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On the Map with Kate Box

Happy 2024! Meet Kate Box from Alberta, this year’s first On the Map feature. As a GIS Ambassador and a mother of three young daughters, she aims to inspire girls to go into STEM and to educate K-12 students about the power of geographic information systems (GIS), and its career possibilities in her community.

Kate is a GIS analyst with West Fraser in the field of forestry and forest management who understands the power of ArcGIS software for mapping, data management and analysis. She sets up projects for employees in her organization to conduct field work using ArcGIS apps like ArcGIS Survey123. Kate wants to share her GIS knowledge and passion with students, and this is why she became a GIS Ambassador. 

An image of a woman wearing glasses and a toque in a snowy landscape.

Kate is a GIS professional dedicated to sharing her knowledge of GIS with K-12 students.

Sharing her GIS knowledge and passion

In November 2023, Kate began her work as a GIS Ambassador when she visited two fifth-grade classes at a school in Hinton, Alberta. In this session, she highlighted her work as a GIS Analyst and used engaging ArcGIS resources that included a map tracking images taken from the International Space Station, linking it to their recent studies about the retired astronaut and writer Chris Hadfield. The "Geography of a Pencil" story map was also used and was well-received, with students actively discussing the diverse applications of GIS and the potential use of it in various professions.

The students’ enthusiasm was evident as they asked a lot of questions and were engaged in the material presented. This has led to a new school ArcGIS Online subscription that was set up for FREE through the ArcGIS for Schools bundle. The teachers and students will use the software to create their own maps and explore their community for Kate’s next visit.

Why GIS?

Kate firmly believes that GIS adds immense value to any class or subject. She wants her GIS advocacy to help teachers and students learn the software and to open doors for future projects. She sees GIS becoming integral to nearly every profession, making its early introduction in elementary school essential and she thinks this approach is a way to make mapping instinctive for the next generation. Kate also believes in the importance of GIS's visual aspect, particularly valuable for young students and visual learners like herself.

Image of ArcCanada Atlas map showing World Biomes.

Explore the ArcCanada Atlas resource to visualize various aspects of Canada and the World. ArcGIS apps and maps are great for students who require visualization to be engaged in their learning.

What is next?

Kate has long term plans to promote GIS to all the schools in the Hinton, Alberta area. She will begin by revisiting the two fifth-grade classes to guide them through a project using ArcGIS Online. This project will include creating their own maps and integrating ArcGIS Survey123 for data collection. Additionally, she will be working with another elementary school in the area to introduce them to ArcGIS Online. The excitement has already led to this school receiving a new school ArcGIS Online subscription, so they are ready for Kate’s visit.

We are excited about Kate’s work and will support her goal to visit all the K-12 schools in Hinton to promote the use of ArcGIS software and apps. 

Teachers can request to be connected with a GIS Ambassador and learn more about the program.

New to ArcGIS Online?

If you are a K-12 educator new to ArcGIS Online, you can request an account for yourself and your students at
Explore the Esri Canada K-12 Resource Finder to find other resources for your class.

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

For Educators - Let’s get started with ArcGIS Online
Explore the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
For Students – Enroute with ArcGIS Online

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.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander