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 technology skills.

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
    ways.

  • 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
    explored.

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 meeting.

  • 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