Initial Publication Date: March 27, 2022
Volume 11, Issue 1 | Spring 2022



In this Issue:

From the President

Connecting disciplinary societies and community colleges

by Karen Layou, Reynolds Community College, VA

In January, I had the opportunity to participate in Strengthening Engagement between Disciplinary Societies and Community Colleges, a workshop convened by Heather MacDonald, Mark Maier, Katherine Rowell, John McDaris, and Sharon Zuber. This workshop brought together faculty from two-year colleges (2YC) and members of a wide array of professional societies across the sciences and humanities to engage in conversations about connection. Over several days, we worked among and across disciplines to identify best practices and suggestions for increased engagement of 2YC faculty and students in professional societies. A key point was reiterated across disciplines: if we want to see systemic change in diversity and inclusion of our professions, we have to foster and encourage change where students from diverse backgrounds begin—the 2YC. The geosciences are unique: we have a space of our own here in the NAGT Geo2YC division, but there are other places we can participate to make professional societies aware of the willingness of 2YC faculty to connect ourselves and our student to the networking opportunities that societies provide.

I challenge our readers to get involved to ensure 2YC perspectives are heard and emphasized as a stakeholder group within the discipline:

  • Join a society and connect to your local or regional chapters. 
  • Present a webinar. 
  • Attend regional conferences. 
  • Run for an elected position. 
  • Serve on review boards. 
  • Most importantly, take your students along for the ride and encourage their involvement, too!

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award Recipient 2021: Kusali Gamage of Austin Community College

by Joy Branlund, Southwestern Illinois College, Mariah Tilman, KT Moran, Michelle Selvans, Clovis Community College and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and Sadie Kingsbury, 

The NAGT Geo2YC Division Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award Committee is very pleased to congratulate Kusali Gamage as winner of the 2021 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. Kusali was our quarterly honoree from Spring 2021 and you can read more about his work in our congratulations from that issue of Foundations. We are excited to support your efforts to serve the geoscience students at Austin Community College, and to recognize your service to the greater two-year college geoscience community. Thank you, Kusali, for your efforts!

Kusali has been awarded a $750 stipend in support of his professional development, and we look forward to hearing from him in a future article in this newsletter.

If you know a two-year college adjunct who does great work, then tell us about them! Your nominee might win one of the three quarterly awards coming up in 2022. Please complete an Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award nomination today: 

Talking Teaching

We All Need Good Advice

by Karen Layou, Reynolds Community College, VA

At Reynolds Community College where I teach, we have recently adopted a new advising model that requires students with fewer than 30 credits to seek academic advising from our Advising Services department. Given declining enrollments across the College that parallel national patterns, this gave me pause, as I know many students discover geology as a career path due to enrollment in an introductory geoscience class to fulfill a general education lab science requirement. I wanted to ensure that geoscience is getting a solid billing as a great science option by our professional advisors, so I recently held an open house in my geology lab for our professional advising team. The goals of the open house were to not only describe the physical and historical geology courses I teach at Reynolds, but also to showcase my teaching style, to highlight who should take geology classes and why, to discuss transfer pathways to various schools in our region, and to build bridges between advising services and STEM faculty. I prepared a few simple exercises that are similar to what I do in class (mineral identification, sand observations under the microscope, sea level change impacts on the Virginia coast using web resources, and of course, the stream table). I also provided handouts with key advising points and AGI/BLS career statistics. It was a great afternoon—I shared my love of geoscience, and we all shared advising tips across departments. When the advising team came in the room, I asked what they think of when I say "geology". Predictably, the response was "rocks". When asked the same question at the end of the day, the response was "everything is related to geology!" How exciting to see the shift in understanding! I encourage you all to reach out to colleagues across campus and think creatively as to how you can get more students into your geoscience courses.














GeoNews Web Resource and Student Assignment Templates

by Jeff Simpson, Chandler Gilbert Community College, AZ

To make geology and environmental geology more relevant for my students, I maintain a GeoNews web page featuring recent items of interest from reliable sources. When we begin a new topic in class, students will read, summarize, and share one article from GeoNews.

Others are free to use this site. Please let me know if you find it useful or if you have suggestions.

GeoNews Website:

Student summary form template:

For students who will present to class, here is a Google Slides template:

Focus on Geology : Our Journey to Self-Publish an Introductory Geology Textbook (plus: Video Resources for Teaching Introductory Geology)

By Karen Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island, RI; and Jessica Smay, San Jose City College, CA

We recently published an introductory geology textbook (Focus on Geology by Kortz and Smay). As with all authors who publish books, we were dissatisfied with the options available, and we thought there should be something different. After extensive research and field-testing, we created something different—our textbook is based on research on how students learn geology. For example, the figures and text are integrated, the text is broken into bite-sized chunks, it minimizes the vocabulary words used, and, importantly, the book focuses on the key concepts and not the extraneous (but often interesting to us!) details. We broke away from how textbooks are traditionally written as in-depth, reference materials and created something new, designed specifically for introductory-level learning.

We initially had a publisher with whom we made it through the entire writing process, with many edits and external reviews. However, because the book was so different, the publisher made the decision that there would not be a large enough market for them to recoup their costs if they followed through with final development and publishing of the textbook. Therefore, they decided not to publish it, but let us retain our rights and vision for the book.

After a great deal of research and many conversations, we decided to move forward by self-publishing the book. Below we share some of our thoughts from the venture and tips from our journey. We share this in case other people are curious about self-publishing.

Self-publishing comes with many advantages, including:

  • You retain the copyright and ownership over the material.
  • You make all the decisions about what to include and how to include it.
  • You can make revisions as you want to.
  • You are not waiting for someone else (the editor, the reviewers, the compositor...).
  • You can set your own price.
  •  You can create a book for a small market.

However, self-publishing also has some disadvantages:

  • You do not have editorial, art, and photo support.
  • You must do your own formatting and layout.
  • You market the book yourself.
  • You must meet your own deadlines.
  • You need to create your own supplemental materials.
  • You need to educate yourself about self-publishing and ensure your book can be ordered by bookstores.

We are extremely happy we made the decision to self-publish. Here are some tips that we can give to others who might be interested in creating their own textbook and self-publishing it:

  • Study the research on how text can most effectively help students learn, and create your book accordingly.
  • Create a vision and stick to it, particularly when you make decisions about what to include and how to include it. Ask yourself, what are the goals and themes in the textbook; what is the purpose, and how is it different from what else is out there?
  • Create a timeline with specific deadlines.
  • Get feedback early. Ask knowledgeable colleagues to review for content, and ask novice learners to edit for consistency and clarity. It is essential to have more than one set of eyes on the drafts.
  • Take many photos that you might want to include in the textbook. Search for photos on government agency websites (e.g. USGS, NASA, NPS, NOAA) because they are public domain, or use other photos that are public domain ( and are great resources). If you include people, make a conscious effort to portray a wide diversity of individuals.
  • The textbook art created a particular challenge, since most freely available art did not fulfill our requirement of simple diagrams without extra details. To solve this issue, we created our own artwork, both digitally and by drawing. Luckily, our desire to keep it simple based on learning research matched with our skills as artists! In fact, we have had positive student feedback on the artwork, describing it as "accessible" and "clear."
  • Learn about the technical requirements of the printer (e.g. paper size, margin requirements, format required for upload), and format your textbook accordingly from the beginning.
  • Make other formatting decisions, such as color schemes, fonts, and recurring formatting themes at the beginning. Keep accessibility in mind.
  • Decide if you want to do print-on-demand or a printing run because there are advantages and disadvantages of each. Print-on-demand tends to result in a higher end cost and more variability in print quality, but printing runs result in a large number of textbooks that need to be stored somewhere and shipped out when ordered. We decided to go with print-on-demand, using two different printers: Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon (for books that are ordered on Amazon) and IngramSpark through Ingram Publishing Company (for books that are ordered elsewhere, such as through campus bookstores).
  • Test the books in your own classroom and with your own bookstore to make sure everything works.
  • Create a marketing plan and market your new textbook!

It has been quite a journey, from our initial vision of a textbook to the published end product that we use in our classrooms. It has been a long process, at times enjoyable and at times frustrating. However, we have an end product that we are excited about and our students love using. Our overall goal is to improve student learning of the geosciences, and we are achieving that in our classes and in the classes of other faculty who have already adopted our textbook.

We have also created a series of 42 short lecture videos to help teach introductory geology. They're low-tech, but they're short (mostly 3-7 minutes) and focus on key points for a variety of topics typically taught in intro geology. These videos use figures and terminology from our textbook, but we think that they would be useful to all instructors, even if they don't use that textbook. The videos are currently posted on Youtube, but they're not searchable, so please email me at if you're interested in using them, and I'll send you the links.

Community Announcements

How do you protect a unique geologic feature? Make it an official State "symbol"!

by Richard D. Little, project coordinator, Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Instructor, Greenfield Community College, MA

The Jurassic (and upper Triassic) lithified armored mud balls of western Massachusetts are the only easy-to-see examples of this rare sedimentary structure. It will be easy for them to be forgotten and "lost" to history. I am promoting the "Save the Armored Mud Balls" project to celebrate and protect these unique geologic oddities that preserve such an ephemeral event along rift valley streams of this geologic age. They are photogenic and interesting. Everyone who sees them smiles and is enthused about the history preserved in rock. As a geologic community, we need to support this effort. It may serve as an inspiration for others to preserve iconic and important geologic resources in your region.

Please see the Armored Mudball Rocks website for more information. You can sign a petition and leave a comment.

NAGT Webinar Series by and for 2YC Instructors

We are pleased to announce a NAGT Webinar Series led by 2YC instructors! Please see the schedule for the next events below, or view the entire NAGT/On the Cutting Edge Program Webinar Schedule. For more information or to register for these free events, please see links on the NAGT webinar schedule page, or click on the titles below to go to the specific webinar pages. Registration deadlines are the Wednesdays two days before the webinar.

Title: Maintaining and Active & Successful Student Sciences Club

Date & Time: Friday, April 1, 2022, 9 am PT | 10 am MT | 11 am CT | 12 pm ET

Title: Sharing Ocean Drilling with Students

Date & Time: Friday, May 4, 2022, 9 am PT | 10 am MT | 11 am CT | 12 pm ET

NAGT Advocacy Committee Seeking new members

The NAGT advocacy committee is looking for new members. Please join us! The committee's work focuses on supporting Earth sciences educators of grades K-16, addressing legislation that impacts the teaching of geoscience, explaining the role of geoscience in current social issues, and writing policy statements to guide the work of NAGT.  Because the work of this committee includes a wide range of issues that involve questions of diversity, inclusion, and justice,  the committee is particularly interested in recruiting representatives from BIPOC communities.  More information about the committee and how to get involved can be found on NAGT Advocating for Geoscience Education page on the NAGT website. You may also directly contact the Advocacy Committee chair at and by completing the nomination form at

Geo2YC Faculty Development Grants 

Next application deadline:  April 15, 2021

Have you participated in virtual professional development, or are you planning to attend regional or national conferences this fall or winter (face-to-face or online)? How about organizing a virtual or face-to-face workshop, field trip, or other activity? We'd like to help! The Geo2YC Division would like to support your efforts to promote geoscience education in two-year colleges. Please consider applying for:

  • Mini grants up to $500 to support an activity (workshop, field trip, etc.) which benefits faculty from multiple institutions.
  • Travel grants of $100 to help an individual attend a professional development activity (please note: this can support virtual professional development!)

Geo2YC Faculty Development Grants - apply here

Earth Educators' Rendezvous 2022 Upcoming Deadlines

The Earth Educators' Rendezvous 2022 will take place July 11-15 at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN. Please see the main Rendezvous 2022 page for upcoming deadlines, and shortcuts below:

Travel Stipend Application deadline: Thursday, April 5

Early Registration deadline: Tuesday, May 3

Review Camp application deadline: Tuesday, May 3

Late poster and share-a-thon submission deadline: Tuesday, May 17

Standard Registration deadline: Thursday, June 30

Future Newsletter Deadlines

We are pleased to announce a new form for contributors to submit articles, images and items of interest to the newsletter.


Questions about the submission form? Please contact Bridget James:

Questions about the newsletter? Please contact Andrea Bair:

Deadline for submission to next issue of the newsletter:

  • August 1, 2022 (Fall issue)