DeSoto County, MS - DeSoto County teachers went on a treasure hunt of sorts, thanks to the DeSoto County GIS Department. GIS Analyst Rob Winkler was invited to lead one of the sessions during a week-long Teacher Workshop hosted by the Desoto County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Winkler’s session focused on an outdoor recreational activity called geocaching. Participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device to find and/or hide containers called “caches” containing “treasure”.
Geocaching can also be a fun and interactive way to teach students of all ages about mapping, geography, and how GPS signals work. “Geocaching not only gets students excited to learn something new, it also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Winkler.
During the workshop, teachers, armed with GPS units, used coordinates to find hidden treasures around the school. “It was a great workshop and we sincerely appreciate the support we receive from the County and the various departments. They always go above and beyond when asked to assist with our education programs,” said Meleiah Tyus, Information & Education Specialist, DeSoto County Soil & Water Conservation District.
GIS stands for Geographic Information System which is a system for managing and displaying geographic data that can be used for analysis or map creation. The GIS Office manages and updates a variety of geographic data for the County, including addresses, roads, parcels (properties), subdivisions, rivers and streams, flood zones, voting districts, school districts, and more.
Winkler explained how many people use the technology every day without realizing it. “GIS is responsible for mapping the county which is then used by services such as Google maps,” said Winkler. “It’s also vital to virtually marking things such as manhole covers, drainage, and property lines.”
“You hear the mantra ‘location, location, location’ all the time,” said Mark Gardner, District 2 Supervisor and Board President. “In addition to being a Supervisor, I’m also a realtor and broker. GIS technology helps me serve my clients and constituents. The GIS Hub combines land data and maps and even gives a bird’s eye view of property and the surrounding areas.”
The GIS office recently launched the GIS Hub, a free one-stop shop for DeSoto County maps, web-mapping applications, geographic datasets, and statistics, all accessible from the DeSoto County website. Visitors to the GIS Hub can find an assortment of web mapping apps including maps for Church Locations, Elected Officials, Parks, and Trash Collection. "The GIS Hub is a valuable resource as the County grows, said District 5 Supervisor Michael Lee. " I've worked with GIS closing as they map out new addresses and subdivisions."
Visit the GIS Hub at https://desotocounty-dcms-gis.hub.arcgis.com. You can contact the GIS Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-469-8019 for custom mapping requests.
The Desoto County Soil & Water Conservation District hosts educational workshops and community events throughout the year. You can check out the offerings on its website www.desotoswcd.com.