NVC Students Present at Annual Geography Meeting

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Three Northwest Vista Geography and Environmental Sustainability students, along with NVC’s Dr. Scott Walker, presented at the 2018 Southwest Division of the American Association of Geographers annual meeting from Oct. 3-6, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

“Established in 1949, SWAAG exists to further professional investigations in geography, to encourage the application of geographic findings in education, government, and business, and to improve and elevate the public image of geography.”

Students Farhana Khan and Allie Sanchez presented their research on Community College Student Climate Change Knowledge alongside professors and PhD students from large, state research universities from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Farhana Khan and Marcella Palaferri presented their research on the Taghia-Ahansal River Profile in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Their adventure science investigation was conducted during their Geography and Environmental Sustainability Fieldwork Project last summer in Morocco.

In addition to the students presenting, Scott Walker, professor of Geography and Environmental Sustainability presented his research on Marketable Skills and Geography Fieldwork in Higher Education.

Marcella, who will graduate in December, said, “the conference was such an awesome experience, it allowed us to present our research papers and was an excellent opportunity to learn from the other presenters.” Allie stated, “I still can’t believe how fast our time went by. I am so grateful to have been a part of this team and truly enjoyed our time together.”

Farhana, the lead author on both student papers said, “This event will indelibly be written in our memories as we further our education.”

Allie, who wants to go on to study wildlife management, and Scott are currently conceptualizing a new research project using digital camera traps and geographic information system (GIS) mapping to study urban mammals on the Northwest Vista College campus.

The NVC research team also had the opportunity to partake in some of Louisiana’s cultural geography with a side trip to the LSU Rural Life Museum. Northwest Vista College is affiliated with the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative that is supported by the National Science Foundation.

NVC Students Travel to Morocco for Researching and Learning Culture

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Northwest Vista College students ventured over 5,500 miles from San Antonio to the historic region of Zawiya Ahansal in North Africa last May for NVC’s first Adventure Science experiential learning project.

The first leg of their trip landed them in the city of Marrakech in Morocco. Professor Scott Walker of Geography, and Adam Aguirre of Anthropology then led the six students on a five-hour trip to Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains for field work, trekking, community service, and an incredible cultural immersion experience. This area is relatively isolated from the rest of Morocco due to its unique geography.

NVC student, Farhana Khan said, those “two weeks in Morocco were not an average study abroad program…our learning took place at the airport, on bumpy roads, around campsites, and in the river—literally.”

Students, who were enrolled in Physical Geography (GEOG 1301) for the journey, learned how to measure the water flow and discharge of the local river that is used to irrigate subsistence crops by the people of Amazigh, a village in the Morocco mountains. The Taghia River was a crisp 49° F according to their measurements taken while standing knee deep in the water.

Two of the students, Farhana Khan and Marcella Palaferri, with the help of Professor Walker, leveraged the river data into a community service project. They spent the rest of the summer back home crunching numbers to develop a professional 24-page hydrology report they have given to the Atlas Cultural Foundation in Zawiya Ahansal, a region of the mountains that encompasses several villages. This is only the second study of the Taghia watershed ever conducted due to its remote mountain location. The students determined this year’s water flow was up to 542 times more than that found in a previous 2016 study by a professional hydrologist.

Link to report https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xLnOFY4EmaAkSBu63XhMzyddUMnc5tiA/view?usp=sharing

“The project our team completed was an excellent opportunity to understand how important the river systems are for this region,” said student Marcella Palaferri. “It is truly the lifeblood for subsistence farming practiced by the people. The information in our report will be extremely helpful for them for future comparative studies.”

Marcella, Farhana, and Scott will be presenting the results of their work at the 2018 Southwestern Association of American Geographer’s meeting in Baton Rouge, LA next month.

In addition to getting wet and dirty, students conducted interviews of local residents for their Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 2351) class. Each student covered a particular cultural aspect of the community such as religion, the local monetary exchange system, or kinship.

“We were humbled by the simple and family oriented life of the Berbers [Amazigh people] and questioned our rat race for more material goods.,” said Farhana.

Marcella added we “were completely immersed in to the culture for the entire 15-day period.”

The students also worked in two rural schools teaching English to middle and high school-aged students who speak French, Arabic, and Tamazigh. The program’s mountain guides doubled as Arabic and Tamazigh language instructors, teaching NVC students basic survival phrases such as “mashi moshkil” (no problem) and “la la bzaf” (no that costs too much), among other things like how to count to ten. Scott is working with the Atlas Cultural Foundation to plan another adventure science field study project in 2020.

Contributed by NVC Geography Professor Scott L. Waker, ScEdD.