May 9, 2002
Contact: Michael J. Smith (207) 230-0046

Geoscience Community Plans Strategy for
Earth Science Week

ALEXANDRIA,VA — Increasing public understanding and appreciation of the Earth sciences is of critical importance to our Nation and to the geoscience profession. Since its inception in October 1998, Earth Science Week has been celebrated annually in every state and several countries. Through these activities, thousands of scientists, educators, and youth leaders have reached millions of students and individuals. The success of Earth Science Week and other established annual programs like National Chemistry Week, National Science and Technology Week, National Engineers Week, and Geography Awareness Week, illustrates the enormous potential these programs offer for informal public education.

    Compared to these other well-established programs, Earth Science Week is just getting started and has tremendous potential for growth and improvement. On Monday, April 22, 2002 (Earth Day), 37 geoscientists and educators attended the national Earth Science Week Outreach Meeting at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Organized by the American Geological Institute (AGI) and hosted by the USGS, the meeting provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from individuals within organizations that have been conducting successful outreach programs and to explore critical issues in geoscience outreach. These issues were: 1) defining the scope of Earth Science Week; 2) expanding participation by AGI Member Societies; 3) establishing themes for future Earth Science Weeks; and 4) improving the effectiveness of Earth Science Week.

    AGI President-Elect M. Ray Thomasson opened the event by urging attendees to help AGI take Earth Science Week “to a new level.” Charles “Chip” Groat, Director of the USGS, stressed the need to convey the relevance of Earth science and make it personal. Specifically, he pointed out how Earth Science Week will help accomplish these two goals. Mike Smith, AGI’s Director of Education, emphasized how important the meeting was in helping AGI staff to establish a strategic plan for Earth Science Week for the next five years. During the remainder of the morning session, six presenters shared their experiences and “lessons learned” from successful outreach programming. The afternoon session featured breakout discussions focused on key questions related to the goals of the meeting, on how participants might contribute to the overall Earth Science Week program in the coming year, and the role that they will play in implementing Earth Science Week activities in their organizations and geographic regions.

    A significant outcome from the meeting was the adoption of the theme “Water is All Around You” for 2002 Earth Science Week. With a theme identified, AGI can better utilize the many suggestions generated during the working group sessions to expand and improve communication, collaboration, and implementation of Earth Science Week programming. Visit for the latest news and information about Earth Science Week, including the complete report on the April 22 meeting.

    The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 40 geoscientific and professional associations that represent more than 120,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in mankind's use of resources and interaction with the environment. More information about AGI can be found at The Institute also provides a public-outreach web site,

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