UNK-The Department of Geography at the University of Nebraska at Kearney will present a variety of interesting programs and displays in recognition of the 14th Annual National Geography Awareness Week, Nov. 13-17, 2000. The theme of this year’s Awareness week, “Here Today, Here Tomorrow – A Geographic Focus on Conservation,” will highlight the importance of preserving and restoring ecosystems and managing resources.

The primary goal of the week is to promote awareness of the importance of geographic education while demonstrating the breadth of geography and its relevance to almost any other discipline.

The UNK Geography Department will sponsor Geography Awareness Week activities from Tues., Nov. 14 through Thurs., Nov. 16. The highlight of UNK’s Geography Awareness Week celebration will be a presentation by Dr. Don Wilhite, Director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, part of the University of Nebraska -Lincoln’s School of Natural Resource Sciences. Dr. Wilhite’s talk, titled “Planning for Drought: Moving From Crisis to Risk Management,” will be at 4:15 p.m., Wed., Nov. 15, in Room 142 of Copeland Hall on the UNK Campus. The presentation is open to the general public and will have special interest to a variety of people, especially in light of the drought conditions that affected Nebraska during the summer of 2000.

The Geography Department’s students and faculty will provide a variety of displays and visual demonstrations throughout the 3-day event in the Atrium of the Nebraskan Student Union on the UNK campus from 9:00 to 4:00 each day. On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the focus of these displays will be to demonstrate the inter-relationships of the Global – Human context of Geography. Wed., Nov. 15, is designated ” GIS Day 2000″ (GIS = Geographic Information Systems). Students and faculty will provide demonstrations of this rapidly developing and dynamic area of Information Technology throughout the day in the Atrium of the Nebraskan Student Union. Participants will also have the opportunity for some “hands-on” experience through computer demonstrations. GIS Day 2000 is a global event that celebrates geographic information systems (GIS), the exciting technology that uses geography to change the world.

According to Laurie Becker, GIS Instructor in the Geography Department at UNK, “There are increasingly more examples of the use of GIS technology in a wide variety of applications here in Central Nebraska. For example, the City of Kearney Engineering Department as well as the Police Department use GIS technology on a daily basis to aid their work.” “At UNK, we are training students in the field of Geographic Information Science, which encompasses the technologies of Geographic Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems, and Remote Sensing. With knowledge of these technologies, students will be able to enter the workforce with a very valuable and widely applicable skill.” GIS is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing objects and events. It combines the power of a database with the visualization capabilities offered by maps. GIS technology is used throughout the world to solve problems in such areas as environmental protection, health care, land use, business efficiency, education, social inequities, and much more. The UNK Geography Department is in good company as it joins thousands of GIS Day sites worldwide to achieve this important educational mission.

On Thurs., Nov. 16, the Department will have focus on Geography’s role in the study of the Environment and will provide information on careers and internships in Environmental Geography. The displays will be available from 9:00 to 4:00 in the Atrium of the Nebraskan Student Union.

All Geography Awareness Week activities and displays are open to the public and are free of charge. For more information, please contact Stan Dart, Department of Geography, University of Nebraska at Kearney, (308) 865-8357.