GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 74-13
Presentation Time: 4:55 PM


KERRIGAN, Ryan J., Department of Energy and Earth Resources, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown, PA 15904

Geology Club representation at universities serves as an opportunity for geology enthusiasts to interact outside of the classroom, build comradery, and learn more geology without assessment. In addition to the normal local and regional geologic outings, the Pitt-Johnstown Geology Club has instituted annual spring break trips to faraway lands. As faculty advisor to the Geology Club and field trip leader I have organized the following spring break trips: North Carolina (2015), Iceland (2016), Hawaii (2017), Scotland (2018), and Ecuador (2019). Each trip was eight to nine days which included stops that were geologically significant, culturally important, and often both. The trips are voluntary endeavors by the students and professor which receive no course credit and pay entirely out of pocket. Each fall, ten to twelve potential trip locations are presented to the students and voted on by members of the Geology Club. Detailed guidebooks are provided for each trip which describe the geological and cultural significance of each stop along with general regional geological and cultural context.

Thirty-two students have participated in the Pitt-Johnstown Geology Club Spring Break Trips over the past five years. Of the thirty-two participants, most of the students were geology majors (twenty-four students or 75%) and eight students were undeclared or pursuing another major. Upon returning from the trip, 100% of the eight non-geology majors switched to geology in some capacity (three became majors, five became minors). Trips are advertised through: hallway posters, club recruitment materials, student-led presentation at the end-of-the-year banquet, and inclusion of trip photos/videos in teaching materials. The word continues to spread about our trips and this coming year may be our largest group yet, hopefully, capturing some new majors. Students come away from these experiences as better geologists and with a greater appreciation for other cultures.