Geography In Maine: Northern Maine a World-Class Destination?

To most, we think of the northern Maine woods as remote, secluded, and quite frankly---the middle of nowhere. According to Lonely Planet however, "the sticks" as it is commonly referred to is considered one of the top destinations for tourists in the entire country. "Wait...what?" you may say in puzzlement. With it's scenic beauty, remote destinations, pristine lodging, and unique adventure experiences, the "other State" is becoming one of the best tourism destinations in the U.S. 

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Something to Ponder While You're in a Thanksgiving Food Coma...


As Thanksgiving approaches, it's always a good thing to ponder what we give thanks for. For many, it always revolves around health, family, and financial stability. In the words of Adam Sandler, it may even just revolve around turkey and napping. But for those of us who set aside the turkey and all the fixings for a seat on the couch around 1 PM on Thanksgiving, we also give thanks for America's new favorite pastime----football. 


So you may be asking yourself, what does football have to do with geography? In the minds of some, while you may have to think outside the box a bit, football and geography possess similar spatial bonds. "Boundaries, delineation, demarcation, territorial control, spatial interaction, distance decay, etc. are essential elements of both", notes Dr. Ted Goudge, Associate Professor for the Department of Geography at Northwest Missouri State University. Dr. Ted Goudge has actually written a paper on this matter, noting how geography plays a huge role in college athletics; with a major focus on college football and the BCS. 


After spending this past weekend watching some of the undefeated teams go down, the rumor mill circulating around potential new additions to the Big Ten Conference, and the continued effort to put Alabama as the best team even though they have one loss, I couldn't help but think about college football and the way that it's constructed through geographical locations. Over the past decade, there has been a huge shift in the power of the conferences, specifically with the decline of the Big Ten and Big 12 and the rise of the "Almighty SEC". Not only have these powers shifted, but the conferences have began to merge as well. Besides making more revenue, these conferences are also creating a further reach for their conference and bringing in more and more fans and recruits into their conference. But how has this happened? Is there anyway to look at this from a geographical standpoint? Dr. Ted Goudge has created these two graphs depicting football from a geographical standpoint in the United States: 


For those who may be unaware of what the SEC stands for, it's the acronym for the Southeastern Conference. When looking at these two graphs, it becomes more than apparent why this conference has become the leader of the wolf-pack that is college football. While everyone may get a good giggle out of Tim Tebow crying, there's undoubtedly the best talent and overall and the best "blue chip" talent (which means that these athletes are 5 star recruits) in the states ranging from Texas to Florida. By analyzing this geographical data, we can see why these shifts in power have occurred and why teams such as Ohio State have remained dominant in an otherwise weak Big Ten (the state of Ohio has remained a dominant football talent pool). 

So while you don't typically fuse geography with football, enjoy this new insight as you enjoy the company of your family, enjoy some turkey with your gravy (yes I meant to say it like that), and most importantly----enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend full of football.

Bob Kates: The Man, The Myth, The Legend


To most people, the name Robert K. Kates doesn't ring a bell. To geographers however----quite frankly he's "the man". While it's important to understand where Kates is in his life right now, it's also crucial to understand how the man has gotten to this point in his life. Robert Kates, or Bob for short, was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 31, 1929. Kates remained a New Yorker until he met the love of his life and moved to Indiana. While most tend to not go this route, Bob actually never earned a bachelor's degree. While he did attend New York University from 1946-48, he never finished his undergraduate Economics degree. After dropping out of college, he made the trek to Indiana and started work in a steel mill. While visiting a state park in Indiana, he happened to bump into a naturalist and this meeting sparked his interest in educating young people. Because he had a full-time job at the steel mill, he enrolled in night classes at the University of Indiana to pursue his aspirations as a school teacher. While talking to an advisor, Bob really hadn't decided where he would focus his attention. After taking quite a few general electives, he managed to find himself in a geography class. With a spark of interest, he decided to pursue this subject. After spending more time in the world of geography, he happened to meet a man by the name of Gilbert White at the University of Chicago. After making this vital connection, Kates was able to get through his MA and earn his PhD in Geography----and the rest is history. 

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What's a Geography Bowl?

Having never previously been around a geography conference, I was awfully startled when asked if I could facilitate the geography bowl. "The geography what?", I said in confusion. Little did I know that included in the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society (NESTVAL) Conference that was held at the University of Maine Farmington would be one of the most epic geography bowls I have ever seen (okay, maybe it was my first). The fierce competition included the University of Connecticut, Salem State University, Bridgewater State University (who brought the EarthView to UMF), University of New Hampshire, Clark University, and Plymouth State University.  

For those of you, like myself, who may be unaware of what goes on at a geography bowl, check it this Geography Bowl Question from a different competition. As you can see, it gets pretty intense. 





As for the judges, they were selected for their extensive knowledge in everything that is geography. As you can tell, they are a pretty menacing bunch. It was also interesting to see them laugh and chuckle about the questions and the responses that all of the students had. 





Pictured here are from left to right: Matthew McCourt, Paul Frederic, Brad Dearden

As everyone arrived for the competition, most schools seemed to be pretty nervous for the event. Because these events are only held twice a year, and the regions generally compete with the same schools each time (not quite the Ohio State and Michigan rivalry, but you get the point). So as usual, these school were ready to either reclaim glory or establish themselves as premier geography bowlers. Prior to getting started, I was very curious as to what kind of questions these students would be receiving. In the back of my mind, I figured they'd be "where is this on the map" or "where's Waldo?". Little did I know, questions would range from international currency to questions about geothermal energy.





As you can see, everyone was on edge before the competition (not really). Just to make sure everyone had enough brain food, we made sure there was enough pizza to feed an entire geography bowl army.






As the Geography Bowl began, everyone switched their brains from what type of pizza they would indulge in to geography, geography, geography. While some teams had coaches that were helping them along with the process, others just had teachers there to be moral support. Some had a teams of just four members while others had a alternate competitors that would switch in and out during the rounds of competition. All of the teams gathered in the main auditorium to discuss rules and regulations, and as soon as everyone was clear on what what going to happen, the competition was on!

As you can see, things got pretty crazy during these competitions. The bowl consisted of four rounds, with the top two teams advancing to the finals. Just like an academic decathlon or family feud, members of the team could press their respective button to answer a question. And by all accounts, buttons were being pushed left and right!


All in all, my first Geography Bowl was a rather exciting one. Games came down to the last question, players were screaming and yelling, and above all else---everyone had fun. Even though I consider myself a smart person, I couldn't believe how intelligent some of these students were. As my eyes would start to cross when thinking about the answer to a particular question, most of them were clicking their buttons and answering it as if the question was "what's 2+2?" Coming away from the competition, I learned a lot and had a blast watching the competition unfold (as did everyone else who participated). But even in geography, there are winners and there are losers, so here it is---congratulations to the Clark University Geography Bowl Team for their victory over Salem State University in the University of Maine Farmington Geography Bowl!



EarthView A Huge Success at UMF

On Friday, October 19th, Bridgewater State Universities EarthView payed a visit to the University of Maine at Farmington. This inflatable globe, which is about 22 feet in diameter and two stories tall, is an interactive globe that kids can see from both outside and inside of the globe. Located in Dearborn Gymnasium for the day, over 300 students (both college and elementary), teachers, professors, and the public came into the gym to check out the magnificent globe.

As children entered the gym in about 30 minute intervals all day, it was great to see all of their faces light up in amazement as the huge globe stood right in front of them.

As the children entered the globe, their whole world was turned upside down (actually it was just flipped East to West). The globe was actually hand painted, so once inside you could see the immense detail that was put into it. Other than Antarctica, which is the floor, the rest of the planet is visible once inside. 
All in all, Eathview was a huge success for everyone who came out to see such a unique view of the world that we live in. A special thanks goes out to the Bridgewater State students and professors that woke up at the crack of dawn to drive up to Farmington for the weekend to bring up the globe and to participate in the NESTVAL conference! 

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Here are the estimated snowfall levels for New England this winter…what are your thoughts? After having such a mild winter last year, how will all of this snow effect the State of Maine? In terms of geography, how do certain geographical locations in the state enjoy a lot of snow or hope it melts away as soon as possible?

MGA Enters the Blogosphere

After our meeting September 15th and many suggestions, we have entered the blogosphere!

Our Mission

The mission of the Maine Geographic Alliance is to expand and improve geographic education from Pre-Kindergarten through University by assisting educators with high-quality geographic materials, lessons, and workshops for implementing Maine's learning results. 



Maine Geographic Alliance
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UMF Campus
270 Main Street
Farmington, Me. 04938 

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