Three students were selected to receive an AAG award for students from community colleges. Every year the AAG provides support for students from community colleges, junior colleges, city colleges, or similar two-year educational institutions.

Community college students who plan to transfer to a four-year institution to major in geography in the coming academic year applied for the 2016 Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarship. Eligible students must demonstrate scholastic excellence and academic promise. The scholarship provides students with $1,000 for educational expenses.

This year’s honorees include Eric Sheley of Front Range Community College in Colorado; and Leann Silvia of the College of Southern Nevada.

Eric Sheley decided to return to college after working 15 years in various jobs. His plan was to study History until he took a geography class. He said of his experience, “My mind was blown!” Today, Sheley is absolutely passionate about geography, has attended every geography class available at the college, scored top grades, and participated in all geography-related extra-curricular activities.

Eric will transfer to the University of Northern Colorado in the fall of 2016 where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in geography. He will complete a geography internship over the summer. Sheley hopes to study more about food and agriculture, as well as different aspects of cultural geography. His contagious enthusiasm for geography, commitment to his studies, the quality of his work, and his contributions in the classroom and beyond, made him a standout candidate for faculty at Front Range Community College to nominate for this scholarship.

Leann Silvia, also a 2016 honoree, had a long list of possible college majors and wondered what she wanted to do with her life until she took a physical geography course at the College of Southern Nevada and completely fell in love with the subject. Silvia says, “I have yet to stumble upon another discipline area that excites, challenges, inspires, and fuels my curiosity as much as geography does, so effortlessly, on a daily basis.”

Leann will transfer to the University of Nevada, Reno in the Fall of 2016 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in geography. However, she has her sights set on a doctorate and a career where she can use her passion for nature to make a positive impact on the planet. Faculty at the College of Southern Nevada had no hesitation in nominating Leann for this scholarship; she is a natural student who will bring enthusiasm, positivity and creativity to her new university department.

Darrel Hess, coauthor of the textbook Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciation, published by Prentice Hall, funds the Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarships. 

The AAG Community College Travel Grant provides financial support for outstanding students to attend the AAG Annual Meeting, covering conference registration fees and providing travel expenses, as well as complimentary membership in the AAG for one year. Darrel Hess and Robert and Bobbé Christopherson generously provide these travel funds.

This year the grant is awarded to Jennifer Lumpkin from Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, who has stood out among her classmates on geography and GIS courses. She has shown a particular talent for geospatial technologies, quickly mastering the more technical aspects of GIS, and applying her skills to projects in the local area.

On a mapping project in the Wright Dunbar neighborhood of Dayton, Lumpkin proved her leadership credentials as she forged a connection between community members and students working on the project, ensuring that local people were fully involved and ensuring that the project would have a real impact on the area.

Lumpkin also shone on a service-learning project that focused on the mapping and interpretation of visitors to sites along the Aviation Trail, a self-guided heritage tour in the Dayton area. She presented about this project at the annual meeting of the AAG East Lakes Regional Division at Kent State University in October 2015 and was awarded second place in the undergraduate paper competition.

Jennifer has a great enthusiasm for geography, particularly for all things related to mapping, and a determination to use mapping to make a difference in her local community. Attending the AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco, where she will proudly represent Sinclair Community College, will enrich her geographical interests.