When I was a kid my favorite uncle introduced me to Archaeology while we were out on a hike. (We had found an old building, and he told me that it was an archaeologist’s job to tell what may have happened in the past). That was it, I was hooked. From that day forward my dream was to be an archaeologist. Fast forward many years and I was a registered student at McMaster University. While there, I was in the Anthropology department and was introduced to incredible professors whom loved what they did.
During my time at a local Archaeological Field school, we were looking at the distribution of artifacts across the area, and from that moment forward my love for GIS was born. I was completed fascinated about how to connect geography and anthropology under one umbrella. How people use space to alter their actions or relationships with environments. About how animals instinctively alter their flight or migration patterns based on environmental changes (nature or man made).
At McMaster we did a few amazing projects such as “If there was Emergency at the Toronto International Airport, where would an Airbus 300 land?” This was an incredible realization about how as a society we are looking to increase transportation with safety as what would see a secondary consideration.
Then, I took remote sensing.
Have you ever heard the term “What I did not have in innate talent, I made up for in passion”? Well, that was me. I studied as hard as I could because there was something about learning how we can read the Earth’s surface and it’s changes or what is currently occurring from an image. Maybe this connected a bit to my love of photography, but remote sensing is still close to my heart.
My last year at McMaster, my friend and I were talking about post-graduate programs. He was selected for Environmental Sciences at Niagara College, and I was for the GIS program. For us, we laughed that we would be spending another year together at the same school. The program at Niagara College was one of the hardest programs I have ever completed, but while there, I met some incredible people including Darren Platakis from Geospatial Niagara.
He was my client for my thesis the Niagara Minecraft 2.0 + Geology project, where we utilized the geospatial data of the Niagara region into the video game Minecraft. The purpose of this project was to provide an educational opportunity for students in the Niagara region. He also introduced me to the Niagara Aspiring Geopark and later the TreeOcode projects. Although that was the toughest year I have ever educationally experienced, it was the most rewarding. Both in the people I went to school with and the education I received.
I spent almost two years volunteering with Geospatial Niagara after I graduated from Niagara College, and today, I am Geospatial Niagara’s first paid employee and I am constantly looking for grants or other opportunities to continue to bring Open Data and Educational Opportunities. I spend my days creating much needed maps for volunteer organizations and the TreeOcode project in St. Catharines.
My education did not stop when I graduated and it continues to this day. My job is not sitting at a desk making maps and writing reports. It is building and developing ideas and educational tools for kids and adults so we can keep Niagara people in Niagara. It is making connections to grow geography in Niagara and continuing to build on Darren’s ideas that geographic education shouldn’t end in elementary school.
Because the most important thing is making sure, we all have a place.
Add me or follow @spatialceleste