Geography/GIScience Seminars - Spring 2015

A Geographer's Experiences in "Down Under": Spatial Perspectives on Australia & New Zealand

Speaker: Victoria Alapo

Ph.D. candidate in geography, UNL School of Natural Resources

Date: 1/16/2015
Time: 2:00:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

For many people, the Southern Hemisphere is quite a fascinating part of the world, simply because many of its countries are so "far away." Australia and New Zealand represents two of such places. Victoria Alapo will share her experiences in these countries: from the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the Outback, and down to the great cities of Sydney and Melbourne, it's "all in a day's work" (or at least in a summer!) for this globe-trotting Geographer. She will also share her wonderful experiences in relating with both the Native Aborigines in Australia and the Maori in New Zealand. In addition, the presentation will highlight her experiences in fascinating landscapes and places such as New Zealand's "Lord of the Rings Country" (where most of those movie series were shot) to urban landscapes basically built on numerous volcanoes, such as the city of Auckland. Victoria will also describe the aftermath of the major earthquake of 2011, and how it still affects the city of Christchurch today; and her first ever, Southern Hemisphere "Snow in July."
Victoria Alapo
Victoria Alapo

Speaker's Bio

Victoria Alapo is a Ph.D. Candidate in the SNR Graduate Program in Geography. Victoria is a Historical Geographer, whose research concentrates on Pre-Colonial Africa. She received her M.S. in Geography from Western Kentucky University in 1996, and a B.Sc. in Geography from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Victoria is also a Geography Instructor at the Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, a position she has held for 9 years. In addition, she teaches our Geography of Africa and World Regions classes. Victoria is also currently the Secretary of the AAG's Bible Geography Specialty Group (BGSG) and is a Student Director with the AAG's Africa Specialty Group (ASG).

E-mail: oluwayem@hotmail.com
Phone: 402-472-9656

The Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska: Impacting Hope

Speaker: Chuck Schroeder

executive director, University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute

Date: 1/21/2015
Time: 3:30:00 PM
Location: Hardin Hall Auditorium (room 107)

Abstract

The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) is a university-wide enterprise recently created to mobilize the resources and talents of the University of Nebraska and its partners, including community partners, to create knowledge and action supporting rural people pursuing unique paths to their desired futures. It is envisioned to become an internationally recognized leader in building both the capacity and confidence of rural residents to address their challenges and opportunities. In this seminar we will explore the underlying philosophy of the Institute, its structure, strategy and current initiatives designed to deliver on that vision.

Vibrant rural communities that provide economic opportunity, as well as robust quality of life amenities, are increasingly attractive to young adults and families seeking a home and professional venue where their involvement can make a difference. Building such communities requires active leaders in those locations who can wrestle with a variety of issues and obstacles that are often quite different from those faced by their predecessors. While agriculture remains an important element of the overall economy in many rural places, the success of a rural community today demands attention to factors well beyond commodity prices.

The RFI can be the catalyst to energize the rural landscape and is building a powerful network of partnerships and collaboration among educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, private companies and rural community leaders in order to address the diverse challenges before them. The objective is to provide expertise, support and encouragement that will result in increased hope among rural residents at all levels that they can indeed achieve their preferred future.

Chuck Schroeder
Chuck Schroeder

Speaker's Bio

Charles P. "Chuck" Schroeder is a native of western Nebraska ranch country who was named Founding Executive Director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska in 2013. Prior to beginning his duties in that role, Schroeder served as president and executive director of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he worked since 2002. Prior to that, he held other leadership positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including serving as founding CEO of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, headquartered in Denver, Colorado and Washington, D.C. Schroeder also served as executive vice president and director of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation and director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Schroeder was with his family's company, the Schroeder Cattle Company, for about 30 years, the last 10 as owner and president. Schroeder is a graduate of the University of Nebraska with a degree in animal science.

E-mail: cschroeder9@unl.edu
Phone: 402-472-7252

Protecting the Platte through Collaboration and Innovation

Speaker: Meghan Sittler

Coordinator, Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance (LPRCA)

Date: 2/13/2015
Time: 2:00:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

The importance of the lower Platte River to people both now and in the past is evident through the prime agricultural land surrounding the river, sand and gravel mining, 5 of the top tourism attractions in the state, and multiple historic farmsteads and Native American sites. The lower Platte River is home to 48 different fish species including the endangered pallid sturgeon, multiple species of shorebirds and waterfowl including bald eagles, the endangered least tern, threatened piping plover, and endangered peregrine falcons, which utilize the river during their annual migration. The lower Platte River is also home to over half of the state's population who are dependent upon the Platte River aquifer for their water supply.

Recognizing the challenges of managing these unique and diverse resources, the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance was formed in 1996 to help local, state, and federal stakeholders cooperatively meet those challenges. The unique resources of the Lower Platte River will be discussed in this presentation as well as highlighting the successes and challenges of protecting those resources through collaboration.

Meghan Sittler
Meghan Sittler

Speaker's Bio

Sittler holds a master's degree in natural resources with minors in political science and environmental planning and a graduate certification in public policy analysis, as well as undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and anthropology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her graduate project was focused on the development of collaborative and adaptive management for the Missouri River.

Sittler began as Coordinator of the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance in December of 2008. Prior to that, Sittler worked for the National Park Service as an archaeological technician, an environmental educator with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, an adviser and instructor with the UNL environmental studies program and School of Natural Resources, and as a research and outreach specialist for the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Sittler grew up on a farm in southwest Lancaster County, Nebraska where her appreciation for our natural resources began.

GIS in Statewide Integrated Water Management

Speaker: Amy Zoller

Integrated Water Management Coordinator, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources

Date: 2/27/2015
Time: 2:00:00 PM
Location: 228 Hardin Hall

Abstract

The Integrated Water Management (IWM) division within the Nebraska Department was formed following a 2004 Legislative action that established a collaborative state and local process to manage interconnected groundwater and surface waters. The goal of IWM is to protect existing water users by achieving and sustaining a long term balance between water uses and supplies. Functions within the IWM division include water management planning, providing technical expertise to local Natural Resource Districts and other entities, developing hydrologic models, and conducting studies to better understand interconnected ground and surface water and potential effects of alternative water management strategies.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have played an increasingly integral part in supporting IWM functions over the past several years. GIS has been used to create representations of irrigated vs. non-irrigated lands over time, evaluate reservoir evaporation, provide a framework for surface water and groundwater modeling studies and create representations of future potential water use demands. GIS visual capabilities have also been utilized by the IWM division to more effectively portray pertinent information to the public regarding IWM planning and technical activities. This presentation will provide an in depth overview of GIS in IWM activities as well as provide examples of how GIS has been used to acquire, manipulate and synthesize data to provide a basis for more informative decision making for water managers.

Amy Zoller
Amy Zoller

Speaker's Bio

Amy Zoller received M.S. in Natural Resource Sciences from UNL in 2008. She was hired by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources in 2010 as Specialist in the Integrated Water Management division. For the next few years, she used GIS to develop historical land use/land cover and reservoir evaporation datasets that are used for water use and supply modeling and accounting. She currently serves as a Coordinator in the Integrated Water Management Division, where she works with local Natural Resource Districts in developing joint integrated water management plans to proactively manage interconnected ground and surface waters.

Steve Lavin Memorial Lecture: The Times (and the Pixels) They Are A-Changin'

Speaker: Jesslyn Brown

, USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, Sioux Falls, SD

Date: 4/10/2015
Time: 2:00:00 PM
Location: 163 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Imagery of the Earth's surface has become familiar and almost ubiquitous in the public eye. We can regularly see the Earth from vantage points way out in space all the way down to drones hovering several yards over our heads. Through advancements in the availability of data from Earth observing systems and online tools such as Google Earth or Zillow or even the Weather Channel, our individual and collective thinking about the world as we know it has changed. Access to data and information is expanding rapidly. At the same time, we live in an era where the Earth's land cover, productivity, and climate are changing as perhaps never seen before, leading some to call this time period the Anthropocene. This seminar will include a short history of remote sensing and personal observations on what it's like to live and work during this nexus of change and opportunity.
Jesslyn Brown
Jesslyn Brown

Speaker's Bio

Jesslyn Brown is a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA. Jesslyn graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1990 with a Master of Arts in Geography. With 25 years of experience in remote sensing applications research, her main interests involve improving our understanding of changes in terrestrial vegetation related to climate and other driving forces and advancing the use of remotely sensed imagery for applications including drought early warning, tracking vegetation phenology (i.e., seasonal dynamics), and mapping land cover and land use. Jesslyn was a member of the Global Land Cover Characteristics team that created the first map of global land cover at a 1 km resolution. Since 2001, she has led multiple projects mainly focused on developing tools to improve agricultural drought monitoring capabilities in the U.S., in a strong collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's National Drought Mitigation Center. She has also led recent efforts to investigate land use change since 2002 specifically focused on irrigated agriculture.