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A Gift Through GIS

3 June 2010 No Comment

Two Students Help Secure Millions For The City Of Springfield

TayHafPhilHagFor Taylor Hafley ’10 of Stanford, Ky., and Philip Hagee ’10 of Maineville, Ohio, technological expertise has translated into a substantial investment in Wittenberg’s hometown. Formerly in Professor of Geography Olga Medvedkov’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) class, Hafley and Hagee had already conducted a foreclosure study in 2009 for Springfield as part of a class project in response to a $2.2 million grant the city received from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

“Our main task for that class project was to locate the areas that had experienced the highest foreclosures so they could best spend the $2.2 million,” Hafley said.

From there, the two geography majors were selected as interns in Wittenberg’s new Center for Civic & Urban Engagement, A Gift Through GIS Two Students Help Secure Millions For The City Of Springfield education educationeducationwhere they continued to assist with neighborhood revitalization efforts using GIS. Soon thereafter, however, the city again called on the two to help Springfield’s Community Development Office in the application process for an even larger investment request – $12 million through the NSP II program.

“Our work grew from two neighborhoods to an analysis of five Census Tracts, which was over 6,000 parcels,” Hafley explained. “Our work focused on the land use of each parcel as well as the current conditions of each parcel.” The experience proved challenging and enlightening at the same time.

“One of the greatest things about it was we were working on a real project, and when working with real data, problems arise, and we had to learn how to correct them,” Hafley said. “This wasn’t an assignment from a book that showed us how to get out of the problem we were in; this was a great learning experience for us and, I think, very rewarding in the end.”

Indeed it was, considering Springfield received $6 million in NSP II funding in January. “Phil and I were extremely appreciative of the opportunity to get to work on this because it improved our skills a great deal,” Hafley said. “The Community Development Office worked extremely hard and taught us a lot. The project has also paid dividends for us because Phil will be going to grad school in the fall, and I just accepted a job working for the city of Springfield, where I will get the opportunity to continue working on this project that we have been a part of for over a year.”

Looking back, Hafley and Hagee see the experience as a definitive one in their respective college careers. “Phil and I have talked a lot about it, and we believe this is one of the best things we have ever been a part of at Wittenberg,” Hafley said, noting the chance to work with the Center and with Medvedkov, their mentor.

“We have also been able to present this project at countless conferences, including the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.,” Hafley said. “All in all, I believe this is one of the opportunities that makes Witt so special,” Hafley added. “We were able to gain real experience in our field and help the community we now live in.”

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