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Competing on a Whim Sending FSU Student to World Geography Bowl in San Francisco

Competing on a Whim Sending FSU Student to World Geography Bowl in San Francisco
Dr. James Saku, left, and Andrew Boch

Some of the greatest opportunities can come on a whim, as Frostburg State University senior Andrew Boch recently found out.

Boch was set to present undergraduate research on the Canada’s Nunavut Land Claim Agreement at the Mid-Atlantic Division of the Association of Geographers Conference in Towson. Just a week before the conference, an FSU professor asked him to join the FSU Geography Bowl team that would be competing there. Knowing it was his last chance to compete, he accepted, excelled and earned a trip to the World Geography Bowl in San Francisco this spring.

“I’ll never forget it,” said the Mount Savage resident who’s majoring in geography and minoring in sustainability studies.

The top seven students from the competition, based on correct answers given, are chosen to represent the Mid-Atlantic Division for the association at the World Geography Bowl in March 2016. Boch will be joined on the team by FSU student Spencer Truszkowski of Dundalk.

The competition is held at the Association of American Geographers’ Annual Meeting, where Boch will now do a poster presentation on his research, exposing him to an international audience of industry professionals.

Boch would not have been able to attend the Towson conference if it weren’t for an FSU Foundation Opportunity Scholarship, which paid for his travel to present his research on Nunavut. One of the uses of Opportunity Scholarships is to help allow students to attend industry conferences to further their research and gain exposure before future employers.

His research looks at census data trends and publications to determine how life has changed or hasn’t changed in the northeastern arctic Canadian province that was created in 1999. The isolated province was created to give Aboriginal tribes greater control over their ancestral lands and laws, where the Canadian federal government previously set all the policies. Boch examined the fertility and death rate, housing conditions, income, mental health issues and preservation of culture.

“Almost two-thirds of the population is making less than $30,000. It’s mostly because the Aboriginal people don’t live the same way we do, so they don’t necessarily need the money,” Boch said. “If they’re still living off the land – hunting, fishing, trapping – they don’t have a need for money. I think it’s important to study these Aboriginal groups and see that their way of life isn’t bad – it’s different.”

The research extends previous studies completed by Dr. James Saku, professor and chair of the FSU Department of Geography, who examined the land agreement controlling the Northwest Territory in Canada. Saku said the Northwest Territory agreement focuses more on economic development policies where Nunavut focuses more on territorial government and protecting their traditional way of life.

For more information on FSU’s Department of Geography, call 301-687-4369. To make a gift to the FSU Foundation’s Annual Fund, which supports Opportunity Grants, visit and click on Make a Gift, or call 301-687-4161.

– Charles Schelle

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589