February’s GIS Ambassadors: Chelsey Cu and Andrea Zagar

February 11, 2020 Angela Alexander

February’s GIS Ambassadors are Chelsey Cu and Andrea Zagar from Esri Canada’s Vancouver office. Find out how they have been supporting the use of GIS in K-12 education in British Columbia. 

This month’s GIS Ambassadors are from the Esri Canada office in Vancouver, British Columbia. Chelsey Cu is a Support Analyst in the Technical Support group and Andrea Zagar is an Associate GIS Analyst. Both of them are new to Esri Canada and keen on supporting K-12 teachers in Vancouver.

Chelsey Cu and Andrea Zagar have been at Esri Canada for under a year, but they are active in supporting teachers in their local area.

I met Chelsey and Andrea last fall when they signed up to be GIS Ambassadors. They both were interested in helping out and I was excited to get more support in the British Columbia region.

They have shared with us their experience and reasons why they believe the work they do as GIS Ambassadors is important.

What have you done this school year to support teachers in British Columbia?

Chelsey:
Andrea and I participated in the British Columbia Social Studies Teacher’s Conference (BCSSTA) where we had an Esri Canada table in the vendors section. While we were there, we spread GIS awareness to teachers and discussed ideas with them on how incorporate GIS into their teaching and outlined the benefits of having their students learn GIS. We also shared free K-12 ArcGIS Online resources with them.

Tell us about your education and work background

Chelsey:
I was first introduced to GIS when I took a geography class in university. As I worked on my degree in geography, I attended more classes that incorporated GIS and I came to appreciate the wide range of GIS applications that exist in our world. I knew I wanted a career in GIS so after getting my bachelor’s degree, I went to British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to get an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems. After the one-year program, I was hired by Esri Canada as a technical support analyst and have been happily working with the company ever since.

Andrea:
I’m currently an Associate GIS Analyst with Esri Canada and joined the company in September 2019. I first discovered GIS in high school when I worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Ontario as a summer student in Grade 10. I had a strong interest in both computers and geography when I was going through high school, but I always thought of geography as more of a hobby and was only familiar with GIS in the context of natural resource management. It wasn’t until after my undergraduate in software engineering that I realized that I could have the best of both worlds by going into GIS, so I went back to school at the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Nova Scotia.  Shortly after I completed my program and began working as an Associate at Esri Canada. The work has helped me combine my love of data, technology and geography, and I’m excited to share my knowledge with others.

Chelsey began working at Esri Canada right after she completed the BCIT Advanced Diploma in GIS in 2019.

Why do you think it is important to support the use of GIS in K-12 education?

Chelsey:
I think that it is important to support the use of GIS in K-12 education because it spreads awareness of what it is and its capabilities. GIS is a useful tool that creates more informed decision-making throughout all industries.

Andrea:
I think it is important to be a GIS Ambassador and support the use of GIS in K-12 education because GIS makes such a strong impact in the world, and as someone who works in the industry, it’s important to share my knowledge and experience with others. When I think back to high school, I knew I loved data and geography but didn’t know enough about GIS to consider it as a potential career. Most geography teachers I spoke to in the past had either heard of GIS before or had taken a course at some point in their schooling, but few knew how to incorporate it into their classes. In a world with so much spatial data and amazing technology at our fingertips, I think it’s crucial to show both teachers and students how GIS is used in all sorts of industries and why it’s so important in our daily lives.

Andrea - “I’ve both seen and experienced the power of mentorship in STEM careers, and I believe it’s just as important in the GIS industry to have those role models and people to ask questions to. GIS is so exciting, and the technology is developing so rapidly – to me, it’s a rewarding career that is worth sharing with others. “

What are some of your upcoming plans to support teachers?

Chelsey:

This month, Andrea and I will be participating at engAGe, an event to educate high school students about agriculture and food career opportunities. We will be presenting how GIS can be used in the agriculture industry in a series of breakout sessions. For GIS day this year, I hope to go to a school and engage students in GIS-based activities that will inspire them to incorporate it into various subjects.

Andrea:

I look forward to the engAGe event this month and I’m hoping to connect with teachers to do hands-on GIS workshops with schools in the Vancouver area!  

We appreciate the time Chelsey and Andrea dedicated to supporting teachers in British Columbia. If you are a K-12 teacher looking to connect with them or a GIS Ambassador in your area, let us know.

Read about other amazing GIS Ambassadors in Canada who support teachers and students in their region.

New to ArcGIS Online? Sign up for a free ArcGIS Online account and find resources to get started with ArcGIS Online at k12.esri.ca.

About the Author

Angela Alexander

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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