President’s Column – August 2003

Title: President’s Column
Author: Bruce Kelso
Publication: The Outcrop, August 2003, p. 3

Well, I generally conclude that summer has arrived after my first camping and fishing trip. This year it happened to come particularly late, initiated by a 4-day trip to the Trappers Lake area during the last weekend of June. The weather was great, the fishing spectacular, and I enjoyed the company of my 17-year-old son, while my wife was off on her annual spa-pilgrimage to Santa Fe with her girlfriends.

For those of you who have raised teenagers, I do not need to explain the stage they go through where they believe they know more than you do. Giving credit where credit is due, my son can talk circles around me on numerous topics like computer programming and the physics behind lasers. When he heads down these discussion paths on topics that are distant memories of my educational past, I frequently change the discussion to geology, where I feel that I have an upper hand. Such was the case on this recent outing, when we found ourselves hiking on the Flattops, where I turned the discussion towards the extensive basalt cap feature that covers thousands of square miles in the White River Forest of northern-central Colorado. It is surprising to me that high school age students have been exposed to very few geology and natural science topics by the time they reach this stage of their education.

All of this brings me to the topic of this month’s column, promoting education of our youth in the areas of geology and related natural sciences. I recently read Steve Sonnenberg’s President’s Column in the AAPG Explorer, where he stated that “Students are the future of AAPG, and thus need to be cultivated and nurtured.” While Steve’s comments were generally focused at the university level, I truly believe the “cultivation and nurturing” needs to start earlier in the middle schools and high schools of our community. RMAG has several ongoing programs that support geological education.

At the June 20th Friday luncheon, Wayne Pound of Horizon High School was presented with RMAG’s annual Teacher of the Year award. Under the guidance of the Popular Geology Committee, RMAG receives recommendations and nominations from schools for teachers who demonstrate exemplary efforts in promoting the geological sciences to students. In 2002, RMAG received one nomination for this award. This year, we received 6 nominations. I challenge our membership to personally contact their local school administrators and make them aware of this award.

In the recent past, RMAG had an active group of volunteers that were part of a Speakers Bureau, also under the Popular Geology Committee’s umbrella. These volunteers visit elementary, middle, and high school classes to give presentations on minerals, fossils and dinosaurs, oil and gas development, and various other geologic topics. While there are a few of our members who are still active with this program, I would like to see a revitalization of our efforts towards this educational service.

Finally, directed towards university level students, RMAG has recently created a Mentoring Committee, chaired by Sandra Mark, and an Emerging Leaders Committee, chaired by Bill Houston. These two committees have been created to provide professional support and guidance to university students and to draw students and recently graduated students to RMAG’s membership.

The education of our youth in the geological sciences is the future of our profession, as well as the future of RMAG as a professional organization. I suggest that it is our responsibility as RMAG members to actively participate in this educational process and encourage you all to consider becoming involved.