Exploring Nature in Arizona E24
This month’s episode of STEM Unplugged we’re joined by Jacob Draper and Justin Eddinger from Ecoculture: The Reforestation Network, who will be sharing all about Green Drone AZ, a collaborative project that engages middle and high school students in ongoing conservation efforts on public lands using drones and GIS technologies. SciTech Institute is a collaborative nonprofit organization making STEM connections in Arizona and beyond.
During the month of June, SciTech Institute has highlighted why we should spend time Exploring Nature in Arizona and beyond. Justin and Jacob both share about their journeys in STEM along with one misconception that drives them crazy about nature in Arizona!
SciTech Institute encourages you to get outside and experience nature!
Ecoculture develops landscape restoration projects that promote a culture of conservation. The core of their process is scaling up landscape restoration in cooperation with local communities to achieve meaningful ecological and social benefits.
In doing so, they develop regional networks that incubate green jobs and entrepreneurs, educational programs that foster the next generation of environmental thinkers and doers, and design new technologies that increase restoration effectiveness.
Driven by broad community participation, their approach creates economic synergies and strengthens long-term sustainability of their projects.
Justin Eddinger has been working in the field of natural resource management for seven years. After earning degrees in Environmental Resource Management and Geographic Information Systems at Arizona State University, he spent five years working with the USDA Forest Service on the Tonto National Forest.
With the Forest Service, Justin started as a range technician, performing vegetation utilization studies on cattle grazing allotments. Later, he joined the GIS department on theTonto National Forest and finished his time working as an interdisciplinary natural resource specialist. He also served as the Wilderness and Trails Coordinator and a member of the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team.
Justin joined the Ecoculture team at Northern Arizona University in 2020. There, he is currently a restoration project manager and co manages the Lower Salt River Restoration Project as well as the Green Drone AZ educational outreach program. He also handles GIS operations for the Ecoculture Team, managing databases related to projects spanning from Arizona and Colorado to Puerto Rico.
Justin has a passion for the outdoors and loves to explore the intersection of technology and the natural world.
Jacob Draper has been working in the field of natural resource management for seven years. He completed an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Ecology from Arizona State University and spent over two years working with the USDA Forest Service on the Tonto National Forest. Jacob spent his time as a rangeland technician, performing vegetation utilization studies on cattle grazing allotments. During the summer months he assisted in wildfire operations as an Equipment Manager Trainee.
Jacob left the Tonto National Forest in 2017 to work for Terracon, a consulting firm. He started as an assistant scientist and was later promoted to field scientist. Jacob worked on over 100 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) projects focusing on biological assessments related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). He then moved into environmental remediation where he focused on soil, water, and vapor sampling at current and former commercial and industrial properties.
Jacob joined the Ecoculture team at Northern Arizona University in 2019. He is currently a restoration project manager and co-manages the Lower Salt River Restoration Project as well as the Green Drone AZ educational outreach program.
Jacob is the licensed Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pilot for Ecoculture and is responsible for UAS data collection. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and anything that will get him outdoors. Jacob continues to research ways to integrate technology into primitive fields like conservation and hopes to inspire others along the way.
About Our Sponsor
SciTech Institute™ was established as the Arizona Technology Council Foundation as the conduit for collaboration among STEM industry, academia, civic, and non-profit organizations in Arizona. Now, rebranded and named the SciTech Institute™ the goal centers around aligning assets and resources to motivate individuals to pursue STEM-related educational and career paths or find a passion while engaged in community events during the SciTech Festival.
The Chief Science Officer program highlights the 6th-12th graders that have been selected as leaders in their schools and communities to receive training to build a world-class community of diverse STEM-literate workers and knowledgeable, engaged citizens. Science For All allows for tax credit donations to provide engaging experiences for students while RAIN (Rural Activation Innovation Network) focuses on resources for the rural areas of Arizona.
As a STEM Learning Ecosystem, SciTech Institute™ focuses on collaboration and connecting individuals with opportunities! STEM Professionals are encouraged to engage with the future workforce by serving as a mentor, leadership coach, panelist, keynote and session trainer during a variety of conferences hosted or sponsored by SciTech Institute™ and The Arizona Technology Council.
Teachers and Administrators are invited to connect with the resources available while activating a large network of STEM champions for student projects, judges at events, volunteers, exhibitors and more. SciTech Festival Event Coordinators are supported during the planning and execution of community STEM events around the state by the SciTech STREET Team Members and the growing network of volunteers. The possibilities are endless! SciTech Institute™ looks forward to connecting with you today. Visit SciTechInstitute.org today for more information.
About Your STEM Unplugged Hosts
After grow up in rural New York and joining the United States Army, Kelly Greene learned quickly to adapt to her surroundings to be successful. She attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.
She also enlisted in the United States Army and after graduating from training, Kelly traveled the world with the military. While stationed in Misawa, Japan, she fell in love with learning about cultures around the world. Even as a deployed Soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom for two tours, she found opportunities to connect with the local children to form the Victory Base Council Girl Scouts with her fellow servicemen.
In 2013, she was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and traveled the country by air. During this deployment, she had the opportunity to utilize the most advanced technologies available to the tactical HUMINT operations in theater. Upon return from combat, she retired with 21 years of service and began teaching. From 6th grade Math to 7th grade STEM, Kelly used her enthusiastic nature combined with her strong classroom management to design curriculum based on the Engineering Design Process!
Now, as the Chief Operating Officer at SciTech Institute, Kelly is excited to serve the communities in Arizona and beyond to share their interest in STEM!
Claire Conway is the STEM Ecosystem Programs Manager at SciTech Institute.
Connect with Claire on LinkedIn.