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June’s GIS Ambassador of the Month: Nick DeMerchant

This month’s GIS Ambassador of the Month is Nick DeMerchant from Rothesay, New Brunswick. Discover how he supported his daughter’s grade 5 class in learning about geographic information systems (GIS), data and spatial concepts using ArcGIS Online.

Nick DeMerchant from Rothesay, New Brunswick, is this month’s GIS Ambassador. This Esri Canada Account Manager was keen on getting his daughter Libby’s grade 5 class to learn about GIS, data and spatial concepts earlier this year. Let’s find how he supported the students’ learning at Kennebecasis Park Elementary School and what his plans are for the fall. First, we will find out about Nick’s GIS background.

Tell us about your GIS background and current position at Esri Canada

I graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Forestry and Environmental Management degree. I followed that up with a Diploma in GIS from The Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) at Nova Scotia Community College. 

Much of my career has been in the forest industry, working with companies on their operational and long-term strategic plans where GIS has played a huge role in helping in the analysis, modelling, and visualization of forest lands. I have always been a user of Esri software and have been working as an Account Manager at Esri Canada since 2018.

A man with short brown hair in a white dress shirt and black blazer.

As a GIS Ambassador supporting an elementary school in his community in Rothesay, New Brunswick, Nick has introduced a new group of students to ArcGIS Online.

Why did you want to introduce GIS to your daughter’s class?

I wanted to introduce the concept of GIS to Libby’s grade 5 class because it provides young students with the ability to explore their surroundings and the world around them in a fun way. GIS helps open their minds and allows them to use technology in pretty much every project they may be working on throughout the year.  Using ArcGIS Online, they can easily explore and make maps on areas of interest, collect and analyze data. Then they can bring it together in a story using ArcGIS Story Maps.

Tell us about the ArcGIS workshop you and Jean Tong facilitated on April 22nd

I began the Introduction to GIS workshop by explaining to the class what is GIS, and I showed them examples of how it is used every day. Jean facilitated most of the workshop with fun activities and demonstrations of using the basics of ArcGIS Online, like using the measurement tool,  searching for a location and adding data to a web map. The students did a hands-on tutorial called Discover Data, where they added Living Atlas data to their map in the Map Viewer (Classic). They explored features on the map and information in the pop-ups.

It was a success, as the students were engaged and asked a lot of questions. Libby mentioned that her favourite part was being able to explore the map to find where her pony is and to zoom in with the imagery to see all the horses in the field :)

This Introduction to GIS story map was used for the student workshop.

What are you planning to do in the fall?

Jean and I are planning on having another virtual session on story maps!  The students will discover different story maps that are currently available to explore and use in their class, and how they can create their own to tell a story they want to share. I believe this session will be a fun one for the students! 

Workshop Feedback

“The students loved working with ArcGIS Online.  Nick and Jean were both so helpful in getting our students set up and familiar with the software.  There are endless possibilities for curriculum content linked to ArcGIS Online.  With the increasing importance of preparing students to have global competencies and 21st Century Skills, the technology provided by ArcGIS engages students in real-world activities and problem-solving.  The workshop was well guided and met the students at their level.  I also appreciated that the software is available for free to the students!  Thanks so much!” - Renee Landry, grade 5 teacher at Kennebecasis Park Elementary School

Thank you, Nick, for your sharing the relevancy of GIS in K-12 education with students in your community.

Read more inspiring stories about GIS Ambassadors across Canada  supporting students and teachers in their local area. If you are a teacher, you can request to connect with a GIS Ambassador in your area.

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


About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Specialist in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. She has over 15 years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela focuses on producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum-specific resources, and conducting and creating custom workshops for educators. She manages the GIS Ambassador Program and is the Technical Chair for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Angela also writes monthly posts for the Esri Canada Education and Research blog, highlighting K-12 educators and partners, new ArcGIS resources and GIS-related events.

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