What is your GIS story?

This page contains stories from several people about how they became interested in geospatial technologies.  Submit your story!


Jim GiglieranoWisconsin Geographic Information Officer

Kathie Pfaffle - Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Organization

GIS was a requirement of my undergraduate degree at UNL. My class began in January of 2011, and within about a month, I knew that GIS was what I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to secure an internship at the Nebraska Forest Service that first semester, and shortly thereafter began my Master's at UNL for GIS and Remote Sensing. I have been working full-time in GIS since May of 2013.

Daniel Betts - Betts Geospatial Corporation

"I got started on this world of GIS while at Drake University studying for my BS in Earth Sci and Geog under Dr Wallace Akin. I was there when the likes of Kevin Kane and A J Mumm set up the GIS lab in the Pharmacy lab (late 80's early 90's). I then took a path in support of R&D at the USGS and JPL in the use of Hyperspectral Remote Sensing working with the makers of ENVI Image Analysis software at the U of Colorado Boulder ......and while also working full time with Dr Roger Clark head of the USGS Speclab in Golden CO. This Research lead to a MS GeoSci and It wasn't till after Graduating in the late 90's that I really started building a focus on the ESRI GIS Stack. Most work and training came on the fly and continues to this day. I have gone through a wide array of projects and Federal, State, and large UTILITY and Transportation projects of late. But I have worked on Emergency Response with the Red Cross and FEMA during Katrina and Rita Hurricane Response, I have worked on Unexploded Ordinance Mapping, and DOD projects in Cleared Environments, and Transportation GIS Enterprise Systems, as well as, worked into projects at NASA. I am pursuing training on the fly and interviewing while I pause virtual work online. I am constantly interviewing and training and planning my own path, as well as, trying to focus on the path forward in where the skills and needs are the greatest and where the trends in Mobile and Native Web Services and Applications are heading. GIS IT consulting..... really becomes the art of letting go of one trapeze and grabbing another with no net. This is an adventure in many ways of leaving training and focus that brought you through in the past and grasping the new challenges and directions that lay ahead.....that require learning all new skills. I am working currently on the JS API and HTML5 and mobile apps in my training ......and staying hungry and healthy are my greatest assets. Well that and my faith ......"

Rick Havel - Johnson County, Iowa GIS

I started out as a broadcast major at Northwest Missouri State University in 1986. During my first semester I took Introduction to Geography with Dr. Don Hagan. By the end of the semester I changed my major to Geography. In 1991 I started graduate school at Missouri State University. It is there I got more exposed to GIS while pursuing a master’s degree in Resource Planning. Working with Arc/INFO 5.0 on a mainframe workstation using Arc Macro Language (AML), was how I was introduced to the field I am still involved in today. My first job was GIS Technician for the regional planning center located on the Mo. St. campus. After that I worked for the EPA in Kansas City, Kansas as a GIS Analyst for six years. In 2001 I became GIS Coordinator for Johnson County, Iowa. I love sharing GIS with others and truly believe as our resources become more scarce, our infrastructure continues to degrade, and population increases, it will be even more depended upon to manage our world.

Joshua Sales - Meskwaki Nation/Sac & Fox Tribe

I initially pursued GIS/GPS as a career in 2002, after graduating from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Anthropology uncertain which jobs were truly available. As a volunteer at the McBride Raptor Center, from 1997-2004, I developed a strong aesthetic for nature, topography and environmental studies which ultimately led to an active pursuit of GIS at Kirkwood Community College for the A.S. program. My first map, and nearly all of my GIS projects were oriented around mapping my childhood woods & the wildlife at the Iowa City Peninsula. At the conclusion of the program I immediately moved to Texas and entered the M.S. program in Applied Geography at the University of North Texas. From there I found myself writing a thesis using GIS to study wildlife, landed an internship at Denton County for 2 years, my first job as a GIS Specialist for a Cultural Resources Firm that integrated my original education in Anthropology. Since then I have for an environmental consulting firm, a small county government in Iowa, and now the Meskwaki Nation/Sac & Fox Tribe who desired a candidate with a background both in Anthropology & Geography. For the past 3 years I have been able to work on numerous projects supporting multiple departments, and part of influential projects shaping the Tribe's pursuit of sovereignty & success.

Joel Rohne - Worth County, Iowa

I was working for a company called DTN in the 90's. I was in the weather division and we were called in to consult with Disney World. We visited the "Command Center" and I was blown away by the system they had to track data by location across all of the parks. Everything from garbage produced to mickey hats sold was all geographically referenced. They wanted us to provide several weather layers for their GIS system. Really demonstrated the power of GIS to me and I was hooked.

Nate Pollock - Alliant Energy

I was pursuing a career in Architecture and doing design in AutoCAD when I began a job at Iowa Electric to draw maps in an "old cad system" - CableCAD. That is when I discovered what GIS was and how it worked. I am always amazed at how our tools can allow us to change how we dispay our data to see a another aspect of our world.

Laurie Jackson - Jasper County, Iowa

I left The Coca-Cola Company after almost 11 years of being an administrative specialist because I wanted to do something with computers. I returned to school full-time in the fall of 1998 to work in CIS/MIS. While taking a geology course my professor noticed my problem solving and inquisitive nature. He called me to his office to let me know that based on those two qualities he wanted me to take a course in GIS. He said I would be a good fit for it and it for me and proceeded to tell me it would change my major. I totally disagreed because I knew what I wanted to do. I took the first course in Spring 1999 using MapInfo and fell in love with GIS. It did indeed fit me and my way of thinking as it all fit so well with my thought process. I moved in Kansas from Georgia to live with my parents, raise my twin daughter and finish my degree. I transferred to Highland Community College and finished my AA degree in Geology and transferred to Kansas State to get my GIS/Geography degree. I had a professor say that there are lots of "closet geographers" and if you loved the weather channel, looking at maps and liked movies about natural disasters then you were probably one of them. I had found my calling to be a geographer/GIS professional! I fit every category that makes a person a good fit with GIS (i.e., problem solving, quest for challenges, need to know more, need to not be bored and excitement for constant changes). I had a job in GIS before I graduated in May 2007 and have been consistently employed in the GIS field since. I have worked in city goverment, the private sector that works with governments, and now the county government. I get so excited when I see someone's eyes light up about GIS and new projects that are happening. I don't think people get the true picture of how valuable GIS really is for all walks of life. I hope I can pass this energy and enthusiasm on to some of the schools in my county.

Evan Koester - City of Waukee, Iowa

My introduction to GIS was in Lancaster, England during a study abroad year. The first project I remember used network analyst to find the shortest route between your residence (starting point), campus watering holes (that's England for you), and back home (end point). I've been a map guy ever since.

Jeremy Butrick - Harrison County, Iowa

I was in my second year at Northwest Missouri State University as a Computer Science major. I was basically sick of writing and debugging code and wanted to do more with computers. I started looking at alternatives including graphic design, but one semester with the "Geo-Evangelist" Dr. Don Hagan in Intro. to Geography sealed my fate. I completed my B.S. in Geography with minors in Geology and Comp. Sci. Dr. Hagan was instrumental in getting me to complete a minor in Comp. Sci. since I was so far into it.

I then went on to Murray State University in Murray, KY and received a M.S. in Geography with an emphasis in GIS and Remote Sensing, more so Remote Sensing. That program was geared more around image analysis than actual GIS applications. I worked part-time for the Calloway County PVA, which is comparable to an Assessor’s office performing parcel updates. You haven’t lived until you read a legal description that references “…to where the cow now stands.” Overall, this was a great experience and I made many great friends. One of which pointed me to a job in her hometown of Little Rock, AR.

My first real GIS job was with Little Rock Wastewater Utility in Little Rock, AR. Essentially, I spent 8 years developing custom AML, Avenue and VBA applications to map out sewer mains with criteria extracted out of an Oracle database. Naturally, I was ready for a change and wanted to move back closer to family. I ended up in Harrison County, IA and now get to work on diverse projects for Conservation, Econ. Development, Law Enforcement, E911/Emergency Management, etc… I get to work with local communities and organizations and get to be involved with regional GIS efforts as well. I have even given a few presentations to local organizations, which really isn’t my thing. However, I do it willingly for those who can collate my Misskentarkian accent.

Carrie Schlichtmann - Alliant Energy

At University of Northern Iowa, I started out as a biology major after being undecided for a year. My then boyfriend(now husband) and fellow GIS geek, introduced me to geography department. I graduated from UNI with a degree in geography and an interest in GIS. I have been at Alliant Energy ever since, working in the GIS department.

Cody Barrett - Warren County Iowa

I was eight years old when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida back in '92. I remember sitting in my living room while living in Texas and witnessing the raw power a hurricane can produce. The track maps showing the location, wind-speed, pressure and strike probabilities and imagining the type of destruction that was bound to occur was fascinating to me(morbid, I know). This was the moment in my life I was introduced to Jim Cantore and John Hope. These two names became ingrained in my head and I will never forget their coverage of major weather events.

Ten years later I began at Arizona State University as a (Physical)Geography major. I soon met the great Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr. who is one of my mentors and he said to me that if I ever wanted to do anything in climatology or meteorology...or life, you need to learn Geographic Information Systems...say what?!

Ever since then, I never looked back. After graduating with a B.S. in Geography and a GIS Certificate from ASU, I've held GIS positions in both public and private organizations that has enabled me to develop a versatile knowledge of applications for GIS. I'm thankful to be in the position I'm in today, and I hope to mentor others who want to learn more about GIS.

Jay Geisen - University of Iowa Facilities

I first became aware of GIS while taking undergraduate geography classes at The University of Iowa in 1995. I think it was Hong Jiang who first exposed me to the wonders of GIS. I went on to take numerous classes in GIS at the UI and graduated with a BS in Geography in '99. I've been employed in the field ever since; first at Alliant Energy, then Johnson County and now The University of Iowa. I've also had the pleasure of giving presentations at my daughter's elementary school. I've always loved working with and just looking at maps, but to see the enthusiasm in the faces of the next generation of geographers is a real treat and serves to remind me how fortunate I am to be able to go into work every day and do something I truly enjoy.

John DeGroote - University of Northern Iowa - GeoTREE Center

I studied Geography with an Environmental Studies emphasis at the University of Iowa but long enough ago that GIS was not big yet. As a matter of fact I took GIS and we never really used a computer! A couple years later after not working in jobs related to my degree, I went back and took a couple GIS/Remote Sensing classes at UNI and then did two GIS-related internships. One was an Americorps internship at a National Audubon Society nature sanctuary in Florida while the other was with the Student Conservation Association at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. These were both great opportunities to use GIS but also see it applied in different ways including vegetation mapping, archaeological studies, wildfire mapping, and water quality monitoring.

Learning GIS and a little programming provided me with a tangible skillset which helped me in the rest of my career. The great thing about GIS (and Geography) is that it is important across so many disciplines and organizations. Working at a University provides opportunities to work with faculty and staff from across campus including biology, public health, sociology, STEM, facilities planning, and others.

GIS and related technologies are powerful tools that can address many issues and having a good background in these technologies opens up a lot of possibilities to explore patterns and relationships in the world.

Joe Artz -  EarthView Environmental, Coralville, IA

In the late 1990s, at the University of Iowa's Office of the State Archaeologist, we had been aware of GIS for several years, and knew it held great promise for mapping and studying archaeological sites in Iowa. But no one had gotten around to doing anything about it, despite the fact that, just six block from our office, the Iowa Geological Survey had a well-established GIS program, and was at work -- "obsessively, relentlessly" -- on what was to become the Natural Resources GIS Library.

Finally, at a staff meeting on a day in 1998, Bill Green, then the State Archaeologist, said, "Someone, I don't care who, take some data, I don't care what, over to the Geological Survey and have them turn it into a GIS." I'd always liked maps and geography, I'd always thought of archaeological sites, not as places to excavate, but as places on a landscape where ancient people lived and worked, among which they traveled.

At the time, we had information over 10,000 archaeological sites in an Access database. I asked Tim Weitzel, our site records person, to generate a list of the township, range, and section of every known Native American burial mounds in the state. I walked to the Survey with the list on a 3.25" disk. There, John Schmidt used a DOS-level program he'd written to transform my PLSS data into a point coverage in UTM Zone 15. The next day – the program took a while to set up and run -- I was sitting with Bernie Hoyer, then director of the Survey's GIS program, looking at a statewide distribution of burial mounds in ArcView (version 3 had just come out).

A couple hours after I'd left, I walked into Bill Green's office with all the burial mounds of Iowa plotted on a 24 x 36 in poster with counties, rivers, and towns. We marveled at it for a while, and then he fetched from the archives the last map ever made of all Iowa's mounds, done in the 1940s by Charles Keyes. My ego dropped a notch or two. It looked pretty much exactly like my map.

I quickly recovered because John Doershuk, head of OSA's contracts program, came up with a hundred bucks to buy us an academic license for ArcView 3.0. And that did it. At a time in my life when I was due for a mid-life crisis, a $100 ArcView license saved me the expense of a little red sports car.

GIS captured my heart because it engaged all aspects of my archaeological interests. Not just making maps, but also -- and more importantly -- compiling data about places and visualizing then analyzing their spatial distribution. From the outset – possibly because I’d started out with a floppy disk of PLSS data – I understood that GIS was primarily a relational database management system, not a map making program, and that did a lot to soften the brutal learning curve for which ESRI products are so well-known. I taught myself ArcView by coming into the office at 5:30, and taught myself GIS by attending conferences, learning what others were doing from their presentations, workshops, and conversations over banquet luncheons and afterward in the bars. I learned from conferences and my own experience, that GIS is an insidious technology – that there was (and remains) little in my daily workflow that doesn’t eventually lead me to an Arc icon on my computer’s task bar.

Eventually, I even learned why, in that first archaeological dataset I took to the Survey, all my burial mounds with null values for PLSS plotted out on the equator, not far from the Galapagos Islands. A secret family cemetery for the Branstad clan? No, the 0, 0 point for Zone 15N in the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system.

Adam Gebhart - Johnson County, Iowa GIS

I was introduced to GIS my freshman year ('99-'00) at the University of Iowa in an Introduction to Environmental Science course. This led me to the Geography Department and the following semester I took my first GIS course. I always had an interest in maps and how they are used to present information, and as boring as the lectures were, once I started using ArcView I knew GIS was going to be my focus.

Since graduating in 2003, I have worked for Johnson County in the Auditor's Office (Map Delineator/GIS Technician) or IT (GIS Analyst) for better than 10 years. I have had the opportunity to work on parcel and PLSS data, (in-house) Johnson County Plat Books, manage the Census data used in the 2011 reprecincting process, and most recently, maintain existing and develop new GIS web applications for the county.

And after these 10 years, my family still has no idea what I actually do. My wife tells people I print maps that I like; my parents can't even say my job title; and my closest friends like to ask me "What color did you make China today?" At this point I've given up on trying to explain my title and responsibilities and just say "I make maps."

Mike Liska - HR Green

My journey started with GIS when I was a senior at Washington High School in Washington, Iowa in 2003. My Ag teacher brought in a professor from Kirkwood Community College to give us a glimpse of GPS technology and how it is being used in Agriculture. Once I was realized the possibilities that this career could take me I was hooked. I enrolled at Kirkwood in the GPS/GIS Technology field with Terry Brase as my Professor. My first Map/Project was to Map the Washington Country Club Golf Course. I have gained a BS degree in Information Systems and Geographical Information Systems at American Sentinel University. I have held jobs at a Co-op in Nebraska working with farmers and for a Rural Water District in Iowa mapping all of their infrastructure and getting it into GIS. Currently I work for a Consulting firm where I use GIS for projects in Transportation, Environmental, Governmental Services, and Water and Waster Water. As a GIS User and Advisor, I believe the opportunities and benefits of GIS are endless.

Cherese Sexe - Humboldt County E911

I was first introduced to GIS in August 2005 when we installed our 911 mapping software. I loved manipulating and playing with the data. It was so much fun!! In December 2005 on a bitterly cold evening my community had an Alzheimer’s patient walk away from a local care facility. Our local emergency responders called in Search and Rescue personnel who kept asking if we had maps or any other GIS data; my county basically had nothing except some paper maps from our secondary roads department; I decided that night that the next time calamity ensued we would be better prepared, so I started taking classes, and downloading data, and preparing—and I have loved every minute of it.

Michelle Fields - Greene County, Iowa

What started as just a part time job in college turned into a career. During my last 2 months of college earning a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, I worked in the Agronomy Building at ISU during the final stages of digitizing the paper soils books. The job was removing vector anomalies to the lines and attributing both them and the spot codes. I didn't really understand what I was doing so when people asked me what my job was I told them "I make lines straight." When that was complete we moved on to creating maps of hydric soil code maps on transparencies for the wetlands delineation project. Those were the first maps I made, in dos-based AtlasGIS. But with only 99 counties, I was soon out of a job. My boss at ISU, Bob Mortensen, also owned a private mapping company that was just starting to expand. It was called ProMap Corporation. The whole GIS thing finally clicked in my head then; it's potential, it's way of making data interesting and all the cool people who dig it too. I stayed with them until 1998 when I started working in the office of the short-lived State GIS Coordinator under Ann Peton. After a couple of years, I transferred to the DOT in Ames working as the GIS coordinator in the Office of Location and Environment. I really enjoyed using ArcGIS to route and reroute and then maybe reroute again potential new roads so that they made minimal impact on our natural, cultural and historic resources. When the opportunity came to work closer to home 8 years later, I started as the IT Manager, GIS Coordinator and Drainage Clerk in Greene County where I am today.

Debbie E. Stevens - William Penn University & Indian Hills Community College

4H initiated me into the geospatial world! I agreed to be the adult leader of the Mahaska County Tech Team, learned to navigate and collect data with hand-held GPS units, then wrote for a grant from ESRI for the ESRI/National 4H GPS/GIS Tech Team. We received the grant and software and GIS books and tech support - and then a student and I attended the ESRI International Users Conference. I was hooked. About the same time I researched geomapping for a grant to Wellmark for Marion County Public Health. Pieces started falling together. At one point, I was facilitating geospatial activities for about 1500 youth and adults a year for Extension Outreach. Our tech team expanded to include the Southeast Iowa area. Many volunteer mapping projects were conducted by our team and the Central Iowa Tech Team.

Less than two years later, Indian Hills Community College asked if I could develop the courses and teach in a geospatial degree program. We offered the first classes in fall of 2009; Brian Knudtson, Mahaska County GIS Coordinator, is the co-instructor in the program. William Penn University asked for an Intro to GIS course, and we are now developing a second course. Working through Penn, I was able to spend four weeks in Rwanda in 2011 and 2012, teaching GIS workshops to students and faculty at the Institute of Agriculture, Technology, and Education in Kibungo.

Currently, I am finishing up requirements for a Remote Sensing training delivered and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NASA, USGS, and National Geographic. The applications of GIS are so encompassing and exciting, I hope to be involved with geospatial technology for many years to come.

Kirk Webb - Jefferson Co., Kansas

I graduated with a degree in Forest Resource Management from Iowa State in 1997. During my senior year at ISU I took a photogrammetry class. This class taught aerial photo interpretation, digitizing with Arc/INFO workstation and other general aspects of GIS and cartography. I got really interested in it and was fascinated by aerial photos. Being able to see objects and analyze them from a bird’s eye view was pretty interesting to me.

After graduation I went to work in East Texas for a private forestry consulting firm that did a lot of timber appraisal. In this job I had to use a lot of aerial photos and make field maps by simply pacing out a tract of land to determine the value of the timber. I found this to be more interesting than the actual forestry aspect of my job.

After moving back to Iowa I got a job with the Adam’s County, Iowa Conservation District working in a USDA Service Center. I got this job based on my experience with GIS and cartography. I’d help the state and federal staff in this center understand ArcGIS software and make maps for farm plans. It wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to dive into a full-time career in GIS. I decided to enroll in the GIS Masters program at Northwest Missouri State University. I obtained a GIS certificate from NWMSU and started working in contract jobs for the Army Corps. Of Engineers and Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, NE. During this period I saw that programming was a very important aspect of GIS and figured that to stay competitive I had to gain experience in .net, Python, javascript and any other languages or platforms that became prominent in GIS. In 2010 I was offered a 2 year job working as a GIS Analyst on the Missouri Legislative Redistricting Project. I had never worked in a political realm so I thought it would be a great learning experience. In this project I provided technical advice on mapping but also developed the web mapping presence using FLEX for the redistricting project. I found out that programming for the web was really rewarding in that large numbers of people could see the maps I created and gather useful information.

After the project was finished I was offered a job in Jefferson County, Kansas to be a GIS Specialist. It has been great to work here because we have an ESRI ELA and I get to work with the whole suite of ESRI products doing database administration, web programming, desktop app. development and working with the public and county departments for their data needs.
It has been an interesting journey. When I started at ISU I never thought I would end up in GIS but looking back I am very glad I took the route I did.

Sam Parker - Region XII Council of Governments

My first experience with GIS was the summer of 2009 was when I took an online elective course for Community and Regional Planning at Iowa State, CRP 451, which was taught by Chris Seeger.

I was loosely aware of the spatial mapping components, as I had long been familiar with future land use and mixed-use development plans, but what really excited me about GIS was its ability to store unlimited amounts of data, allowing for very advanced research to connect to specific geographic boundaries. The first map I made was for that class I believe had something to do with selecting locations based on attributes in Pittsburgh.

Today I am using maps primarily to assist our local governments in West Central Iowa update and store data on infrastructure, zoning, special projects, and economic development. I am also trying to advance GIS data management into localities that are only slightly aware of its capabilities.

Anna Whipple - City of Des Moines

As a physics major at St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN), I spent summers working on a glaciology research team under Dr. Robert Jacobel. We mapped the ice strata and bedrock of South Cascade Glacier in northern Washington using GPS and ice-penetrating radar pulled on a sled by a three-person team. The research also entailed using the same radar system (pulled by snowmobiles) and satellite imagery to study the variability of ice streams flowing into the Ross Ice Shelf from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This experience introduced me to the impacts of climate change and the disciplines of remote sensing, image processing, and programming. I decided to go on to graduate studies in environmental remote sensing and spatial information systems at UW-Madison though I admit it was mostly an excuse to move to Madison! During school, I worked as a project assistant in the Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office, which serves as a clearinghouse for geospatial activities around the state.

After grad school, I went to work as a GIS Analyst for Patrick Engineering headquartered in Lisle, IL and serving a diverse clientele of public agencies in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. This experience gave me insight into the business of local governments, highway departments, and transportation authorities especially, and I honed my GIS skills. My favorite project was teaching myself ArcObjects and .NET and creating a data QA tool for transportation engineers overseeing a detailed inventory of every railroad crossing in Illinois.

In 2004, my husband and I relocated to Des Moines so he could start law school at Drake University. I was fortunate to be hired into the new GIS Coordinator position at the City of West Des Moines.

In 2008, I joined the City of Des Moines as GIS Manager. At that time, the City was reorganizing its enterprise GIS services and launching the Des Moines Area Regional GIS. My professional focus shifted from doing hands-on GIS to building and supporting a great GIS team and forming collaborative interagency and interdepartmental relationships. I have also been able to keep a connection to my environmental interests by supporting the City’s sustainability efforts. I love living in Des Moines, and there seems to be no shortage of challenges in city government that can be addressed with GIS.

Adam Skibbe - University of Iowa

My initial foray into the world of maps and GIS was a spin-off of my undergraduate research and interests in Archaeology here at The University of Iowa. During my junior and senior years I was involved with a research project, turned honors thesis, with Dr. Mary Whelan. She wasn't my official advisor but did effectively serve in that capacity for me. Mary had a huge collection of artifacts from a site in Louisa County, the Gast Farm site, which she needed analyzed. During my work on analyzing the lithics from this site I was mapping, essentially, density of tools… by hand. Mary herself happened to be getting very excited about GIS at that time and showed me some maps she had done in Surfer.

Around the same time I sought advice about continuing my academic work in, at least my plan at the time, geoarchaeology. I turned to resident UI seasoned pro Art Bettis who told me something to the effect of… paraphrase here… “… to make money doing this you need a PhD in Soils, Archaeology, or to be good at GIS.”. So, obviously the low-hanging-fruit here was quite appealing. Between the advice of these two I started in on the GIS coursework during my senior year. I ended up so interested in GIS, regardless of its fit to archaeology, that I shifted my academic and career approach to focus on the tools as my primary focus.

The end.

Matt Boeck - Story County, Iowa

I was majoring in Community and Regional Planning at Iowa State University and wanted to gain some GIS experience to get a great planning job somewhere. I got an internship at PMC, ProMap Corporation in Ames and I quickly realized that I wanted GIS to be my career instead. I spent over five years there before becoming the GIS/IT Coordinator at Mahaska County. That was a great experience to wear both the GIS and IT hats for county government. After a few years there I headed back to Ames and became the GIS Coordinator for Story County. It is interesting to look back at how the GIS industry has changed since starting my career almost 17 years ago.

Ryan Ness - City of Grinnell

I showed up at Northwest Missouri State University without a plan but Dr. Don Hagan changed all of that when he helped me register for classes that fall. I quickly became a geography major with a history minor. I was instantly hooked and wound up with an internship with Midland GIS Soultions while I finished school. While at Northwest I also presented at an AAG annual meeting with some friends. The faculty created lots of opportunities and I was quick to take advantage. I stepped away from GIS to work fraud investigation for Verizon but jumped at the chance to work at the City of Grinnell. I'm fortunate to work with Grinnell College students on community projects and it's a blast to watch them develop their spatial perspective.

 Muhammad Mohsin Raza - Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Hailing from a rural family, it was my keen desire to work for my community therefor, I joined University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan one of the prestigious institution for agricultural studies in my country. In 2011, I took a course on Plant Disease Epidemiology where I come to know the latest trends in plant disease studies that how geographical information tools are being used to monitor the spatiotemporal pattern of plant diseases. The science really influenced me and developed my interests in the application of geospatial tools especially GIS in plant pathology with an intellectual curiosity to learn latest trends of these tools in disease modeling. Due to lack of technology and resources, I couldn’t conduct my M.Sc. research using geospatial tools and I just accomplished the traditional modeling aspects, but my interests reinforced me to use this technology in my PhD from a country which is leading in this science. Thus, I prepared myself for Fulbright scholarship to fulfill my dream and also planned a proposal on modern tendencies of geographical information tools in agriculture to monitor crop diseases on spatiotemporal scales. Luckily I won Fulbright award for PhD and got placed at Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University of Science and Technology. I joined the department in August 2015 and enthusiastic to work on my proposal.