Dr. Dawn Drake, associate professor of geography at Missouri Western State University, stands on the map painted at Hosea Elementary by Western’s Geography Club.

A few students at Missouri Western State University are attempting to educate children on the importance of geography through maps painted into schools’ playgrounds and parking lots.

The initiative was conceived through Western’s Geography Club, which was formed last year.

“And so they came up with this: ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if kids had maps on playgrounds?’” Dr. Dawn Drake, associate professor of geography at Missouri Western, said. “So they went to student government and they got the money for the stencils.”

World-map stencils as well as stencils for the United States were purchased for the project.

Brian Salsberry, the club’s current president, would then reach out to his workplace, Lowe’s, who agreed to donate supplies and paints to the group to support its efforts.

It wasn’t long before both Pickett and Hosea elementary schools would have their own maps to display.

“The idea is to bring the classroom outside,” Salsberry said. “So I think it gives (kids) a good general basic knowledge of the layout of the United States, and we hope to continue to grow this in the future, and hopefully every school in St. Joseph has one.”

According to Salsberry, the response has been incredible, so much so that the group is currently working on an application process for schools and organizations in the area that are interested in having their own maps.

“We’re a small group, we have a small amount of resources, but we’re going to try and reach out to as many people as we can,” Drake said. “We’re working on cool, different ways that we can partner, getting new community sponsors to help us with the project as well.”

Extra materials are being provided to the St. Joseph School District through the Geography Club, allowing them to touch up the maps in the future should the need arise.

“And geography doesn’t just span maps,” Salsberry said. “It spans culture, food, all kinds of different things. That’s the beauty of geography.”

Daniel Cobb can be reached


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