The Utah Geospatial Extension program (UGEP) originally started as a partnership between Utah State University Extension and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The project provides the Utah public with direct access to useful NASA remote sensing data, expertise, and technology. The project fulfills a mandate to educate, encourage research, develop partnerships, and provide service to the public in the aerospace and geospatial technology arena.
The UGEP became the first program of its kind in the United States in October of 1999, and Utah State University professor V. Philip Rasmussen, Ph.D., was appointed as the first NASA Geospatial Extension Specialist in the nation. Dr. Rasmussen pioneered efforts to train every county agent in the state of Utah in GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technologies, as well as other county agents across the United States. Under his direction, the UGEP became a prototype for other geospatial programs now currently in effect throughout the nation.
Many teaching and training opportunities have been provided through the UGEP, including the On Target Geospatial Technologies Seminar, which focused on training state extension agents and other education professionals from across the nation. In addition to the On Target seminar, the UGEP also provides training and workshops to other groups, such as the Idaho Wheat Commission, the Utah Ag teachers, Farm Bureau, and others.
Each spring semester, Utah State University offers a site-specific agriculture and landscape/horticultural management course (PSC 5200), where students are taught the basics in precision agriculture, remote sensing, and geospatial technologies. The course involves the integration of site-specific management technology, such as computers, GPS, GIS, and remote sensing with planning, tillage, planting, chemical applications, and harvesting to optimize off-site inputs and environmental/economical sustainability in crop or landscape management.
In addition to the UGEP, there are many geospatial and educational resources that are available to the general public. For information on current geospatial technologies, visit the National Geospatial Technology Extension Network.