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Several anniversaries were acknowledged during the week of the UC. There were subtle nods in the event design and not-so-subtle swag giveaways for Esri’s 50th anniversary during the Thursday night celebration. In the Plenary, Jack acknowledged the City of San Diego’s 250th anniversary when they accepted the President’s Award. Jack and Laura also happened to be celebrating their anniversary as well during the week of the UC.


Along with record-breaking UC stats, 2019 was a momentous year for Esri and a particularly special landmark for one of its networks. 


The Esri Young Professionals Network (YPN) celebrated their own milestone of 5 years as a collaborative network bringing young professionals in the geospatial industry together to push the boundaries of technology and bridge connections to GIS with the broader world.


Overview of YPN Social at UC 2019Above: Attendees at the YPN Social on Wednesday Evening at UC 2019


In 2014, YPN started as an Esri employee network in the Washington D.C. office. Jeff Peters, who is now Esri’s Global Business Director, led the network in the beginning to bring employees together as they started their careers in geospatial technology and set the foundation for their career pathways. Participation from a diverse group of employees in all career stages helped foster a community of professionals that helped newcomers to GIS with mentorship and creative thinking. YPN quickly had to move its roots to the Esri headquarters in Redlands due to the overwhelming growth. The network broadened with user participation as well.


YPN Fireside Chat at UC 2019At the UC, YPN hosted sessions and events including a Welcome Social & Fireside Chat on Sunday and their popular YPN Social on Wednesday evening. Attendees have come to expect huge turnouts and great networking, but Wilson Parnell, an Advisory Board Member of YPN, said that wasn’t always the case for YPN’s events in the beginning.

“When YPN hosted sessions before, there would typically be anywhere from five to six in attendance, and now we’re experiencing standing room only in some sessions,” said Parnell. “Our growth in numbers speaks to one of our accomplishments in the past five years.”


Left: GeoNet at the YPN Welcome Social & Fireside Chat


YPNx5 Presentation at UC 2019

Above: Mark Jensen presents the Illinois County Tour Map at the YPNx5: Beyond the Horizon Session at UC 2019


YPNx5: Beyond the Horizon was a session that highlighted the anniversary of YPN at the UC. Instead of touting the accomplishments of the network, however, they turned the focus to their mission to “Connect, Learn, and Lead” by presenting speakers who were seeing beyond current advancements in technology like aerial imagery and artificial intelligence and presented topics that were speaking to their future perspectives as up-and-coming geospatial technology leaders. Their leadership stories all held a theme of service to a bigger picture, from saving penguins and sharks, making decisions around climate change and military strategy, demonstrating fun ways to bring new people into mapping, and using GIS as a catalyst to change the possibilities for African American women and Latino communities.


 “The whole theme of the UC is about service. GIS allows you to make better decisions whether you’re in business, non-profit, social advocacy, or local government. It allows you to chart and map important areas to conserve. GIS is about being in service to someone or something else and I’m glad we captured that feeling in our YPNx5 session.,” said Parnell.


YPN Advisory Board Member, Caroline Garris sees the collaborative nature of YPN as one of its greatest assets and accomplishments. “Not only did we see growth in our sessions, but so many other special interest groups (SIGS) were able to host their own sessions for the first time at the UC,” said Garris. The UC hosted several SIGS around diversity and inclusion that YPN supported with promotion and development efforts to get them launched. They look forward to seeing more SIG sessions being offered in the future.


As far as future growth and goals for YPN, Garris sees YPN reaching beyond the 20,000 attendees at the UC. They’re reaching for the world.


“GIS is a powerful technology,” said Garris. “Using GIS makes us powerful as professionals. So now the question we pose within our network is: How do we share GIS with the broader world so that they can be empowered too? We challenge young professionals to think beyond mapping to explain the power of GIS and how it applies in so many areas. We want to share the power of the 20,000 people at UC with everyone around the world.”


It’s safe to say, we can expect young professionals of all ages will continuously be born in the future with more anniversaries to come under the helm of YPN’s mission and dedicated members. Cheers to your first five years Esri Young Professionals Network and to rising GIS professionals everywhere!


Want to help them reach their goal of reaching out to the world? YPN announced a challenge to GIS professionals at the UC that will soon be shared with the GeoNet Community. Learn more about how you can help spread the knowledge and power of GIS with YPN. Follow their space for announcements! 


If you’re a YPN member, go down memory lane with YPN in this post and share a YPN story that impacted you.