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Jeff Lash

Jeff Lash earned a B.A in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin and master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from Texas State University at San Marcos. He has taught geography and GIS courses at the University of Houston-Clear Lake since 2001. Jeff is a two-time Fulbright Scholar (University of Belgrade 2009, University of Johannesburg 2019) interested in human development through geography education. He is an active member of the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education. He joined NCGE in 1994. NCGE has recognized Jeff’s professional contributions to geography education twice; first with a “Dissertation of the Year” award in 2002 and again in 2012 with a “Higher Education Distinguished Teaching” award. Jeff has served on the NCGE Board in various capacities since 2006, becoming Treasurer in 2017. Jeff is married to a social worker and loves traveling with their three young boys.

Over the last twenty years, my work with NCGE has evolved from graduate student volunteer to Treasurer. I have accepted the nomination for President-Elect with honor and enthusiasm because NCGE plays a central role in the professional development of geography educators. If elected, my goal will be to expand and diversify NCGE’s membership by strengthening partnerships with state and national geography education organizations.


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Larianne Collins

Larianne Collins is a Lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A former high school geography teacher, she began her teaching career in 2001 spending seven years in the classroom teaching World Geography and AP Human Geography as well as two years as an Assistant Principal. She earned her PhD in Geography at the University of South Carolina in 2014 and served as the Education Programs Manager for the South Carolina Geographic Alliance for four years prior to joining the faculty at UNCC in 2018. She currently teaches courses in regional geography, human geography, spatial analysis, environmental hazards, and geography education.

Larianne has authored articles in the Journal of Geography, the Geography Teacher, International Research in Geographical Education, International Journal of Geospatial and Environmental Research, and Research in Geographic Education. She also co-authored the South Carolina State Standards for World Geography. She is currently working as the outside evaluator on a National Geographic Society grant entitled, “Bridging AP Human Geography and AP World History: Out of Eden Walk Fills the Gaps.”
Additionally, Larianne served as the Editorial Assistant for the Journal of Geography for six years and currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Geography. She is a National Geographic Certified Educator and a Reader for the AP Human Geography Exam. She has been honored as the recipient of three NCGE Awards: Women in Geography Education Award, Salvatore J. Natoli Dissertation Award, and Best Secondary Teaching Article in Journal of Geography Award.

I am excited about the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Council for Geographic Education. In my nearly twenty years in geography education, I have had the distinctive opportunity of teaching at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. This unique experience has developed in me a passion for teaching beyond my own traditional classroom in providing professional development for both pre-service and in-service teachers. One specific goal I have if elected to serve on the Board is to help build and sustain a much-needed avenue to better serve and involve pre-service teachers in the NCGE. Pre-service teachers across the United States largely do not receive adequate pedagogy in geography education. I will work to create opportunities that will better engage pre-service teachers in providing professional learning opportunities to improve their geography teaching practice. I would be honored to serve an organization that has been so instrumental in my own teaching career.

Thomas Barclay Larsen

Thomas Larsen is a Lecturer in the Department of Geography at Texas State University – San Marcos. Using the geographic perspective, I wish to increase people’s awareness of the lifeworlds they inhabit and Earth’s dynamic complexity. Working with the Missouri Geographic Alliance activated my inner topophile during undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The journey has led me to complete a Master of Arts (2016) and Doctor of Philosophy (2018) in Geography from Kansas State University. Having moved from the Kansas Flint Hills to Texas Hill Country, I currently serve as Lecturer for the Department of Geography at Texas State University. In research, teaching, and service, I garner inspiration from Kit Salter, who eloquently stated in 1995, “The more you know about your immediate world, the better you feel about your ability to engage it—to argue it—to modify it—to defend it—and even to leave it.” With those words in mind, I have a threefold research program: (1) a theoretical dimension exploring geographic thought’s contribution to human-environment relations, (2) an empirical dimension mapping the paths students take to learn geographic concepts, and (3) an applied dimension elevating geography’s relevance in K-12 and higher education. In teaching, I have developed online and in-person courses in physical geography, human geography, world regional geography, professional development in geography, and field-based learning. Outside of teaching and research, I conduct pre-service and in-service workshops around Texas and act as faculty adviser for Gamma Theta Upsilon’s Kappa Upsilon Chapter. Within San Marcos, TX, I advocate for sustainable, multi-modal transportation through an organization called MoveSM.

If elected to NCGE’s Board of Directors, I promise to contribute a positive, independent, and open-minded perspective. Three reasons drive my motivation to serve. First, I want to take an active role in discussions to innovate NCGE’s organizational structure. NCGE’s health represents a useful litmus test for the overall health of the geography education community. I would like to ensure NCGE’s sustainability extends beyond the twenty-first century. Second, I wish to broaden the diversity of NCGE’s membership. Specifically, I desire to increase membership and retention among students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Third, I want to identify pathways to enhance geography education’s impact as a realm of research. Past-AAG President Derek Alderman has challenged geographers to keep it REAL (Responsive, Engaged, Advocating, and Life-Improving). In an increasingly hot and crowded world, NCGE has an essential role to “keep it REAL” by advancing research that optimizes the public’s ability to make better environmental and societal decisions.

Katherine Nashleanas

I can literally say I have loved teaching all of my life; and the joy of my life began when I became a high school teacher. My plan was to remain a high school teacher forever; however, circumstances dictated my studies continue in geography, so my teaching has continued at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I teach freshman-level courses in Human Geography, Quality of the Environment, and Introduction to Economic Geography. My research interest is in Geographic Education, and I have been actively engaged in the Advanced Placement Human Geography program since 2008, where I always learn so much from the high school teachers I serve with. In 2018 I was presented with the NCGE Teacher of the Year Award for Higher Education.

Geography is a transformative discipline; it has the ability to change students in ways they often cannot even begin to imagine when they first enter the class. I love finding new and innovative ways to make geography meaningful, and I believe a solid geographic foundation is especially important for students today, as the social, political, and physical environments are changing so quickly around them. Geography helps students become more flexible, creative, and holistic thinkers as they face their future. By the same token, as the generations of student change it is important for us, as educators, to be open to new techniques and approaches as well as to find new ways to apply current approaches. (239)

The National Council for Geographic Education is the premier educational organization in the United States to inform, inspire, and provide thoughtful reflections on the quality of geographic education in our schools at all levels. It is a place for the meeting of the minds, for spirited dialog, for a sharing of innovative teaching techniques and methods, for thought-provoking explorations of geographic education, and a consistent statement of what geographic education at its best can be. It would be my honor to serve this organization and its members in all of its dimensions, to safeguard and strengthen its quality, and to help it remain the beacon of quality geographic education that we have come to depend on.

Kelly Swanson

Dr. Kelly Swanson has been involved in geography education for over 20 years. He has authored the Kaplan AP Human Geography Guide since 2008. Kelly’s advisory work has included being a geographic consultant for the Onion’s Our Dumb World. In addition, Kelly edited and is co-founder of GeoPolaris Publications, LLC producing Human Geography: A World of Interactions textbook. Kelly assisted in rewriting the Minnesota State Geography Standards in 2012 and has served on the National Assessment in Educational Progress Geography (NAEP) standing committee. He has traveled the world working on geography projects with teachers on several continents. In addition, he was on the Praxis Geography Standing Committee, and is currently the co-coordinator for the Minnesota Alliance for Geography Education (MAGE) which seeks to expand the quality and quantity of geography education around the state of Minnesota. Kelly completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota with an emphasis on geography assessment. He currently teaches university courses at the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. Kelly also teaches at Johnson Senior High School in the St. Paul Public School District. Dr. Swanson enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife Jolaine, and children Rebecca, Jake, and Zach.

I have been involved with NCGE since I first got involved with teaching almost a quarter of a century ago. My work with NCGE has included serving on the finance committee and participating in countless NCGE conferences. Serving on the board of directors for NCGE will allow me the opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me contacts, curriculum, and content. I am excited to be able to be a part of the leadership moving NCGE forward if elected.

Jonathan Wessell

Jonathan Wessell grew up in West Michigan and attended Central Michigan University as an undergraduate. He then received his MA in Geography from Western Michigan University in 1997 and started teaching university courses in 1998. In the past twenty-one years Jon has taught courses in Geography, History and Education. Jon also has a love of the outdoors and believes strongly in a “hands on” approach. Jon has assisted and led field courses to Yellowstone N.P. on three occasions. His thesis work on rail trails in West Michigan gained him recognition for writing and presentation at the 1997 annual AAG Conference. Having worked with the Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education Research through National Geographic in D.C. reviewing A Road Map for the 21st Century Geography Education, and serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Geography Education Specialty Group in the American Association of Geographers (AAG), Jon has created a large network of Geography Educators and is known for his hard work and great leadership in the professional realm. Jon started working on his PhD in Education in 2010 and is currently working on his dissertation. He was asked to be editor/author of two books in the Spring of 2019 related to Professional Development in Geography Education and Experiential Learning in Geography Education, two topics he has worked extensively with while serving the membership of the AAG. After being a Reader for the APHG Test, Jonathan also started an annual professional development day at the AAG Conference to assist APHG teachers around the country each year with a one-day inexpensive learning experience.

I would like to bring my dedication and hard-working attitude in the field of Geography Education to the NCGE. By serving on the board I feel it will benefit my professional development and allow me to assist others through promoting and strengthening the effectiveness of Geography educators here and abroad. I see myself serving the NCGE membership in some leadership role in the future.