GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 175-2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


JOHNSON, Beth, Department of Geology, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus, 1478 Midway Rd., Menasha, WI 54952

Dr. Joanne Kluessendorf, founding director of the Weis Earth Science Museum in Menasha, WI, had a strong drive to share geoscience education and mentor geology students, particularly women in geology. Through her expertise and dedication, she developed a museum dedicated to geological education and the geological history of Wisconsin. This museum is unique with its Wisconsin focus and exhibits were primarily set up as a timeline beginning with Wisconsin geologic history through Wisconsin mining history and up to current geologic impacts on the state. It is the official mineralogical museum of Wisconsin.

Joanne’s vision for the museum was to educate visitors on the diverse geology of Wisconsin with emphases on its geological and mining history. Although such projects are typically undertaken with a large staff, Joanne alone created the layout, exhibits, designed interactive displays, and wrote all explanatory text. She focused on making sure the displays were accurate and could satisfy educational and science standards for the numerous school groups that visit the museum every year. In 2006, Joanne was awarded the prestigious American Geological Institute Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Understanding of the Geosciences for her work in creating the Weis Museum and its educational programs. In 2012, she received the Charles A. Salotti Earth Science Education Award from the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum for her educational work at the WESM and the development of this unique museum.

Once the museum opened to the public, Joanne continued to develop new programs and exhibits that promoted education and research on Wisconsin geology. She worked with numerous school, scouting groups, and community geology clubs, where she gave presentations and helped with specimen identification. In keeping with her dedication to mentoring women in geology, she helped direct research and create service learning opportunities for geology majors at several local colleges, including a special exhibition featured in the Weis Museum. She also mentored new geology faculty, helping them to understand department procedures and collaborating with them on service and professional development opportunities. And right up to the end, she was still looking forward to reaching even more people to teach them about the science she loved.