After more than a year of working with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliance Academies Inc. (AYBAA), the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s (USGIF) “Path to Industry Certification: High School Industry Geospatial-Intelligence Credentialing” has been approved and added to the Missouri statewide high school industry-recognized credential list.

“Path to Industry Certification: High School Industry Geospatial-Intelligence Credentialing” is an industry certification program to encourage Missouri high school students to work toward a geospatial intelligence industry credential while pursuing a high school diploma. The inclusion of the High School Industry Credential by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as an industry-recognized credential is just another demonstration of USGIF’s strong commitment to executing on its educational and professional development goals.

“This is a historic moment for our community!” said USGIF Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professional Development Camelia Kantor, Ph.D. “We hope more schools and organizations whose core values align with our mission to build and grow GEOINT education and career pathway programs will soon join our initial efforts. We want a larger and more diverse pool of talented students to not only dream of pursuing a vocational or four-year degree, but to receive early exposure, guidance, and support while building valuable skills and experience through paid industry or government apprenticeships.”

The pilot program began June 15, 2020, as a virtual training program offered to Missouri students. For 12 weeks, students endured rigorous training in GIS and GEOINT, after which some passed the USGIF GEOINT High School summative examination, earning an entry-level high school credential. The program gives students ages 16 to 19 the opportunity to learn skills and earn credentials that will qualify them for an entry-level apprenticeship or internship role as they pursue two- or four-year degrees.

This summer, Emma McDougal, a senior at Cape Girardeau Central High School, earned her GEOINT certification. Like many of the students who participated in the training, McDougal had the chance to broaden her educational horizon, develop new skills, and explore a new career pathway.

“As I move forward into the professional realm, I would like to focus on this education because I found it to be a fascinating field that has many different applications,” she said.

Through this training program, young Americans like McDougal, who are unaware of this industry, started their journey of earning GEOINT stackable micro-credentials, learning skills towards a GEOINT technician entry-level role.

To complement the GEOINT training, Esri provided software for hands-on training in Geographic Information Systems, which taught students digital map production; utilization and manipulation of layer symbology; point, line, and polygon editing; and differentiation between databases, feature sets, and shapefiles.

“Together, we have an ambitious goal to attract and build a regional supportive ecosystem that could make St. Louis and the nearby area a successful national and global story,” Kantor said. “As a next step, we seek industry, academia, and government support to answer the question, ‘What’s next for these young minds?’ Industry apprenticeships, academic programs, government high school internship programs, and many other means will provide the next steps for continuing to grow a collaborative, customized, and intelligent GEOINT ecosystem.”

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Posted by Lisbeth Perez