When Reporting Feels Like Speed Dating

Sometimes gathering content for public relations purposes can be as if not more hectic than reporting.

You’re going to hear about one of those.

Every spring, FSU has an undergraduate and a separate graduate research symposium to show off students’ in-depth projects. Our office hears about several of the research projects during the academic year and writes about them, but others fall through the cracks or the projects are just coming to a point of being reportable.

A couple weeks before, we receive a print-out of a the program with abstracts, student names and advisors. A co-worker and I sift through the program and divvy up who’s going where. Students are set up in a assembly hall with poster presentations, so it’s a lot like going to a conference or a networking event, or yes, speed dating.

We identified which projects we want to interview students about, which ones have good visuals for photos and for social media and what other projects we need to just see before we make a decision.

The undergraduate fair lasts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but it zips by when you’re interview students about projects you know little about. And some projects may have four students involved. Then you have to double back for social media photos and videos, post it, etc.

Out of this year’s symposium, I was able to get enough to do three or four stories (a fifth TBD), dozens of social media posts and about 50 photos.

The first of those stories hit the news release circuit Wednesday. It’s about a Frostburg State University student using her cartography skills to make a tourism map for Grantsville, Md. 

Frostburg State University Geography Student Helps Create Grantsville Tourism Map

Frostburg State University student Kaitlyn Roush, right, shows off her initial maps that will be used for a tourism brochure for Grantsville, Md.

Visitors to Grantsville will be able to easily find their favorite attractions thanks to a tourism map created by a Frostburg State University student.

Kaitlyn Roush put her map-making skills to work for the Greater Grantsville Business Association, creating a map directory of businesses and tourist attractions in the Garrett County town.

The geography major from Harford County said she enjoyed getting acquainted with the Western Maryland town during the project, visiting Cornucopia Café and the Casselman River Bridge State Park.

“I like that it’s a small town. It seems that everybody is really close,” she said. “They’re really invested in the events they put on. … It’s really neat to see all the events they put on not just for their businesses and for patronage, but also for the people who live in the area.”

She used data-mapping software ArcGIS to plot the streets and businesses. While some of the data was readily available, she had to manually plot the businesses on the map.

“I got the data layer from the streets from the State Highway Administration, but putting the points for the businesses and labelling was all me,” she said.

The town is going through a new business boom stretching from last year through this year that is helping fill out the map, including creating a new Arts and Entertainment District.

“Grantsville’s really abuzz,” GGBA President Leah Diehl said.

Cornucopia Café and Grant’s Mercantile opened last year beside Penn Alps; indoor sports complex Joint Training Facility is under construction on Springs Road; High Country Creamery & Market is under construction on Locker Lane, off of Springs Road; and outside of town on Chestnut Ridge Road, an IHOP Express is expected to open beside a rebuilt Sunoco station.

“Grantsville has been growing a lot recently with both commercial industry, bringing new residents into town, and new retail space that can bring consumers in to purchase items,” Diehl said. “We’re trying to get ourselves on the so-called map.”

Diehl praised Roush for her skills and professionalism working on the map.

“I don’t think we could have picked a better student to work with,” she said. “We really lucked out.”

Diehl added that she was thankful for FSU’s support. Diehl’s mother, Dr. Peggy Biser, an associate professor in FSU’s Chemistry Department, made the connection with Roush’s advisor, Professor Dr. James Saku in the Geography Department, about the map opportunity.

GGBA was able to produce the map through a Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area tourism grant.

Roush’s map will be sent to GGBA secretary and graphic designer Emily Newman-Edwards to fit that map on a brochure where advertising space is being sold to GGBA businesses. The brochures will be distributed at local businesses and throughout the region at visitor centers in Friendsville, Deep Creek Lake, Bruceton Mills, W.Va., and in Pennsylvania, Diehl said.

About 5,000 brochures will be printed on the first run, with more productions planned, Diehl said. The brochures are expected to hit the streets in July.

For more information about FSU’s Department of Geography, visitwww.frostburg.edu/home/academic/majorminors/bachelor/bachelor-in-geography.



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