Through a partnership with the Valley Stewardship Network, in Viroqua, WI, we had the opportunity to develop and teach the following introduction to GIS course. We did so in March and July of 2016. The course materials are hosted in a GitHub repo, so anyone can use or contribute to them.


The course consists of four two-hour, weekly sessions. You will need a laptop, and bringing a mouse is recommended though not required. We'll be using Quantum GIS, which is some of the best free and open source GIS software available. During the first session we'll be installing the software together, but it will be very helpful if you can download the correct installer ahead of time because it's about 375mb and we don't want to stress out our available bandwidth with a bunch of simulatenous downloads. See link in resources below.


QGIS download page:
    please get the latest release, Version 2.14, and be sure to download the correct installer for your operating system

GIS Packet for Class: Download

    Glossary of GIS Terms this is an evolving google doc, so we can improve it throughout the class
    Where to Find Geospatial Data this is an evolving google doc, so we can improve it throughout the class

Further Learning Resources
    Official QGIS Documentation it may be good to start with this section, which describes the inferface
    Tutorials and Tips, links for videos near the bottom:

WI County Projection Files:

Wild Projections:

Google Maps Terms of Use:


Day 1: Software Day

Day 2: Technical Stuff Day

Day 3: Data Day

Day 4: Map Day

  • General QGIS print compose overview
  • Basic elements of a map
  • Hands-on activity
    • How to use QGIS print compose
    • Create one or more PDFs with all basic map elements