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How to Volunteer for the U.S. Geological Survey

The National Map Corps

Want to put your town on the map? Joining the USGS's National Map Corps is a good place to start.

Originally founded as the Earth Science Corps, the National Map Corps is a group of volunteers who use GPS receivers to get latitude and longitude coordinates for structures in their communities. Those structures include hospitals, airports, universities, fire stations, churches, water towers and landmark buildings. The volunteers submit the coordinates for these structures to the USGS, which incorporates them into future revisions to the National Map [source: USGS].

The National Map is a collaboration between the USGS and other government agencies to create an up-to-date topographical map of the country that includes elevation, bodies of water, boundaries, transportation systems, man-made structures and land cover like grass, asphalt and trees. It's available for free on the Web and is used for scientific analysis, as well as emergency response [source: USGS].

In July 2008, the USGS announced it was suspending the National Maps Corps for budgetary reasons until the agency could evaluate how best to use volunteers to continue creating the National Map. Volunteers who were collecting data via GPS were asked stop, and to submit all the information they'd collected up to that point by August 2008.

Since then, the USGS has stopped accepting volunteer applications until it is finished evaluating how to restructure the program. However, National Map Corps members, as well as the general public, are invited to input the locations of map-worthy features in their community through its Web-based collection program on USGS's Web site [source: USGS].

After filling out a registration form, volunteers can type in the names and locations of high schools, courthouses, railroad stations and radio towers into the Web program for consideration of being incorporated into The National Map.

All that's required is an internet connection and a knowledge of your area. Read on to find out more ways to volunteer for the USGS.