GPS training positions people for the future

REPUBLIC --- Through 4-H and local schools, WSU Ferry County extension educator Emily Burt actively encourages youth and families to become good environmental stewards by equipping them with the latest technological tools necessary to do that.

Burt teaches introductory GPS (global positioning system) classes for 4-H groups and local schools as well as adults in the county. She has worked with more than 100 youths and adults to provide them with in-depth training in GPS and skills to make critical land-management decisions.

Students ages 11 to 16 are mapping community assets, locating critical landmarks and identifying areas in the forest where diseases occur. That information helps forest owners make better decisions about timber harvest and forest health.

Her goal is to involve children more in the community and to enhance the local economy.

“We also want to get kids outside,” she said.

With the GPS skills Burt taught them, one Ferry County 4-H group is mapping and geocaching local attractions and historical sites to share some of their favorite spots with other kids and promote tourism. Their partners are the Ferry County commissioners, the chamber of commerce and the historical society.

“(Working with the kids) is enjoyable because we’re outside, and what they’re learning is applicable,” Burt said. “It teaches them skills they can use later in their careers.”

Burt has also worked with the Republic Middle School Math Olympiad team and forestry classes at Inchelium High School. She takes special interest in teaching youth about geography and maps to leave them with job skills relevant to the region.

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