We’re a US-based consultancy centered
on the water-food-energy-community nexus.
Refocusing relationships between humans and the environment
Visual Teaching Technologies was started in 2002, dedicated to helping students learn how to relate to the world around them from a geographic perspective.
Today VTT’s work portfolio has expanded to include not only students and educators, but also public agencies, private businesses, non-government organizations, and community stakeholders who can benefit from visualizing complex problems through a geospatial lens.
And over the years, the VTT philosophy has remained constant:
- Mental construction of content is as important as presentation of content (“teaching”). Each person receiving information brings her/his prior experiences and knowledge to a situation, and each person processes information presented through her/his own cultural and psychological screens.
- Communication is necessary to check for understanding. Visualization is a critical part of communication.
- A multimodal approach to learning and sharing information is ideal. We all process information differently, so it is critical to provide and solicit information in many different ways to address the different ways we each understand the world. Though the focus of VTT is on visualization, we believe in the combination of visual, auditory, linguistic, and kinesthetic.
- Intelligence is expressed in at least eight different ways. Drawing on the work of multiple intelligences theory (Howard Garner and Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education), we create opportunities for engagement in deeper thinking by intentionally incorporating different intelligences: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Logical-Mathematical, Naturalist, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Linguistic, and Musical.
- When learning is relevant, the desire to learn increases and so does the level of understanding. The degree to which people become engaged in the learning process is related to relevance. Engagement can be at a variety of spatio-temporal scales.
Here’s what we prioritize.
Our water integrity conviction
Meet the VTT team.
We’re proud to be conducting corporate operations in State of North Carolina–
our headquarters are located in Morehead City, overlooking Bogue Sound on the Crystal Coast. We also have an office in Arlington, Virginia.
I love the timing and beauty of a Rube Goldberg machine… and I love the boldness it takes to make course corrections when a solution isn’t working out as planned.
I love the unknown unknowns of the world we live in and the flexibility and agility and reimaging it takes to find solutions, particularly as they relate to water and environmental sustainability.
In every iteration of my career, I’ve embraced multidisciplinary, multiagency endeavors. I intentionally reach across the “3-Ds” (Defense, Diplomacy, and Development)* and across sectors and utilize an eclectic mix of lessons learned about the water-food-energy nexus to evaluate effectiveness. (For more career details, check out my CV linked below.)
As the developer of VTT’s compelling multimedia river GEONarrative methodology, I see water as part of complex social-ecological systems, defying silos and sectors. Beginning with a watershed-based, bioregional framework, I work with leaders and decision-makers to help them understand the varied aspects of water as it relates to climate change and the challenges we face.
My goal is to use the wisdom I’ve gained to formulate the right questions to ask and to help others make smart choices related to water in the midst of chaos.
I am passionate about adding a water integrity component to stakeholder dialogue. When water integrity is lacking, reform and projects fail, and corruption (to whichever water sector work is particularly vulnerable) diverts resources from where they are needed. With explicit attention to managing corruption risks, I believe that we can better maximize economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems and the environment.
I’m here to help you make informed decisions about water relevant projects, to make smart money choices, and to provide the top-shelf consulting services to address the life and livelihood challenges of coastal ecosystems and communities.
*Through my deployment with the U.S. Marines and work with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, I was able to show how the availability, accessibility, and governance of water influenced poppy cultivation in Helmand Province, Afghanistan; Boko Haram terrorist activities in Nigeria; U.S. - Russian diplomacy associated with Arctic waters; and drug smuggling in South America.
Throughout my life, my travels have always involved a wandering river, a shallow bay, a ragged cliff, or rolling shoreline… anywhere the land meets the water. If I’m in San Diego, South Africa, Barbados, Myrtle Beach, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, or some island off Honduras, my fishing tackle travels with me, no matter if I’m there for business or not. When at home, any free time will surely take me to the Potomac River, which I’ve mapped with my dry feet hiking, my wet waders, or in my kayak, where everything gets wet. Even after decades of adventure, each outing provides me something new.
My post-school life began with truck driving, fence building, tree-cutting, and brick laying, intermingled with unforgettable stints in the traveling rock and roll world, and performing in acrobatic diving shows with The Great American High Diving Team.
At some point in my mid-20’s, I was encouraged to buy a three-piece suit (and get a haircut). I trained in an entry-level junior technical service position, working primarily in government buildings and locations within and near Washington DC. I had the pleasure of working in the Pentagon, in the Old Executive Office Building, and every Intelligence or military installment one can imagine. After earning my stripes, I was promoted to management. I felt quite successful, but with two young kids, I felt spread thin and stressed out. So, I became a Stay-at-Home Dad! As my schedule allowed, I began to rekindle my love for the sport of Springboard Diving, and was slowly able to begin a now 20-year career of coaching. Starting off in High School coaching, to Summer League and Club Diving, I’ve been at American University as a Division-1 Diving Coach since 2007.
Through many positions and very different stages, my work life has always shared some common themes. Being creative, building relationships, renewing and teaching processes, and recruiting the best partners to join in my adventures.
Most of my 35-plus years of travel (much in the Caribbean) have educated me with lessons from the locals (mostly fisherfolk) I’ve met and those I’ve come to know. I am more thankful, more empathetic, and I better understand the dichotomy of life in such amazing and beautiful places. After 35 years of travels, and all my experiences and connections to coastal communities, the wonderment is still palpable… but it is cut with a heavy shot of impending doom.
At every turn, I’ve always looked for new ways to stay connected to the water. My journey has been a full one already, but there is still much I can do. With urgent environmental conditions to address, and losses of coastal habitat, there are young people to inspire (as Mr. Cousteau did to me). There are still other people to convince and partner with in industry and in office. There are actions we all can take to heal our once-pristine waters.
My efforts hope to allow future generations to feel the same fascination with Earth’s waters that helped form the person I have become.
Prior to joining GRL, I served as executive director for Waterkeepers Carolina and as Barton College’s stand-alone geography professor. Early in my career, I spent four years as an intelligence analyst, traveling widely in Europe and briefing U.S. policymakers on weapon systems, arms trade, and nonproliferation politics. As Major Ward, I also enjoyed a career in the United States Army as both an active-duty military police officer and reserve intelligence officer.
I received the 2008 Walter B. Jones Memorial Award for Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study, while completing my PhD and serving as the science communications fellow for North Carolina Sea Grant. I have earned numerous government civilian, military, and intelligence community performance awards and am an accomplished technical, science, and grant writer.
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send us mail
P.O. Box 443
Morehead City, NC
Dun & Bradstreet Registration: 018671686.
US Government System for Award Management (SAM) CAGE Code: 7DC83.