Initial Publication Date: September 1, 2023

Volume 12, Issue 3 | Summer 2023



In this Issue:

  • President's Column
  • Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award - call for nominations!
  • Teaching spotlight: Illinois Central College's Southwest Field Studies
  • Expand your horizons - opportunities for 2YC educators
  • NAGT updates
  • Funding opportunities for 2YC faculty and students
  • Upcoming meetings
  • Summer vacation - geology-style
  • Geo2YC pencils

President's Column

Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College

I hope that you all have been basking in summer and are feeling happy and excited about starting the 2023-2024 academic year. If you peruse this issue of the newsletter, you will see a host of great opportunities for networking, professional development, and funding for 2YC geoscience faculty, including the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award (please nominate your colleagues), Geo2YC Faculty Development Grants (deadline to apply is September 15; we are hoping for a bunch of applications!), and a ton of 2YC-relevant sessions at the Geological Society of America National Meeting in Pittsburgh this October. Members, please be on the lookout for an pre-GSA e-mail about an informal social gathering for 2YC faculty in Pittsburgh. I am particularly excited about the National Science Foundation's new solicitation, Innovation in Two-Year College STEM Education (ITYC), because the lead institution must be a 2YC. This is an outstanding way to collaborate with colleagues within your institution and at other schools, and I hope that there are many submissions from NAGT2YC Division members.

Have a wonderful start to the fall semester, and I hope to see you in Pittsburgh in a few weeks!


Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award

Unfortunately, we have no colleagues to recognize this month as no recent nominations have been received! As we begin a new academic year, we encourage you to connect with your adjunct faculty on campus and share with us the amazing work they are doing with their students. Adjunct faculty often comprise over half the teaching faculty at institutions of higher education and they deserve recognition. We are pleased to support outstanding adjunct faculty with a one-year complimentary membership to NAGT and the Geo2YC Division, and they will be entered into the pool of honorees under consideration for the Annual Outstanding Faculty Award, which is sponsored by a professional development stipend of up to $1000 from McGraw Hill. Please complete an Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award nomination today.


Teaching spotlight:  Illinois Central College's Southwest Field Studies

Cheryl Resnick, Illinois Central College

In 1975, Professor Ed Tarbuck of Illinois Central College (ICC) envisioned a new geoscience course: Field Studies of the Southwest. This was offered as a 4-credit lab science course with pre-trip classroom meetings and 18 days in the field. 46 years later, we are still offering this Southwest course, as well as a course to the Rocky Mountain region. The field studies course is geared towards non-majors who are interested in earning physical science credit towards their degree.  Students attend two classes prior to the field trip and continue to learn "hands on" during the 18-day trip.  They take two exams on the trip and complete a project upon their return. We drive vans with the back seat removed so we can load cook boxes, coolers, tents, and personal gear as we travel on a 5,000 mile roundtrip adventure.


State and national parks become classrooms where students learn geology concepts such as rock & mineral identification, the rock cycle, geologic time, crustal deformation, volcanism, fluvial systems, and landscape evolution.  Some of the national parks we visit are Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Saguaro, Sunset Crater, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes. The unique geology at each park provides ample opportunities for students to explore. Most of our students haven't traveled west of the Mississippi River, so this trip exposes them to landscapes and communities vastly different from ours in central Illinois. This broadens their perspective of our country's diverse cultural and economic landscapes as well as the natural ones.


Most field study courses at the community college level have a geology pre-requisite.  By offering ours without a prerequisite, we open the opportunity to a wider pool of students. Many of the students are trying to earn science credit away from the traditional classroom, a few are already interested in a field science such as geology or environmental science, and still others discover their curiosity about geology while on the trip and become majors. Most of these geology students transfer to a four-year college to continue their geology degree and we don't always learn of their majors. But many of them stay in touch with us or will tell us later how much the experience meant to them.  For example, a student who decided to major in geology after taking the Southwest field trip went on to complete a Masters degree and worked for a petroleum company for many years.  He and his wife, who met on the Rockies field trip, started a fund in our Educational Foundation specifically geared to support the field course. Through their generous donations and those of other contributors, we can now offer scholarships to help cover the required transportation fee for students who need the financial help. This fund also allows us to replace camping equipment, such as tents, as needed.

The field studies course is a long-standing tradition at Illinois Central College. With the support of dedicated faculty, administration, and students, we hope to continue these field opportunities for interested students well into the future.


Expand your horizons 

Have you ever wanted to do polar fieldwork/research - Polar STEAM is now available to 2YC faculty!  Applications due September 24, 2023
Polar STEAM (Education, Art, Science) is recruiting educators (across all subject areas) for 2024-25 collaborations with polar researchers.  Visit the website to learn more about the opportunity to co-create educational resources with polar researchers as part of a inclusive learning community!
Applications are open for the following polar seasons:

  • Arctic, approx. May - Sept 2024
  • Antarctic, approx. Sept 2024 - Feb 2025
  • Virtual collaborations, Arctic and Antarctic, 2024-25


STEMSEAS - Inaugural Community College Faculty Research Cruise - Applications due September 18, 2023
STEMSEAS (Student Experiences Aboard Ships) is a program that provides undergraduate students first-hand experiences on NSF-funded research vessels - sort of like a REU at sea.  The program is looking to grow within the 2YC community, and there is a cruise opportunity specifically for 2YC faculty coming up on November 2-11, 2023 sailing between Seattle and Honolulu.  Check out the program and apply if you are interested in participating in the R/V Thompson: Inaugural Community College Faculty Expedition!

Grow your NAGT experience 

NAGT Webinar Committee is looking for webinar hosts
NAGT offers a wide range of webinars each month to bring the latest in geoscience and pedagogy to our members. The NAGT Webinar Committee is looking for members who would be willing to host a webinar this coming academic year.  Consider sharing a fun teaching technique, resources you've used in your classroom, or collaborate with colleagues to tell us more about what's been going on in your professional world. If you have some ideas, please reach out to the current chair, Adrianne Leinbach (

NAGT Membership Committee is looking for a representative from the GEO2YC Division
The NAGT Membership Committee is charged with developing and implementing strategies for identifying and recruiting potential members and engaging and retaining current members. The Committee is looking for someone from GEO2YC to represent our Division's needs. Please contact Becca Walker ( if you are interested in serving.

Funding opportunities - small and large!

Apply for a Geo2YC Faculty Development Grant! Next deadline is September 15.
Open to members of the Geo2YC Division of NAGT, the Geo2YC Faculty Development Grant offers mini-grants up to $500 to support an activity (workshop, field trip, etc.) which benefits faculty from multiple institutions and travel grants of $100 to support attending professional development activities. Rolling deadlines annually on April 15 and September 15.  Apply here.

New National Science Foundation (NSF) program specifically for 2YCs - IUSE: Innovation in Two-Year College STEM Education (ITYC). The ITYC funding opportunity supports three-year projects with a maximum budget of $500,000. Two-year colleges must be the lead institution and institutions may submit more than one proposal. The first deadline is December 13, 2023.

There is an NSF office hour on this program on September 7, 2023 at 2pm Eastern to answer questions you might have about applying for this funding.  Register for this office hour via the ITYC program page.

Plan ahead for next year - 2YC faculty, K-12 teachers, and 2YC students: please consider applying for the Dorothy Stout Grant! Annual deadline is April 15.
In honor of Dottie Stout, the first female president of NAGT, awards are made annually in three categories: Community College Faculty, Community College Student, and K-12 Educator. The awards support participation in Earth science classes or workshops; attendance at professional meetings; participation in Earth science field trips; and/or purchase of Earth science materials for classroom use. In addition to the $750 award, each winner receives a one-year membership to NAGT. Apply here.

Connect with your colleagues!

Geological Society of America:  Connects 2023, Pittsburgh, PA  October 15 - 18, 2023  
Join us at the annual Geological Society of America meeting this fall in Pittsburgh.  There are a number of technical sessions being sponsored by NAGT (and a few also supported by the Geo2YC Division):

  • T18. Teaching Environmental Justice "In and Beyond" the Classroom.
  • T24. Field-Based Geoscience Education: Advances in Research, Program Evaluation, Pedagogy, and Curriculum.
  • T25. Metacognition in the Trenches.
  • T26. Bringing Ocean Expeditions and Science at Sea to the Classroom and Community (Posters).
  • T27. Making Sense of Methodologies and Theoretical Frameworks in Geoscience Education Research.
  • T28. 7th–12th Grade and Higher Education/Industry: Partnerships and Programs that Build Opportunities, Equity, or Inclusivity to Inspire Future Geoscientists.
  • T29. Expanding the Tent: Understanding Spatial Reasoning to Increase Equity in Geoscience Education Across Disciplines.
  • T30. Highlighting Successful Mentoring Strategies in the Geosciences.
  • T31. 2YC and 4YCU Geoscience Student Research Exhibition (Posters).
  • T34. Early Involvement in Geoscience Research Among K9–16 Students Can Ensure Sustained Growth of the Discipline (Posters).
  • T35. Exploring the Borders and Boundaries of Mixed Reality in the Geosciences.
  • T36. Iris Moreno Totten Research in Geoscience Education Session.
  • T38. Inclusive Geoscience Teaching for Today's Students.
  • T39. Geoscience and Hydrology of Your Public Lands: STEM Internships, Research, Science, Mapping, Resource Management, and Education.
  • T75. Honoring the Legacy of Teaching, Mentoring, and Research by Patricia Kelley: Predation, Conservation, Evolution, Education, and Diversity in the Geosciences.
  • T122. Planetary Exploration and Education: How We Learn about Our Solar System and Beyond.

Geo2YC members - keep an eye on your email for information on an informal social gathering on Sunday evening in Pittsburgh!

NAGT Webinar Series 
Check out the schedule for the NAGT Webinar Series!  Lots of great opportunities for learning and discussion through these events, and even if you cannot attend, you can register so the link to the recording is sent straight to your inbox. An archive of prior webinars is also available.

AGU Chapman Conferences 
Keep AGU Chapman Conferences on your radar for in-depth meetings on key topics that impact the geosciences!  See the Chapman Conference website for 2023-24 offerings.

Earth Educators' Rendezvous, Pasadena, CA July 15-19, 2024
The Earth Educators' Rendezvous is currently accepting suggestions for the 2024 program and accepting proposals for workshops and roundtables through October 23, 2024.  Visit their website to share your ideas to contribute to this fantastic event that brings Earth educators together every summer.


How I spent my summer vacation

Southern California to Oklahoma and back: Dave Mrofka, Mt. San Antonio College

This summer, we purchased a small RV and a truck to tow was an expensive week...and headed to Oklahoma to visit relatives.  On the way I worked on planning a field class for the spring that will highlight the Grand Canyon, The Permian Reef and the Permian Basin...with a capstone full eclipse experience on April 8th.  Then a long drive home.  The RV allowed the opportunity to stay at Desert View and photograph the Great Unconformity.  I did the Tanner trail several decades ago, pre-geology, so had no idea what I was missing! 

One of the things I like to discuss with students is how geologic features, like alluvial fan deposits in the Mojave, can be seen as this incredibly slow river of sediment. I loved this 1.5 meter "waterfall" stalagmite at Carlsbad Caverns and how it can be thought of as an even slower waterfall of calcite.

Before reaching Flagstaff, I photographed the nice cut through cross-bedding in the Coconino, in the upper part of the outcrop.  Slip face or stoss slope?  Hopefully students this spring are intrigued by similar ideas, and come up with some of their own. 


A lighthouse on roller skates: Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College

In June, Scandinavian travels took me to the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse on the NNW coast of Denmark. A short but challenging walk over some gigantic sand dunes was required to reach the lighthouse, then I begrudgingly walked up the stairs (not sure how many, but the lighthouse is 75 feet tall......and I don't love heights) to survey the North Sea and the impressive cliffs below.

The short story of the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse is that due to a combination of sea cliff erosion and migrating dunes (still wrapping my brain around that based on the prevailing wind direction that I observed that day), folks predicted that the lighthouse would fall into the North Sea by 2023. As such, the lighthouse was moved 230 feet inland in October 2019 using roller skates. Yes, you read that right. The story of the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse could be a great case study for oceanography, coastal geomorphology, natural hazards, and geological engineering students, among others, and could be used as a discussion topic about the economic and environmental implications of relocating coastal structures. I highly recommend a visit to this field site; just prepare for lots of eolian sediment and stairs.


The glorious Azores: Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College
This is a 2022 geo-vacation report, but better late than never! In August 2022, I visited the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago situated at the triple junction between the North American, Eurasian, and African plates. The trip started on São Miguel, the largest of the 9 islands in the chain, followed by some island hopping to São Jorge (about 5 miles across at its widest point!) and Pico (home of Mt. Pico, the highest point in Portugal.) It was spectacularly beautiful from start to finish and an opportunity to observe calderas, stratovolcanoes, cinder cones, lava domes, and all of their (solidified) effusive and explosive products.

A few suggestions if you're dreaming of an Azores adventure:

(1) Swim in the natural pools (piscina natural) along the coast.
(2) Ferry between São Jorge and Pico for some fantastic views.
(3) Kayak or paddleboard inside of a dormant volcano on Lagoa das Sete Cidades.
(4) Check out the islands' many hydrothermal features; some are even swimmable.
(5) Too many hiking and biking opportunities to mention here, but it's a basaltic bonanza wherever you go.


Where in the world are NAGT Geo2YC pencils?

Submitted by Karen Layou (Reynolds Community College): I visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park this summer and marveled at these huge cannonball concretions found in the North Unit of the park. Found just along the roadside, numerous large spherical concretions naturally erode from the badlands sedimentary layers that are fantastically exposed in the park.

Send us your pencil pictures to share in the newsletter!