Plymouth State Students Win Regional Geography Competition

November 22nd, 2009 by Adam

Plymouth State University continued its dominance in college geography academic competition by earning another New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society (NESTVAL) World Geography Bowl trophy. NESTVAL is the nation’s oldest regional academic geography organization, and Plymouth State’s Geo Bowl team has won the competition many times since its inception in 1992.

The team, comprised of five PSU students and advised by Dr. Bryon Middlekauff, competed in three head-to-head quiz bowl rounds against teams from Salem State, Bridgewater State, Central Connecticut State (CCSU), and Keene State. Each round consists of 12 individual questions and two team-questions with multiple-part answers.

NESTVAL Championship Team, left to right, Kyle McGonagle, Merrimack, N.H., Marie Callahan, Hollis, N.H., Heidi Van Curen, Derry, N.H., Courtney Webb, Middlebury, VT., Jesse Robillard,Sanbornton, N.H.

Plymouth defeated CCSU in the final round, 125-60. Beyond the team championship, PSU students also won individual honors, with Kyle McGonagle (Senior Geography major) winning the 1st place MVP award, and Marie Callahan (Senior Geography major), winning the 2nd place MVP award. Other members of the PSU team included: Jessie Robillard (Junior, Environmental Planning), Courtney Webb (Junior, Environmental Science and Policy), and Heidi Van Curen (Junior, Anthropology/Sociology).

Dr.Mark Okrant
Dr. Mark Okrant was honored with the 2009 NESTVAL Award for Lifetime Contribution to Geography.

Eligible students will be selected to represent the NESTVAL region all-star team in the national competition at the Association of American Geographers conference in Washington DC in April.

Professor Middlekauff said he was very proud of the Plymouth State team’s performance.

“I couldn’t believe it! They were very competitive,” Middlekauff said.

Additionally, Middlekauff was elected to serve as NESTVAL’s Regional Councilor and will represent the New England states and eastern Canada on the Association of American Geographers’ Executive committee for the next three years.

Not only did PSU win the NESTVAL competition, PSU Social Science Professor Dr. Mark Okrant was honored with the 2009 NESTVAL Award for Lifetime Contribution to Geography. Okrant said he was surprised and thrilled to receive the recognition.

“This is an honor I will cherish. I hope to repay NESTVAL’s selection by making many more contributions before the sun sets on my career,” Okrant said.

Okrant is a professor of tourism management and director of PSU’s Institute for New Hampshire Studies. He has coordinated tourism research for the State of New Hampshire since 1990 and is past president of the Travel and Tourism Research Association and the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society. He was the 1998 recipient of the Association of American Geographers’ John Rooney Award, for excellence in applied tourism research, and is the author of four books.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or

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