Main Menu

Environmental studies program to celebrate GIS Day on November 18

ISSUED: 10 November 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is hosting its first-ever celebration of GIS Day on Wednesday, November 18 in the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center, room 108, from 11a.m.-1 p.m. The event will highlight projects by students in the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences that utilize geographic information system technology.

GIS Day began in 1999 as a way to encourage people to learn more about geography and the uses for GIS technology, which is a method to collect, store, and analyze geographical data.

“GIS is a way to uncover relationships between places and to give us information about the reality on the ground,” said Steven Shaffer, adjunct environmental studies professor. “It allows us to formulate responses or policy to use those resources sustainably.”

The event will include a showing of the documentary “Mosaic of Diversity,” the award-winning orientation film shown at Olympic National Park in Port Angeles, Washington, that features the GIS work of Shepherd students. There will also be poster displays showing projects that Shepherd students have done that incorporates GIS technology.

Two project presentations are planned—an analysis of canopy cover along the bike path that parallels West Virginia Route 9 and an analysis of the campus-owned Tabler Farm’s soil and water resources. Shaffer said the bike path has very little landscaping so Shepherd students are helping the Cacapon Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to protect area rivers and watersheds, on a study that will help the organization create a plan to plant more vegetation along the path.

“Shepherd students have collected more than 10,000 data points along the bike path,” Shaffer said. “They pulled together a tremendous amount of data from a wide variety of public, private, and government sources. Then over the course of three or four days the students systematically mapped all of the tree canopy that can be seen from satellite and aerial photography and put it all together into a huge data set.”

The GIS Day schedule is:

“We are thrilled to be featuring the excellent work of our students, who are using GIS applications to tackle environmental issues at the landscape-level, as well as collaborative projects with local organization such as the Cacapon Institute,” said Dr. Clarissa Matthews, chair of the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences.

GIS Day is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Shaffer at

— 30 —