Ferguson, a native of Mississippi who completed a master's degree in geography at Ohio University, joined the Society in 1987 as one of the first full-time employees of the Geography Education Outreach Program.
Strongly committed to improving geography education in America's classrooms, he won the affection of many of the thousands of teachers who have participated in a wide range of professional development activities sponsored by the Society. His long-time service in the program made him the widely acknowledged "institutional memory" of the department.
"Joe Ferguson's final hours at the Geographic reveal the depth of his commitment to one of the things he really loved," Fahey said.
"Joe was here in the office until late Monday evening," Fahey noted, "preparing for this trip to the Channel Islandsan extraordinary experience for the teachers and particularly the young students. It was his goal to make this trip perfect in every way."
Marine Field Work
The group had boarded the Boeing 757 on Tuesday morning at Dulles International Airport in the Washington suburbs.
In California, they would have embarked on an educational field trip associated with a Sustainable Seas Expedition, a five-year project of deepwater exploration and public education conducted by National Geographic and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The field work would have entailed working with biologists at the marine sanctuary to monitor oceanic life and activity. Hiking and kayaking to several of the study areas was part of the planned agenda.
The six teachers and students who were en route to California had been selected for the program by local coordinators of a Society-sponsored network of educators known as the National Geographic Alliance.
The National Geographic Society has established a fund to honor and celebrate the lives of Joe Ferguson and Ann Judge and their tireless commitment to the Society's mission of education, exploration, research, and conservation.
The fund will be designated to support geography education, including continued opportunities for students and teachers to learn about and interact with the natural world.
Gifts of all sizes are welcome and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Please send a check, made out to the National Geographic Society, with a note indicating the Ferguson/Judge Fund to: National Geographic Society Development Office, 1145 17th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.
To make a gift with a credit card please call: Lois Wood at 202-828-6684 or 1-800-373-1717 (outside Metro D.C.)
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