FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A geography professor at Fairmont State University and a GIS programmer from West Virginia have won national recognition.
Dr. Barbara MacLennan and Frank LaFone are co-founders and hosts of a geography podcast called VerySpatial.
Their podcast team has been announced as one of the American Association of Geographer’s 2022 winners. MacLennan and LaFone are also joined by Jesse Rouse and Sue Bergeron in North Carolina to host their podcast.
The podcast shows how geography and geospatial technologies are infiltrating our digital and everyday lives and it also connects the work of geographers to recent events and trends.
“Everything happens somewhere, and if it happens somewhere, you can use geography to understand it at least a little…geography is about analyzing special relationships, the relationship between things in space, and I don’t really think enough people appreciate how essential geospatial technology is to their day-to-day interactions,” LaFone said.
The team will be recognized by the AAG for their achievements in disseminating geographic information.
“It’s a great honor because it was done by our peers and by people who are on the ground, and to know that there were people who were thinking of us was right, it was very powerful and strong for us to know that,” Maclennan said.
VerySpatial is ranked in the top five percent of all K-12 podcasts on iTunes.
“Getting an award of this caliber from the highest geography-related organization in the country, I mean a surreal thing…on the one hand, we’re very proud that we were able to do work that they thought they deserved. to be recognized, and on the other hand on the other hand, you pick up your mic every couple of weeks and speak up and it’s just kind of surreal, it’s recognized and celebrated,” LaFone said.
The team started the podcast in 2006. LaFone said he started the podcast as a way to keep up with the rapidly changing field of geospatial technology. He said technology started to change when Google Earth, cellphones and GPS systems started to advance, which made it difficult for professionals to track.
“When we started, the technology itself was also getting started; when you think about the geospatial revolution that was going on and things that we now take for granted, so that’s a big part of education. It’s a podcast that reaches people all over the world,” Maclennan said.
VerySpatial can be found here.