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The Student Experience: Mapping a Great Career

The Student Experience: Mapping a Great Career

Spring 2014

Hands-on, high-tech mapping by FVTC’s Natural Resources students benefits visitors of Wisconsin’s state parks.

It all started when Bruce Cecka, instructor in Fox Valley Technical College’s Natural Resources Technician program, agreed to map nearby High Cliff State Park in 1999. “State funds simply no longer cover such things,” states Cecka. “This project also gives students something impressive to add to their resumé, while providing a vital service to our state parks.”

Equipped with GPS units, Cecka and his students visited High Cliff to gather the necessary mapping data. “Back on campus, we input the data using the latest software to put together the maps,” he says. “It was so successful that we were soon contacted by other state parks.”

Today, park mapping has become a regular project for students in the program. To date, they have mapped 22 Wisconsin state parks. In addition, Cecka turns over all the electronic data and paper maps to the respective parks and to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) GIS office in Madison upon completion of each project.

Recent FVTC graduate Emily Bley helped map Peninsula State Park in Door County. “The project helped me really get to know the details of the park,” says the 22-year-old Egg Harbor native. “That experience was invaluable because I now work there, providing directions and helping visitors.”

Emily Mitchell, a 23-year-old Waupaca native, was part of a team that mapped two state parks, Pattison and Amnicon Falls, both in northwest Wisconsin. “Mapping was a great beginning to my career,” she says. “It led me to work with DNR personnel in other areas. I now work at the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery, doing a little bit of everything.”

“The mapping effort takes a huge amount of work and the payoff impacts everyone who spends time at a state park,” says Cecka. “Our students not only get in-depth classroom studies, but they also gain real DNR experience.”

All in the Detail

The mapping of state parks by students in Fox Valley Technical College’s Natural Resources Technician program gives visitors of these treasured getaways a closer look at the identification of rest areas, designated hunting zones, trails, plants, waterways, notable topography, and much more.

$750,000: approximate cost to map 22 Wisconsin state parks. FVTC students saved hundreds of thousands of tax dollars while engaging in a great learning experience.


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