The Drone Rangers: Boeing and Danforth Center Cultivate Future Geospatial Scientists

Geospatial technology can play a pivotal role in addressing critical issues like food security and nutrition, particularly in underprivileged areas. In a quest to bridge the gap between technology, agriculture, and community development, the Danforth Center Education Research and Outreach lab has launched a new geospatial science initiative. Thanks to a generous grant from Boeing that aims to address education gaps, especially in map reading and math, this initiative offered a new program this summer: “Drone Ranger Camp.”


In partnership with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food Agriculture Nutrition Innovation Center (JJK FAN), the Boeing grant enabled Sandra Arango-Caro, PhD, Danforth Center senior education researcher and program manager, to create a multifaceted program, comprising afterschool initiatives, a summer camp, and high school internships, catering to middle and high school students from East St. Louis. This program not only familiarizes students with geography and geospatial technologies, but also highlights their real-world applications in STEM+Ag (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Agriculture), including solutions for food security challenges.

Students were introduced not only to geospatial science, but also to geospatial-related careers. Said one camper (Sophia): “I am going to be a scientist.”

Drone Rangers in Effect

"Drone Ranger Camp" ran from July 24 to 28. During the camp, students participated in an array of exciting activities, such as programming and flying drones, observing professional drone flights, and attending presentations on the data collected during these flights. They also engaged in map-related geography concepts and even delved into the fascinating world of artificial intelligence.

Students were not only introduced to geospatial technologies, but also encouraged to explore the diverse career opportunities this field offers. Activities were offered by Danforth Center and JJK FAN partners with critical support provided by JJK FAN Instructor Zachary Stafford and Kurly Taylor Jr., JJK FAN strategic partnership manager.

A Powerful Partnership

The Boeing Company and the Danforth Center share a commitment to inspiring and preparing the next generation of innovators. Through innovative partnerships with organizations that advance racial equity, promote academic success, and build pathways to economic stability, Boeing helps students of all backgrounds achieve their full potential. The Danforth Center is grateful for Boeing’s support.


A version of this story originally appeared in the Leaflet, the free newsletter of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Sign up to receive more stories like this straight to your inbox.