FARMINGTON - A handful of San Juan County students are headed to the New Mexico Geographic Bee in Santa Fe on Friday.

Students from Farmington, Bloomfield and Kirtland schools will have to know not only how to pinpoint places from Kansas City, Mo., to Timbuktu, Mali, but also the history, culture and even seasonal weather patterns of such places.

"I'm slightly confident," said Parker Jones, a fourth-grader at Ladera del Norte Elementary School in Farmington.

The national and statewide geographic bees were founded in 1989 by the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that promotes world culture and conservation. The bees are meant to encourage students to maintain interest and investment in the planet.

"Probably some of my favorite places would be deserts, places with wildlife, Africa and Australia," said Jones, who, like most of the children in the bee, have a rare interest in geography.

Jones is one of eight students from the county headed to the geographic bee after winning their respective schools' bees. The students will compete against students from all over New Mexico in the fourth through eighth grades. A total of 84 students qualified to compete.

The students will be tested in a variety of topics that will span the globe and include areas of the United States and possibly the Southwest. The preliminary round will include only oral testing, followed by a final round of both oral and written exams.


"It's pretty hard to know what to expect," said New Mexico State Geographic Bee coordinator Patrick Lewis-Jose.

The overall champion is the sole recipient of an all-expense paid trip to the National Geographic Bee set to take place in Washington, D.C., in May.