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Team recognized for map project

The nation’s top geographic information systems (GIS) county program is based right in the heart of Unicoi County.
Members of the Unicoi County 4-H GPS & GIS team won a state title for their “Top 10 Trails of Unicoi County” map project.
“The Unicoi County 4-H GPS team has accomplished amazing things in the last few years,” said Ty Petty, UT Extension Director for the county. “They’re doing work that college graduates are challenged to complete. The Unicoi County 4-H GPS team is the top county 4-H GIS program in the country.
“They’ve made numerous trips to the National 4-H GIS Leadership Team Conference in San Diego, Calif., over the last few years and are always the leaders on the team with most experience and make huge contributions to the GIS youth-movement across the country.”
The team is led by three senior students: Dara Carney-Nedelman, Dylan Roberts and Liz Moughon.
“The team started with Dara and Stephen (Liz’s brother),” Dylan explained about the team. “It basically started out as mapping storm drains. From there, they worked up and developed the Appalachian Trials map, which was a huge success for a team that was going on for a year or two at that point.”
The Appalachian Trail mapping was a hit at the national level, winning the “Best Student Map Presentation in the Map Gallery” and was recognized at the ESRI International Users Conference in California in 2011.
Liz stated at that point the team split off and hiked five trail segments that spanned 60 miles and the team used that as a basis for the mapping process.
“We created a brochure of it as a way to get tourists interested,” Moughon said. “That’s one of the main tourist attractions here and we also used it to inform local residents.”
Dylan said that at that point, Unicoi County was named an Appalachian Trail Community. While mapping storm drains was the first project, the group had always wanted to do a project focusing on hiking trail maps, Moughon added.
“It has always been the final project we wanted to do,” she said. “The top 10 trails is one we wanted to do.”
The team had the map of the “Top 10 Trails of Unicoi County” at the office, which won the state honors.
“Two of the trails on here are from the Appalachian Trail,” Moughon added. “We’ve been hiking all these trails the past two years and creating the data so its been a very long process. This map was primarily independent as a senior project. We’re really proud of it.
“This has been a very good team. Ty was very good at teaching all of us along the way and he gave us the freedom to work on this project. We’ve learned as students, but this is also for the community.”
As the veteran of the group, Nedelman liked what she saw out of the recent group of the 4-H GPS team.
“Now we have three dedicated seniors and five other juniors who are coming up into the team and definitely showing their dedication to the team and the mapping process,” she said. “Those in the team now are going to stick with it, from my assumption, for awhile and they’re highly interested in it.”
The senior group has won at the state level three out of the past four years and while it may be a sad moment as a senior, Nedelman said, it does feel alright going out on top.
“I feel like we really had a good program we developed – an amazing program for the county,” she added. “We’ve been part of international and national teams, been able to win international and national awards.”
“It is bittersweet,” Liz added. “But we’re finished with what we wanted to do.”