UNH geography team wins regional GeoBowl, invited to virtual national competition

Thursday, January 20, 2022
three students holding trophy and geography banner

Left to right: GeoBowl team members Seamus Quinn ’22 (civil engineering), Michael Harris ’22 (geography and political science) and Ethan Smith '21 (civil engineering) with their GeoBowl trophy.

The UNH Geography Club GeoBowl team won the annual New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society (NESTVAL) Geography Bowl last fall and are invited to compete in the World Geography Bowl on February 26, to be held virtually this year. NESTVAL is a regional division of the Association of American Geographers, which sponsors the World Geography Bowl.

The Geography Bowl is a geography trivia competition for students, which starts with a round-robin tournament culminating in a head-to-head match between the final two teams. UNH students have taken part in the regional competition for 14 years, winning three times and placing second four times.

Five schools participated in this year’s regional tournament: UNH, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Plymouth State University and Salem State University. UNH faced off against the University of Connecticut in the final to win the trophy.

The competing UNH team members were Michael Harris ’22 (geography), Ryan Saputo '22 (history), Patrick Heffernan '23 (business), Evan Proulx '23 (civil engineering) and Seamus Quinn '22 (civil engineering).

“We had a great time, and for me it was special to be part of a winning team my senior year after being on one my freshman year,” says Harris. “We won second place trophies my sophomore and junior years, and first place trophies my first and last years. So, it is kind of symmetrical. A nice way to end things!”

Jennifer Brewer, chair and associate professor of geography, says faculty provide coaching but students take the initiative to recruit and organize the team.

“Our Geography Club has established a wonderful GeoBowl tradition these last several years,” says Brewer. “Some of the geography departments at other universities seem to take the competition quite seriously. We just encourage our students to have a good time, win or lose. Yet, they keep winning!”

Brewer is particularly proud of how the Geography Club has persisted during the pandemic.

“It has been absolutely heartwarming,” she says. “They continue meeting in-person (safely). They take hikes, try new foods from other parts of the world and host movie nights. One of our majors who graduated last year even returned for a meeting this fall, just to keep in touch with the group. It shows how much geographers love what we do!”