2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM


LILLIE, Robert J., Department of Geosciences, Oregon State Univ, Wilkinson Room 104, Corvallis, OR 97331-5506, lillier@geo.oregonstate.edu

Geological processes shape the materials and landscapes that people live on and depend on for their survival. But the general public has limited education in geology and its importance to society. Earth science is commonly under-represented in our K-12 education system; generally only one course is required in the 7th or 8th grade. One place where kids and their families can see exciting geological features, and where there might be someone there to engage them on the role of geologic processes in their lives, is a national park. But like their teacher counterparts in the public school system, park interpretive rangers commonly have little or no background in Earth science. A collaborative project between the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University and the Geologic Resources Division of the National Park Service places geology graduate students in national parks and monuments. Each student works two full summers as a ranger naturalist, presenting programs focused on geology and other facets of natural and cultural history. The experience provides each student with the background necessary to develop, as part of an MS thesis, a geology training manual for the park’s interpretation staff. The geology training manuals encourage park rangers to incorporate geology into their interpretative programs. They include numerous graphic illustrations and photographs, in addition to text written in laymen’s language. The training manuals encourage rangers to engage the public in geology in three ways: 1) by focusing on park features to convey basic geological principles; 2) by relating the findings of ongoing geological research in understandable terms; 3) by illustrating how a park’s biology, ecology, human history, and other factors are connected to a landscape formed by geological processes.