Gamma Theta Upsilon

The International Geographical Honor Society

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Chapter Activity Reports 2017-2018

This year more than fifty Gamma Theta Upsilon chapters submitted reports highlighting their myriad activities.  Browse the condensed versions of the annual reports and be amazed by the creative ways in which GTU chapters are promoting geography.  The summaries are organized according to each chapter's Greek letter designation.

Thank you chapter sponsors and GTU members for reaching out to other students on campus with tutoring help, touching the lives of youngsters with geocaching adventures, launching recycling programs, hosting documentaries and discussions, networking with alumni, and spreading geographical knowledge at regional and national conferences.  Several chapters have blossomed by partnering with other student organizations to co-sponsor events.  Adopt an idea or two from the great selection in these chapter reports.

Remember that celebrating Geography Awareness Week on November 11-17 and GIS day on November 21 are great opportunities for GTU chapters to host community events.  Find more ideas to prepare for Geography Awareness Week at  For more information about GIS day, visit

Be sure to keep track of your chapter's accomplishments through the new academic year so that you will be ready to submit your next annual report before the June 15th deadline.  I look forward to gathering and reading your chapter reports, as they continue to demonstrate your enthusiasm and creativity with which you have promoted geography.

Kind Regards,
Dr. Jimmy Wilson
Second Vice President

Gamma Theta Upsilon


See chapter reports from previous years


Chi, Oklahoma State University

September 2017 –
Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP): The GTU-Chi and Theta Psi (UCO) chapters with sponsorship form the AAG hosted Dr. Jessie Clark as part of the VGSP. Dr. Clark's presentation titled 'My life is like a novel': Women and security in Turkey's Kurdish regions 2006-2017, was held September 22 on the campus of Oklahoma State University. We were able to obtain co-sponsorship from OSU School of International Studies and OSU Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies Program. Following the talk, we help a reception for Dr. Clark and the homes of one of our faculty.  Members of the GTU-Chi chapter helped a fellow member and PhD student Thomas Cox with garage archaeology by moving the Helena Mammoth Skull from a garage to campus.

November 2017 –
Oklahoma State University Undergraduate Geography Club and the GTU – Chi Chapter hosted
Geography Awareness Trivia Night on November 13. This year the theme was The Geography of
Civil Rights Movements and the faculty and graduate students (inclusive of GTU members)
wrote questions and participated in each undergraduate student group playing in teams during

February 2018 –
GTU – Chi Chapter member Thomas Cox along with Dr. Carlos Cordova participated in a
community outreach program sponsored by the Stillwater Public Library where they discussed
research on Oklahoma mammoth dig sites.  Brian Gilson – GTU-Chi chapter president presented a well-attended colloquium on Postsecularity in Azerbaijan.

May 2018 –
GTU- Chi Chapter sponsored an annual International Beer, Wine, and Cheese party.
GTU-Chi Chapter initiated 8 new members at the department's annual award ceremony.
GTU-Chi Chapter Travel Award of $250.

Epsilon, Missouri State University

It is with great joy that I report that in 2018, our chapter initiated 7 new members on April 5, 2018. This was a huge boon to our small chapter, and is an exciting new opportunity for the students inducted into the chapter.

In 2017, the Missouri State University chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon attended the 2017 West Lakes Regional Division Fall meeting of The American Association of Geographers meeting in West Plains, Missouri. Members of GTU won first and second place in the Undergraduate Research Poster category and members participated in the Geography Bowl, earning their team a slot to participate at the National Conference in New Orleans. Additionally, the acting President of GTU assisted Dr. Rajiv Thakur (MSU, West Plains) in organizing and running the conference.

In April 2018, members from Gamma Theta Upsilon will be attending the National American Association of Geographers conference in New Orleans, with several members presenting original research at the conference as well as participating in the Geography Bowl, competing against all the AAG regional divisions.

On our campus, we are planning to host a tour for students of the MSU "grow towers." A sustainable initiative created by the dining services to grow all the leafy greens for the dining halls on campus with very little waste or carbon footprint. Our chapter is also planning a clean up event along the James River Watershed which will hopefully raise awareness among students of the importance of keeping our waterways clear.

It has been an exciting year for our chapter, with many new members, conferences and initiatives. The future is looking bright!

Lambda, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

GTU members make important contributions to the discipline of Geography, to the SIU Department of Geography & Environmental Resources, and to the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Minor. GTU is closely linked to Geography Club, and all members are excellent representatives of Geography on campus and across the local/regional community. GTU and Geography Club participants put in many hundreds of volunteer hours to help clean up and beautify the community. Overall, this academic year, the Lambda GTU members participated in an amazing number of environmental activities, including:

Mu, University of Minnesota-Duluth

After over two decades of inactivity, the Mu Chapter was reborn with four new members.

Nu, Emory and Henry College

November 2017: Our students organized a field trip to the barrier islands of North Carolina, where we studied shoreline erosion and management. We met with a local government official and also spoke with local residents about the challenges of coastal management. We did some measurements of shoreline erosion potential, tracking the speed of longshore current at different locations on two barrier islands. Students also studied the landscapes of tourism and the challenge of low-income households as they face the rising cost of housing.

April 2018: We enjoyed the great fun of our annual induction dinner. As part of the celebration at a local Mexican restaurant, the students discussed Mexico's influence on American foodways.

GTU President Kala Curtis won the department's DeHart Research Award, based on her research into the geography of suicide in Africa.

Alpha Phi, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Co-hosted September Geography Program social with faculty advisor.
Fall Recognized Student Organizations (RSO) Club Fair-- the president and vice president organized a booth and shared information about GTU/GSO to interested students.
Roca Berry Farm student social outing.
Spring Weatherfest-- GTU students organized and ran K-12 various hands-on geography activities from remote-sensing to cultural geography.
Spring Dead Week Geography Bowl-- a fun, de-stressing activity for all students during Dead Week; organized and put on by GTU students.

Beta Chi, Michigan State University

This was a good year for the Beta Chi Chapter of GTU at Michigan State! Our structure is somewhat unique in that we have three student organizations in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences: the undergraduate Geography Club, the Graduate Geography Group ('Triple G'), and a chapter of Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG). GTU membership cuts across all three of these groups, so some people could be members of both GTU and two other student organizations! Our activities are therefore organized around these student groups, all of which contain GTU members.

In the fall, SWIG held a series of breakfasts to connect students with visiting women geographers, continued the graduate-to-undergraduate mentoring program begun last year, and organized weekly writing sessions. GTU member Michelle Church was named Director of the AAG's Undergraduate Student Affinity Group. In late October and early November, students took part in outreach activities at a local elementary school in advance of Geography Awareness Week. One afternoon, seven women Club/GGG/SWIG students (including GTU members) and the Chapter Advisor had students 'map their lunches' to see where the foods came from or originated, and talked about what they might do with geography in their futures. Over the next couple of weeks, undergrad Club members returned to paint two maps on the schools playground: the world and the State of Michigan (joining the US map done last year!). GTU students also took part in assisting with the Department's annual public Geography Awareness Week event , this year featuring a presentation by award-winning author Krista Schlyer titled 'Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall.'

In Spring, GTU students helped with the Department's annual 'Career Day and Job Fair' in February, which was our largest yet, in terms of both employers who participated and positions available. Plans were afoot for a joint undergrad Club/GGG cleanup of a local park, but the manner in which winter hung on in Michigan caused them to be scuttled. GTU members in the undergrad Club took part in the 'Small Animals Day' sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and raised the visibility of the discipline and the Department in the University. In April, several undergrads including a GTU initiate successfully presented at AAG in New Orleans. Our annual induction event and Department reception at the end of April was a great success—thirteen new GTU members were inducted, including two faculty members! SWIG co-presidents April Frake and Victoria Breeze (both GTU members) awarded the first annual SWIG scholarship to assist in graduate school application. In the Departmental awards given out at this event, GTU member Brad Peter received the Owen Gregg Climate Change Research Award, and the winners of both the E. James Potchen Undergraduate and Graduate 'Geographers of the Year' were GTU members: Michelle Church and April Frake, respectively.

We look forward to the summer break, and getting things going again next year!

Beta Psi, Kansas State University

The Beta Psi chapter had a busy academic year. The K-State Chapter hosted 18 separate events and inducted 8 new members. The chapter held several social events including two separate camping events at a local state park, a winter potluck, and a student chili cook-off. Beta Psi's activities went beyond just food, the chapter also participated in fundraising. Members volunteered to help at the university career fair and participated in stadium clean-up after basketball games. In terms of service events, Beta Psi' conducted several service activities including volunteering at the Kansas Geographic Bee and volunteering at several events concerning the local Konza Prairie. Beta Psi also had events that helped the professional development of students. In October, there was a brown bag talk given by department faculty concerning study abroad opportunities in an interdisciplinary geography and biological and agricultural engineering course. Beta Psi also sponsored several lectures including those by distinguished Alumni Leslie Durham and the AAG Past-President and scholar, Dr. Glen MacDonald.  The chapter at K-State also helped promote Geography Awareness Week by engaging students in a photo competition centered on the theme of Civil Rights Movements. There were eight new inductees for the 2017-2018 year, including both undergraduate and graduate students.

Beta Xi, University of Missouri

During the 2017-2018 academic year, Beta Xi initiated 22 new members, bringing a large infusion of new energy into the chapter. We worked closely with the Mizzou Geography Club throughout the year. Our members volunteered at the Missouri Geographic Bee and with Missouri River Relief, hosted monthly social gatherings, and designed and sold a Mizzou Geography t-shirt to raise awareness of Geography on campus and to commemorate the department's return to a newly renovated Stewart Hall.

Delta Mu, University of Mary Washington

Co-organized a graduate school info session (October 2017).
Co-organized a career day session (March 2018).
Co-organized a Annual Symposium (April 2018).

Delta Tau, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

For this year GTU has been attempting to grow interest in the organization. Due to the fact the Department has a sizable Foundation we value our scholars and provide support for joining GTU. From that we hope to provide more opportunities. GTU members do meet monthly discussing ways to get more involved. We are continuing our search for a speaker, but due to some broader issues we were unable to lock a speaker down. In the fall 2017 semester GTU members did provide a variety of supporting roles for Geography Awareness Week, with the biggest support in sponsoring a presentation by the University's Career Services Office on how to access the new Job Portal called Handshake. Around 20 students from the Geography Department attended. Often GTU is connected with the Geography Club. Both organizations hosted a Grilled Cheese Social as well as a Pancake Social. In both instances around 30 students attended.

For the spring 2018 Semester GTU has been busier with more activities to come. Invites to new members were sent and eight student accepted. Before this, GTU members sponsored a Kids in STEAM Event on campus for elementary school kids in early March. We set up a drone flight simulator and also brought over of Sand Table to show fluvial geomorphology. Kids liked both and GTU members tried to instill geographic knowledge. In April, GTU members aided in facilitating focus group discussions regarding EDI in the Geography Department. Members helped by encouraging geography majors and minors to participate in the focus groups. Information from these focus groups will be collected and provided to the Department. In late April, GTU sponsored our annual breakfast for students participating in a University wide celebration of Undergraduate Research. Typically students make pancakes and other treats to celebrate geography's strong tradition in undergraduate research. This breakfast has become a hit among the students. Finally, GTU had an initiation ceremony on May 11 in conjunction with the Department's end of the year festivities. We also had elections for new officers that will continue for the fall 2018 semester.

Epsilon Delta, West Liberty University

Epsilon Delta at West Liberty University inducted 6 new members in May. Highlights from this year include a sneaker drive that collected over 200 pairs of shoes for recycling and redistribution to developing regions (bringing our four year total to over 1000 pairs kept out of landfills), GTU members serving as student representatives on the University Sustainability Council, recruitment for the geography and planning major at University open house events, and an increased number of GTU members completing internships through local geographic and community planning organizations. GTU members also prepared a special Appalachian meal for members of university community during our International Food Festival this spring.

Epsilon Kappa, Macalester College

Geography awareness week (trivia night, button making, tea with GTU presidents, Geography t-shirt day).
- David Lanegran Day (tour and presentation of Reconnect Rondo, Geog dept bowling (and trivia) at Ran-Ham Alley, with spectacular prizes).
- We <3 Geography Valentine's Day party (cookie decorating and valentine making in the lounge).
- Study Abroad lunch (recent returnees present on their experiences).
- Sophomore lunch (GTU presidents answer questions and offer advice to sophomore geography students).
- (coming) Senior skit at the Spring supper.

Epsilon Psi, Colgate University

In September, Colgate University's GTU chapter organized a field trip for all geography students to Green Lakes State Park in upstate NY. We strengthened ties in the geography community by hiking around the park together, discussing the physical geography of the area, and having dinner.

In October, Colgate hosted Matthew Huber, a geography professor at Syracuse University. GTU leadership introduced Professor Huber to the audience assembled for his talk. Professor Huber then attended our chapter's induction of new members that evening.

In May, GTU organized a day of service at Colgate's community garden. GTU members assisted with weeding, equipment assembly, and construction of vegetable beds for the summer season.

GTU leadership also organized periodic geography department happy hours open to all faculty, staff, and geography students throughout the 2017-2018 academic year. Happy hours gave students and faculty the opportunity to interact in a less formal setting.

Eta Chi, Northern Michigan University

Graduate School Information Panel September 29, 2017

Marquette County E-Waste Recycling September 18, 2017

Spooky Science Night at the UP Children's Museum October 28, 2017

Final Exam Study Sessions December 4–8, 2017

Spring Induction Ceremony April 5, 2018

4th Annual Anderton's Earth Week April 16–20, 2018

  • Eta Kappa, Salem State University

    The Eta Kappa Chapter inducted into membership 16 undergraduate students and 2 graduate students at the Department's annual Geography Day event on April 27, 2018.  Over 50 people attended this ceremony.  Five GTU members, including some of this year's inductees, were recognized for outstanding academic achievement and service to the community.  Christian Schluter was awarded the James J. Centorino Memorial Award for Superior Academic Achievement in Geography. Jessica Freeman was awarded the National Council for Geographic Education for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Geography. Mark Piandes was awarded the J. Michael Ruane Award for Excellence in Digital Cartography. Caroline Sulick was awarded the Dr. John George Memorial Scholarship Awarded to a Junior. Rob Banks was awarded the Graduate Student Award for Excellence in the Geo-Information Sciences.  Student members were encouraged to make presentations at the NESTVAL and national AAG conferences.

    Eta Lambda, Villanova University

    -- The Chapter Sponsored a department trip to Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA. The trip included: historical tours, a hay ride, and campfire event.
    -- The Chapter sponsored the fall and spring Environmental Colloquium Series, which included seven speakers. The highlight was Roger Sorkin of the American Resilience Project, who presented his sea level rise film titled "Tidewater."
    -- The annual induction ceremony was held during the Graduation and Awards Dinner on 24 April 2018 at Maggiano's Restaurant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

    Eta Theta, Auburn University

    This year, the chapter was able to successfully coordinate several events that resulted in new membership and greater interest in the geography program. In the fall, the stand-out event for the semester was the hosting of Geography Awareness Week activities from November 12-18th. Events included an educational poster and audio tour of the Civil Rights movement in relation to Montgomery, Alabama, a presentation about ArcGIS Pro from an ESRI representative, and G.I.S. Day activities on the campus' green-space. Faculty and students hosted several geographic games, as well as a drone demonstration, for passing students. Another event during the fall included Chapter members promoting geography as a major to potential students at Auburn's STEM Minority Visitation Day. In the spring, similar events were hosted including a research symposium showcasing geography and geology student projects, but the stand-out event was the Earth Day celebration on April 25th. Chapter members hosted various Earth-themed games, with an emphasis on sustainability and ecological awareness. The events were hosted in coordination with several other departments and groups at Auburn, encouraging a very large turnout of participants.

    Eta Zeta, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Our chapter at Virginia Tech inducted a total of four outstanding undergraduates into the organization this semester. Members are geography and meteorology majors and represent a diverse array of students across our department. Our members are also active in the Geographic Society (a service organization at Virginia Tech), the Virginia Tech Meteorology Club and the award winning student American Meteorological Society Chapter.

    Gamma Chi, University of Nebraska-Omaha

    Restarted chapter.
    Initiated 8 new memebers.
    Paired with Geography Club for annual Canned Food Drive and Bake Sale.
    Aided Geography Club in setting up Geography Week activities.
    Attended local Czech/Slovak festival.

    Gamma Kappa, University of Arkansas

    During the 2017-2018 academic year, Gamma Kappa's main activities consisted of fundraising, conference participation, and participation in department events. Fundraising through the sale of map booklets to introductory geography courses netted Gamma Kappa our operating budget for the academic year. This money was in-turn distributed through a research and travel scholarship, which allowed Gamma Kappa Chapter Secretary Jacob Rowlett to attend the annual American Association of Geographers meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the conference, he presented a poster on his soon to be completed thesis "Geography of the Middle East through the Western Lens." Jake's work explores the manipulation and orientalization of the geography of the Middle East in the context of Western cinema, paying special attention to the use of the landscapes American Southwest as surrogates for the landscapes of the Southwest Asia and North Africa.

    Further activities involved several members attending the Southwest AAG regional meeting in October, as well as the participation of all graduate members of the Gamma Kappa chapter in the annual University of Arkansas Geosciences Research Conference in November. Gamma Kappa participated in various events within the University of Arkansas Department of Geosciences over the course of the year as well, including recruitment events for prospective graduate students. Finally, the Gamma Kappa chapter was crowned champion in the annual Geosciences Department fall chili cook-off.

    Furthermore, Gamma Kappa was excited to see chapter advisor Dr. Thomas Paradise be inducted into the international Explorers Club as an Explorers Club Fellow, in recognition for his internationally renowned work on Petra in southern Jordan.

    Planned activities for the 2018-2019 academic year include sponsorship of several colloquium lectures and public events, conference participation, and further fundraising and member-recruitment efforts. Gamma Kappa is particularly excited about hosting a speaker from the Cave Research Foundation, an event which will promote the multifaceted nature of geographic research, both in Geography and in the University of Arkansas Department of Geosciences.

    Gamma Omega, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

    This year the chapter participated in several events, and inducted ten new members. Of our inductees, two are MS students in Geography, one is a MA in Anthropology, five are geography majors, and two are regional planning majors. In addition to bi-weekly meetings, Gamma Omega members hosted a wine and cheese tasting event, and participated in a local chili cook off to raise money for local communities and conference travel. The culminating event of the school year is a GTU banquet hosted by GTU members in celebration of new inductees with Professor Emeritus Kenneth C. Martis giving a short, but poignant, talk celebrating students' achievements and giving advice for future aspirations, including travel and their lifelong commitment to geography service.

    Gamma Phi, Frostburg State University

    Our chapter's highlights for Academic Year 2018 include:

    • Sponsored a local family for Thanksgiving
    • Conducted a chapter fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings
    • Adopted a portion of Midlothian Road in Frostburg and has been maintaining it for MDOT
    • Saw two of its members earn funding to attend the 2018 AAG National Meeting in New Orleans
    • Organized and hosted a pair of trivia nights on campus
    • Participated in a departmental Brown Bag presentation covering the student experience at AAG
    • Hosted an end-of-semester camping trip in the Savage River State Forest
    • Hosted a snow tubing trip to Wisp Resort
    • Helped with conducting the 2018 Maryland Geographic Bee
    • Staffed a table at the FSU Major's Fair
    • Formed a team to play in FSU's Student Alumni Association Amazing Race competition
    • Participated in the Great Allegany Passage Trail clean up
    • Participated in the Beautify the Burg community outreach event

    We have lots more planned for 2019, and will be striving for a Chapter Award! Actually, I think the chapter met all of the requirements aside from the FB posts for 2018. Look for us next year! (that said, we'd happily accept an award for 2018 -- wink wink)

    Iota Gamma, Northern Illinois University

    This was a year of service for the Iota Gamma Chapter. In the fall, we helped to coordinate and staff Geography activities at the annual STEMfest at NIU, staffed Career Day in the Department of Geography, and hosted a roundtable discussion on applying to graduate school in Geography. In the spring, we met with potential graduate students visiting the department, and initiated 5 new members.

    Iota Xi, University of Central Arkansas

    The Iota Xi Chapter of GTU was reorganized during the 2017-2018 academic year. The core of the Department of Geography's student-led Geography Club was eligible for induction and were our first new initiates in several years. We had several events over the course of the year that highlighted the reemergence of active Geography and GTU students on campus. Students helped to organize the first UCA GIS Day event in over 4 years and brought alumni and current students together to discuss the possibilities of Geography as a career choice. A humanitarian mapping effort was done in support of efforts related to Hurricane Maria where students used remotely sensed images to identify structural issues in Puerto Rico after the storm. Several GTU students also attended the Annual American Association of Geographers conference in New Orleans and presented their current research. The members of the Iota Xi Chapter hope that our small steps this year are the foundation for more significant contributions in the coming academic years.

    Kappa Delta, Central Connecticut State University

    During the 2017-2018 year, Dr. Peter Kyem stepped down as Central Connecticut State University's (CCSU) Kappa Delta Chapter Faculty Sponsor and Dr. Tim Garceau took over this role at CCSU. We thank Dr. Kyem for his many years of service in this role. Dr. Garceau has recently completed his third year as an Assistant Professor at CCSU and teaches Human Geography, Introduction to Planning and a variety of upper-level and grad-level planning courses.

    At the April 2018 CCSU Geography Department Banquet, nine new initiates were welcomed into the Kappa Delta Chapter of the GTU and pledged themselves to service in geography. Of the nine, seven were undergraduates and two were graduate students; representing specializations in in environmental geography, planning, GIS, hospitality and tourism, and sustainability.

    At the annual banquet, the department also recognizes students who have been inducted into GTU in prior years and have continued to exhibit successes both in the classroom and out of it as they have progressed in their careers at CCSU. This year, Emily Scanlon (inducted into GTU in 2017) was recognized as the outstanding undergraduate student for her exemplary academic performance in a breadth of geography, planning and tourism/hospitality courses as she completed her degree requirements. Ashley Stephens (inducted into GTU in 2016) was recognized as the outstanding graduate student for her hard work, dedication and outreach while serving as Operations Manager for the Connecticut Geographic Alliance over the past year.

    Kappa Kappa, University of South Florida, Tampa

    During the 2017 to 2018 academic year our GTU chapter inducted several new members. We successfully held meetings several times per month which helped us to organize several major events this year. We have also continued to work with two other professional organizations within the Geosciences department at our university. With their support we were successful in organizing two professional networking events to help introduce undergraduate and graduate students to geography, environmental science, and geology professionals. We invited several people from each field to give presentations that showcased not only what jobs are available in each field, but also how to be marketable and apply for specific jobs.

    Kappa Lambda, St. Cloud State University

    The 2017-18 academic year was a transitional, yet fulfilling year for St. Cloud State University's GTU chapter. We began the year with recruiting new members to fill our board positions and hosted a GTU member drive. Through various times throughout the year, we held social nights and film screenings that connected to a multitude of cultures around the globe, including a screening of a Welsh film, complete with Welsh cakes and tea. During the winter season, we traveled to St. Paul, MN to learn about the cultural history of the nearby region, West St. Paul and visited museums, restaurants, and downtown areas.

    All three board members, who also happened to be graduating seniors; Alison Henning, Lucas Laniel, and Jessie Wade presented their senior thesis projects at the Midwest Undergraduate Geography Symposium, along with faculty advisor, Gareth John, at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in April. Jessie Wade brought the chapter on a historical walking tour of Stillwater, MN, one of the first towns to be established in the state of Minnesota.

    The chapter collectively worked with the Geography department at SCSU to plan the annual spring scholarship awards at the university, where multiple new members were inducted into GTU and received scholarships for their academic work. Current member and past President of GTU-Kappa Lambda chapter, Molly Lou Pintok, presented her master's thesis at AAG in New Orleans as well as during the SCSU Geography scholarship awards. Molly Lou also hosted a presentation with the GIS company that she is an analyst for - Johnson Outdoors - a company that creates maps for lakes for well-known brands including, Humminbird, Lakemaster, and Minnkota.

    With all of the board members of Kappa Lambda graduating in spring 2018, a new roster of members were inducted into the chapter, including a new President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary, and they already have multiple field trips planned for the fall of 2018!

    Lambda Upsilon, Grand Rapids Community College

    The Lambda Upsilon chapter at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) continues to play an integral role in the institution's Geography program: Chapter members engage in community service, as well as scholarship, while also organizing events promoting Geography as germane to solving 21st century problems.

    In its eighth year, Lambda Upsilon's effort in raising funds for female education in Africa has been successful in supporting a number of girls attending high school in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Chapter members also conduct research in a variety of fields and present their findings at academic conferences. Demonstrating academic excellence, Kara Jueckstock took first place in the undergraduate paper competition at the East Lakes Division of the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting with her presentation, "Tourism in the Caribbean: Utopian Ideal or Dystopian Disaster?" This appears to have been the first time a community college student won the undergraduate student paper competition at an AAG regional conference. Incidentally, joining Kara with an award for the best presentation by a graduate student was GRCC alumna (and former Lambda Upsilon President) Alyson Mabie, who graduated with a master's degree in Geography from Western Michigan University in May 2018.

    A Lambda Upsilon member also participated in the annual meeting of the California Geographical Society in Sacramento. This was the eighth consecutive year GRCC's GTU chapter was represented at the conference. Ryan Mulder's paper, "Corporate Colonialism: Higher Education and the Foreign Student Trade," was particularly captivating. He discussed how certain groups of foreign students are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain visas for internships following the completion of academic coursework, and this threatens degree completion, especially for those enrolled in STEM fields. While Ryan addressed how the geography of changing foreign student enrollment in higher education affects colleges, universities, and American corporations, he drew a number of insightful comments and questions.

    For the tenth consecutive year, GRCC's GTU chapter sponsored a Visiting Geographical Scientist. Jonnell Robinson, Assistant Professor of Geography and Director of Community Geography at Syracuse University, delivered a lecture before 157 members of the GRCC student body, faculty, academic staff, and local community titled: "Points, Lines and People: Connecting People and Place through Community Geography." To say that Dr. Robinson's lecture sparked inspiration is an understatement; a small selection of comments from students is in order:

    "Community Geography sounds like what I may want to do with my life. Thank you for inviting Dr. Robinson to speak. It filled me up."------ Community Geography and the work Robinson is doing is completely inspiring." -----"I think that community geography is an excellent way to engage with the community and it helps find solutions for the problems that the community is facing. More colleges and universities should follow Syracuse's lead and include community geography programs." ------ "I thought the seminar was very enlightening and showed me how geographers can make a real impact on issues like social injustices." ---- "I think that Community Geography is an important thing to be incorporated in our society's life and should be advertised and talked about nationwide." ----- "The work is so extremely important because spatial perspectives, inclusivity, and collaboration between groups is what offers real change to communities. I feel that this work is monumental."

    Dr. Robinson's work is monumental indeed, and by discussing it with the GRCC community, she not only demonstrated the relevance of Geography, she convinced many to consider engaging in efforts to contribute to their local communities and ameliorate social injustice. Here is a splendid example of how an exemplary VGSP speaker can touch lives and make a difference for the better. This also shows why at GRCC, the VGSP has become a vital part of the Geography program.

    Lambda Zeta, Wayne State College

    In November 2017, the Lambda Zeta chapter held our annual Geography Bowl on campus in conjunction with Geography Awareness Week. For the seventh year in a row, eight student teams representing majors from across the school competed in a geography quiz bowl, single elimination format, to determine the Wayne State College champion. A raffle to give away geography-related promotional items to audience members took place between rounds. Over 150 people attended the event. Local GTU chapter students and faculty ran all aspects of the Geography Bowl, billed as "The Fastest 90 Minutes on Campus."

    The chapter also sponsored a public presentation in February 2018. Mr. Justin Aaberg, recent Wayne State College social sciences education major now working as a high school social studies teacher in Nebraska City, gave a presentation on "Words of Wisdom for Future Teachers." Mr. Aaberg discussed the importance of participating in club/organization events (including GTU activities) while still an undergraduate and how knowledge of geography is critical when teaching world and/or U.S. history.

    Overall, the Lambda Zeta chapter initiated 7 new members in Fall 2017 and 3 new members in Spring 2018.

    Mu Chi, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

    The Mu Chi Chapter at University of South Florida St. Petersburg had another year full of events.  The chapter began the year by sponsoring the ICAR II (Initiative on Coastal Adaptation and Resilience). Workshop on campus from Oct 4-5, 2017. This was followed by a formal induction ceremony for 7 new chapter members on November 30, 2017. The Mu Chi Chapter sponsored and participated in different campus-wide events including:

    Oceanography-themed movie night– Sep 28, 2017; ICAR Graphic Arts Contest and showcase – Sep 5, 2017; Volunteering Partnership with the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs – Feb 15-17, 2017. We were also engaged in other activities such as distribution of flyers covering barriers to equal geographic distribution of food (food deserts) in St. Petersburg, volunteering partnership with Boyd Hill Nature Preserve removing invasive species, and Earth day Mapathon. Two of our members (Mark Groom and Leo Meirose) presented their works at the 2018 AAG meeting in New Orleans. Due to the growth in geography major on our campus, and given that many of our members graduated this spring and more are set to graduate next fall, it is important that we push to recruit more new chapter members. This June, the Mu Chi Chapter will continue its undergraduate recruitment efforts through participation in orientations and resource fairs for incoming students. I effort to increase membership, we will begin having a bi-annual new member induction staring in fall 2018. Inductions will be conducted third week in October for the fall semester and third week in march for the spring semester.

    Mu Delta, University of Richmond

    The Mu Delta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon of the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Richmond introduced five new members in its eighth year of existence. We began the year by tabling at SpiderFest, the campus club fair, to greet first year students and spread the love for geography. In October, we celebrated UR's 10th anniversary of hosting GIS Day festivities by sponsoring an alumni lunch during which former UR alumni and GTU members spoke with current students about their professional experience working with geography/GIS. Other GIS Day activities included a geography-themed cake contest and several student member presentations on their individual research and interests. We also created maps of water bottle refilling stations and bike racks on campus in partnership with the Office of Sustainability and Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity in our "Caring Cartography Mapmaking Blitz." Finally, several of our members represented University of Richmond at the AAG (American Association of Geographers) annual conference in New Orleans and at the VAMLIS (Virginia Association for Mapping and Land Information Systems) conference, where UR students swept the podium in the Undergraduate Web Map competition.

    Mu Eta, Mississippi State University

    Mu Eta initiated 5 new members in the fall and 2 new members in the spring; Reagan Belk, Brian Conlan, Elvin Cordero, Scott Burchett, Jeffrey Jackson, Alex Herbst and Karly Lyons. The chapter met several times. The fall meeting featured an invited guest, new professor Taylor Shelton, who gave a talk about human geography and his research in digital geographies. He made a pitch for students to enroll in his spring class. Refreshments were served. At the spring initiation meeting, we initiated two new members and recognized outgoing president Mary Grace Chambers, who has been the president for several years. Reagan Belk was elected to take over. Many of our members are distance education students, and those who are on-campus are busy, so it is difficult to have officers. We only have a president right now, but will gauge interest in the fall. The t-shirt/polo shirt fundraiser made about $115.

    Mu Gamma, University of Texas at Dallas

    The Mu Gamma Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon was founded in 2010, but went defunct until it was reinstated in May 2017. As such, 2017-2018 was the first school year that GTU was active on the UT Dallas campus since 2010. Having few records from the past to base our organization on, it was a year of learning and growth.

    Our chapter was re-instated on campus during the previous year by former student Agnes Cikowska-Teczar. Due to her diligence, she contacted the international organization to set everything up, initiated 20 students and held elections for a president and vice president. She also started the GIS Clinic on campus and secured a room for our organization to use. Building off this modest start, we carried through her vision during the 2017-2018 school year.

    For the GIS Clinic, we recruited several students through visiting classes and publicizing our services while explaining the perks of being a volunteer. We now have a solid volunteer base for any projects or questions that come to us from anyone at the university. We also recorded past projects and contacts, created a survey to analyze our success, updated the computers with software, and moved our founding chapter's framed certificate to the clinic room.

    Typical yearly duties were met. We held a member meeting where various topics were discussed and voted on. Monthly meeting with the dean of the college, Dr. Dean, were held, as well as meetings each semester with the faculty advisor, Dr. Griffith. Elections were held at the beginning of the year to fill the secretary and treasurer positions, as well at the end of the school year to elect a new president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer for the 2018-2019 school year. Our 2018 spring initiation provided one new initiate into our group, while streamlining the process itself by converting in-person interactions to online transactions.

    Through the year, we organized a Google Drive and saved all documents that were kept to legitimize our organization. This included minutes from any meetings with members or faculty, advertising flyers, invoices, polls, important emails, and important international documents. The main contribution the officers made this year was compiling an officer manual for future officers to learn from and contribute their own insights. Passing on the knowledge we gained this year was an important goal for our organization, so we do not reinvent the wheel every year.

    Obtaining funding was the hardest part of the year and the one thing we did not make a ton of progress on. In our member meeting, we voted on raising the local dues $10 to provide a small amount to start the organization off with funds. We were able to come up with many ideas that will hopefully come to fruition in the next year. Although we brainstormed more ideas than we could implement, Mu Gamma now has a better foundation to grow from in the upcoming year.

    Mu Kappa, Hofstra University

    In the fall semester of 2017 Mu Kappa celebrated National Geographic's annual Geography Awareness Week (November 12-18), by organizing a guest talk titled 'Climate Change and Globalization in Coastal Regions: Opportunities and Challenges for Building Resilience' by Dr. Robin Leichenko (Geography professor at Rutgers University) with a luncheon afterwards where invited students and faculty could talk with the speaker. The lecture was co-sponsored with the Department of Global Studies and Geography, and the Hofstra Cultural Center, and it was very well attended, with around 130 people in the audience, many of whom asked questions during the Q&A session following the talk.

    Three student members and three faculty members of Mu Kappa presented their research at the annual AAG conference in New Orleans, April 2018. On May 2, 2018, we organized the annual Mu Kappa initiation ceremony where 24 new members (23 students and one faculty) were initiated. The ceremony was held as a luncheon at the University Club. The event was attended by both new and old members of Mu Kappa, along with Global Studies and Geography faculty and staff. Keynote speaker, Dr. Luis Alvarez León, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Urban- Economic Geography in the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, gave a short speech about the importance of geography as a discipline for social analysis and change. He later gave a talk to students and faculty titled, 'From Streetscapes to Navigable Landscapes: Crowdsourcing and Contesting the Spaces of Autonomous Driving.'

    Associate Professor Kari Jensen and Adjunct Assistant Professor Veronica Lippencott serve as president and vice president, respectively, of Mu Kappa, and they initiated this year's new members. Mu Kappa director of events, Assistant Professor Craig Dalton recruited the speaker for the initiation ceremony. Mu Kappa secretary and student member Rachel Scarpino designed the printed program, and introduced the initiates to the history and symbolism of Gamma Theta Upsilon at the initiation ceremony. Department administrator, Jackie Geis assisted with the logistics. Mu Kappa secretary and student member Rachel Scarpino organized Mu Kappa's "Textbooks for Africa" donation drive. The drive became very successful, with support not only from the Department of Global Studies and Geography, but also from other schools and departments at Hofstra University. Seven boxes of books were shipped out in June to "Books for Africa" in Atlanta, GA, from where books are distributed to many different African countries.

    Mu Pi, University of West Florida

    The Mu Pi chapter inducted twelve new members this academic year. Overall, 21 members volunteered over 230 hours, leading and assisting in various projects and events. At our Spring BioBlitz event, which lasted through the month of April, 64 species observations were collected through the cell phone app, iNaturalist ( florida-bioblitz-spring-2018). Participants also completed a species scavenger hunt while learning about plants and animals native to our area. During Fall and Spring, we led nine Pot of Gold game show-style study sessions for the Into to Earth Science students. Those students that attended made an average of five points higher on their exam compared to those that did not attend. We met with some undergraduate students for one-one-one tutoring sessions, as well. Members participated in two Science Friday events, one for 5th graders and one for 7th graders. At the elementary school showcase, we gave a presentation about the water cycle and helped students build their own rain gauge out of plastic soda bottles. Also, we demonstrated a groundwater model to show the students how surface waters make their way through the environment. At the middle school showcase, we gave presentations detailing the water cycle and discussed the implications of plastic in our oceans and waterways. We had the students make bracelets using recycled plastic beads and demonstrated what a plastic bag looks like suspended in water next to a jellyfish specimen. Graduate students served as ambassadors by visiting science classes at local high schools. Their presentations promoted our department and Earth and Environmental Sciences. Members assisted UWF's Student Environmental Action Society with their Recycle Awareness campaign by informing students about recyclable items and on-campus recycling. We contributed in making Valentine's day cards for kids at a local children's hospital. Individual members led several undergraduate and graduate research projects. Members coordinated and participated in social events such as nature trail hikes, a canoe trip, dinner and trivia nights, Blue and Green Week homecoming events, and tailgating at UWF home football games. Four members graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Science (Mary Degenhart, Amber Huggins, Madison Cross, and Shawnee Doling-Ty). New member Shawnee Doling-Tye was presented with the annual chapter excellence award for her hard work and contribution of her time (20+ hours) this Spring semester.

    Mu Rho, Owens Community College

    Mu Rho chapter at Owens Community College inducted two new members for the 2017-2018 academic year. The new members were inducted, received their certificates, membership cards, and graduation cords at our annual luncheon on April 19. The induction luncheon is held in conjunction with our college's chapter of Psi Beta Psychology honor society and a guest speaker does a short presentation. Faculty from the Social & Behavioral Sciences Department, Dean of Liberal Arts, Provost, and Owens CC President also attend the luncheon.

    Eric Kostecky, a member of Mu Rho chapter who was inducted in April 2017, transferred to the University of Toledo. He was awarded a Summer 2018 research grant through the UT Office of Undergraduate Research. The title of his project is, "Exploring Chesapeake Bay as a Model for Solutions the Harmful Algal Blooms in Western Lake Erie".

    Nu Eta, Missouri Western State University

    We have not accomplished much this year. We were just chartered and held our first initiation on April 20, 2018. Of the seven members we inducted, two are already alums, two more graduated on May 4, 2018 and the remaining three will graduate in December 2018, so it was difficult to get officers or establish ourselves as a student organization on campus. We did decide to start a Geography Club at MWSU whereby, all GTU members will be members of Geography Club, but other students with an interest in geography who were not eligible for GTU can also participate. The Geography Club is currently working on several activities and service projects for the fall including a regional chili cook-off, trivia night, movie night, and several educational projects, including painting maps on school playgrounds.

    Nu Zeta, Tarleton State University

    We had an opening social in September where we had a "geography bowl" competition using GeoGuessr. All GTU members were there and 10 perspective members attended as well.

    Nu Theta, University of Southern California

    The Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California received a charter to establish the Nu Theta Chapter in the 2017-2018 academic year. The Nu Theta Chapter inducted 50 students and faculty as its inaugural members and approximately 25 participated in a special ceremony on the USC campus where inductees were presented with their certificates and celebrated at a reception with family and friends.

    In addition to the induction ceremony, GTU members helped plan and host a "mapathon" with students from the University of California, Los Angeles. The friendly competition saw students, faculty, and staff compete to determine who could make the most map edits for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The USC team came out on top 2,875 accepted entries, benefiting the response teams in areas affected by recent hurricane activity.

    GTU members also participated in the 2018 Los Angeles Geospatial Summit, presented by the Spatial Sciences Institute. Students and faculty from USC and other regional higher education GIS and geography programs , along with members of industry, spent the day sharing ideas, presenting research, and discussing the future of geography and geographic information science. Several USC Nu Theta GTU members presented posters and many more were among the attendees at this annual event.

    Theta Gamma, James Madison University

    The 2017-2018 academic year went great for recruiting with 21 total new members be inducted this fall and spring. We set up volunteering opportunities with the university's arboretum to help maintain a healthy environment. Our biggest event was hosting an internship talk to help answer any questions about finding a job.

    Zeta Chi, Old Dominion University

    • We hosted GIS Day (November 15, 2017) and the event was a big success with over 100 attendees. Invited guests from various GIS companies and agencies who gave presentations on their work in GIS. Also, students (graduate and undergrad) participated in the Poster competition, presented projects and hosted a lively expert's panel. The students had a great time networking with local employers and discussing their future plans.
    • We facilitated the opportunity for students to go to various conferences, such as AGU fall meeting 2017, Third World Congress on GIS and Remote Sensing, and AAS, to present their research projects.
    • Participated in several cultural events: Cultural Explosion 2018, Dragon Dance in New York City Chinese New Year parade, and Explore New Orleans Cuisine.
    • Hosted several team building events: Camping at Shenandoah Mountains, Hiking along the Appalachian Trail, GTU Barbeque, Cultural Dinners, and ODU Adventure Program Challenge Course.
    • Increased sponsorship efforts with other campus orgs.
    • Started a tutoring program
    • Co-sponsored with other clubs in philanthropy events, such as Relay for Life.
    • Performed several community service tasks-Lambert point cleanup - cleaned adjacent neighborhoods around ODU by picking up litter that would otherwise end up in the Elizabeth River.
    • Hosted several open forum meetings and initiation members in March 2017. Dr. Hua Liu, Prof. Timothy Kidd, and Paul Anderson and ran the official ceremony to initiate 2 new members to the Zeta Chi chapter.

    Zeta Theta, Northwest Missouri State University

    We began our year with an Annual Induction ceremony. Our chapter sponsored a GeoBowl event in November to help raise food and money for our local food bank. We had 18 participating teams of two or three. Our fundraiser this year was selling mashed potatoes with desired toppings at the entrance to the Garrett-Strong Science Building for a week during April. Our chapter was well connected this year by using the "group me" app. We co-sponsored Geo Olympics with the Geo Club. The Geo Olympics are events that highlight geographic skills such as using a rock hammer, wayfinding using GPS, and hiking while carrying a heavy pack full of equipment. The highlight of this and every academic year is our members graduating. We had three graduates in the fall of 2017 and four in spring of 2018.

    Zeta Xi, University of Toledo

    The highlight of the 2017-2018 academic year for the Zeta Xi chapter was a Career Day, which they hosted. This has become an annual event that brings alumni in various stages of their careers to campus to meet with current students both in more formal panel sessions and informal one-on-one interactions during lunch or a reception. The chapter also organized a special showing at the planetarium on campus that included a climate change documentary. Throughout the year, the students met at least five times a semester to have regular meetings where they shared their experiences in internships, study abroad, and practiced presentations for professional meetings. The year culminated in the GTU initiation on April 24, 2018 when we had GTU initiation and our Geopardy competition, which attracts both students and faculty members. Next year the students plan to work on organizing and advertising events more, particularly getting undergraduate students more involved in the chapter.



    Previous years:

    Chapter Reports 2016-2017

    Chapter Reports 2015-2016

    Chapter Reports 2014-2015

    Chapter Reports 2013-2014

    Chapter Reports 2012-2013

    Chapter Reports 2011-2012

    Chapter Reports 2010-2011

    Chapter Reports 2009-2010

    Chapter Reports 2008-2009 (PDF)

    Chapter Reports 2007-2008 (PDF)