One of the new projects in the Fall of 2013 at GIS is the Choptank digitizing project, where many interns are working on analyzing the land use and land cover of the Choptank watershed. The watershed encompasses Caroline, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties of Maryland. The project is funded through the Chesapeake Conservancy with a $15,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GIS was awarded the grant because NOAA intends to understand more about how the land in the watershed is being used, as they are currently spending millions of dollars on an oyster restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay. Oyster health is greatly affected by nutrient runoff, which is sourced from farm and residential lands. With a greater understanding of how much farmland and residential areas there is, NOAA will know better how to target areas of high nutrient runoff, minimize them, and hopefully increase the oyster populations in the Bay. In lieu of that, now we will hear from two interns who have been working on the project for the fall semester.
Erika Koontz is a freshman at Washington College, and has been working at GIS since the second week of the fall semester. She is an intended Environmental Studies and Spanish double major, and is thoroughly enjoying the Choptank project, as it directly relates to her environmental interests. Prior to coming to Washington College, Erika lacked experience with ArcGIS, the program used for the project. At GIS, she began learning about Map Layouts and was in the training program, but was quickly thrust into the Choptank project without knowing what digitizing was. However, she dove into the project, learned a lot about ArcGIS and digitizing, and became a productive part of this project. Erika’s digitizing success is due to the help of Olivia Hughes, a junior at Washington College with three years of digitizing experience.
Olivia Hughes (’15) is another member of the Choptank team. This is her third year working at the lab. This project is important to Olivia because she recently participated in Washington College’s Chesapeake Semester, a program that takes an interdisciplinary approach to uncovering the Bay’s issues; much of her time in the program focused on nutrient over-load in the Bay. As a junior, Olivia had a background with digitizing and mapping coming into this project. She had the privilege of helping freshmen, like Erika, get their feet wet with this project as they became new members of the GIS team. Olivia has worked on many projects including , but not limited to: mapping impervious services in Cambridge, digitizing Washington College floor plans, digitizing a base map for the War of 1812 exhibit at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM). The Choptank project has been a good way for her to spread her skills with the underclassman and add a project to her resume.
The Choptank project aims to be completed Spring of 2014 with the help of the many students that make up the team. Upon completion of the Choptank Watershed project, the GIS team looks forward to complete similar work with other watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay, to working toward an accurate land use-land cover map of the Bay.