Student Section

This section is for individuals enrolled in or within one year post graduation from a certificate, undergraduate, or graduate program in GIS or related field.

Student Map Category

Maps are stand-alone images and analytical in nature. The integration of data is a key component of the project. This category recognizes achievement in cartographic representation through creative, effective, beautiful, and insightful integration of geospatial data.

Riparian ecosystem invasion

Tess Carson
Bachelor’s Degree, GIS Major
University of Denver

“Non-Native invasive species are causing disruptions in the Green River riparian ecosystem, which serves as one of the primary tributaries of the Green River. The Green River provides a habitat for numerous riparian species, and the presence of many non-native invasive plant species threatens the well-being of this riparian ecosystem.”

green turtle nesting patterns

Prajwal Parmar
Master’s Degree of MTech Geomatics, Faculty of Technology 
CEPT University

“This map visualizes the movement patterns of female green turtles (Chelonia mydas) during their nesting season in the Chagos Archipelago, located in the Western Indian Ocean. The target audience for this map includes researchers, conservationists, policymakers, and anyone interested in the ecology and conservation of marine turtles. The creation of this map was prompted by the need to visualize and communicate the key findings of the study conducted by Hays et al. The use of GPS tracking technology revealed important insights into the nesting behaviour of green turtles, challenging previous assumptions and highlighting the need for more accurate population estimates. By mapping the movement patterns of nesting turtles, this work aims to raise awareness about the challenges facing marine turtle conservation and the importance of adopting innovative research methods for effective management strategies. The map was created using ArcGIS Pro, various levels of viewing effects have been applied after retrieving the raw data as polylines.”

Deforestation in Rondonia, brazil

Allison Kosmiski
University of Denver
GIS Master Certificate

This was a class assignment to predict the amount of deforestation that would occur due to a proposed road. This map was created using ArcGIS Pro using various techniques and tools. This lab was created due to the high amount of deforestation occurring in the Amazon Rainforest. The analysis showed that the potential deforestation due to the proposed road could be up around 665 square kilometers. This target audience of this map would be anyone interested in the conservation of rainforests or the effects of deforestation.

Moonwalk: Trekking Mare Tranquillitatis

Chi Ho
University of Denver
Graduate Certificate in GIS

“My entry, “Moonwalk: Trekking Mare Tranquillitatis,” is a map designed to inspire exploration and discovery of the lunar landscape within Mare Tranquillitatis. The purpose of this map is to provide an immersive experience for space enthusiasts, hikers, educators, and students like myself, allowing us to virtually traverse and explore the diverse terrain of the Moon’s tranquil sea. My target audience includes space enthusiasts, educators, and adventure seekers who share my fascination with the idea of hiking on the Moon and learning about its geological features. The map was created using ArcGIS pro (Geographic Information Systems) technology, integrating 32bit high-resolution DEM (Digital Elevation Model) data of Mare Tranquillitatis, with satellite images (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA), and DEM from LOLA project. I paid special attention to accuracy and detail, ensuring an authentic representation of the lunar landscape. My inspiration for creating this work stems from my shared passion for GIS and space exploration and my desire to ignite curiosity and appreciation for the wonders of our celestial neighbor, the Moon.”

Student Artistic Category

Artistic maps celebrate achievement in cartographic representation through experimental map-making practices, innovative visual expression of geographic concepts, and artistic interpretation of cartographic forms using any type of physical and/or digital media.

Antarctica – A New Age of Exploration

Himansi Bhatt
Western Illinois University
GIScience & Geoenvironment

Antarctica is a Continent situated in the Southern Part in the Earth. The latitude and longitude are 82.8628° S, 135.0000° E respectively. Antarctica is a polar region with no permanent human habitat. But the area is dominated with researchers exploring the region. They have permanent/rotational research facilities around West and East Antarctica. For this map, I chose Architectural Portrait 12” x 18” as I can add the main map, insert map and locator map with the supplementary text. I added main map, insert map (left side of the map) and locator map (right side of the map) from the Map Frames. I adjusted the map scale after adding the map. I added Title text using Graphics and Text group. I added style from  https://esri- and changed the default Tahoma to Corbel and size 72 pt., Upper case. use the Illuminated Labels from the Polygon Symbols (More Polygon Symbol) I chose White color (30% transparency) for left side color and Cretan Blue for right side color. I added another Text for sub-title, Corbel, Italic, 28 pt. size and left color to White (20% transparent) and right color to White (80% transparency) and Outline Color to Black. I add Scale bar from the Map Surrounds group and changed the color (scale line and number) to White to make the scale legible (adjust the properties of Scale bar same as Map 1 & 2). I added Map Scale from Dynamic Text from Graphic and Text group and changed the color to White. I added five Rectangle Text for the supplementary text (Source – ), Corbel, Regular, 10 pt. size and White (20% transparency). I placed the text on the empty space in the layout to reduce negative spacing. Align the text boxes to right-align and group together by right clicking on the layout and 17 Group. I added Extent Indicator on the main map to show Bransfield Strait. I added Title for the insert map as well, for this, the properties are- Corbel, Bold, 22 pt. left color White 30% transparency and right color White and Outline Color to Black. I added the additional information such as Spatial Reference, Data Sources (10 pt. size) and author information (8 Pt. size).I maintained Visual Hierarchy in this map by changing the Font Size and Font Style and Color depending on the feature. I reduced the transparency of the labels and features to make the map more legible and perceivable.

South Park Scene

Josh Bruning
Front Range Community College
GIS Undergrad Certificate

This came about from my fascination and appreciation of the beauty of Park County, Colorado as you come over Kenosha Pass and see the high mountain valley for miles. I’m most familiar creating thematic maps but did this just for fun to challenge myself. The goal was to show as much of the vastness of the region as possible with context of geographic features. So by utilizing the Global 3D Scene in ArcGIS Pro and gaining inspiration from one of John Nelson’s videos, I added a hillshade from the Living Atlas and various semi-transparent terrain layers to highlight the varied topography, a hydrography dataset from the USGS rounds out the layers of this map.

Waimakariri relative elevation map

Nathan Duggins
Front Range Community College
Bachelor’s of Applied Science – Geospatial Sciences

What began as a school project evolved into a gift for my parent’s wall, inspired by the artistic cartography of Dan Coe. This map of the Waimakariri River in New Zealand showcases the beauty and complexity of braided river systems while providing valuable information for conservation efforts. Starting with nearly 500 million lidar points, I was able to produce a digital elevation model (DEM) and eventually, through statistical analysis, this relative elevation map (REM) which has elevation values in relation to the river centerline itself, allowing us to view the comparative ages of these ancient channels. REMs are not only powerful tools for ecologists and biologists working to protect these unique ecosystems but also serve to remind us of the natural beauty of the rivers we are striving to preserve.

Tallulah Gorge

Katie Adams
Colorado Mountain College
GIS Undergraduate Certificate

“The purpose of the map is to show a hike that travels to the bottom of a gorge and back out. It’s an odd display given that the trail goes through the river but that is how the hike goes! Once you get to the bottom of the gorge via the stairs you begin rock jumping and wading through the gorge. At Oceana Falls you hike down the steep river wide slab on river left. Once you get to Bridal Veil you can slide down the slippery rock and maybe climb back up for another run! Then you scramble up the gorge wall back to the top. Tallulah gorge is a unique beauty of the south and special place to explore.”

Lego Map of Colorado

Atlas Guo
University of Wisconsin-Madison

This is a fun LEGO Map of Colorado; both fans of Colorado and LEGO would love it. I visited Denver in 2023 for AAG annual conference, and really love the state of Colorado. With prior experience of making a physical Wisconsin LEGO Map, I designed this virtual LEGO for Colorado. The map is firstly designed in ArcGIS Pro, with fishnet of 10 sq mi under a conic projection. The topographic color ramp as well as all other map symbols are exquisitely designed with potential LEGO components. Then, the map is built up accordingly in LEGO Studio, with other map elements achieved, such as surrounding basemap, north arrow, legend, scale, neatline, and metadata. Lastly, the 3D-rendered map is combined with a 2D version including essential labels of key features such as cities and lakes.

Student Apps Category

Apps are generated using interactive applications that may be consumed on a desktop or mobile device, such as a web mapping application, native app or Esri Story Map. This category recognizes achievement in cartographic representation through creative, effective, beautiful, and insightful uses of geospatial data in a dynamic and interactive application.

One Company’s Shadowy Legacy of Hazardous Waste Dumping in the Pacific Ocean

Hannah Larsen
University of Colorado – Denver
M.A. Applied Geography and Geospatial Science – Geography and Environmental Sciences Department

At a depth of 3,000 feet off the coast of Palos Verdes, California sits an expansive region impacted by human activities long forgotten until UCSB researchers rediscovered something sinister. In this region, hundreds of thousands of barrels of presumed industrial wastes lay on the ocean floor rusting away and leaking toxic chemicals and pesticides, including DDT. Ocean dumping in this region was conducted by private disposal companies and government agencies until most of it was halted with the passing of The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act in 1972, also known as The Ocean Dumping Act. Even though ocean waste disposal is now highly restricted, the past disposal of hazardous wastes continues to have a negative legacy of environmental impacts in the region, especially on marine life. This StoryMap dives into the history of the key players in the dumping of hazardous materials in the Pacific Ocean and some of the impacts experienced today through archival research and geospatial analysis.

Landfills and Environmental Justice in North Texas

Leah Pascarella
Fort Lewis College
Environmental Conservation and Management major, Anthropology major, GIS certificate

“My story map shows environmental injustice regarding communities of color in North Texas. It shows landfills in the area and their proximity to reservoirs. It also shows which landfills are located in predominately minority communities. I was inspired by Dr. Robert Bullard’s work in Houston, Texas. The intended map platform is web.”

Recycling in Mountain Village

Paige Kempker
Western Colorado University
Master in Environmental Management

“Do you know what happens to your recyclables after you drop them in the bin? Through this interactive StoryMap, The Town of Mountain Village, Colorado seeks to inform its residents, business owners, and tourists about the recycling operations in the community in order to progress towards its Zero Waste and Climate Action goals. Mountain Village’s Economic and Sustainability Director J.D. Wise and I (Paige Kempker) traveled to the Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) that service The Town to document the sorting process and clear up some common misconceptions perceived by the community. This StoryMap was distributed throughout the community in the form of a blog post as well as an email newsletter and will be further distributed using QR codes on stickers in the coming months, making it available on both a mobile and web platform.”

Durango Hazard Insurance

Kay Simpson
Fort Lewis College
GIS Certificate

“For this school project, I was tasked with finding parcels in Durango, CO, that might be affected by potential future spring hazards, specifically floods and landslides, and what the payout of those properties and damages will be. The map was created from the viewpoint of an insurance company. Parameters used were proximity to water (within 75 ft.), above a 15% slope, or areas where landslides or floods have occurred in the past.”

Professional Section

Open to GIS professionals that are current GISCO or WyGeo members, and Elevations Geospatial Summit attendees and presenters.

Professional Map Category

Maps are stand-alone images and analytical in nature. The integration of data is a key component of the project. This category recognizes achievement in cartographic representation through creative, effective, beautiful, and insightful integration of geospatial data.

CPW Important habitat areas of high species diversity

Robert Sacco
IT Enterprise GIS Administrator

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintains 326 ArcGIS polygon Feature Classes containing various range distribution types for 179 wildlife species occurring in Colorado. CPW GIS Unit staff became curious about how these data could be used to evaluate areas of the state that supported high species diversity. In a preliminary investigation using graphical methods to view areas of high species range overlap for a subset of these data the resulting map prompted interest in pursuing a more analytical approach that would produce quantitative vs. qualitative results, be more robust to adding additional range data, and allow for potentially weighting certain range data more heavily than others to evaluate habitat areas that may be important to achieving and/or maintaining wildlife species viability or exceptional diversity. The following describes the approach we took to achieve this goal and the associated map presents the results of this effort.”

Professional Artistic Category

Artistic maps celebrate achievement in cartographic representation through experimental map-making practices, innovative visual expression of geographic concepts, and artistic interpretation of cartographic forms using any type of physical and/or digital media.

No entries in this category.

Professional Apps Category

Apps are generated using interactive applications that may be consumed on a desktop or mobile device, such as a web mapping application, native app or Esri Story Map. This category recognizes achievement in cartographic representation through creative, effective, beautiful, and insightful uses of geospatial data in a dynamic and interactive application.

Headwaters of the colorado river initiative web map

Justin Hollis
GIS Technician, Colorado State Forest Services, Fort Collins

“The Headwater of the Colorado River Initiative is a unique group of private landowners, public lands managers, local governments, resource experts, businesses, conservation districts, research institutions, and non-profit organizations who have come together to address these issues and scale up restoration and management of the Headwaters of the Colorado. The Colorado State Forest Service’s GIS Team took on the task of creating the Headwaters of Colorado interactive web map. The goal of this application is to consolidate data from public lands managers, local governments, research institutions, and non-profit organizations into one map. The application aims at being a simple, yet creative cartographically, and allows users to explore published data for the Upper Yampa and Little Snake River watersheds (the organizations area of focus). The entire application was made in ArcGIS online utilizing the power (and limitations) of Experience Builder. As the organization is up and coming, the application was paired with a Story Map, which is a key component in understanding the organizations mission, and the design concept of the map. I hope you have the chance to check out both!”

NDVI Analysis as a Tool for Evaluating Vegetation Health and Land Management in Brighton, CO

Matison Lakstigala

(Intended for desktop web browser) This project is focused on enhancing the historical and ecological understanding of environmentally sensitive areas within the City of Brighton, Colorado by analyzing satellite data and creating custom NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) maps for five specific areas in Brighton. These curated maps will assist decision-makers in making informed choices about managing and preserving these areas to withstand the immediate effects of a changing climate.

Innovating the Park planning process through arcgis experience builder

Dylan Nordeck
GIS Technician

In the Spring of 2023, the planning team at Jefferson County Open Space sought a means to share information about the planning process for our new park, the Coal Creek Study Area. The mapping, data, and analysis team perceived this as an ideal opportunity to pilot ArcGIS’s Experience Builder. This enabled us to uphold a data and map-centric approach while presenting information in a webpage format. Our key objectives were: 1) The ability to update the application as the planning process evolves; 2) Sharing information in various formats (text, graphics, and spatially); 3) Providing users with a webpage experience rather than a Story Map. While primarily designed for larger screens like laptops or monitors, we also accommodated mobile and tablet users. This project was truly a collaborative effort across all departments at Jefferson County Open Space, without whom it wouldn’t have been feasible!

Open Petroleum Event Viewer

Keelan Vargas
GIS Analyst

“The Colorado Open Petroleum Event Viewer was built in Esri’s Experience Builder platform to visualize Underground Storage Tank (UST) system and Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) system petroleum release event data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). This application serves CDLE staff working on remediation efforts as well as the public interested in petroleum release event locations. This application allows users to filter the events by various attributes and find events and well locations within a specified distance of a location. Contact information and links to relevant documents can be found in the event pop-ups. This application was built to meet OIT-GIS Accessibility Standards and while the intended platform for this application is on the web, it is built to scale to different screen sizes.”

State of Colorado 2023 GIS Year in Review

Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology GIS Team

“The Colorado GIS Year in Review project aims to showcase the breadth, applications, and advancements in geospatial applications and technology by Colorado state agencies. GIS is used in many ways to support decision making, solve problems, and improve data access and visualization across the state, resulting in improved lives for Coloradans. This application was developed using Esri’s Experience Builder platform to share the story of geospatial efforts by and for the State of Colorado. The intended platform for this application is on the web, but is built to scale to different screen sizes.”


Thanks to the generosity of many quality companies and individuals, we have some truly excellent prizes for the winners!

Thank you to the following!