2016 Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference Recap

Last week the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium wrapped up its 26th annual conference. Each year the conference is held at different locations throughout the state, and for the second consecutive year the conference was located in Duluth, Minnesota.

The City of Duluth and Minnesota’s North Shore are incredibly beautiful and among some of the places to visit among Minnesotans and out-of-state visitors alike.

Climbing Eagle Mountain

Before the start of the conference, I arrived in Duluth a day early and made the 2.5-hour one-way drive near the Canadian border to complete a solo hike to the summit of Eagle Mountain, Minnesota’s highest point (2,301-feet). The hike is approximately 7-miles round-trip and crosses into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Eagle mountain trail crossing into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
The Eagle Mountain trail crossing into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).

While I’ve completed the hike before, this was my first solo hike up to the summit, and one of the most secluded hikes I’ve ever experienced.

I didn’t see or hear another vehicle or person for over four hours. The air was full of cedar and pine and I could only hear bird wings fluttering, squirrels sounding, water flowing across rocks in nearby streams, and leaves rustling in the wind. The hike was one of the quietest and most serene I’ve ever experienced.

Crossing a creek along the Eagle Mountain trail
Crossing a creek along the Eagle Mountain trail.
Whale Lake, located along the Eagle Mountain trail
Whale Lake, located along the Eagle Mountain trail.

The view on top of Minnesota’s highest point was out-of-this-world spectacular, as is the journey throughout the Eagle Mountain trail.

View from the Eagle Mountain Summit
The view from Minnesota’s highest point, the summit of Eagle Mountain.

Upon returning to Duluth, I was able to visit Minnesota’s lowest point, Lake Superior (602-feet). Like Minnesota’s highest point, Lake Superior is extremely beautiful and mesmerizing.

Lake Superior
The view from Minnesota’s lowest point, Lake Superior.

The Conference Begins

The following morning was the start of the conference with this year’s theme focused on Your Geospatial Destiny.

Wednesday’s luncheon speakers featured work by local high school students using GIS technologies to solve questions. One of the students created an interactive map preparing the Duluth community for a zombie apocalypse and shared his efforts, struggles, and findings with the geospatial community.

After workshops concluded, on the way to dinner some colleagues and I were able to watch a large vessel crossing under the Duluth Lift Bridge!

A ship crossing under the Duluth Lift Bridge
A ship crossing under the elevated Duluth Lift Bridge.

Human Stories

Thursday morning’s keynote speaker, Carrie Sowden shared her experiences and stories around the Great Lakes’ shipwrecks. One of her most exhilarating stories was when her team recovered the warning bell from the Courtland shipwreck near Avon Point, Ohio. The iron bell was rung before the ship collided with the Morning Star in June 1868. The more Carrie and her team learned about the bell, the more they learned about the Courtland and her story. In fact, it is possible the ship’s name and the bell, possibly taken from a Courtland homestead, were used as a reminder of the creator’s hometown.

Carrie mentioned her research wasn’t just about the objects found, but the human stories behind the ships, the wrecks, and the Great Lakes.

After Carrie’s keynote address conference sessions were on!

5k Fun Run/Walk

The next morning at 6:15 am, the annual 5k Fun Run/Walk began along Duluth’s Lake Walk.

Mile marker along the 2016 Minnesota GIS/LIS Fun Run/Walk route
Mile marker 2 along the 2016 Minnesota GIS/LIS Fun Run/Walk course.

The out-and-back course has amazing scenery along Lake Superior and incredible views of Duluth’s Canal Park and Aerial Lift Bridge before the finish line.

View of Duluth and Canal Park from the Fun Run/Walk course
The view of Duluth’s Canal Park near the finish of the 2016 Minnesota GIS/LIS Fun Run/Walk.

Friday Sessions

Then sessions were on again early Friday morning! I learned all about web analytics to make and support better applications from Michael Terner. Michael used some of the applications he and his team have created, the web analytics behind the applications, and how they approached enhancements and modifications based on the analytics. In addition Michael talked about the application support and testing that was completed.

Concluding Thoughts

I have amazing group on people in my life that I am blessed to not only call my colleagues, but my friends. Each and every one of you is incredibly talented, ridiculously supportive, and out-of-this-world incredible. It was fantastic to see each and every one of you, and to meet new friends in Duluth.

Thank you for being who you are, doing what you do, and bettering our community together. Keep it up!

 

 

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