GeoMentor Spotlight: Paisly Di Bianca, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

GeoMentors are volunteers who help schools and teachers introduce GIS and associated geographic concepts into classrooms across the country. The GeoMentors program is a joint effort by Esri and the AAG to develop a nationwide network of volunteers to support the U.S. Department of Education’s ConnectED Program, for which Esri has agreed to donate free GIS software to all K-12 schools in the U.S. Each month we’ll feature at least one of our GeoMentors to learn more about the wonderful talent and enthusiasm of our GeoMentor community that is available to assist K-12 schools with GIS and geography applications in their classrooms. Interested in being a GeoMentor? Visit our program website and register today!

For our inaugural GeoMentor spotlight, meet Paisly Di Bianca from the U.S. EPA!
 Paisly Di Bianca

Position/Affiliation: Environmental Protection Specialist/GIS Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Office, Chicago, Ill.
What was your favorite class in K-12?: In grammar school I loved our culture studies classes; in high school I devoted my time to studying Spanish and photography.

How did you first learn about and/or use GIS?: I’ve always enjoyed learning about new places. Before I “discovered” geography, I did my explorations through studying languages and Anthropology. After I graduated college, I worked as an Academic Advisor at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). I found myself telling students to study what drew their interest. I decided to follow my own advice and enrolled in NEIU’s MA program for Geography and Environmental Studies. I took a Cartography course as an elective; the instructor suggested I try a GIS course. I was hooked and never turned back. The work I do now for the EPA includes training staff on using geospatial technologies.

Name one thing you love about GIS and/or geography (I know, just one!): Maps!

Why did you want to volunteer as a GeoMentor?: I never had anyone tell me how cool Geography was when I was in K-12. My hope is help expose young people to Geography sooner rather than later it so they can develop an appreciation of how it can apply to their careers in the future.

What kind of GeoMentor volunteer opportunity and experience are you looking for?: Since I am a GIS Specialist, I would be available to do workshops for students and/or teachers on how to use Esri’s tools (ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online). As a Geographer, my research areas of interest are East Asia (focus Japan), urban geography, and linguistics so I could talk about those topics as well. I have experience teaching Pre-K through college so I am accustomed to working with a variety of age groups.

If someone asked you why they should learn about GIS and/or geography, how would you respond in one sentence?: Everything happens some place on the Earth so you can’t go wrong studying Geography!

Email address: dibianca [dot] paisly [at] epa [dot] gov


If you are a GeoMentor and interested in being featured, please contact us at geomentors [at] aag [dot] org.  We are excited to learn more about our GeoMentor community members!

If you’d like to learn more about being a GeoMentor, visit our program website and register online. We welcome the entire geography and GIS community to volunteer their skills and experience as GeoMentors. Advanced GIS skills are not required for you to be a great asset to K-12 classrooms and we provide numerous training materials.

Help promote geography and GIS in K-12 education. Be a GeoMentor!!


Contact: geomentors [at] aag [dot] org

Follow: @AAGGeoMentors