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BSC professor achieves dream working with National Geographic

Angie MilakovicAs a kid, Angie Milakovic loved looking through her grandparents’ National Geographic magazines but it was the family’s Sunday drives that inspired her passion for geography. As they roamed from New Hradec (near Dickinson) to Jamestown to see relatives, Milakovic found her calling by looking out the window.

“I really wondered about buttes, badlands formations, and the rocks and minerals that we would pass that were obviously different than where I grew up. I wanted to know why the landscape formed the way it did, what made it happen? How did it happen? Thus – beginning at age 6 – my love of physical geography and atmospheric science started,” she said.

Fast forward to college, where Milakovic majored in geography beginning at BSC and then moving on to the University of North Dakota. Between her junior and senior years, she’d hoped to land a coveted National Geographic summer internship. Competition was tough and she didn’t make the cut.

“I thought then, ‘how could someone like me get a job like that?’”

She went on to a different job – teaching geographic information systems and physical geography at BSC. She became a member of the North Dakota Geography Alliance in 2008 and has been a proponent of North Dakota’s investment in geography education. Milakovic notes that the North Dakota Legislature established a $1 million endowment with the National Geographic Society in 2009 to further geography education in the state.

Then, last winter one of Milakovic’s colleagues encouraged her to apply for a new, part-time role with National Geographic’s Educator Network in North Dakota – Geography Steward for North Dakota.

And that’s how her childhood dream came true.

“I got this email from National Geographic that said ‘congrats, you’ve been awarded this steward position’ – the only one in North Dakota! It was surreal. I couldn’t believe it. And then they sent me a payroll order so they could pay me to work for National Geographic,” she enthuses.

This past summer she kicked off her duties by helping to establish a new advisory committee of North Dakota education leaders committed to furthering geographic education in North Dakota. According to Elaine Larson, Regional Director - Educator Network, National Geographic Society, Milakovic is part of a new strategy from National Geographic that gets “boots on the ground” for education outreach. In addition to the committee, Larson says they will work with partners like the North Dakota Geographic Alliance.

“How can we best work with partners and individual educators in North Dakota based on needs identified by the advisory council? We want to make our education outreach personal and direct,” Larson says. “National Geographic is working to provide educators in North Dakota and around the country the opportunity to have in-person and online professional development opportunities and access to classroom resources to inspire their students to learn about geography and the world around them.”

For Milakovic, working for National Geographic at this point in her life is more rewarding than it would have been in college. “It means more now than it did then. With life experience, you know how you can make a difference.”

About the National Geographic Educator Network
National Geographic is committed to teaching students about the world and how it works, ultimately empowering the next generation of geographers, scientists, conservationists and educators: the National Geographic explorers and change makers
of tomorrow.

The National Geographic Educator Network connects formal and informal K-12 educators and their classrooms to a host of National Geographic resources and to one another.

Learn more at