14 Nov

Liz Lyon I Am Geo

I am Geography

For me, geography started with me sitting in the front seat of our family’s bubble gum pink VW bug thumbing through the atlas. Or maybe when my mom would pick my brother and I up from school and say she was taking us on a “destination unknown,” giving us clues along the way – and I would eagerly look out the window trying to recognize landmarks, organize them and figure out where we could be going. Or maybe it was when we moved halfway around the world to Kampala Uganda when I was 12 and I drew my first maps in Ms. McConnel’s geography class at Lincoln International School. In all reality, it was a combination that and many more that has me be geography.

Being geography is more than being able to recite landmark facts, or remembering the names of capitols and rivers. Being geography is a quest. A quest means you have to pack accordingly, arming yourself with provisions. You need to train and practice. And you need partners – whether they are folks working logistics or walking alongside of you or you are following in their footsteps.

In my case, I study geography and the social sciences, both formally and informally. With degrees from Augustana College, University of Illinois and George Mason University I have only scratched the surface of what I can learn. Joining the American Geographical Society connects me with all sorts of knowledgeable partners to help me train.

I practice geography as a professional geographer. I’ve worked for the federal government for over ten years, building technology, data, standards, and tradecraft in support of a myriad of decisions to make the world a better place. I’ve also worked as a geographer in local communities, mapping streets and stories.

I have found many great friends and partners in the world of geography to lead me, to walk side by side, and follow along with me. For over 5 years, I have co-organized GeoDC MeetUp and built into a group of over 2300 people! I treasure volunteering with friends and colleagues when we get to use our skills for positive impact and seeing those results in things like OpenStreetMap. And we celebrate together! I love because it lets EVERYONE get involved in Geography, and using geographic data to better understand the world around us.

My favorite geography moments are drawing maps with the children around me – they see things that I never see and find joy in the art and the science. Geography is a fun and engaging way to learn science, technology, art, engineering, and mathematics skills and knowledge. Have you ever gone out with kids and a drone and done a mapping mission? It is amazing what all can learn as you discover GPS, inertial navigation, and orthorectification, putting images and data together into a map.

I am geography because I never leave home with out a compass and the start of a map, as I’ll either be charting a new course or following a known path. I am geography, because I’m on a quest. To make the world a better place. I am geography, because making the world a better place means asking questions, seeking answers, learning, growing, discovering. I am geography to teach those who follow. I am geography means seeing what no one else may see – and bringing light to it.

Become a member of the AGS, and let us feature you as part of our “I AM GEOGRAPHY” campaign which will light the path for all of you closet geographers to get involved in making our world a better place through Geography.

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