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David Parry: March’s GIS Ambassador

David Parry is March’s GIS Ambassador of the month! Find out what he’s done to support the use of GIS in K-12 education in Edmonton, Alberta.

David Parry is this month’s GIS Ambassador from Edmonton, Alberta! As a senior account executive at Esri Canada, he provides support to clients, including K-12 schools and universities during Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day in the fall.

David’s love of nature and mapping led him to geographic information systems (GIS) and volunteering his time as a GIS Ambassador. From a young age, he was involved in canoeing and orienteering and studied to be a geologist.  Currently, he’s a volunteer board member at the Edmonton Area Land Trust (EALT) – an organization that “works to protect natural areas to benefit wildlife and people, and to conserve biodiversity for everyone.”

As a GIS Ambassador, David Parry wants to share his love of nature with his interest in mapping with teachers and students in Edmonton.

Last spring David supported Shane Hordal, a teacher at McKernan School in Edmonton on a nature and conservation mapping project. It started with David introducing Shane’s grade 7 and 8 Environment Outdoor Education class to the importance of mapping and GIS during a class visit.

The objective of the project was for the students to gain an appreciation of nature and understand the importance of conservation in their area by learning about the ecological diversity of an EALT property called Glory Hills, located 45 minutes west of Edmonton. They learned to identify trees, plants and wildlife in the region. Students had an opportunity to do collaborative field work at Glory Hills, where they used Survey123 for ArcGIS to collect data about the local flora and fauna. After the data collection was done, they used ArcGIS Online to map and analyze the survey results. The students used their free accounts in the Edmonton Public School ArcGIS Online Subscription.

With the help of EALT volunteers, David developed learning materials for the project and helped to get the students ready for outdoor data collection that was scheduled in June, 2018. The K-12 group at Esri Canada supported the project by creating the survey in Survey123 with guidance and expertise from EALT staff and volunteers who helped with the survey content. The group included the following people:

  • EALT Employees:
    Rebecca Ellis, Conservation Manager
    Meghan Jacklin, Stewardship Coordinator
    Cassandra Brooke, Stewardship Assistant
  • EALT Volunteers:
    Marg Reine and Lindsay Vanderhoek
  • Esri Canada:
    Angela Alexander

The Glory Hills survey was used to collect data during the field study at the EALT property.

David was committed to making this project and field study a success. He made visits to Shane’s class, spent weekends and weeknights testing the survey to ensure it would be ready for the pre-field trip class orientation in May and for the day of the field study in June. For David this came from a place of purpose because he believes “as students spend more time on devices and less time outdoors, it is especially important for them to be exposed to the beauty of our natural spaces and to gain an appreciation for our natural environment and to value it. “

Glory Hills field study with Shane’s grade 7 and 8 students. The feedback from the students was positive, through the collaborative field work, they were able to make a connection to what they were learning.

David’s commitment did not go unnoticed as he received feedback from Shane and Rebecca. Shane was grateful for David’s support and shared his thoughts with us. “David was passionate about helping make the project and trip to Glory Hills a great experience for the students.  He helped with every aspect along the way to make it a positive experience for the students.  The project was a great way for students to learn about nature in our own backyard and use technology to bring it to life. “

Rebecca has worked with David at EALT and was happy to let us know “Dave Parry has been a strong proponent for the EALT as a board member, having helped organize fundraising events and educational field work with a junior high class. He’s passionate about sharing the different applications of GIS, including in the areas of education and outreach.”

A McKernen School student created this web app to show some of the survey results from the Glory Hills field trip.

We thank David for the support he provides to teachers and students in Edmonton and we appreciate the work he has done on this project.

Looking ahead, David would like to support another project like this. If you are a teacher in the Edmonton area who is interested in engaging your students in collaborative field study, contact us at Teachers in other parts of Canada, visit our site to connect with a GIS Ambassador in your community.

The K-12 group at Esri Canada developed a lesson called “Nature in my Community” inspired by the work done to support this project. It can be found on the Esri Canada Resource Finder.

If you are a Canadian teacher new to ArcGIS Online, request your free account at Read about other inspirational GIS Ambassadors who are supporting teachers and students across Canada.

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