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August’s GIS Ambassador: Molly Pratt

Meet August’s GIS Ambassador, Molly Pratt, from the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research (AICBR) who’s been using story maps in the Healthy Living in My Community project to educate and engage students in the Yukon on healthy eating and active living. Read about her work and why she values GIS.

Molly Pratt from Whitehorse, Yukon is this month’s GIS Ambassador. The Communications and Research Officer at the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research (AICBR) is a big supporter of geographic information systems (GIS) and story maps in K-12 education. Molly’s a new GIS user with a background in public health with a focus on international nutrition and Indigenous maternal/child health. A couple of years ago, with the support of Esri Canada’s Education and Research group, Molly was introduced to ArcGIS Online. The experience instantly made her into a true GIS believer, as she realized integrating GIS in schools has limitless possibilities to promote critical thinking, analytical skills and creativity.

Molly Pratt from Whitehorse, Yukon on why she is a GIS Ambassador: “I think being an ambassador for GIS in schools is important because it creates a community, helps support teachers in integrating GIS in their classrooms and helps to promote GIS and mapping tools, like story mapping, from a local perspective, making the implementation of these tools in schools more relevant.“

Through community projects, the AICBR’s mission is “to facilitate, promote and conduct community-based, northern-led research aimed at improving the lives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous northerners and the health of northern environments.” One of them is the Working Together to Achieve Healthier Lifestyles in Yukon and Northwest Territories' Communities project (YTNT health project) where the goal is “to create territorial and cross-territorial community-based research partnerships devoted to identifying, planning, implementing and evaluating short and long-term initiatives that focus on healthy lifestyles for Yukon and Northwest Territories families and communities.”

In the past year, Molly has integrated story maps in an ongoing Healthy Living in My Community (HLMC) project that students can get involved in that’s part of the larger YTNT health project. The HLMC project includes a six-lesson package for teachers to use that brings community stories of healthy eating and active living to the classroom through ArcGIS Online mapping. The goal of the project is to increase youth understanding and participation in healthy living activities in their communities through a strength-based perspective that focuses on skills and potential in individuals and communities, rather than weaknesses and limitations, and the belief that everyone is healthy in some way. This approach is more effective to harness strengths and build from them to make positive, sustainable change.

AICBR’s Healthy Living in My Community brochure includes information on the project and how to request the six-lesson package for teachers designed to meet English Language Arts, Physical and Health Education, and Applied Design, Skills and Technologies curriculum requirements for grades 5-10; many can be easily adapted for younger or older grades.

According to Molly, “Through the project, students will learn about the importance of health and will be connected to programs in their communities. They will use and build up their creative, critical thinking, reflection, investigative and communication skills and reflect on lifestyle and other factors which affect their health. This project integrates Esri’s story mapping technology, language arts and hands-on experiential learning, building from the AICBR’s Healthy Living Inventory maps, which were developed in 2016 to enhance collaboration and information sharing about the various healthy living initiatives (i.e. programs related to healthy eating, active living, mental health, sexual health, youth leadership, career exploration and cultural activities) going on in Yukon and Northwest Territories’ communities.”

Explore AICBR’s Healthy Living Story Maps.

Earlier this year, Molly facilitated three workshops with teachers at schools in the Whitehorse area to promote the HLMC project. Participants had the opportunity to work on the lesson package and received support during the workshops. In September, she will be running two workshops focused on the same project at the Yukon Teachers’ Association (YTA) 2018 teachers conference.

Molly is currently working on maps that will focus on a Yukon Climate Change Inventory and a Northern Sustainable Food Systems Inventory (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut and Nunavik) as part of a four year project (2017-2021) called Linking a Changing Climate with a Changing Traditional Diet: Mobilizing Knowledge for Adaptation that will be promoted in K-12 workshops in the 2019/2020 school year. The maps will be used to highlight different AICBR initiatives that cover climate change and food systems such as food banks, food security and farms. These maps will be used in community stories and program information to identify strengths and gaps in community programming and to inform partners and policy makers of future policy.

In the fall, Molly and her group will be promoting two surveys that will contribute data to the inventory maps. They used Esri’s Survey123 – a powerful data collection app that allows you to create surveys that are linked to a web map that can be easily shared and the data analyzed. You can link to the AICBR surveys below:

               • Yukon Climate Change Inventory Survey 

               • Northern Sustainable Food Systems Inventory Survey 

Molly’s role as a GIS Ambassador is important to her because she believes “it creates a community, helps support teachers in integrating GIS in their classrooms and helps to promote GIS and mapping tools like story mapping, from a local perspective, making the implementation of these tools in schools more relevant.”

We look forward to our continued work with Molly and the AICBR. To read more about GIS Ambassadors who are supporting K-12 teachers, check out the GIS Ambassador of the Month map.

Teachers, do you want to get started with ArcGIS Online? Sign up for an account today at


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.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander