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4-H Members Present Health Project at Esri International GIS Conference

Three Tennessee 4-H members representing the National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team presented the group's health study project at the Esri International Users Conference in San Diego on July 10 before more than 16,000 people.

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is the use of location-based data to study relationships, make informed decisions, and create maps. The group used GIS to examine the relationships between several possible contributing health factors and adult obesity rates in the United States.   

Esri, the largest producer of GIS software, selected the project to showcase youth-led GIS projects during the plenary session of the conference. Professionals in the audience represented more than 150 countries. The 2016-2017 National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team is composed of ten youth from California, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee who partnered with GIS professionals to learn how to use GIS and better understand their communities, explore careers involving GIS, and encourage other youth to use GIS. The 2017-2018 team of ten youth from Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee will continue using GIS and online maps to examine health issues in their communities.        

Using ArcGIS Pro software live onstage, Austin Ramsey (Sullivan County) and Amanda Huggins and Elizabeth Sutphin (Unicoi County) created maps and charts showing obesity hotspots and how strongly four possible contributing health factors correlate to obesity in every county of the Lower 48 states. You can view their map project and watch the youths’ conference presentation.       

Tennessee members of the National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team are winners of the Tennessee 4-H GIS Contest, which is coordinated by Extension specialist Tim Prather of the UT Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department. Travel support is sponsored by the Tennessee Geographic Information Council (TNGIC) and other donors.   

If you’d like to learn more about the Tennessee 4-H GIS Contest or how you can be a supporter or geomentor in your community, please contact your county Extension office or email 4HGIS@tennessee.edu​.