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A History Of The
National Earth Science Teachers Association
by Janet J. Woerner (First President of NESTA 83-86)
The National Earth Science Teachers Association was an the offspring of the Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association. The Michigan Earth Science Teacher's Association had its early beginnings in two meetings which were organized by Rod Cranson, an Earth Science teacher at Waverly High School in Lansing, MI in 1967. These meetings were a result of consultations with some college and precollege teachers interested in Earth Science and teaching in 1966 and a survey of Michigan teachers which Rod conducted.
Jan Woerner, an Earth Science teacher at the Freeland, Michigan community schools first attended on November 1 and 2, 1968 at Lansing Community College. There were 28 participants at this Third Annual MESTA Conference.
The success of the organization in Michigan led the MESTA Executive Board to consider expanding the organization to other states. In 1974, the Executive Committee of the National Association of Geology Teacher's (NAGT) approached MESTA to begin talks about what could be done to improve their impact on precollege education. The discussions in 1973 and 1974 included the plans for affiliation of the Michigan Earth Science Teachers' Association with NAGT with the expectation of the approval by the officers in the spring of 1975. The NAGT Executive Committee reversed its course of action in the fall of 1975, demanding that MESTA accept its proper place as precollege teacher members of the East Central section of NAGT.
The MESTA Executive Board continued to talk about a national organization for and about precollege Earth Science teaching, and in February 1982, voted to give H. B. Stonehouse $300 to organize a national group. Stoney began sending out notices for the NSTA annual meeting, and the meeting was organized on April 9, 1983 at the annual NSTA meeting in Dallas, Texas.
The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) was chartered in April 1983 in order to promote, extend, and support Earth Science education at the pre-college level. The organization was founded by precollege Earth Science teachers and those interested in Earth Science at the precollege level in order to fill the void in leadership which existed in this area. NESTA became an Associated Group of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the professional organization which represents all science teachers, the following summer (1983).
In the fall of 1991, NESTA had about 1000 members in 50 states from coast-to-coast and border-to-border - and even a few international members. The organization does not limit membership; however, the majority of the members are classroom teachers and the focus of all activities is Earth Science at the precollege level. All of the presidents have been precollege Earth Science teachers at the time of their election.
In 1984, NESTA submitted a proposal to various government and industrial organizations, soliciting summer internships for Earth Science teachers. This program had difficulty getting started, with only two participating government agencies during one year. The idea, however, caught on with the American Geological Institute and with USGS, who maintained their own internships for Earth Science teachers for several years.
The Earth Scientist, produced quarterly, is one of the services which the organization provides. In addition, a fifth issue which is released in the early spring is called the "Summer School for Earth Science Teachers." This compilation of courses of interest to Earth Science teachers was designed and edited by H. B. Stonehouse through the 1989 issue, and has been edited by William Maury Harris, currently at Saint Thomas University in Houston Texas, since 1990. This extensive list is compiled from the results of inquiries circulated to colleges, universities, and state science supervisors. In addition to distribution to members, NESTA provides copies of this issue at the National Science Teachers Association annual convention.
NESTA organizes and conducts geology field conferences for Earth Science teachers and other interested individuals. In the summer of 1984, a trip to the Black Hills and Glacier National Park was led by NESTA members. The 1985 field conference was be held in Yellowstone and the Tetons. In 1986, a field conference was held in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; in 1987, one field conference went to Bancroft Ontario and a second one involving environmental concerns took participants along the eastern and southern shore of Lake Michigan. In 1988, a trip called "The Superior Experience" led teachers on a problem-solving outing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Superior Experience was repeated in 1989, and a second conference to the caves in Indiana also provided field experiences for NESTA and MESTA members. In 1990, the unique "Astronomy in Arizona" field conference provided the second non-geology Earth Science conference.
Scripted slide shows appropriate for Earth Science classes were pioneered by MESTA beginning as early as 1971. NESTA has helped to add to the library which currently has 25 different sets, and 18 single concept short sets.
During 1984 and 1985, In correspondence with the National Commission on Excellence in Education, the Carnegie Foundation and other national commissions and committees, NESTA has emphasized the lack of consideration of Earth Science as an integral part of pre-college science education. Replies from the correspondence confirmed that this idea is held in many circles, and NESTA began to draft the position paper on the importance of Earth Science Education. This position paper, published in The Earth Scientist and all of the NSTA publications, was endorsed by the National Science Teachers Association, Council for Elementary Science International, National Association of Geology Teachers, American Geological Institute, and American Geophysical Union. Some interesting developments since then have included Earth Science as part of all elementary curricula and have seen Earth Science as one of the integral strand in the NSTA Scope and Sequence Coordination project. These and continuing efforts by NESTA members have had important impacts on the National Science Education Standards and on Benchmarks.
NESTA has spearheaded the networking of Earth-related organizations and professionals. Early liaisons with AGI placed NESTA members on important national committees, and NESTA members served as interns at AGI and USGS. At the current time, NESTA is an associated group of the National Science Teachers Association, an member society of the American Geological Institute, an associated society of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and a member of the Triangle Coalition. In its association with NSTA, NESTA in conjunction with NAGT, recognize those teachers who have been selected by NSTA as outstanding teachers
AND who also teach Earth Science.
Our association with AGU has resulted in a program called "The Earth Science Alliance." This Alliance will put individual NESTA members in touch with Earth Science professionals in order to help improve the "Earth literacy" of the precollege student. The professionals will provide support, short filed trips, seminars, discussion session etc. to help the teacher in the classroom.
The Officers of the National Earth Science Teachers Association have been:
Executive Director (Advisor)
|1982-1992||Dr. Harold B. "Stoney" Stonehouse|
|1993-2006||Dr. M. Frank Watt Ireton|
|2006-2015||Dr. Roberta M. Johnson|
|1983-86||Jan Woerner||Sharon Stroud||Marilyn Miles||Rod Cranson|
|1986-88||Sharon Stroud||Charles Gaides||Carolyn Brockway||Rod Cranson|
|1988-90||Frank Watt Ireton||Mike Burton||Len Sharp||Rod Cranson|
|1990-92||Mike Burton||Len Sharp||Leslie Gordon||Rod Cranson|
|1992-94||Len Sharp||Linda Knight||Michael Smith||Bruce Hall|
|1994-96||Linda Knight||Howard Dimmick||Michelle Bartlett||Bruce Hall|
|1996-98||Howard Dimmick||Linda Selvig||Michelle Bartlett||Bruce Hall|
|1998-2000||Linda Selvig||Tom Ervin||Michelle Bartlett||Bruce Hall|
|2000-2002||Tom Ervin||Carl Katsu||Linda Selvig||Bruce Hall|
|2002-2004||Carl Katsu||Tom Ervin||Linda Selvig||Bruce Hall|
|2004-2006||Tom Ervin||Parker Pennington IV||Linda Selvig||Bruce Hall|
|2006-2008||Parker Pennington IV||Dr. Michael J. Passow||Missy Holzer||Bruce Hall|
|2008-2010||Dr. Michael J. Passow||Ardis Herrold||Missy Holzer||Bruce Hall|
|2010-2012||Ardis Herrold||Missy Holzer||Jenelle Hopkins||Howard Dimmick|
|2012-2014||Missy Holzer||Dr. Michael J. Passow||Jenelle Hopkins||Howard Dimmick|