UA Cossatot students Dusty Kesterson and Kinley Wright, along with UA Cossatot agriculture faculty, Kelli Harris, will be in the nation’s Capitol Oct. 22-25 attending the 26th National ATE Principal Investigators' Conference. Wright and Kesterson were selected to present information about their GIS (Geographic Information System) projects in agriculture at the conference.
This conference is held by the American Association of Community Colleges, with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. The conference is by invitation only and will bring together NSF ATE grantees and their project partners to focus on issues related to advanced technological education. Conference attendees represent community colleges, industry, secondary education, and 4-year colleges covering projects in a variety of areas, such as information technology, nanotechnologies, biotechnology, and more.
UA Cossatot has been a part of an NSF ATE grant called OPENGATE (Opening Pathways to Employment through Nontraditional Geospatial Applications in Technical Education) for the past three years. This grant is a collaboration between four community colleges in the University of Arkansas system with the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, or CAST, serving as a technical resource. The goal of this grant is to increase access to education in location-based technologies to prepare students for employment in a wide variety of industries. As part of the grant, GIS technology and training has been integrated into the curriculum of the agriculture program at UA Cossatot.
Kelli Harris was able to nominate two students from UA Cossatot to apply to attend the conference. Kesterson and Wright were involved in numerous GIS projects in their agriculture classes at UA Cossatot. Both students have also attended and presented at the ArcGIS Users’ Forum in Little Rock, and Wright attended additional training provided by Hanna Ford and Malcom Williamson from CAST this summer. After being nominated by Harris, the students submitted an application with the OPENGATE team. Only two students from all of the community colleges participating in the grant would be selected to apply to represent OPENGATE at the 2019 ATE conference in Washington, D.C., and Kesterson and Wright made it through both rounds of the selection process.
At the conference, the students will present a poster about their projects. This will allow them to highlight their program of study and the opportunities to use GIS technology in agriculture. On Oct. 25, Kesterson and Wright will be recognized by the National Science Foundation for their achievement in ATE programs.
Kesterson's poster is about a project created in his Natural Resources class using a Survey123 app called "Naturally Fun in Sevier County". The app collects data about recreational activities that involve natural resources in Sevier County. Data was collected about the location of hiking trails, boat ramps, swim beaches, public hunting areas, and much more. Kesterson's poster will show how the data was collected and analyzed. The Natural Resources class is also developing a partnership with the Sevier County Economic Development Commission to use the data collected to help promote tourism in Sevier County.
Wright's poster will describe a Survey123 app she developed called “Just Show It” that collects information from livestock exhibitors about their awards. The data can be used by livestock exhibitors, agricultural teachers, and 4-H leaders to organize, analyze, and display that information.
Harris said, “I am very excited about the opportunity these students have to visit Washington D.C. and represent UA Cossatot at the ATE Conference. They have worked very hard on their projects and I know they will make us proud.”