Maps and mappers of the 2016 calendar: Kate Staley

In our series “Maps and mappers of the 2016 calendar” we will present throughout 2016 the mapmakers who submitted their creations for inclusion in the 2016 GeoHipster calendar.


Kate Staley

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: My name is Kate Staley and I am a GIS Manager for the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). I graduated from the University of Utah in 2006 with a BS in Geography and a certificate in GIS. After graduating I started working with SITLA as an intern and recently became GIS manager this year.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: SITLA currently manages approximately 4.5 million acres of land for the benefit of the public school children. At the time of Utah statehood, congress awarded Utah with sections 2, 16, 32 & 36 to help generate money to place in a fund for the public school children and other beneficiaries. Money is generated through leasing, sales, development and exchanges of land parcels.

I thought it would be interesting to create a map showing the percent change in the total amount of annual School Trust Land distribution by school districts between the 2003-2016 school years. I wanted to see which school districts saw the greatest change in the amount of funds they received from SITLA.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: At first this map was going to be a simple choropleth map to show the variations between school districts. But after doing some research I discovered a tool created by Jacob Wasilkowski/Esri St. Louis & Jie Cheng/UMASS Medical School – Copyright(c) 2014 Jacob Wasilkowski and Jie Cheng (inspired by Stewart, James and Kennelly, Patrick J “Illuminated Choropleth Maps”). This tool is known as the choropleth hillshade tool ( It enables maps to have 3 dimensions and makes your map look pretty cool. The tool is very simple to use and is available on github.

'The State of Utah Trust Lands Administration School Fund Distribution' by Kate Staley
‘The State of Utah Trust Lands Administration School Fund Distribution’ by Kate Staley