Teaching Geography is Fundamental in North Dakota
Geography knowledge and geospatial skills are vital for North Dakota's K-12 students. Emergency response and recovery from flooding, rising energy costs, and the management of natural resources are just a few of the issues facing the state that require high school graduates to have a solid foundation in geography. In addition, the defense and security industries in North Dakota are currently looking for employees with geospatial
The North Dakota Geographic Alliance (NDGA) is a college-based, statewide partnership between professors and K-12 teachers. The Alliance provides educators with professional development, networking, model programs, and teaching materials. It promotes public awareness of the importance of geographic literacy and skills. Part of National Geographic's nationwide network of state Geographic Alliances, NDGA's programs teach students to care for the planet, its resources, and all of its inhabitants and prepare them to succeed as citizens in an increasingly global society.
The NDGA Board of Directors represents a broad interest in geography education in North Dakota. Along with educators and administrators,members include representatives from the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway, Valley City State University's Prairie Waters Education & Research Center, Corporate Adventures, Flood Protection Task Force, as well as an Author, Graduate Director of the Department of Geography at University of North Dakota, Assistant Professor of GIS and GIS Program Coordinator at Bismarck State College, and Geography Professor at Minot State University.
The NDGA & Public Engagement
Supporting geo-literacy for all North Dakotans
- The Giant Map of North America was hosted at Minot State University
for college students, pre-service teachers, professors and the local
community. Teachers that made introductions and presentations
about the map assisted with the event. The map also traveled to Minot
and area schools that involved approximately 80 educators.
- NDGA had a booth at the State Library for Summer Reading Kick-off.
- NDGA honored a Friend of Geography and Geography Teacher of the
Year. The awards are given for outstanding participation and support
of geography education. NDGA also issued a press release for the
NCGE Outstanding Support for Geographic Education Award.
- The Alliance disseminated materials, information about upcoming
events, and news and current trends in geography education via a listserv
and the Alliance's Facebook page to more than 350 educators and
other individuals interested in geography education. In addition, the
Dakota Alliance Newsletter is published and mailed to each member
4 times a year.
The NDGA & Teacher Professional Development
Building skills for the modern geography classroom
- NDGA co-hosted the Technology Techniques for Teaching Workshops, to
train K-12 educators in various science, math, geography, and art teaching
methods using technology. NDGA was joined by five state agencies for this
event, which not only trained teachers but also initiated discussions on how
to incorporate technology into the classroom more effectively.
NDGA hosted a Summer Institute in Valley City for approximately 30
teachers entitled Water Waits for No Man (Or Woman Either!)--Physical
Geography. The purposes of the course were to observe and study the Sheyenne River Basin, attend lectures given by state and local experts on regional and statewide water issues as well as present and future plans related to water conservation. Past Institutes, with various themes, have been held in
Bismarck, Fargo, Langdon, and Williston.
- NDGA organized a bus tour that took 20 teachers to the Souris River Basin
to observe production, processing and marketing in the agricultural industry.
By integrating physical geography concepts with human needs, the scope and
impact of geography was made more apparent and teachers were given an
experience that they could transfer into the classroom setting in a variety of
- NDGA hosted a four-day venture entitled GeoFIT (Forestry Institute for
Teachers). The bus tour took 37 teachers on an intensive and interactive
learning experience beginning in the Turtle Mountains with the geology
of North Dakota. Flooding issues around Devils Lake and Sully's Hill were
examples of the interconnection between humans and geography that was
The NDGA & Public Policy
Transforming state education
- An alliance member was appointed to be part of the ND Studies Project
Committee, which is a three-year plan to develop and implement a new
Grade 8 social studies curriculum. The same member was also appointed to
the Advisory Board of the ND Teacher Center Network, which provides an
educational link between educators, schools, universities, and others.
- A state representative attended a NDGA Strategic Planning meeting.
- The President of the ND School Boards Association attended the Annual
- NDGA spoke to the ND Department of Public Instruction State
Superintendent of Schools and the Standards and Achievement Director
to express a desire to include geography