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Relationship with National Geographic has taken St. Norbert College professor around the world

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 4:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A local professor says he’s living the dream of every person who loves geography.

Not only does he teach geography at St. Norbert College, he’s played an instrumental role at national geographic for 35 years.

After graduating from UW-LaCrosse and earning his master’s degree at Texas State University, Mark Bockenhauer figured his career path was set.

“Thought I would probably be a planner in Texas, but then I got the opportunity to get an internship at National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. and that changed the course of my career in a huge way. Two weeks into my internship my boss, Susan Monroe, says ‘what are you going to do when you’re done with the internship?’ And I said, ‘well you’re going to hire me aren’t you?’ And she said, ‘I was just checking,’” recalls Bockenhauer.

For four years, beginning in 1986, Bockenbauer played an instrumental role in helping Nat Geo launch its Geography Education Program, an outreach effort to K-12 teachers around the country.

“He really crafted the how do we get geography back into the curriculum and the decision they made was they were going to do it through in-service teachers, they decided that was the way to get it to kids was to teach the teachers who had the kids in their classrooms,” says Kim Hulse, National Geographic Vice President of Education Content.

“And of course during the course of that time I decided that I wanted to be a teacher and so I came back to Wisconsin, went to UW-Milwaukee, got a PhD in Geography and St, Norbert was my first job and I’ve held it, in my 28th year now,” says Bockenhauer.

Once Bockenbauer started teaching, Nat Geo was immediately on the phone asking him to stay involved with the organization.

He certainly has.

Over the last two decades, Bockenhauer has written a number of books that are in K-12 classrooms around the country.

He’s also hosted workshops, and led a series of expeditions around the world for teachers.

“I have the best of both worlds, because I get to work at St. Norbert College which is a wonderful teaching and learning opportunity every day and then I get to work with this amazing, internationally-known organization on really fun projects that are great as a writer, as a teacher,” says Bockenhauer.

Safe to say, he feels blessed.

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