“Education We Need For The World We Want”

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been selected to join the 2023 CEE-Change Fellowship cohort through the North American Association for Environmental Education!

“The Civics and Environmental Education (CEE) Change Fellowship Program is NAAEE’s newest initiative to support leadership and innovation in civics and environmental education across the country. NAAEE recognizes the value in bringing together environmental and civic engagement educators to learn from each other and collaborate to scale up our impact as we work to create a more equitable and sustainable future.

The CEE-Change Fellowship is a part of the National Environmental Education Training Program established by the U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Education, a national professional development program that has been building the professional capacity of educators since 1992. The program also focuses on building leadership skills and providing high-quality resources for the field. The Fellowship is also supported by a generous grant from the Cedar Tree Foundation.”

Gridded photos of all CEE-Change Fellows. The text CEE-Change Fellowship, Building Leadership in Civics and Environmental Education in the center of the photos. Logos of the sponsors in the bottom right hand corner: Ceder Tree Foundation, ee360+, EPA, NAAEE

If you know me or have read my blog posts or listened to one of my rants, then you’ll know I am not on the path that I thought I would be on. There have been a lot of ups and downs and even side-to-sides but I’m learning to accept the paths life keeps sending me down. I’m really excited about this particular path that’s intercepting with the NAAEE CEE-Change Fellowship! And as someone who hasn’t neatly fit into any box, label, sector or really anything, I’m thrilled that this fellowship will bring a lot of new knowledge and new connections with people who have probably felt similarly in their own way.

As a fellow, I had the privilege of attending a Leadership Institute at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, WV where everyone came together for a week-long knowledge-dump of everything climate change, environmental education, civic engagement, and lots of trivia (IYKYK)! We also had the honor to hear from renowned speakers, such as Kim Noble, José González, Leander Lacy, and past CEE-Change fellows, who have dedicated their work to environmental education (EE) and civic engagement (CE)!

Through this program, we all have the opportunity to design and execute a CE and EE Community Action Project in partnership with an organization that seeks to advance a more equitable and sustainable future. You can learn more about fellow projects at bit.ly/CEEChange. (Additional information on mine coming to a blog post near you soon!)

But I wanted to dedicate a post to my experience at the Leadership Institute and all the fun people I got to connect with, including the amazing NAAEE Staff that made all of this possible. I’m so inspired by everyone’s passions, goals, achievements, and participation in this fellowship. I’ve got a lot of people to look up to and I’m glad I have them by my side as we head on this path together.

The NCTC campus was a beautiful location that was thriving with wildlife, ripening pawpaws, and mosquitoes galore. It was refreshing to get the opportunity to travel to the East Coast after so long and experience 100+% humidity again!

It was a wonderful opportunity to get to spend a week in such a unique location and meet other fellow conservation and environmental leaders from around the world. NCTC holds a lot of wildlife conservation history and knowledge, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t attempt to also document the contributions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pictured around the campus. Among the many portraits remembering many of the white men who have served our planet, were the below portraits I could find of non-white men and their accolades.


Infographics: Abortion Access in the U.S.

Infographics are actually one of the first graphics I started playing around with when I started combining my GIS skills with communications. I created a submission for my grad school department’s annual conference and won a prize! You can find that infographic on my design portfolio page. And even though I did the most, I still am inspired by how it felt to communicate my data in a different way. Especially since most forestry or graduate communications didn’t compare.

So, what’s an infographic and why do I like them? An infographic is a type of visual content used to communicate information in an easily accessible format that is also engaging and stimulating. There are so many benefits to infographics; here are just a few!

  1. Infographics help illustrate your story effectively: I can’t say this enough, but showing why your work is important is key to communicating! Infographics can combine multiple media such as graphics, photos, text, charts, maps, and more. Whether you think you are or not, people are drawn towards images because they help us understand and retain information.
  2. They highlight the important take-aways: Most people don’t want to read through paragraphs of text when there are a few key important pieces of information. Creating an infographic will help you to summarize and dissect complex subjects and pull out the key take-aways. By doing so, you’ll sustain the attention of your audience because they won’t have to sift through all of the fluff to understand what is going on.
  3. Infographics are easy to share: Have an Instagram account? Share it there. Have Twitter? Share it there. Have email? Want to print out flyers and hang them in a school? There are limitless opportunities for sharing infographics.
  4. They provide a structured flow of events: When illustrating your story, it’s important that your audience understands how all the elements fit together. You could list off the key take-aways in no particular order, but having one flow into the next will help build upon what you’re showing and really give your story an umpph!
  5. They provide aesthetic value to your work: It’s simple; people like to look at aesthetic things. Your work already has value and is reliable, but having a way to communicate your work that is also pleasant to look at is a bonus.

Here’s a more recent infographic showcasing some statistics about abortion access in the US. And here’s hoping that continued education about the importance of protecting abortions helps move our country’s politics in a direction that respects the choices people make about their own bodies.

Even with Roe v. Wade in effect, abortion providers and abortion clinician numbers have been decreasing over the years. The U.S. will see a more drastic decline in these numbers in 2022 and on-wards. There has been a lot of information about abortions in the U.S., and to help make it more digestible, we’ve designed the following infographic summarizing some important statistic collected from the Guttmacher Institute and the U.S. Census.

An infographic showing different statistics about access to abortion in the U.S. 24% of U.S. women will hve an abortion by the age of 40. More than 51 states have seen a decrease in abortion providers from 2015 to 2017. 51% of the female U.S. population will lost abortion providers. The states with the highest number of abortion clinics in 2017 are WA, CA, NY, NJ, and FL. There is a QR code for more information on how to support abortion rights.

Infographics are such a great visual tool! Even if not done very well, they’re persuasive and eye-catching; and easily understandable to people who have little to no background in the subject. Not to mention, you can make an infographic about anything.

Also, since most infographics have pretty defined sections, it’s easy to break it down into smaller graphics or visuals to disseminate information at different scales.

Share infographics that inspire you or that you made and you’re proud of on LinkedIn and tag @MapNerdConsulting or Twitter @IAmGlobot!


What’s a recent failure?

There is a strong stigma around being unemployed and being on unemployment.

The above graphic was shown and I felt that it perfectly summed up my experience the past couple of years. Being laid off and unemployed is something I have become comfortable having conversations around because there’s a strong stigma around what it means to not have a job and not have control of how you leave a job. Especially for individuals who look like me. And not laid off as in you lose a couple hours a month, but laid off, laid off as in zero hours of work.

I attended a Mappy Hour themed ‘What’s a recent failure?’ a few weeks ago. Going into Mappy Hour, I wasn’t really sure what recent failure I would talk about. And not because I have never failed at anything, but because there have been quite a few significant moments of learning in my past.

Not having control of how you leave your job is a big blow.

Getting laid off in 2020 had a huge impact on my life and career trajectory. In so many ways I felt like I had failed myself because I had fallen off the predetermined path I, and society, had created for myself. This path looked like getting a job out of grad school, working my way up the ladder at one of two organizations, staying with one organization for 40 years, then retiring at 65. I don’t know if this was what I really wanted or what I’d been programmed to want. And for so many people, this is the path that they want and that they achieve. But what happens when you’re crossing your fist zip-line and fall into a pit of rocks? And honestly, maybe I should have been more preparing because I’ve made a lot of changes to my path throughout the years. But in the past, I’ve had complete control over my changing path. Not having control of how you lose or leave a job is not as easily navigable as people think. And maybe this is one of the origins of unemployment stigma.

Our paths aren’t linear. Our paths aren’t smooth. Our paths end up looking like that extreme roller coaster you built as a kid in Roller Coaster Tycoon. Ups, downs, upside downs, spirals, sharp turns, nausea, fear of falling out. Uggh I hate roller coasters… But I digress.

Reflecting back on the lay off, the pandemic, and the domino effect of other events that followed, I’ve come out the other end with a new perspective. And yes, that sounds super cliche. “When one door closes, another door opens.” “Every end is a new beginning.”

Allowing someone else’s expectation of success define your path will only hold you back.

I know we’re not supposed to want to be on unemployment or think it’s ever a good thing, but I think that’s a stigma that needs to be broken. I don’t want to get into the politics of unemployment in this short blog post, but there are many studies that show how the unemployed face serious disadvantages in the labor market due to the social stigma of unemployment; I’ll let you do your own research.

Falling into this pit of rocks broke some bones, but I was finally able to see the ladder at the end of the canyon that would lead me out of some really crappy situations. Being on unemployment gave me the perspective I needed to understand that the way I had been living my life and pursuing my career was not what I wanted. How many times have you heard of someone who’s in an unhealthy job but doesn’t know how to take the next step? Well, I found my next step by being kicked into this metaphoric pit of rocks I’ve mentioned a few times. And now I own my own business, have multiple streams of income, spend my free time doing things I actually enjoy (and also get paid to do the things I enjoy), and am pursuing extracurricular activities, social interactions, and professional engagements that are actually fulfilling.

I never imagined owning a business was on my path. And like many others, I started my own business as a way to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now I can very confidently say that I continue to be a business owner as a way to live out my career and life the way I want. And not the way that it ‘should’ look like or the way others want it to look like. Allowing someone else’s expectation of success define your path will only hold you back. And I’m glad that I’m not being held back anymore.

Advice I can give anyone else who is going through any type of unemployment, whether it’s COVID-19 pandemic related or not, is know your value. The stigma around unemployment is meant to keep you down and keep you from succeeding. And wherever laid you off, fired you, or didn’t hire you, either wasn’t willing to acknowledge your worth and/or they weren’t a space where you could reach your potential. This short video by Yellopain, an artist famous for creating songs with overt social and political messages about voter disenfranchisement in the Black community, says it well.

Mappy Hour was such a great space to connect with others with similar experiences and to continue reflecting on if failures are really failures. In a lot of ways, it comes down to a change in mindset and giving yourself the grace and flexibility to know your value. Because if you don’t, no one else will. Pursue what you want and not what others expect from you.


GIS Galore

November was a GIS filled month for me. We celebrated GIS Day, attended and presented at the 2021 Geo for Good Summit, and kind of participated in a 30-day GIS challenge. As well as a lot of fun GIS on the side!

In grad school, the geography department used to make a cake for GIS Day which was always fun, so I’m glad that there are still people in the professional non-academic realm who make this day fun too!

The GIS Day event I attended was hosted by Tabulae Spatial Services and was a fun networking opportunity. It was my first time attending an event over Discord (like Slack or Google Chat). And now that I know forums are making it possible to be social, I will recommend Discord as a platform of choice for anyone else looking for an affordable and easy virtual space, especially if you have attendees from all over the world.

My birthday is in November and my bestie got my this very accurate sweatshirt!

The Geo for Good Summit was a big highlight for me because it was my first time presenting at this conference. And my first time presenting as Map Nerd Consulting! The Geo for Good Summit has been an event I’ve attended multiple times before and I’ve always found it to be really inspiring. There are so many ways people use GIS and create really compelling visuals; this summit showcased it all.

I felt super inspired from the conversations I had at my poster around tree canopy, equity, and mapping. And had a blast exploring the virtual Google campus.

Taylor and I also made a trip to the Google Campus in real life, and I saw the Google bicycles! Unfortunately, we did not see any dinosaurs.

You can watch the 2021 Summit on demand at this link: https://earthoutreachonair.withgoogle.com/events/geoforgood21

And look through the gallery of posters at this link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RmpdL6Yu8Gd6h7XJcvMbbkyXJrDG6VUQGdpdikBInog/edit#slide=id.p

And I didn’t forget the Summit’s group photos. Let me know if you can spot me and Serefina!

Though the map filled month is over, the mapping continues! We’ve started a new contract and have been having conversations with a few other organizations. I look forward to making all days GIS filled!

Delayed December

I saw an Instagram post the other day that described the different types of procrastinators. One of them being: works well under pressure and needs the excitement of a close deadline. This perfectly described my entire month of December (and maybe also the beginning of January, and other parts of my life…).

This month I applied and submitted what feels like to so many things! And all mostly last minute 😬

I applied to be a speaker for the Women in GIS: Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion panel at the ESRI Federal GIS Conference. Eva Reid, who has been a huge support in my solo career, is facilitated the panel and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to talk about something I’m passionate about. I self-nominated myself and was chosen and asked to be on the panel. Unfortunately, I had to turn down this opportunity since remote access to the conference was not an option. This felt rather ironic since the panel is talking about inclusion and equity but the conference itself is not inclusive of those who are not able to or choose not to attend a very large public gathering in person. During a pandemic. Nonetheless, I know that Eva is going to rock the panel and I looking forward to hearing about what was shared. I hope that the next ESRI conference is more accessible so that I can participate in the way that I am capable of doing so.

Luckily, I have two other conferences to look forward to this year! Both of which offer remote participation. I was asked to speak on the Connecting Remote Sensing Data and Landscapes panel at the IALE-North American Annual Meeting in April. I’ll be talking about Connecting Remote Sensing Data and Landscapes: in what ways does data collected by satellites differ from what’s on the ground, and how to remedy this issue.

Lastly, but not least, I applied to teach a workshop at the 2022 ESA & CSEE Joint Meeting where I’ll be talking about How to Create an Engaging and Successful Tech-specific Outreach Event with my closest friend from grad school. We did a lot of outreach events back then and I’m exciting to reunite (virtually) to relive the good old days!

December went by quickly with everything I put off last minute. And doing this around the holidays didn’t help much. Now that I run my own business, I’m starting to learn better habits that will help me be more productive with my procrastination (and also not procrastinate). What are tasks or things that you tend to procrastinate on? What strategies do you use to help you get things done?

My Why.

Hello to those of you who don’t know me yet.

My name is Gloria and I’m a map nerd!

I founded Map Nerd Consulting in 2021 but I have been working as a geospatial consultant since 2020. As a geospatial consultant, I worked really closely with raw data such as data collection, map making, developing database structures, and communicated the processed data. I never saw myself starting my own business – I assumed I’d take the more ‘traditional’ path of graduating, getting a job, working my way up the ladder, retiring, and that’d be the end of my career. But I guess I should know by now that things rarely go as planned. At least things are more fun when they don’t! I figured I’d been consulting successfully for a year so why not make it official. And thus was born, Map Nerd Consulting.

My goal of starting my own business was to continue bridging people to data. I really enjoy using GIS and my more technical skills for environment conservation, restoration, and climate change mitigation. I also love sharing this technology with people outside of the environmental science, forestry, and ecology fields. Something I still see perpetuated today, is that science is for scientists. There are many barriers for non-sciencey people to understand information from these fields as well as to enter. And being a black woman in these predominantly white fields, I’ve always felt compelled to make it easier for the next person of color to get to where I am.

My passion is to make all the nerdy map technology accessible to everyone.

An important part of my passion is sharing the why and the how. Why is GIS and spatial information so important? How can GIS be applied in new and creative ways to show what’s beyond the surface? Why is it important that communities of color are aware of how GIS technology can be used? How can everything spatial be made more accessible?

As of now, this blog doesn’t have any rhyme or reason other than to share knowledge and thoughts on mapping and visualizing the world around us!

Some topics to expect:

  • How to create different visuals
  • How to customize your maps
  • What are resources for learning GIS and mapping
  • How to get more involved with the GIS realm
  • Thoughts and questions about current events
  • Sharing information on creative and innovative publications and posts
Fun fact: This map shows places I have lived and am from. I am from America, Barbados, and Malawi. I have lived in Virginia, Germany, Michigan, and now am in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Spatial data isn’t just for scientist – it’s for everyone!

I would love to connect with all of you and hear your comments, opinions, and thoughts on posts! And if you have anything you’d like to see covered, let me know. I hope to continue on this journey with all of you!