The United States Geography Olympiad was founded in the summer of 2012 as a nationwide competition to test the geography skills of American students and to help foster geography education throughout the United States. The competition aims to reward students who have devoted themselves to studying their world, and its countries and peoples, as a thorough knowledge of geography is essential to being an educated citizen today.  Aside from fostering an appreciation of knowledge of our world, the United States Geography Olympiad is the official qualifying competition for the International Geography Olympiad (aka iGeo), and by competing in it, Varsity Division students will have a chance to become members of the American team to attend iGeo. The 2017 iGeo will be held from August 2-8, 2017 in Belgrade; the members of Team USA will be selected at the Varsity & Junior Varsity National Championships of the United States Geography Olympiad on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Arlington, VA.
The USGO has been open to all primary and secondary students, regardless of age since its founding. The USGO features four divisions: Elementary, Middle School, Junior Varsity, and Varsity. Students who are eligible for either the Elementary or Middle School Divisions can also compete in the Junior Varsity Division.

Staff and Co-Founders

President: David Madden, Washington, DC
The President and Co-Founder of the United States Geography Olympiad is David Madden. Madden also founded the National History Bee and Bowl in 2010, since which time thousands of students throughout the USA have competed in the nation’s fastest growing academic competitions. He is also the founder of the International History Bee and Bowl for students outside the USA and the International History Olympiad for all students around the world. Madden also attended the 2012 International Geography Olympiad in Cologne, Germany as an official observer from the United States, and then coached and chaperoned the first ever Team USA at iGeo in 2013 in Kyoto, Japan. He was head coach of the 2014 Team USA in Krakow, Poland, on which the iGeo world champion, James Mullen of California, competed. He is most interested in the impact of geography on geopolitics, as he holds degrees in International Relations from Princeton and the Free University of Berlin in Germany. He has competed in a number of geography competitions in the past, and is also a 19 day champion on the US quiz show, Jeopardy!

Vice-President: Enrico Contolini, Lakewood, CO
The Vice President and Co-Founder of the United States Geography Challenge is Enrico Contolini. Enrico is originally from Italy, visited many places and now lives in Colorado with his family. He is the father of four children and coached his daughter Isabella to victories in the Colorado Geographic Bee in 2010 and 2011, where she was also the top female competitor in the USA both years.  He is a geography enthusiast and researcher. He is especially interested in raising awareness about poverty and orphans in developing countries.  “Geography means ‘to write about the earth’.  Ultimately, we study the earth to make it a better place for the people who live on it; all of them! Almost half of the world population lives in poverty (less than $2/day). To improve their life, we need to understand their living conditions, background, language, culture, environment, etc. I hope the US Geography Olympiad will help many US students learn more about the world and its people.” Enrico still learns geography daily with his daughter Isabella and other interested students and give talks about geography. You can read more about him and contact him through his blog at:

RAYNELLWriter and Tournament Coordinator: Raynell Cooper, Washington, DC
Raynell Cooper is the Tournament Coordinator for the US Geography Olympiad, and was the Team USA Head Coach for the 2015 International Geography Olympiad in Russia and the 2016 International Geography Olympiad in Beijing. Raynell is a graduate student in urban planning at the University of Maryland and graduated with a concentration in geography at The George Washington University in Washington, DC in 2014. Raynell also co-coached Team USA at the 2014 International Geography Olympiad in Krakow, Poland. Raynell is a two-time Most Valuable Player at the National Championships of the National Geography Bowl, a competition for college students majoring in geography. He was also the 2011 Teen Tournament Champion on Jeopardy! and is from Rockville, MD.