Preparing the Next Generation of Geoscientists

The AAPG Foundation is committed to the next generation of geoscientists, from introduction of geology through hands-on programs to grants and scholarships that aid students with their studies.

That support includes Foundation grants to university students through such high-profile programs as the L. Austin Weeks Undergraduate, Grants-in-Aid and the Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship programs.

But support also goes to programs aimed at K-12 students and teachers.

In fact, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees reviews proposals throughout the year from different individuals or organizations for geoscience projects – and thanks to the generosity of AAPG members, friends and colleagues, the Foundation has discretionary funding to give grants to programs that promote geology and geoscience to the next generation of geoscientists.

Here are two programs that the AAPG Foundation recently provided grants aimed at opening the eyes of the young to the possibilities of geoscience.

The Jack and Catherine Threet Quarry Geologic Guide Program

The Jack and Catherine Threet Quarry at Camp Cullen in Trinity, Texas, part of the YMCA of Greater Houston, introduces campers (ages 7-17) to geology through hands-on educational programming. This programming has a built-in level progression system that challenges them to expand their knowledge, and to deepen their interest in and passion for earth science.

Image Caption

A Geoforce field trip to McKinney Falls State Park

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The AAPG Foundation is committed to the next generation of geoscientists, from introduction of geology through hands-on programs to grants and scholarships that aid students with their studies.

That support includes Foundation grants to university students through such high-profile programs as the L. Austin Weeks Undergraduate, Grants-in-Aid and the Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship programs.

But support also goes to programs aimed at K-12 students and teachers.

In fact, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees reviews proposals throughout the year from different individuals or organizations for geoscience projects – and thanks to the generosity of AAPG members, friends and colleagues, the Foundation has discretionary funding to give grants to programs that promote geology and geoscience to the next generation of geoscientists.

Here are two programs that the AAPG Foundation recently provided grants aimed at opening the eyes of the young to the possibilities of geoscience.

The Jack and Catherine Threet Quarry Geologic Guide Program

The Jack and Catherine Threet Quarry at Camp Cullen in Trinity, Texas, part of the YMCA of Greater Houston, introduces campers (ages 7-17) to geology through hands-on educational programming. This programming has a built-in level progression system that challenges them to expand their knowledge, and to deepen their interest in and passion for earth science.

One of the camp’s unique features is an old quarry that was mined to build a logging railway in the 1890s. This quarry was traditionally used for large, nighttime campfires, but the staff at Camp Cullen had a bigger vision: They saw the sandstone and conglomerate layers with large-scale channels, cross beading and pieces of petrified wood as a learning opportunity.

In the spring of 2014, Sam Houston State University created a program guide for campers to walk independently through the quarry learning about the geology. Five large weatherproof posters funded by TGS enhanced this walk.

In 2015, Camp Cullen launched its Summer Geology Camp program, and more than 1,400 campers explored the area on guided tours led by geology counselors who helped ignite the campers’ interest in studying rocks.

A grant from the AAPG Foundation provided funding to assist with staffing and program development.

Local geology students and professors from SHSU are now on hand to staff the quarry – not only during summer camp, but also on weekends throughout the year when family camps, Adventure Guides, and other groups are present. They are able share use their knowledge and skills to educate and inspire children, teens and young adults to consider a careers in geoscience.

GeoFORCE Texas

GeoFORCE Texas is an outreach program of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, designed to encourage high school students in southwest rural Texas and inner city Houston to tackle rigorous math and science curriculums in pursuit of higher education with an emphasis on geosciences.

It’s all designed to help prepare students for tomorrow’s high-tech workforce; the Foundation has provided annual grants for this program for a number of years, helping young people enter the field of geoscience.

More than 1,500 students have participated in the program since its inception in 2005, with 618 graduates – and 98 percent of them going to college.

The academic content and rigors build each year, and summers are devoted to valuable field experiences:

u Ninth graders travel to Austin and Florida to study the sedimentary processes.

u High school sophomores go to Arizona and Utah, visiting the Grand Canyon and Zion national parks to study layered rocks and geologic time.

u Juniors travel to the Pacific Northwest to study tectonics and volcanic rocks, including visits to Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, Newberry Crater and Crater Lake.

u Seniors traverse the Appalachian Mountains, learning about structural geology and metamorphic rocks.

GeoFORCE does not end with high school – mentoring continues into college, along with PSAT and SAT prep, and assistance with college and financial applications. GeoFORCE also provides scholarships and internship opportunists for program alumni and training workshops for high school teachers.

AAPG Foundation has provided annual grants for this program for a number of years helping young people enter the field of geoscience.


These are just a few of the efforts of the AAPG Foundation to prepare the next generation of geoscientists.

You can read more about all programs supported by AAPG Foundation grants on the Foundation website and in the Foundation’s annual report.

And to stay current on Foundation activities, update your AAPG profile to include “Foundation” news.

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