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Timetable | Administration of the OEST Program | The Search | Nomination | Selection | Awards | Section Winners Receives | State Winners Receives | Follow-Up | Summary


The Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards program was adopted by the National Association of Geology Teachers (NAGT) in 1971. Devised to honor Pre-College Teachers of Earth Science, the program has the following specific objectives:
  • Identify excellence in teaching,
  • Appropriately recognize and reward excellence in teaching,
  • Stimulate higher levels of teaching performance,
  • Create an interest in Earth Science Curricula generally,
  • Establish NAGT as a strong support organization for Pre-College education, and
  • Via active statewide and sectional programs, build a solid state, regional, and national liaison with administrators of Pre-College earth science education.
This manual summarizes procedures that have proved successful at the state and sectional level and introduces several new goals and objectives for the OEST program that have been encouraged by the NAGT Executive Committee. Planning at all levels is necessary to achieve optimal results, but even the best plan cannot succeed without a concerted mobilization of effort. NAGT expects each regional Section to name an OEST winner each year and encourages sections to develop local programs in each of their designated states. The OEST Committee at the national level of NAGT coordinates the logistical arrangements of running the program and provides certain designated awards for state and sectional OEST winners.


For a teacher to be named an OEST winner (state or Section) in a particular year, they must be nominated by their section application deadline. Then the section liaison should inform the National OEST Committee Chair, by June 1st, of all recipient names and email addresses.

By June 1st
  • contact Mike Passow, OEST Committee Chair, with award recipient name and email
  • please direct your award winners to the OEST Recipient Information page. The online form for OEST winners requires the award recipient to include a brief narrative (300 words), a digital picture (300 pixels/inch or 480 x 600 pixels), and contact information for the winner's home and school. These are required for publication in a brochure to be distributed at the NAGT/GSA luncheon each Fall. The material may also appear in publications of the award sponsors.
  • the request for the OEST plaque should be made by the OEST representative on the OEST Plaque Information page. Award plaques will be dated in the current year.
*Note that all winners provided by June 1st are winners for that calendar year. Many of the award benefits (like organization memberships, subscriptions, etc.) will not take effect until the following calendar year. This is a result of the widely varying schedules used by individual sections in presenting the awards.
Submissions received after the June 1 deadline will not be included in any acknowledgments for the current OEST cycle.


At the National Level

The OEST Program is administered by a constitutionally mandated standing committee consisting of one member from each regional NAGT Section plus two or three members-at-large (if one of the two members-at-large is selected as Chair, a third member-at-large will be appointed).

At the Sectional Level

The NAGT Constitution states "Nominations will be made to the President of each section who will arrange for the Section Selection Committee." In many sections, local customs or official by-laws mandate that a person other than the Section President run the OEST program for the Section.

Several of the sections have separate OEST representatives for each state within their section. These representatives will report to the section representative, who will advise and coordinate the award process for the section.

Whomever is given the responsibility of running the OEST program for the Section automatically becomes the Sectional Representative to the national OEST Committee. It is the responsibility of each Section to inform the OEST Committee Chair concerning any changes in the status of the Section representative. All nominations must be submitted online at the OEST Nomination Form page.

Nominations will be forwarded (by the NAGT central office) to the OEST Sectional Representative of the appropriate Section within as short a time as practical.


The search is the most critical part of the OEST program. It must be thorough, it must be timely, and it should generate excitement. An effective search can be accomplished through personal correspondence, advertisements in relevant newsletters, and appropriate individual contact. It will not happen by itself. The following recommendations are intended for use at the state level, but most of these approaches are also useful for Sectional searches in NAGT Sections lacking separate state awards.


A Solicitation Letter


All nominators are required to follow the format specified on the official nomination form. Failure to use the official nomination form will lead to the submission of a wide variety of packages that may be difficult to compare. All nominators must fill out the official nomination form found here. Note that the narrative portion of the application is limited to one single-spaced typewritten page for each of the seven elements mentioned on the form.


All nominations must be submitted via the OEST website and will then be forwarded to the appropriate section. In some NAGT sections, a Sectional Committee will be formed to consider all applications from states within that Section.

In such a case, state winners should not be named unless there has truly been a state competition. The practice of soliciting nominations for a Sectional OEST award should not, by itself, automatically result in state winners being selected. If teachers are nominated for a state award, knowing ahead of time that the state winners will compete for Sectional honors, then there should be both state and sectional winners named (no matter whether there is one regional selection panel or several state selection panels). However, if the call for nominations states the competition is for a Sectional Award, then no state winners should be named.
The most effective selection committees generally contain between four and six members. Some suggested perspectives to be included on the committee (state or Sectional) include:
  • an NAGT State (or Section) Coordinator, Chair;
  • a geology Professor;
  • a Science Education Professor;
  • a Principal;
  • an industry representative (such as state mining association);
  • an Earth Science Teacher (perhaps a former OEST winner ); and
  • a State Department of Education representative.
A new committee can be appointed each year, but a staggered system to utilize members for more than one year is desirable because of the continuity it provides.


A primary key to the success of the OEST program is the quality of the awards to top nominees. Certainly the prestige of being recognized by a national organization such as NAGT is significant and brings satisfaction to finalists in the OEST competition. However, for the program to be most effective, the awards should also be rewards. For example, a state OEST winner receiving a plaque through the mail to commemorate the honor might feel little exuberance over the occasion, and nominees would be difficult to obtain in subsequent years. A statewide competition should produce a greater impact if the objectives of the program are to be met and the award is to be recognized as a prestigious.

The successful awards program should embody three elements:
  • Tangible and high-quality rewards
  • Public presentation on an appropriate occasion
  • Honor to as many nominees as possible

Tangible and High-Quality Rewards

Each person honored by the competition should receive an appropriate award for his or her level of achievement. The award should produce a feeling of pride in the recipient. It should also reflect favorably upon NAGT by forcefully demonstrating our interest in and encouragement of excellence in earth science teaching at the K-12 level. Several levels of awards are built into the OEST Program. Some awards are funded by NAGT and other organizations at the national level, while others are funded locally. NAGT reserves the right to limit the total number of plaques and memberships given to any one Section.

Public Presentation

Honor to Many

Funding an Awards Program


Follow-up, including publicity, is extremely important and is the most frequently neglected part of the OEST process. Basically, it means taking care of chores after the all the awards have been presented. The following items are critically important:
  • News releases to the hometown paper of each teacher honored as well as to all organizations newsletters
    Sample Newspaper Notice (Acrobat (PDF) 28kB Jan5 11)
  • Letters of appreciation to each financial supporter of the program.
  • Letter to each award recipient encouraging them to write a letter of appreciation to the organizations providing the award(s).
  • A letter of congratulations to the school and system administrators.
  • A letter of thanks to the organization providing the forum for NAGT to make the OEST awards.

These things having been done, the state, or Section, is set to begin the cycle again.