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Service At Sea - Leveraging GIS Training For Conservation E-mail
Written by Glenn Letham (GISuser editor)   
20 April 2007
Service at Sea is a ship-based technology assistance program that will begin a circumnavigation of the earth in August, 2007. The project team has an abitious objective: To will sail around the world over four years, using adventure as a vehicle to perform community outreach for and service to international conservation groups, and K-12 teachers and students worldwide. Drew Stephens, the founder and director of the project recently presented a session on the project's background in preparation for the team setting sail on June 22 from San Diego upon the conclusion of the ESRI User Conference.

Service at Sea is committed to putting mapping technologies into action for people working to make the world a better place!

I had the pleasure of attending an interesting presentation last night (April 19) at the beautiful ESRI HQ in Broomfield, CO. Drew Stephens, Director of Service at Sea, gave us an inside look at his organization, it's history, and their plan to sail around the Globe over the next 4 years taking GIS to those in need. The idea was conceived 3 years ago and will become a reality this June when Stephens and crew will set sail on "The Monsoon" from San Diego - the expedition will be showcased at the ESRI user conference with a very visible display in the Map Gallery. Stephens, a former ESRI employee is truly motivational and very passionate about the practice of GIS for conservation. I encourage you to visit serviceatsea.org for more about the planned expedition and to explore various ways that you can get involved - perhaps as a sponsor, donor, or even as an Intern... yes indeed, student interns will take up several positions on the boat, helping with the various GIS projects, data collection, teaching, and other responsibilities.

The group will assist conservation organizations who are using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to meet goals of their communities. The 8 to 12 person Service at Sea crew will circumnavigate by sailboat (and overland when in port), to connect with communities, conservation groups, and anyone demonstrating GIS technology efforts to understand and improve the place they call home. They will be offering GIS training workshops, assistance, and possibly some data to groups who have GIS efforts already underway.

While on their mission, as the team moves between stops they will develop GIS curriculum for teachers to use in their K-12 lesson plans. The material we develop will be the story of the place we just left – they want to answer some fascinating questions: Who are these people? What are they doing to make their world a better place? How does GIS help them achieve that goal? They plan on creating blended lessons which will embrace social studies, history, and technology and which will utilize the data and mission of the community we just left.

About the Crew

The Service at Sea crew is comprised of teachers, students, and earth scientists from around the world. They are academic institutions, researchers, and software company personnel. With their voyage they intend to foster a community of participants from very different cultures.

Service at Sea is committed to putting mapping technologies into action for people working to make the world a better place!


Our premise is that access to current training is very difficult for most of the organizations we wish to serve, so we will bring it to them.

service at sea route

The proposed route (red) will take Stephens and crew around the Globe over the next 4 years.

Drew Stephens is a graduate of Warren Wilson College. After working on his thesis in Costa Rica he worked for a short time in Huntsville, Alabama for Intergraph Corp before migrating to Colorado where he joined the ESRI team. He then founded a GIS Company (AllPoints GIS Inc) based in Guatemala. His career has molded him to become a passionate practioner and evangelist for Conservation GIS projects. A trip to Nepal inspired him to conceive the idea for Service at Sea and the rest is history as he now prepares to go around the World and teach GIS to those who need it.

Last Updated ( 25 April 2007 )
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