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Jason Sydejko, an ES alumlus, recently joined FOX 21 News and is now the Chief Meteorologist
Recently I received your newsletter and I thought it was very interesting. I see the Geography Dept. has really grown since I've been there, with many new faces. I was a Geography major, graduating in 1979. For the last 20 years I have been employed with St. Louis Co. as a Land Survey Technician II. I'm married and have one daughter, who is currently a Junior at Eveleth-Gilbert High School.
In 1977, when I transferred to UMD from Mesabi Community College, I still really didn't know what I wanted to major in, until I took a few geography courses. I had then realized what I was interested in. I sure do remember Gordy (Prof. Gordon Levine). I had him for Economic Geography, and the "leader" for our field trip which was down in Fillmore County that year. Glad to hear he finally retired! I was especially fond of Matti Kaups. I was very sad when I had heard he passed away. I'm glad the department has a scholarship in his memory.
Currently St. Louis Co. and a company called Pro West are joining forces to complete a GIS parcel layer of as many townships as possible. It is our job to give them Latitude & Longitude on as many land corners as we can with our Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS. The more "coordinates" we can give them the more accurate the parcel layer will be. So far it's been an interesting project. We have approximately 23,000 land corners in St. Louis Co., with about 15-20% of them with accurate coordinates on them. So as you can see, our department has no shortage of work! Your curriculum probably doesn't touch base too much with Land Surveying since there is now a major offered for it at St Cloud St.. But at the time when I was in school, the UMD Geography Dept. was the best available for learning Cartography, Remote Sensing, and a little background in using a compass properly. Even though the technology now is far more advanced, I still employ the skills I learned back then.
Halvard A Berg (Geography and Political Science Major - 1967 graduate):
M.A. in Geography from Kansas State University Worked 34 years with Norwegian Shipping Company, incl. 14 years in foreign postings in San Francisco, Jeddah* (Saudi Arabia), New York, Hong Kong* and Baltimore*, in positions involving marketing and sales, operations, administration and being in charge of the foreign stations*. Early retirement in 2004, at which time I started up Consulting Company, offering services to Transportation and Logistics Companies. Also associated with Marintek Solutions, a Trondheim based consulting company.
Bernard Cousineau (Geography Major - 1961 graduate):
Retired from the Rainy River District School Board. Geography Teacher 1961 to 1998 (Grades 9 to 13). Taught Geography at Hermantown from 1961 to 1967. Initiated the hockey program at Hermantown in 1961. My wife Barbara is a retired school teacher. We have a cabin on Rainy Lake which is accessible by road and we spend a fair amount of time there both winter and summer. It is only 10 miles from Fort Frances.
Ellen Hale (Geography Major - 1964 graduate):
Between 1960 and 1964 I was an undergraduate student in the department as an advisee of Professor Fredrick Witzig. Never had I thought I could pour so much energy into my studies, but Dr. Witzig was such a paragon of academic excellence, that anyone with an iota of self-respect was motivated to turn in a “personal best” in each course. I went on to do graduate work in geography at Northwestern University, taught for 5 years at Johnson High School in St. Paul, earned a 2nd Masters degree in Library Science from the Twin Cities campus, after which I moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin to have the majority of my career at Lombardi Junior High School. Whenever I felt myself in a bit of a professional slump and realizing I hadn’t prepared a lesson as well as I should have, I would conjure up an image of Dr. Witzig looking a bit Disappointedly at me, and I’d get back to work doing the preparation. It wasn’t that he gave me a case of “the guilt’s”, but just remembering his high standards would spur me on.
Robert O. Harder (Geography Major - 1966 graduate):
Air Force R.O.T.C. Distinguished Military Graduate, Retired Vice President of Montgomery Ward & Co. Is currently involved in real estate investment and management and is pursuing a writing career.
Suzanne Harnish (Geography Major – 1993 graduate):
After living in Jamaica for four years, I returned to Duluth to get my paralegal certificate from Lake Superior College. I love my new career, in an organization that provides free legal services to indigent people in St. Louis & Carlton counties.
Maura J. Hawkins (Geography Major - 1980 graduate):
I received the first annual Geography Department newsletter and decided to write back. I graduated in 1980 with a degree in geography – I remember Gordon Levine, Matti Kaups and Professor Hoag quite well. I went on to graduate school at Western Illinois University. I finished my coursework in two years, but it took longer than I thought to finish my master’s thesis. Finally graduated in 1985. I went to work for the State of Massachusetts as an environmental scientist in 1984 in air pollution control. I worked my way up through the State system until 1991 when I left to join an environmental engineering firm. In 1995, I started my own environmental consulting firm and have been developing that company since. I have always liked the combination of logical problem solving and hands-on project work. My work is just that mix. I work mostly with industrial clients who are either resolving environmental compliance issues or looking for ways to avoid them. Environmental issues are a much higher priority in the business world these days. They are no longer relegated to the tree-hugging geek no one pays any attention to. The industry trend is to engineer or design the problems out of the system. I provide regulatory expertise (trust me when I say that most clients will gladly give that job away) and environmental management solutions. Our work ranges from collecting air samples around hazardous waste sites to making recommendations for reducing the use of chemicals in certain industrial processes. We do a lot of work in the power industry assisting power plants to operate in the world of complex environmental regulations.
It was great reading about the geography department’s growth. In school I was often worried about being a “generalist”, but it turns out that having a global view of things and a systems approach is a valuable viewpoint. All the reading, writing and researching pays off in that you can look at problems with a lot broader resources for solving them. I am not the rocket scientist who engineers the problem away, but I know who he is and I can talk to him (or her) and understand him and explain to him what I need for him to solve the problem.
Geography is where it’s at. We are all very worldly and we never get lost.
Stephanie Kessler (Geography Major – 1992 graduate):
My husband and I have two children, a boy William 5 and a girl Sarah 3. I am the chair of the Itasca County Water Plan Implementation Committee & President of my lake association. So I get to use my geography education all the time – its great!
Brian Kough (Geography Major - 1988 graduate):
I'm a 1988 graduate of the UMD Geography department. Thanks for putting out the newsletter! It's really nice to keep up with what's going on in Duluth, UMD and the department. In a way it's too bad that Gordon has left the department. Both he and Matti Kaups are forever seared in my brain as being the mainstays of the Geography department. I can't imagine it without them, but it sounds like you folks have made a lot of progress in leading it into the 21st Century!
Here's a little background on my experiences if you're interested. I'm married and living in Tampa, FL (Valrico, FL actually). It's an interesting twin city with St. Petersburg and has a fascinating sub tropical climate complete with regular hurricanes in the summer months and mild winters. The physical and economic geography is pretty unique too.
I recently completed my masters of arts degree in business and used some of my old cartographic and geographic skills. My master's thesis was a case study of the Tampa downtown airport (Peter O. Knight Airport), specifically the organization/business that runs the airport services and infrastructures call an FBO (Fixed Base Operator). In addition to some obligatory maps showing the general aviation situation of Florida and the Tampa Bay area, I was able to show a very strong correlation between an FBO's main customers and their nearness to the airport.
I'm currently a Marine Officer stationed at MacDill Air Force Base working at U.S. Central Command. Although I don't use a lot of my degree, it does come in handy with some map work and planning efforts in the Middle East. Additionally, back in 1994 after getting out of the Marine Corps for a few years, I worked for a business GIS company, DataMap in Eden Prairie, MN, selling their software and data products. In addition to a business mapping service, we had a unique database based on postal geographies that we linked to census data. Mailing dependant business and location sensitive businesses loved us. Unfortunately they were bought out by a San Diego company, Vista, and broke up the company.
Lori Wilson (Geography Major - 1995 graduate):
I have worked for the Prince William County, Office of Information Technology, GIS Division as a Geographic Information System Analyst for 17 years now. Many things have changed since handmade maps in the early 1980’s to the high tech computers of today and great software.
Addie Zannes (formerly Mercer) (Geography Major - 1999 graduate):
After completing a Masters degree in GIS from the University of New South Wales in Sydney in 2001, I began work as a GIS Analyst for the state department of transportation. In 2005 I was married and my husband and I moved north to Brisbane in Queensland. Now I am a GIS Analyst for the state Fire and Rescue Service. I credit my first spark of interest in GIS to Scott Freundschuh’s Intro to Cartography course!
Gary Bastie (Geography Major - 1975 graduate):
I’ve used my UMD education daily since graduation in 1975. After graduation I coached UMD’s Swim Team and had great success before moving to Florida to attend UF. UF paid me to research, teach, and sponsored my Masters degree and I also assisted with their Swim team. While there I had the honor of being the first UF grad student to teach upper level methods courses, thanks to my experiences at UMD. Go Gators and Bulldogs. Following my UF graduation (Masters in Psychology of Coaching with their Professional P.E. Department), I coached many successful swimmers in FL before moving out west to Houston. There I started an athletic club and worked with American Express as a Troubleshooter in property management(got married as well). Over the years I have coached youth, adult, and Masters level sports, and helped create national programs. I also competed nationally in volleyball and swimming for many years. I retired from coaching after 30 years but I still swim competitively. In 1987 we moved back to Florida to start our own business. Today my wife and I own/mange a national association for small and home based business (see www.myaimusa.com) plus I’m president of PPC, Inc., a national marketing company that provides benefits to association, unions, clubs, and other organizations (see www.myppcusa.com). I write books and articles in my “spare time”. After all these years, I still love geography.
Bill Ferguson (Geography and Air Science Major - 1962 graduate):
After UMD I spent 8 years as a pilot in the UASF and an additional 18 years in the AirForce Reserve. I was a corporate pilot with Cargill, Inc. from 1970 through 2000, based at the Minneapolis-St. Paul IAP. My flying career took me all over the world and I observed many changes in my forty years in aviation. My wife and I now spend our summers in Minnesota and our winters in Arizona.