National Council for Geographic Education

NCGE President's Column - June 2017

June 12, 2017

Time to Refuse by NCGE President Gary Gress

As we leave Memorial Day behind and approach Independence Day, I am reminded that it’s time to take it easy. Summer is upon us! Three words reflect takin’ it easy: Relax, Rejuvenate and Rediscover-these are three things I find difficult to do most of the time, however I’m going make a concerted effort to do this, as I hope you will too. Thanks to recent timely national and international events, I’ve also been reminded of three other words relating to our environment. Those 3 R’s are, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and I should also add Refuse. Refuse is the sometimes added 4th R, which relates to limiting or not buying products that are known to be especially harmful to us and our planet, such as the excessive love we have with that convenient stuff we call plastic. As these global events unfold, we as geography educators should refuse to accept environmental decisions that impact millions of people, based on the economic or political gain. Environmental policy shouldn’t be a politically partisan issue.

To many of us, it is surprising that America is now one of 3 countries that doesn’t support the 2015 Paris Accord. This wasn’t the first time nations have discussed and made pledges (and sometimes empty promises). Although this was a non-binding agreement, this was one of the few times the United States was going to be on board as a global leader, during a time when many nations truly believe that surmounting climate evidence must not be ignored. Previous administrations, as believed by many, have not truly embraced the realities of climate change. This, in conjunction with a polarized Congress, has created inaction. Sure many of the stipulations in this accord will take years to implement, but this accord seemed to have movement, a perceived new start, a real impetus to change the way we think about life and this planet. Whether the accord is symbolic or not, the good news is that many folks have been, and will continue to be dedicated in various ways to preserving and improving life on this place that we’ve inherited. Yes, carbon dioxide levels are increasing. The many scientists and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) folks can’t be that wrong.

Is it really an “inconvenience” to face up to environmental truths as was documented and popularized in the 2006 Al Gore inspired movie titled “An Inconvenient Truth”? Are we really bolstering our economy and providing more employment, and not recognizing what the vast majority of countries support? Is it inconvenient to conserve? Are we that selfish and arrogant, thinking that we’re in control and not really part of nature and natural forces? Is Pope Francis wrong in his encyclical’s blueprint? (See for the best short summary of this document.) Is the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences and many others wrong? Are 67% of all climate scientists also wrong?

How much climate proof is needed? According to NASA, ( no genius is needed to figure out that things are changing. Ask the folks in coastal areas, or those that report on ocean acidification, carbon emissions or temperature increase. Ask a Polar Bear about his home! More than ever we as geography educators must get the word out through our teaching and actions. Many US governors and major corporations are speaking out. In the past, I’ve stated that we are an active discipline, exploring, seeking out why things happen, where they take place, and in many scenarios involved with creating solutions.

Even if you have friends or colleagues that are convinced that all of this is some sort of a charade or political conspiracy, perhaps ask them why we shouldn’t conserve Earth’s gifts anyway? A personal budget example may be analogous to this discussion. Would they constantly overextend their bank account, use up all of their resources, declare bankruptcy and possibly never get anything back? What about those kiddos’ that are new members of this world, will there be enough resources for them, and for how long?

This issue isn’t like flipping houses on HGTV, as some of our country’s leaders are recently doing. I hope that beliefs and opinions regarding climate change are genuinely sincere. Our actions do speak louder than words. We should strive to encourage meaningful discussion and actions both individually and collectively. We need to refuse narrow thinking.

If you would like to expand your knowledge on our relationship with our environment and climate, and if you have time, I encourage you to do a little summer reading. You might try a google search: “recent best-selling books on climate change” for starters. Enjoy, and take your thoughts into your classrooms!

Coins for A's by Rod Gillis, American Numismatic Association

May 24, 2017

I have been involved in the hobby of coin collecting for forty-four years. There have been times when I put my collection on hold. Sports was my main focus in high school. Paying for college and meeting young ladies forced me to put the hobby on the shelf in my early twenties. Then there was the matter of getting married and raising a family.

I’m sure that my story has been told countless times. Rarely can a coin collector devote all of his/her time and resources to the hobby. I started at the age of twelve, and while I never left numismatics totally, it wasn’t until I was past my youth and had a small amount of discretionary income before I was able to return to collecting in earnest.

I’m very fortunate to be the Education Director of the American Numismatic Association (ANA). I am truly blessed to be involved with my two passions, coin collecting, and education. The ANA is a non-profit organization whose main mission involves the study of money in all of its forms. We are a member-based organization that helps collectors of all levels learn about and enjoy their hobby more fully.

Youngsters are an important part of numismatics. It is crucial that we get as many children involved in the hobby as possible or eventually coin collecting will die. As an old public school history teacher, childhood education has been a concern of mine for my entire professional career.  Getting youngsters involved in coin collecting is no easy task. Many of today’s children are involved in pastimes that offer immediate feedback, often with bells and whistles and computer graphics. Coin collecting is a rather pedestrian hobby that requires study and patience. It is not glamorous.

Coins for A’s was developed as a way to get students into the hobby. Any student who earns three or more “A’s” (or their equivalent) in a marking period can earn a world coin by sending a copy of their report card to the ANA. We keep all student information confidential. Students can send report cards for as many times as they qualify and they will receive a different world coin each time. The first time a youngster submits a report card, they will also receive an application for a free initial one-year membership to the American Numismatic Association.

Many educators have noticed for the past few decades that with emphasis on science and mathematics, history and geography have sometimes taken a backseat in school curricula. Coins for A’s addresses this problem by challenging the students to learn as much about the location and the history of the country that minted their coin as they can.

Many collectors see money as primary sources of information. The designs on coins are windows to our culture and the cultures and history that surrounds us.

As we close the 2017 school year, there are over 1,400 active participants in Coins for A’s nationwide. Youngsters are from public, private and charter schools. Approximately one-quarter of the children are homeschooled.  I believe it is truly a win-win program. Parents love Coins for A’s because it promotes academic excellence. Children love the program because they get interesting and valuable coins for their efforts. In an age of immediate gratification, who among us does not enjoy receiving an occasional surprise the old fashioned way, in the mail.  

Click here to learn more about the ANA's Coins for A's program

About the Author

Born in Baltimore, MD. Rod Gillis is the Education Director at the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, CO. He enjoys collecting stock certificates and playing competitive tennis. He and his wife Wendy are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. He is the proud owner of a 1951 Buick Roadmaster. 


NCGE President's Column - May 2017

May 4, 2017

"The Comeback Kid" by NCGE President Gary Gress

Lately, I’ve been reminded of the “ugh factor” that the word GEOGRAPHY in the United States evokes in many folks. Forget the word “lately”; there doesn’t seem to be a week that passes where I’m reminded by my peers that geography has an identity and relevance problem for the average guy on the street. How many centuries do we have to endure this tragedy or this predicament? Is this really so? Are we reading the “tea leaves” differently than we should, or in fact is a Geo-Renaissance occurring?

As early as 1843 Jared Sparks the future president of Harvard, called attention to the importance of geography, advocating the subject be part of the school’s curriculum. Six years later The Department of Geography at Harvard University was established under his presidency only to be abolished in 1948. In 1985 National Geographic and Gil Grosvenor established The Geography Education Program and the State Geographic Alliance Network rekindling the importance of teaching geography in our schools. The year 1993 saw the establishment of the “Rediscovering Geography Committee” which attempted “to identify ways to make the discipline more relevant to science, education, and decision-making,” specifically targeting non-geographers. 

Historically, past presidents of NCGE and AAG (the Association of American Geographers), among others, have voiced concerns dealing with “[the] misunderstanding, neglect, state of and relevance” of geography education. So where is the disconnect? We as geography educators and professionals know how exciting and active of a science geography can be--right? 

The “average Joe” (or Jolene) may still need to get the message. We “get it,” our students “get it” once they discover geography, but are we letting others know? We should always be the new revolutionaries and become what some might perceive as pleasantly obnoxious, in certain scenarios. We should inform regular folks when a geographic moment occurs, explaining “that’s geography” whenever appropriate. I vividly remember a “that’s geography” moment while visiting a geo-buddy in St. Louis in the late 90’s. While at a local establishment, after ordering a bottle of Tequiza (a lime-flavored Mexican sounding beer made by Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis), I was told that since it was an “imported” beer, I would have to pay two more bucks! I explained to management that it was “imported” from the brewery just a few miles away and as stated on the label, it was “made in St. Louis.” This led to a surprisingly great discussion about geography with both the waitress and management, even though I still had to cough up the extra two bucks, which was suddenly worth it. 

Another strategy I’ve been trying out is the “what did you say you do?” approach. “I’m a place systems analyst” or “I’m a Geo-Detective” I’ll say, explaining that I analyze places. Many times this leads into how Geographers look at both physical and human attributes, provide factual and perceptual information about places, facilitate understanding, and provide possible solutions regarding the activities of that place. To some, this idea may be a little far-fetched, but I suggest it may be worth a try. 

As many of us do, I always will say to folks that “geography is the why of where,” or as Charles Gritzner so wonderfully stated in his 2002 Journal of Geography article, geography looks at “what is where, why [it is] there and why [we should] care.” Sometimes I will hold my fist up and say “This is the physical stage we’ve inherited: the geology, climate, natural resources, etc.; “When people (Humans) interact and modify that stage, that’s really geography! Geography is everywhere”. 

Geography IS the comeback kid and, we are the change agents. Many students realize that Geography is an integrative and problem-solving science. I believe we are at the right place (Planet Earth) at the right time (the Anthropocene?). Suddenly the Renaissance is already happening thanks to more attention focusing on our fragile environment, the addition of evolving technologies, urbanization, globalization and resource extraction. The demands of corporations and organizations are driving new jobs and new curriculum/course offerings at all grade levels, especially on the collegiate level. As of 2006 Harvard University founded The Center for Geographic Analysis. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, AAG and “” are stating that the Job outlook for Geography and geography related professionals will experience an impressive growth rate through 2022. Interestingly the number of AP Human Geography exams this year is expected to top 200,000! It’s not just students, corporations, and businesses paying attention. More “regular” folks ARE involved within their communities with recycling, gardening, conservation and becoming more interactive with this planet that we’ve inherited.

It’s not your grandparent's or parent’s geography anymore or maybe even yours. Geographers don’t just (ugh!) memorize, we also analyze. Geography is the “comeback kid,” so be a revolutionary and let folks know “that’s geography” whenever possible!


May 3, 2017

2017 NCGE Award Winners

For over a 100 years the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) has worked to enhance the status and quality of geography teaching and learning at all levels of instruction. Through its awards program, NCGE recognizes excellence in geography teaching, mentoring, research, instructional design, and service.

The National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) is pleased to announce our 2017 award winners: 

The George J Miller Award for Distinguished Service to Geographic Education- The Council’s highest award, presented for lifetime service in geographic education

  • DONALD ZEIGLER, Old Dominion University, Virginia Beach, VA 

The Distinguished Mentor Award- Presented to college and university professors whose guidance and influence is significant for students becoming geographers or classroom teachers

  • JOSEPH STOLTMAN, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  • DEREK ALDERMAN, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

The Brunn Creativity Award for Geography Education- Presented to K-12 educators who demonstrate innovation and outstanding creativity in the teaching of geography

  • CHRIS BUNIN, Albemarle High School, Charlottesville, VA
  • ANDREW DOJACK, William Monroe Middle School, Stanardsville, VA
  • JULIE STAVITSKI, Jack Jouett Middle School, Charlottesville, VA

Outstanding Support for Geography Education- Honors individuals who work outside the formal classroom, but have made outstanding contributions to support geography education

  • PAUL HUNT, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE
  • JOYCE YOUNGBLOOD, Mississippi Geographic Alliance, University, MS
  • NAEEMA AL HOSANI, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, UAE

The Higher Education Distinguished Teaching Award- Recognizes and celebrates excellence in higher education geography teaching and leadership

  • LESLI RAWLINGS, Wayne State College, Wayne, NE
  • EZRA ZEITLER, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, WI
  • FENDA AKIWUMI, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • CASEY ALLEN, University of Colorado, Denver, CO
  • JOSEPH STOLTMAN, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Geographic Excellence in Media Award-“The Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book”

  • KATHRYN KERANEN, James Madison University, Great Falls, VA 
  • LYN MALONE, Worldview GIS, Barrington, RI

The K-12 Distinguished Teaching Awards- Recognizes excellence in geography teaching at the primary and secondary levels

  • ANDREW DOJACK, William Monroe Middle School, Stanardsville, VA
  • BRIAN DAVIS, Central Middle School, Bartlesville, OK
  • JULIE STAVITSKI, Jack Jouett Middle School, Charlottesville, VA
  • KYLE TREDINNICK, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, NE
  • MARYANN SANSONETTI-WOOD, Spring Valley High School, Columbia, SC
  • LEAANN WYRICK, Broken Bow Public Schools, Broken Bow, OK
  • ROBIN MANNING, Jack C. Hays High School, Buda, TX
  • ROSA CLARA SALAZAR, United High School, Laredo, TX

The Women in Geographic Education Scholarship -Is awarded each year to one exceptional female college or university student enrolled in a program leading to a career in geographic education

  • REBECCA KRANITZ, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

The Salvatore J. Natoli Dissertation Award- Awarded to encourage dissertation research in geography teaching and learning

  • STACEY KERR, Central Michigan University, Pleasant, MI


Best Secondary Teaching Article: “The Nature of Geography and It’s Perspectives in AP Human Geography.”

  • ALEXANDER MURPHY, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • PHILLIP HARE, A.C. Flora High School, Columbia, SC

Best College / University Article: “Future Teachers’ Spatial Thinking Skills and Attitudes.”

  • EUIKYUNG SHIN, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL
  • ANDREW MILSON, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
  • THOMAS SMITH, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL

Best Article for Geography Program Development: “GIS Teaching Training: Empirically-Based Indicators of Effectiveness.”

  • STEFFEN HOHNLE, University of Erlangen, Nuremberg, Germany
  • JANIS FOGELE, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
  • RAINER MEHREN, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
  • JAN CHRISTOPH SCHUBERT, University of Munster, Munster, Germany


Best Content Article- “Red Rural, Blue Rural: The Geography of Presidential Voting in Rural America.”

  • DANTE SCALA, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
  • KENNETH JOHNSON, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

Best Lesson Plan- “Traveling With Eighth-Grade Students to Learn About State and Local History.”

  • RONALD MORRIS, Ball State University, Muncie, IN

For more information about the NCGE award program and application process visit

Click here to download the 2017 NCGE Awards Announcement Press Release

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

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NCGE President's Column - June 2017

June 12, 2017

Time to Refuse by NCGE President Gary Gress

As we leave Memorial Day behind and approach Independence Day, I am reminded that it’s time to take it easy. Summer is upon us! Three words reflect takin’ it easy: Relax, Rejuvenate and Rediscover-these are three things I find difficult to do most of th…

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