A recent review of AAPG Foundation donors revealed that support for K-12 teachers and students ranked very high in donor interest.
This coincides with the intent of Jack Threet and Larry Funkhouser, co-chairs of the Foundation’s fundraising efforts, to find ways that the AAPG Foundation can, in its growth, continue to make the Foundation’s objectives parallel the interests of the donors.
Foundation Executive Director Rick Fritz has pointed out to the Foundation Trustees that K-12 support has been only a relatively modest part of past Foundation outlays, with the exception of the Foundation’s highly regarded “Teacher of the Year” program.
The Foundation is interested in enlarging its support of new K-12 activities, while continuing its strong support of current programs.
In a discussion between John Bookout, former chairman of Shell Oil, Bill Fisher, Jack Threet and myself, we were encouraged to “do something” rather than wait for an interesting new K-12 proposal to arrive before the Foundation board.
As AAPG had assisted in the initial funding of the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute (EMGI) at Brookhaven College in Dallas, we began discussions with Diane Brownlee, EMGI director, and Stan Pittman, EMGI board member. The Institute was founded by long-time Dallas independent oilman Ellison Miles, and is very modern and well equipped.
It has become a center for K-12 teacher science training and is heavily used for professional workshops and meetings.
Our discussions with EMGI allowed definition of a series of low-cost earth science education courses for K-12 teachers, with EMGI providing facilities, teaching materials and staff for nominal costs.
This “teach-the-teachers” concept has several unique elements:
- The short courses are scheduled at the teacher’s convenience (weekends and school holidays).
- The courses taught by EMGI provide credit hours needed for the teacher’s annual certification requirements.
- The teaching materials are selected from the best currently available.
- Organization and supervision are provided by the EMGI staff.
John Bookout has agreed to fund the starting phase of this new AAPG Foundation program, which we have named the “Bookout Initiative.” The program got off to a jump-start in October 2007, and has provided funding for training 223 teachers at an amazingly low cost of about $35/teacher. The program has been heavily advertised in the teaching profession, and requests already have been received for 14 more short courses for the first quarter of 2008! Teachers are excited about using new knowledge and teaching materials in their classes.
The Bookout Initiative also funded a special field trip, “Geology on the Bus,” in January 2008 that received rave reviews from all 35 teachers. This is no surprise, of course – once you show someone the lessons of the rocks, then understanding, enthusiasm and a sympathetic view of earth science emerges.
The AAPG Foundation has many wonderful programs that deserve your support; we hope that a larger Foundation will allow us to play a strong role in channeling your contributions to the sort of activities you find most worthwhile.