Volunteering for Science

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The National Map Corps recognizes major volunteers to national mapping efforts

Since late 2009, the USGS has been asking and allowing citizen scientists to help improve national mapping data. Using this “crowd sourcing” technique, volunteers had reviewed, edited and submitted thousands of structure related information through a portal as part of The National Map Corps (TNM Corps).

The contributions of these participants have resulted in updated and enhanced mapping information as well as saving significant taxpayer dollars and man hours.

To reward these novice cartographers, TNM Corps developed a “recognition program” of virtual badges that can be earned as a volunteer reaches certain submission levels. There have been a little more than a dozen committed volunteers who have reached the top award level, submitting more than 6,000 points along with spending time as a senior reviewer and assisting other participants.

“fconley” posing with his special edition International Year of Mapping badge from The National Map Corps
“fconley” posing with his special edition International Year of Mapping badge from The National Map Corps(Public domain.)

As part of “Mapping Month”, we will shine the spotlight on some of these stalwart contributors and hearing their story. Our first highlighted map enthusiast goes by the handle or program name of “fconley”. He has been a part of The National Map Corps volunteer geographic information gatherers for a number of years, and has assisted in my “map challenges”. His story.

"I am retired from an unrelated field, but I have loved maps and travel all my life. When I saw that USGS was looking for volunteers I immediately joined, first of all working with paper maps and quads. As digital mapping, satellite imagery, and GPS became more available I was enthralled. With the imagery now accessible it is almost like being able to travel sitting at my desk.”

 “At times, locating structures seems similar to solving puzzles or detective work. This whole project is not only enjoyable but it makes me feel that I am making a lasting and useful contribution. I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved in this fascinating endeavor."

“My mother loved maps and travel (not that she got to do much). So I’m sure I received my love of maps from her. I have a pretty good collection of old state highway maps (which you used to get free at service stations). I came across, All the Roads of Texas which I immediately obtained, and now have several atlases of the various states. Bible atlases are also in my collection.

“Then came computers, the wonderful Delorme maps, GPS devices! -- and ultimately the Internet and the amazing aerial and street maps. Now I could travel and explore and map without leaving my desk. Along the way came retirement (from ministry). I was looking for a pastime and discovered the original USGS volunteer program. It was exciting. I had my pin-on nametag credential, GPS device, maps of my quadrant, car, gasoline (not so expensive then) and set out to pinpoint everything I could. I sent in several lists of coordinates. “

“When the new TNMCorps came along I was even more enthralled. The rest is history. I continue to enjoy surfing the web for its geographic photos (aerial, satellite, and other) online maps, and research information (hints and clues) -- and then finally putting my cursor on the exact points requested. I am contributing to a legacy of information for future map lovers and researchers.”

“ I have enjoyed every minute. It has provided me hours of pleasure and a feeling of septuagenarian usefulness! Sincere thanks to the TNMCorps staff who do such a great job. Hope the program long outlives me.”

You are welcome to join “fconley” and other volunteers; the project is open to anyone who has the desire and internet access. Sign up today at The National Map Corps website and start earn points immediately.