The U.S. Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded the Northern Marianas College’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) Program $197,000 to build student and professional capacity in agricultural and natural resource management through upcoming Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing coursework at NMC.
By developing GIS and Remote Sensing courses, and making these courses available to both enrolled students and the public through certificate courses, the capacity of the existing Natural Resource Management workforce will be strengthened and students will be equipped with the technical skills demanded by current industry standards.
“This grant will develop local capacity in the fields of agriculture and natural resource management (NRM),” said NMC NRM Program Coordinator, Kelsey McClellan.”We will be able to strengthen the NRM Program and support workforce development for our students.”
The case studies for the curriculum will be largely Marianas-focused, and the deliverables from these courses will include maps, graphs, and Story Maps – all powerful tools that can help link the community to the research, create dynamic data, and help researchers further untangle and understand the whole picture of the research question being asked.
“There has been a stated need throughout the community for these courses to be offered at NMC, and we are thrilled that USDA NIFA RIIA recognizes the importance and relevance of supporting these programs at the College,” NMC President Galvin Deleon Guerrero, EdD, said. “The integration of GIS and Remote Sensing into the NRM curriculum will enhance the competitiveness of NMC graduates in the local job market and will help contribute to the long-term economic growth and sustainability of the CNMI.”
GIS is a system that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data with software that ties a static data point to a physical location by utilizing latitude and longitude coordinates. By mapping these data collections students and researchers are able to better understand trends, spatial patterns, and distribution of the data.
The remote sensing coursework specifically deals with data that are collected remotely. Examples of remote sensing data include, but are not limited to satellite, aircraft, and drone imagery. The remote sensing coursework will provide students with hands-on experience in image acquisition, processing methods, and analysis. The students will be required to take the GIS Courses prior to the Remote Sensing courses.
“Additionally, by offering GIS and Remote Sensing Certificate Programs, professionals in the community will be able to avail of this coursework and learn new methodologies for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating geospatial data,” McClellan said. “The Natural Resource Management Program is filled with promising students who are the embodiment of NMC’s motto ‘stewardship through scholarship.’ This award opportunity is just the beginning of strengthening the NRM Program and setting our students up for success in higher education and beyond.