Blog: Serving Our Communities

From local communities to international efforts, education and geoscience both play important roles in our society. The Serving our Communities initiative celebrates the ways that educators and students are engaging with local, national and global communities and supports expansion of these efforts.

Learn more about pedagogies
supporting community service »

Explore Geoscience Educator Stories:
The Serving Our Communities Blog

Stay in the Loop:
Join the Email list »'
The blog below showcases the ways in which geoscience educators are serving their communities - local, regional, state, national and international - through their own teaching, research and service, or by engaging their students in these areas. We invite geoscience educators of all types to contribute their stories that the rest of us may be inspired and learn from you. You must be an NAGT member to post.

Science for the common good: successful partnerships with Watershed Districts in the Twin Cities Metro Area

Posted: Nov 28 2017 by
Kevin Theissen
University of St. Thomas (MN)
Kevin Theissen, University of St. Thomas (MN)

Minnesota's Twin Cities Metro Area (TCMA) lakes and rivers have been degraded by human induced nutrient loading and excess road salt applied during the long winter months. These problems require the cooperation and collaboration of scientists, concerned residents, and decision-makers. Lake and watershed managers seek information about conditions prior to significant European settlement in the area to provide context. They also need help identifying and resolving a variety of environmental problems. More

"Always Ask the Turtle"

Posted: Jul 19 2017 by
Kim Kastens
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Kim Kastens, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
I'm at the Earth Educators' Rendezvous, where Cathy Manduca gave a great plenary talk on the past and future of geoscience education. In looking towards the future, she emphasized the importance of teaching about the Earth in the context of societal issues and thereby serving the larger community. When the floor opened for questions and comments, the very first comment was something along the lines of "scientists need to be careful not to assume they know what the community wants or needs; the community has to have its own voice to express its own desires and needs." More

Educating about Karst Water Resources through University-City Collaboration

Posted: Jun 13 2017 by
Leslie North
Western Kentucky University
Dr. Leslie North, Western Kentucky University

The Center for Human Geo-Environmental Studies (CHNGES) at Western Kentucky University is highly engaged in its Bowling Green community. Led by Dr. Leslie North and Dr. Jason Polk, CHNGES works with the Bowling Green Public Works department to curate an outreach and educational campaign entitled UnderBGKY. This program works to inform the Bowing Green and surrounding community on the vulnerability of the region's karst groundwater. UnderBGKY operates through a variety of mediums to ensure multidisciplinary education and understanding among learners of all ages. More

TerraElm: Geology Outreach as a Developmental Tool

Posted: Apr 18 2017 by
Peter Anderson
Wharton County Junior College
Peter Anderson, San Jacinto College-North Campus

We focus on presenting to 5th grade students the basics of the geological sciences profession and in a more general sense science; as well as finding a career path that can allow for you to be active and not be confined to a sedentary position. We want to introduce young children to science and show them it can be fun, and that they have more options for the future than they may realize. I try to make the presentations fall on dates where me and a fellow geologist (a female) can present together. The reason for this is to show the young girls that anyone, not just old white men, can be a scientist. Eventually we hope to expand into other nearby regions as students and professionals show us they are willing to help, present, and fund this endeavor. The presentations are approximately 1h in length, to no more than 30 children at a time. More

Trying to Avoid a Water Crisis in Acton, MA

Posted: Apr 11 2017 by
Kim Kastens
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Kim Kastens, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
I honestly can't remember who entrained me into this controversy. But about a year ago, I found myself at a hearing of the Board of Selectmen of my new town, Acton, Massachusetts. This whole New England form of government, with the Board of Selectman, and Town Meeting, and other vestiges left over from the Puritans, was a mystery to me. Gradually, I came to understand the controversy of the moment. A neighboring town, Concord, was seeking to build a new water treatment plant that would allow them to greatly expand their public water withdrawals from Nagog Pond, a small reservoir that straddles the town line of Acton and Littleton. An arcane 1884 law gave Concord, Acton, and Littleton rights to withdraw water from this pond, but only Concord has exercised this right to date. The treatment plant is in Acton and in a residential area, so they needed a special building permit, and thus the series of hearings before the Acton Board of Selectmen. More

Our Students: Earth Advocates

Posted: Apr 11 2017 by
Sarah Fortner
Carleton College
Sarah Fortner, Wittenberg University

In class, my students work with community experts to explore soil and water quality. They analyze the impacts of human activities on the surface of the earth. This includes exploring soil nutrients and contaminants like lead and analyzing stream chemistry. Our watershed is one of the top 10 most nutrient polluted of the 800 sub-watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. Like Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico, C.J. Brown, regularly becomes choked with algae. Two of the last five summers, conditions turned toxic. This shut down swimming at the beach. This hurt our local economy and took away the only free place to swim. This is also heartbreaking. More

It Pays to be Involved in Your Community

Posted: Apr 11 2017 by
Michael Phillips
Illinois Valley Community College
Michael Phillips, Illinois Valley Community College

I have had the opportunity to tour a flood disaster area with the governor and local officials, hang out on the floor of the state House and Senate during session, and have dinner (twice) with a U.S. Senator. Each of these opportunities has allowed me to share the perspective of a geoscientist with the people who make decisions on our behalf and speak to specific bills and policies that impact education and the geosciences. These opportunities (and more) are the fruit of being active in my local community and getting to know the local leaders when I wasn't asking for anything but rather offering my assistance in areas well beyond geology. More

Applying a diverse range of perspectives to the issues

Posted: Apr 11 2017 by
Sue Ebanks
Savannah State University
Sue C. Ebanks, Savannah State University
Students engaged in geoscience-related service learning at Savannah State welcome the opportunity to put what they have learned in their respective disciplines to action for the resolution of coastal hazards issues. The wide range of issues includes community communications for the sake of safety, awareness, and recovery in the event of a disaster (natural or anthropogenic). It also includes educating and taking action to improve the condition of (fresh) food deserts in neighboring areas. By including students that are trained in a range of disciplines (homeland security and emergency management, engineering, transportation, mass communications, education, environmental sciences, etc.), all at one discussion table, we are able to address issues in coastal hazards from scientific, social, economic, and numerous other angles.

A Durable Collaborative Partnership with Our Community's Geoscience Employers

Posted: Apr 11 2017 by
Jeffrey Ryan
University of South Florida
Jeffrey Ryan, University of South Florida
This year marks the 20th "anniversary" for a unique and mutually fruitful partnership between the environmental employer community in SW Florida and the (now) School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. I put "anniversary" in quotes because cooperation between the USF Geology faculty and local employers was certainly occurring before this year. What happened in 1997 was the formal establishment of the USF Geology Alumni Society, which has since become both mechanism for regular contact between Geoscience faculty and local employers, some (not all!) of whom are USF Geology alumni; and an active partner to our Geology program, in the delivery of key pieces of both our graduate and undergraduate degree curricula. More

Geoscience policy and civic engagement through undergraduate service-learning

Posted: Apr 6 2017 by
David Szymanski
Bentley University
Dave Szymanski, Bentley University
Strengthening the role of the geosciences in policy development is challenging work. It's often time consuming, resource sapping, and generally frustrating for earth scientists to advocate for science policy, especially at the federal level. And even then, we can't do it alone. We need our undergraduates - majors and nonmajors alike - to see the value of science in public decision making. Working with professional geoscience organizations as community partners in service-learning, students can learn to communicate the critical need for geoscience in policymaking. In the process, students become de facto advocates for data-driven policy and not just advocates for science funding, which can often be the simplistic message heard by nonscientists. More

      Next Page »