Drew Stephens '88

Current Job: Service at Sea

After graduating from Warren Wilson and studying geography at Appalachian State University, Stephens found himself in the corporate world of GIS. Before long, he found he was getting farther and farther away from what attracted him to GIS in the first place—the conservation of natural resources.
Then, Stephens posed the question “What if we went out and trained people in the field, in their own communities?” Doing so would not only allow GIS to reach more people at less cost, but it would allow GIS trainers like Stephens to be on-site and thus better understand the needs of specific communities. With an abiding interest in sailing coupled with his vision of GIS outreach, Service at Sea was born.


The Service at Sea crew, which includes Julia Kernitz ’07, among others, aim to circumnavigate the globe by sailboat to help communities and conservation groups improve their homes by implementing GIS technology. During the four-year project, Service at Sea will offer GIS training workshops, assistance, and free software. A major goal of Service at Sea is to create Web-based K-12 teaching units from their data collection and experiences in conservation GIS.