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Campus News

GIS Crew to Create Maps for Local Non-Profits

by Indy Srinath, staff writer

The Graphic Information Systems crew is going from making maps to putting themselves on the map this semester.

The crew might be small, but they are making big changes in the community. Typically, the GIS crew consists of two to three Environmental Science or Global Studies majors who hang out on the third floor of Morse, assisting students who want to map out mushrooms or trails or just need help navigating the software.

When local organizations need help with making maps but are lacking in resources or software, the GIS crew gladly steps in and helps–for free.

They consider helping the community through service to be an integral part of their work at Warren Wilson.

Crew supervisor and Global Studies Professor David Abernathy says of his crew: “I feel as though we really work hard to make service a part of our work, we make sure to integrate the concept of the triad directly into our work, and it really makes a difference.”

In the past, the GIS crew has worked with the NC Progress Portal as well as Blue Ridge Forever making interactive maps for their websites.

In 2009, they mapped all of the open ‘green spaces’ (open land) in Buncombe County as a part of the Year of the Parks celebration.

They are also hoping to do work with Manna Food Bank in order to help them map their pick up and drop off locations.

This semester they are mapping out an even bigger project. David Abernathy hopes to help the non-profit Lord’s Acre in Fairview. They are an organization that grows organic local food for donation purposes. He wants the project to unfold as a collaborative effort between his Global Political Economy class, his Introduction to Global Studies class, as well as the GIS crew.

They will be working to help Lord’s Acre locate fertile land, pinpoint pickup and dropoff locations for the food, as well as getting their hands dirty with a trip to Lord’s Acre.

“I really hope this comes together well. The students should really get a feel for how GIS has a practical application, not just at Warren Wilson, but also in the community,” Abernathy said.

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