January 24, 2023
A team of six BYU geography students placed second overall in the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain regional division of the World Geography Bowl. But for four students, participating in the regional bowl was a mere stepping stone to the national competition in Denver this March at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers.
Maya Elkins, from Redlands, California, who just completed a degree in global studies, and Abner Hardy, a senior from Meridian, Idaho, majoring in geospatial science & technology will be on the six-person Great Plains/Rocky Mountain team. Two additional BYU students were selected as alternates: Luke Morrison, a sophomore from Long Beach, California, studying geospatial intelligence, and Kyle Davis, a senior from Highland, Utah, majoring in tourism studies.
“When I found out I was chosen to advance to Nationals, I was so shocked,” says Elkins. “They based the scores off of individual scores, and they told me that I ended up having the highest female score. That was so exciting for me. It felt like I was really representing BYU and the department well.”
Ruth Kerry, associate professor of geography and advisor of the Geography Student Association at BYU, assembled the team for the regional competition. The outcome confirms that her approach to selecting team members was foolproof.
“Our geography club had an opening social, and we had a Kahoot round of geography trivia,” says Kerry. “The top six scorers went to the regional bowl.”
In addition to the four students who will go to the national competition, Jennalyn Shelton and Jace Watt competed in the regional bowl.
One way the six students on the BYU team prepared to contend with teams from other institutions was by hiking Mount Evans in Colorado to study how vegetation changes with altitude. It was a great way to bond as a team while further preparing for the following day’s competition.
“It's a good competition and it was great to see our team do so well at regionals,” says Kerry. We hope to see them do just as well at the World Geography Bowl and cannot wait for everyone to see how smart these students are.”