1. Letter from the Executive Director
Dear IAGD Community,
Each year I have the pleasure of teaching a lesson to local third grade students about how we are able to learn so much about our environment through the rock and fossil record. For a morning, the students are completely engaged in understanding the Earth…with so many questions (some on topic and some slightly off). The excitement is palpable. But I ask you to consider what happens to this interest and excitement for Earth science as these students get older? Even more, what happens to any of these students who have a disability? Are any of them being encouraged to stay interested, knowing that they could have a future as an Earth scientist? Are they mentored? Are their teachers supported, and do they know how to keep their students engaged?
The IAGD is arriving at an important cross-road. As we approach our 8th anniversary, we should momentarily pause and re-evaluate our focus and overall impact. For eight years, we have worked tirelessly on community development and the importance of promoting accessibility. While this is necessary (and should continue), the time is ripe for a transition into support and service. How can we begin supporting those students who are now interested in pursuing the geosciences as a career option? How can we support geoscience researchers encouraged to include students with disabilities in their work? Most importantly, how can we support our primary and secondary teachers, and post-secondary geoscience faculty who are doing their best to accommodate everyone in the classroom, the laboratory and the field?
In an effort to provide support to students and faculty, the IAGD Foundation has been established and is now officially a 501c3 non-profit organization. We have each dedicated ourselves to the promotion of an accessible geoscience community, inclusive of everyone’s talents and abilities. My hope is that we are able to facilitate the continued participation of our diverse community through the promotion and support of the IAGD Foundation. For more information, please visit: www.theiagd.org/foundation/. Remember, all donations are tax-deductible!
We are all witnessing a time in history when accessibility becomes less of a request and more of an assumption. Awareness of accessible options continues to grow. Just this year, the Geological Society of London and the American Geosciences Institute have each participated in the development of access and inclusion statements for individuals with disabilities. These statements have been approved by dozens of other scientific organizations all pledging commitment of increased access to STEM disciplines. I personally feel that through the work of many individual researchers and practitioners within the IAGD network, as well as our partner organizations, the geosciences are spearheading this transformative shift to a common perspective of inclusive STEM teaching, learning, and practice.
The IAGD is no longer considered a “grassroots” organization. We have come a long way, creating wonderful, lasting friendships and experiences along the way. However, this is only the beginning. The future of the geoscience workforce is waiting, and the impact of our efforts begins now. I personally thank you all for your hard work in promoting the accessibility of our science.
With warm regards,