April 2017 GeoMentor Spotlight:
John Nerge: GIS Coordinator for the City of Brooklyn Park, MN
What was your favorite class in K-12? My favorite subject in school was English, and I was planning to major in it. But then my first college course was Intro to Human Geography. I connected with the way the professor talked about the world because it was the same way that I think about and understand it. I realized I was a geographer, and I switched my major right away.
How did you first learn about and/or use GIS? I took an Intro to GIS course as part of my major in Geography. At the end of the course, I was generally confused, didn’t like GIS, and swore it off for life. Then I took an Advanced GIS course and got to do more than just pick colors and north arrows. By the end of the course, I understood how powerful the technology is. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Name one thing you love about GIS and/or geography (I know, just one!): I love putting someone’s business data on a map for the first time. It creates such a wow factor and makes them instantly understand the power of location.
Why did you want to volunteer as a GeoMentor? I’m in the public sector because I want to use my skills to make local government more responsive and improve people’s quality of life. Being a GeoMentor is a natural extension of that calling, and I think it’s a great way to practice my civic duty and spread the use of GIS.
What kind of GeoMentor volunteer opportunity and experience are you looking for? I’ve mainly been working with K-12 schools and teachers. I don’t think enough people, especially students, know that GIS exists. I want to show them that it’s readily accessible to them and that you can make using GIS a career.
If someone asked you why they should learn about GIS and/or geography, how would you respond in one sentence? Everyone inherently understands geography, and if you learn how to actively apply that understanding using GIS, there’s no telling how far you can go.
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