Sensing Wild Places: The 2014 Thacher Environmental Research Contest

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies is honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act for this year’s Thacher Environmental Research Contest.

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) is accepting applications for the 2014 Thacher Environmental Research Contest.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Wilderness Act, September 3, 1964. Image Credit Wikimedia Commons.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Wilderness Act, September 3, 1964. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Peter Thacher was president of the Earth Council Foundation and a proponent of the use of remote satellite sensing for Earth observations. The annual contest challenges high school students and teachers across the United States to design and conduct projects that use satellite remote-sensing data and geospatial analysis tools to conduct environmental research.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act, which created a federal system for setting aside and preserving areas of the country to be withheld from development. Unlike National Parks, these areas were not preserved for recreation and allow only limited human use.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of this act, the 2014 Thacher Environmental Research contest encourages to students to consider the social and ecological importance of protected spaces in the context of a growing population and changing climate.

Elwha River Restoration. Image Credit: Jason Dunham, USGS.

Elwha River Restoration. Image Credit: Jason Dunham, USGS.

The contest description tasks students with creating research projects that use geospatial tools and data to explore changes or potential changes to protected areas within the U.S. (National Parks, Federal Wilderness Areas, Marine Sanctuaries, and National Forests). Examples of the role of remote sensing in wilderness observation include activities like tracking wildfires, monitoring the impacts of nearby pollution, and following the progression of restoration efforts.

Entries may be submitted by individuals or teams, and the winning projects will receive cash prizes of for $2,000 for first place,  $1,000 for second, and $500 for third place. All entry forms must be submitted to the IGES no later than May 5.

Further information about the contest itself, eligibility requirements, and submissions can be found on the IGES contest webpage.

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