Bishop Dunne’s Roger Palmer Ready for GeoTech
Roger Palmer’s interest in geography brought him from North Dakota to San Marcos, Texas, in 1998, when he attended a two-week GIS Institute sponsored by Esri and the National Geographic Society, an organization at the forefront of geospatial technology. Kate Dailey, a teacher consultant with the National Geographic Society and a member of the faculty of Texas State University at the time, was there, and invited Roger to be a presenter at the 1999 GeoTech conference in Dallas.
A graduate of The University of North Dakota with a master’s degree in chemistry, Palmer had a fascination with the original TI’83 graphing calculator, which sent his career in science down a new path. “That calculator can collect data and store information, and you can hook probes up to it to do all sorts of graphing,” he explains. “I wanted to learn more about using it, and pretty soon I was doing workshops for others, and getting more supplies, learning new techniques.”
He was elected president of the Science Trade Association in North Dakota and became the District Science Committee leader for five years, and a member of the Math/Science Alliance.
Grant money from the National Science Foundation kept him busy teaching others about GIS, Geographical Information Systems, and his workshop at GeoTech was well received. “I think it was called, ’Turtle River Tells Tales,’ about how to use technology out in the field,” Palmer says. Hired on to teach science at Bishop Dunne, he moved to Dallas and was one of the first residents in the newly renovated Sears building downtown, now called the Southside on Lamar.
As the Science Department chair, Palmer can step into any science classroom and teach a comprehensive lesson, but he is best known for his outdoor classes. Last month he and two visiting professors took a group of Bishop Dunne students to the Trinity Audubon to use a drone to count wild boars out in the rugged terrain. “Urban wild hogs are a real threat to the area,” Palmer explains, “They dig up the native grass and eat the roots, causing serious erosion – they even drain ponds. Some can weigh over 400 pounds – if you hit that hog on the road, it can really wreck your car! A typical deer weighs less than half that.”
Palmer is looking forward to the 2015 GeoTech and says, “The Ice Man Cometh,” referring to keynote speaker photographer James Balog, who will be talking about his work photographing the melting polar ice caps and his 2014 Emmy Award winning film, Chasing Ice.
Palmer is glad he traveled to San Marcos nearly two decades ago, because he left with a new job and even a new partner. “I met a nice geography and GIS teacher there from Nevada,” he says with a smile, “and we became friends and business partners.” After a year away working in missions in the Czech Republic, he was offered another year to further the programming he was leading. “I turned it down,” Palmer says. He returned to America and married that teacher. Anita and Roger Palmer are celebrating their 13th anniversary this year.