Charting his path into a career in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), Matt Hamilton is making digital maps as Harwich Conservation Trust’s 2022 intern. Matt, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a degree in Environmental Geology and Sustainability, is helping HCT create digital maps to enhance land stewardship and preservation. GIS is mapmaking software that connects data to location on a map, helping users see patterns and geographic context. HCT uses this software to identify lands in need of further protection, chart land stewardship projects, and map trails. Matt’s GIS skills have been very helpful in advancing multiple HCT projects, including a meadow restoration project in Pleasant Bay Woodlands. There, he created a map documenting the stewardship work. Matt is currently working with HCT volunteer and GIS professional, Chris Watson, to create a master map of all HCT properties around Harwich.
Matt came to HCT looking for ways to get involved in conservation and develop his GIS skills in the process. He is pursuing a career in digital mapmaking and was recently accepted into Northeastern University’s graduate certificate program in GIS. Matt feels that gaining experience and building a portfolio will be important in starting a GIS career, and serving with HCT was a perfect fit for that. “Interning with HCT has been a joy so far,” Matt said, “…I have been able to apply GIS skills and learn new techniques whilst completing various projects.“ Matt also expressed his appreciation for the variety of experiences throughout his internship, adding that he, “thoroughly enjoys the mix of outdoor and office work, as well as the camaraderie and conversations with the HCT staff.”
Matt is a resident of Chatham but has strong connections to Harwich. Growing up, he would come to Harwich for tennis lessons, see movies at the Harwich Cinema (now the Lighthouse Charter School), and participate in plays and workshops at the Harwich Junior Theater. Matt even gained his first job experience in Harwich when he was still in high school. Matt currently works as a videographer for the Town of Harwich Channel 18 and at the Chatham Orpheum Theatre. “Harwich has a unique beauty and distinct character alongside the other lovely Cape towns.” Matt said in reflection, “I have spent much time traversing and exploring the scenic roads and visiting all the conservation areas the town has to offer.” Matt’s enthusiasm for Harwich and willingness to share his skills in GIS is much appreciated. Matt will be with HCT until his graduate program at Northeastern University begins.