I took a field trip with my class to the Mojave Desert. I explored lava tubes at Pisgah Crater, saw the San Andreas fault for the first time, and began to think that I might want to follow geology as a career. One semester later I hiked into the Grand Canyon with my instructor and seven other students. Six days later I hiked out, exhausted, but convinced that I wanted to be a geologist, and that I wanted to teach. I subsequently was able to achieve those goals, but as my career moved along, I sort of lost touch with my fellow geology/earth science teachers, buried in grading, curriculum, and deadlines.
Many years later in 1996, I attended my first conference of the NAGT. The University of the Pacific sponsored a field trip into the Mother Lode of the Sierra Nevada. For me, Far West Section conferences were an exciting discovery. Within a few years, I had experienced a wealth of adventures including a journey through a giant open-pit gold mine in Nevada, a trip on a research boat in San Pedro Bay, a walk through a gemstone mine in San Diego County, explorations along the San Andreas fault in numerous places, and tours of some of the most spectacular geologic localities to be found in California and Nevada. I’ve met and traveled with fellow teachers, students, authors, and many other fascinating people. The adventures have been inexpensive, well-organized, and well-run by a wonderful group of hard-working volunteers at colleges all across Nevada, California, and Hawaii. Looking back on these great experiences, I’ve realized that I cannot think of a better way to build on the inspiration that brought me into the teaching business in the first place.
Check out the Far Western Section website for information about joining. If you live in other parts of North America, there are other sections with their own unique activities. They can be accessed from the national NAGT website.