicarious when they must, actual when they may.  They are not of the class of tourists…” (Sauer 1956, p. 289).  I traveled long before I came to the discipline of geography as a graduate student.   However, my family’s short daytrips provided a working knowledge of life in a foreign city, albeit a neighboring country, and an understanding that travel was possible and accessible.  My proximity to Mexico spurned an interest in the Spanish language and Latin American culture. As a result, many of my foreign travels have been to Latin America.

What did I learn? Sauer (1956, p. 289) reminded us, “The geographic bent rests on seeing and thinking about what is in the landscape…”  So, what did I learn while traveling abroad… LOTS!  Across four continents (i.e. Australia, Europe, North America, and South America), I strived to be more than a privileged American tourist by stepping outside of a prescribed itinerary.  At seventeen, a friend and I literally jumped trains in the London Underground to see and do more than our tour provided.   In 1996 when “stranded” in Sydney without a car, I relied on public transportation to explore the city before my travel companions arrived the next day.  On consecutive trips to Paraiso Department, Honduras, I helped drill water wells for communities without access to potable water.  However, some of my travels included the sit-and-get on a tour bus or a docent with a flag and megaphone.  Such touristy excursions provided me with a starting point for further travel and adventure during “free-time.”

I can’t remember when I first read Salter and Meserve’s (1991) article on the life list of a geographer, but the piece resonated.  As a new Ph.D. student in geographic education in 2000, I realized I needed to learn a lot more about the epistemology and ontology of the discipline.  My own experiences proved Salter and Meserve’s (1991, p. 520) assertion: “Personal travels and field experiences provide a perspective on geography that cannot be duplicated in a library, classroom, office, or lecture hall.” 

I’ve been to Quebec twice -- once as a teenage driver on a girls-only road trip with my mother, her sister, and my infant cousin.  We girls learned that they really speak French in Montreal -- and we didn’t.  That 17-year-old in London also learned that I needed more than the plug adapter to keep your curling iron from burning your bangs.  In Sydney in 1996, I learned that my credit union ATM card worked 18 hours from home.  In 2005, I took a small group of inner-city San Antonio teenagers to Quebec City on an EF tour.  We learned a lot...especially how to travel in a post 9/11 world.  

In 2000, I traveled to the Peruvian portion of the Amazon River basin on a tour.  I kept my first travel journal.  I reflected on how remarkably Victorian and privileged I felt aboard La Amatista and how hypnotizing the frogs sounded at night.  To stifle any feeling of American-privilege, a truck stop attendant denied me access to the ladies room in Danli, Honduras, because I was “too dirty” after a day on the drill floor of a water well in 2005. (To his credit, the restrooms were very clean; and I was very muddy!).

In 2013, I helped ground-truth remotely sensed data in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, for my friend Dr. Dawna Cerney.  My job was to back up the coordinates of collection sites using the digital camera and MotionXGPS app on my iPhone 4.  In the field, I learned more about physical geography, forest fire recovery, bear spray, and my own personal limits than I could have learned from my desk in Oxford, Mississippi.  In spite of pushing my physical limits (and perhaps my husband’s mental ones), I would love to go back into the Waterton woods to sing to the bears while collecting data.

How can NCGE help?  Every semester, I remind my teacher candidates that experience and time will help them better tell the story of people, places, and events.  What I enjoy most about revisiting Salter and Meserve’s (1991, p525)  life list is the “push [of] the geographer into the field and away from the library and campus in quest for useful and provocative education.”  I’m at 39 of 57, or 68 percent!  With each return trip to a favorite place or new expedition, my stories become more vivid; and I tell more than the “single story” of a place or a people (Adichie 2009).

The Board of Directors discussed the role of travel in the professional development of geography educators.  While we don’t wish NCGE to become a travel agency (too many companies do that well), we hope to offer opportunities for our members’ professional growth.  I sincerely hope you have taken advantage of extended professional development travel opportunities offered by NCGE like GeoCamp Iceland in 2015 and the pre-conference trip to Cuba in 2016.  Look for more professional development/travel opportunities from NCGE in months to come.  Perhaps, our paths will cross as we travel to far-flung places.  I sure hope so!


Adichie, CN. (2009, July). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of the single story. [Video file]. Retrieved from: on October 13, 2016.

Salter, CL & P Meserve. (1991). Life lists and the education of a geographer. Professional Geographer 43 (4): 520-25.

Sauer, C.O. (1956). The education of a geographer. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 48: 287-99.

Stories from the Thousand and One Nights. Vol. XVI. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14;, [October 17, 2016].


Dr. Ellen J. Foster

Board President 2016, National Council for Geographic Education

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AP® Human Geography Teachers’ Workshop

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AP® Human Geography Teachers’ Workshop Sponsored by the College Board and Educational Testing Service

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Visit Cuba With NCGE!

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SAVE THE DATE!--July 19 - 26, 2016

For an island so geographically close to our shores--less than 100 miles separates Key West from the Cuban coast-in our geographical imagination Cuba couldn't be more distant. To many in the United States, Cuba is a time capsule, a cu…

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March President's Column: You're Off To Great Places!

March 9, 2016


You're off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So... get on your way!

~ Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!


Spring is in the air, and I’m ready to think about travel! Heading to my favorite fishing hole, a quiet mountain stream, “some beach, …

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ESSA Update: Urge the United States Senate to Support Geography Education!

March 4, 2016


Dear NCGE Members & Friends:

We recently contacted you concerning funding for the multiple new competitive grant programs to support high qualit…

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