HGS is Reaching Out<br>Craig M. Dingler, HGS President 2003-2004

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How has the public's view of geologists changed since Sir Walter Scott wrote these words about the Edinburgh geologists who came to visit St. Ronan's well, a mineral well in the Scottish countryside? Not much, some would say. Where were your earliest concepts of geology and the work of a geologist formed? Mine were in the fifth grade. How old were you when you met your first geologist? The face I put to a geologist was that of my uncle, who happened to be in college majoring in geology at the time. I dare say nobody else in my class could name someone they knew who was a geologist. The point I'm trying to instill is that you may be the only geologist that anyone knows in your circle of friends, family, and acquaintances.We geoscientists are a small group, and each of us must deal with the public on some level at one or more points in our lives. Discussing your profession, letting people know what it is that you do for a living, and expressing your informed opinion on matters of the Earth are integral parts of being a professional. Reaching out to the public is a major area of focus for the Houston Geological Society, and one I intend to put emphasis on this year. Currently, the HGS hosts Energy Day at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, holds field trips and other events for Earth Science Week, and supports Scouts and Explorers. The HGS Environmental & Engineering Geologists group has a booth at the annual Earth Day festival. We also have an Academic Liaison that helps arrange speakers for classroom visits. I must say, the HGS does these activities well. But we are always in need of volunteers and, if you would like to get involved, please call one or more of our committee leaders and join up. New this year is the effort HGS is extending at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), the annual meeting of the Science Teachers Association of Texas. CAST is being held in Houston October 30-November 1, 2003 at the Reliant Center. Here we will compound our outreach efforts by exposing teachers to different aspects of geology through talks and field trips. The teachers then take their newly found knowledge, experiences, and enthusiasm back to their classrooms. I find this exciting because, after all, most of us, and most of the public, were introduced to geology through science classes in elementary school.We have several other new outreach plans this year. One includes remaking the old booth display into an educational display for local gem and mineral shows, scouting events, and the Robert A. Vines Environmental Science Center. Further along the educational line, the HGS, through a joint effort with the Geophysical Society of Houston (GSH) and the Houston chapter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES), is trying to donate AAPG's Datapages to the M.D. Anderson Library on the University of Houston main campus. It will be accessible by students and professors through their campus computer system, and by the general public (including HGS members) at the library's computer terminals.We hope to have details available soon. Another outreach event includes HGS underwriting the student session at the GCAGS annual convention in Baton Rouge this month. Is there more that we can do? Undoubtedly. Let me hear your ideas! There are ample opportunities for you to discuss your profession with friends and family. It may  be more difficult for you to do so in front of a group. Elementary school classes are hardly ever a tough crowd, and most students are eager to learn something new from classroom visitors. The students are curious about science, are already thinking about how the world works, and contemplating what kind of job they want to have when they grow up. There are many ideas for classroom presentations on the AAPG and Earth Science Week web sites (http://www.aapg.org and http://www.earthsciweek.org). Call your local school and offer to talk to a class during Earth Science Week. I think you''ll enjoy the experience!

source: 
HGS Bulletin, October 2003
releasedate: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
subcategory: 
From the President