MAGIP Scholarship and Grants Committee 2023 Annual Report
Committee Chair: Rob Ahl
For the Scholarship and Grants Committee and their nominees, the year 2023 was both extraordinary and innovative. First, we awarded scholarships to students on both sides of the continental divide, at The University of Montana and Montana State University, and second we had the pleasure of awarding more K-12 education grants than we have in the past five years. And lastly, in the theme of this year’s Big Sky Geocon “Common Ground - Building Connections with GIS” we are promoting collaboration between two of our education grantees and in-kind contributions from our friends at The University of Montana Autonomous Aerial Systems Office (AASO). In that joint venture, AASO will provide the use of a specifically designed unmanned aerial system, remote pilots and data processing that will yield ortho-mosaic muti-band imagery and other derivatives to be used in a joint vegetation mapping project on state lands adjacent to the Belgrade High School. Together, students from Sentinel High School in Missoula and Belgrade High school will design a system to accomplish their goals, participate in the flights, learn about data processing, collect reference data, and produce a classified vegetation map that state land managers can use. This is a novel approach to how we allocate education grants and we are excited about implementing it. A third school, the DeSmet School is a Title One school that serves students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in Missoula County, will involve their middle school students in a “River of Life” program developed by Trout Unlimited, in learning about and gathering spatial data on trout habitat in the Clark Fork River.
K-12 Education Grants
Sarah Tabor and the Belgrade High School in Belgrade
Sarah Tabor and her science students will collaborate with Joseph Yakawich and the students in his Aeronautical Engineering course on a joint vegetation mapping project. Sarah and her team will focus on the ground component of this project by designing a sampling protocol, noxious weed identification and spatial reference data collection with hand held devices. They will also be involved in the classification of imagery to define spatial patterns of weeds in a section of state land next to their school.
Joseph Yakawich and the Sentinel High School in MIssoula
Joseph and the students in his Aeronautical Engineering course will work with the University of Montana Autonomous Aerial Systems Office to learn about the wide variety of instruments used to collect aerial imagery in support of a mapping project. In their work they will learn about the interaction between the vehicles and sensors used to collect data, and how those collected data are processed to yield products necessary for creating maps for land managers.
Stacy Bateman at the DeSmet PK-8 School in Missoula
Stacy Bateman is focused on providing her students with real-world, authentic learning experiences. To accomplish this she is using a learning program from Trout Unlimited to bring her classroom outdoors, with spatial data collection devices, to learn about native and non-native trout and their habitats in the Clark Fork River near their school. They intend to map trout habitat and generate a Storymap describing their project.
Higher Education Scholarships
Anna Moser from the University of Montana
Anna is a graduate student in the Department of Geography, and her research places her in a long line of students in the program studying the impacts of climate change on the distribution and characteristics of arctic vegetation in Alaska. Her work will involve a field season in the arctic, collecting reference measurements that will be related to high-resolution aerial imagery collected by unmanned aerial systems.
Eliza Rickenbaugh from Montana State University
Eliza is a graduate student in MSU’s Earth Sciences Department, focusing on water resources and remote sensing. In her work, Eliza will use a novel remote sensing approach to model the spatial and temporal patterns of snow accumulation and melt in a mountainous watershed near Yellowstone Park. Her work will help us better understand how water from snowmelt contributes to agricultural production, and that is certainly valuable for Montanans.