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October’s GIS Ambassador: Justin Kraemer

This month’s GIS Ambassador is Justin Kraemer from the County of Bruce, Ontario. Read about his most recent work organizing a virtual GIS Day Story Map competition for grades 7-8 students in his region and his plans for the new year.

October’s GIS Ambassador of the month is Justin Kraemer, a GIS Coordinator at the County of Bruce, Ontario, in the Planning and Development department. He chairs the Bruce County/Local GIS Steering Committee (BCLGSC) that meets three times a year to share GIS knowledge and resources between local and regional governments. Through his work there, he and other committee members decided to do something for GIS Day this year.

A man with short hair smiling in a blue dress shirt.

At the County, I build and manage several web mapping applications and the map services they host, maintain the enterprise geodatabase to ensure data stay up-to-date, and coordinate GIS resources with the municipalities.

Justin shared his GIS Ambassador work with us and his thoughts on supporting GIS in K-12 education.

Tell us about how the Story Map GIS Day competition came about.

In light of the uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact the committee did not celebrate GIS Day last year, we suggested a virtual event for 2021. So next, a GIS Day 2021 subcommittee was formed. The members include local GIS professionals Kyle Potts (GIS Ambassador), Alex Flanagan, Hayden Polski, Jessica Rodgers (GIS Ambassador) and Laura Kranenburg (GIS Ambassador). They all played an important part in developing the competition we came up with and some of them are GIS Ambassadors, as well.

We created a virtual Story Map GIS competition for grades 7 and 8 students in the region. Our focus was on how we could engage students in learning about GIS and their community.

We consulted with local teacher Cory Munro. He uses ArcGIS in his teaching, and he’s known to my colleagues as they have helped him find spatial data for some of his school projects in the past.

What is the goal of the Story Map competition?

We want the students to use ArcGIS to promote their community in Bruce County and to learn along the way. Ultimately, it would be great if they became interested in learning more about GIS.

170 students registered for the competition from three schools in the region.

Why can only grades 7 + 8 students participate in this competition?

The committee targeted grades 7 and 8 students because they were about to enter high school. We believe this is when they will be introduced to GIS and will have an opportunity to use it for the first time. The hope is this contest will give them a head start in understanding some GIS concepts while getting them interested in further study.

Who will be judging this competition?

The GIS Day 2021 subcommittee. They will use a rubric developed by Cory Munro to evaluate the story maps.

On GIS Day – November 17th, the winner will be announced on Bruce County’s and the surrounding municipality’s social media accounts. In addition, the winning story map will be posted on the Bruce County and municipal websites.

What other work have you done to support K-12 educators in your region?

I have introduced ArcGIS Online to students and teachers at a local high school in the region.

Why do you feel GIS is important for K-12 students and teachers?

I think the earlier students learn about GIS, the better. Unfortunately, I was not introduced to it until my second year of university. I wish I had learned of it sooner, as I would not have lost any time!

There are so many applications for GIS. It’s interesting, and there are so many job opportunities that students should know about it.

Why did you want to be a GIS Ambassador?

I wanted a way to share the potential of GIS with students because they need to at least know about it before graduating high school. The GIS Ambassador program offers me a foot in the door at schools and resources to use there. By introducing GIS to K-12 students, they will be aware the world of GIS is opened to them in higher education.

What are your plans for the near future?

I am going to support the development of the Skills Ontario GIS competition in early 2022. I look forward to being involved in this annual event.

Thank you, Justin, for sharing your GIS Ambassador work with us. We look forward to seeing some of the submitted story maps from the competition. Happy Mapping!

New to ArcGIS Online?

If you are new to ArcGIS Online, educators can request an account at

Check out the following beginner resources to get started with ArcGIS Online: 

For Educators - Let’s get started with ArcGIS Online

For Students – Enroute with ArcGIS Online

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.


About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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