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Approximately two years ago, Judy Kallal sent Major General Ed Wright a memo requesting funding for the National Geographic Giant Traveling Map of Asia. She had been the Wyoming Geographic Alliance Coordinator for National Geographic officially since January 2009. The Wyoming Alliance was in a “reinvigorating” phase after several year of being relatively inactive. The National Geographic Giant Traveling Map of Asia was key to reinvigorating the alliance and a positive way to educate Wyoming teachers and students about Wyoming’s ties to Asia with the Wyoming National Guard. General Wright agreed.
General Wright called a meeting with members of the Guard—The Yellow Ribbon program represented by CPT Jeremy Sparks (he was associated with rodeo bulls more than the Guard, since he is also a bull fighter) and the Family support Program represented by Robin Gorsuch and Bill Breckenridge. Most importantly, General Wright assigned Tim Fisher, now retired, to help with the Giant Traveling Map. Tim even took the Giant map to Casper when it left Cheyenne after it was at the Laramie County School District #1 auditorium and St. Mary’s where his son went to school. Other Guard members were involved with the first meeting that General Wright assembled—everyone was supportive of the Giant Traveling Map and felt that it met the mission of the Wyoming National Guard, and when General Wright gave the directive that the Wyoming National Guard would support the map…the deal was sealed. And, truly the Giant Map of Asia helped to reinvigorate the Wyoming Geographic Alliance.
The first year went well, the Map visited over 16 school districts and numerous schools in each district. The Wyoming Guard supported the Giant Map of Asia again during the first semester of the 2010-11 school year. CSM Kent Franklin was given the responsibility of helping the WGA with the Giant Traveling Map. He even suffered a wound while helping. This time the map was even larger than the one from the year before. He and Bill recommended that we take it out of its travel tube—which is what inflicted the wound on Sgt. Franklin. That was great advice. From October 4th through December 17th, the extra-sized Giant Traveling Map visited 12 more school districts including the University of Wyoming for Geography Awareness Week in November. The Wyoming National Guard and the Giant Traveling Map of Asia put the Wyoming Geographic Alliance and Geography back on the map of Wyoming and let Wyoming teachers know that the Wyoming Geographic Alliance was again active in the state.
Dr. Jerry Webster, UW’s Geography Department Chair and member of the WGA’s Executive Board thanks the Guard for their support of Geography Education in Wyoming. As he said, “the WGA is the only National Geographic State Alliance that hosts the Giant Maps for a full school year—without the Guard’s support WGA would not be able to accomplish that.”
Dick Kean, retired LCSD #1 teacher and currently WHD State Coordinator and a Senior Consultant for Center for Civic Education and a member of the WGA Steering Committee, presented the first WGA Friend of Geography Education award to General Ed Wright. Then Don Morris, retired LCSD #1 teacher and LCCC instructor and member of the WGA Executive Board, presented the second WGA Friend of Geographic Education Award to the Wyoming National Guard to Major General Luke Reiner, the new Adjutant General of the Wyoming National Guard. Tom Collins from the Wyoming State Department of Education and member of the WGA Steering Committee and Strategic Planning Team presented the Eighth Edition of the National Geographic World Atlas to both Major General Ed Wright and Major General Luke Reiner.
The ceremony was concluded with comments from Major General Wright. He told the audience that he collects old photos of people going to war as far back as the Civil War. He said that he was going to donate all of them to the Wyoming National Guard Museum and the only photo he was keeping was of the three Guard children praying for their dad in Iraq. The framed photo was given to him by Judy Kallal who took the photo. WGA has booked the Giant Map of North America for travels around the state during the fall 2011 semester and is excited to continue to build the program.