Earth Science Education (ESE) is a very small not-for-profit that primarily teaches teachers science. We're very small based on budget ($15,000 / year) and staff (no full-time staff but a half-time largely-volunteer Chief Education Officer). Considering how small we are, we think we make a big difference to society. Every summer we teach approximately 100 teachers along Utah's Wasatch Front how to see and appreciate the Earth science in their backyard. Genevieve Atwood, Chief Education Officer, is former State Geologist of Utah and presently adjunct in the Department of Geography at the University of Utah. Her calling is to diminish elementary school teachers' fear of science and embolden them to go outside and share the joy of observation and analysis. Elementary school teachers turn children on or off to science and often role model that women can't do science. By the end of an ESE inservice, virtually all teacher participants can tell the story of a rock, or a landform, or of Ice Age Lake Bonneville. Even more important, they know that Earth science is not jargon or a set of facts but a way of asking questions and analyzing the world around them. ESE is an example of a very small entity, essentially a one-person educational outfit, which makes a difference with virtually no overhead, meaning, no office, no development staff, and no classroom other than the great outdoors. We're fortunate that vistas from virtually every schoolyard along the Wasatch Front provide opportunities to see diverse rock types and evidence of Earth processes.


Earth Science Education has 501(c)3 status and a supportive Board of Trustees.


In 2009 (a) we lost one single, wonderfully generous contributor of almost one-third of our budget and (b) we have received a matching gift to match. Therefore we invite you to contribute to Earth Science Education if you (a) are concerned by the lack of Earth science understanding of politicians, college students, and even teachers; and (b) share the vision that every elementary teacher who falls in love with local Earth science makes a difference.



Genevieve Atwood, Chief Education Officer

Earth Science Education

30 North U Street

Salt Lake City, Utah 84103-4301




Overview of Earth Science Education


ESE Purpose

Earth Science Education’s overarching purpose is to introduce people who make a difference in our society to the importance, joys, and perspectives of earth science. We succeed when we influence people to see the world around them as a system that can be understood and appreciated. “Nature to be commanded must be understood” (Francis Bacon) was a mantra of the 1980s. Today, we and many earth scientists strive to understand Earth systems not to command Nature, but to sustain Earth as habitat for humanity. We see fear of science and lack of appreciation for science around us.


ESE Mission is to inspire teachers and other opinion leaders to (a) understand and appreciate Earth science and (b) to instill a life-long love of science in their students and colleagues. 


ESE Approach

ESE makes science relevant and memorable by helping people understand what they see outside, an approach we call backyard earth science. We teach teachers how to observe familiar landforms and ask questions about them. We teach the rock cycle as a story using rocks teachers collect from Little Cottonwood Creed. We discuss climate change using evidence of Ice Age Lake Bonneville. We encourage teachers to embrace uncertainty and value good questions. ESE's special niche is that we give teachers, and others, confidence as well as competence to teach earth science principles, hands-on, outdoors, right in their neighborhoods.


We (a) teach courses and (b) develop resource materials. LINK to summer courses offered this year. Resource materials presently are hard copy note books for teacher-participants in our summer in-services. Eventually these notebooks will become web resources written for teachers but useful to others, such as scout leaders and parents.


We focus our efforts. Our target audience is teachers, specifically Utah elementary teachers. Why? We are told that elementary teachers turn young people on or off to science. Many elementary teachers are women who role model that they “can’t do” science. However, most teachers are good story tellers. Most are interested in their neighborhoods, and in their students’ environment. We teach teachers how to use local geology to teach students about their rocks, their landscapes, their hazards, their resources, in short, their Earth system. We discourage memorization and rote vocabulary and encourage questions and stories. When a teacher tells an accurate story about a rock’s history, she teaches science. We have found that elementary school teachers are more likely to turn students on to science when they, themselves, are confident as well as competent in telling the history of our valley, the story of Great Salt Lake , the journey of a rock along the rock cycle.


ESE History

ESE was organized in 1993. Its leader was, and continues to be, Genevieve Atwood, former state legislator, former State Geologist and Director of the Utah Geological Survey, and advocate for women and other under-represented groups in science. Genevieve Atwood (geomorphologist… surface of the land), Don R Mabey (geophysicist, … gravity), Clark Giles (attorney), and Louie Cononelos (Kennecott Utah Copper government relations and former teacher) created ESE.  


Earth Science Education was incorporated March 29, 1993 as a potential 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational institution with its founding Board of Trustees (Atwood, Coleman, Giles, Hintze, Mabey, Redd, Steiner, and Wharton). Kennecott Utah Copper funded the first two years of courses for teachers via the development offices of Granite and Jordan School Districts. JoAnn Seghini, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development of Jordan District, championed our programs and worked us through the bureaucracy.  


By 1995 we had learned many things about teaching earth science. Thanks to Gayen Wharton, we enlisted teachers to help design our courses. They dived our curriculum into four summer inservices: rocks and minerals of Salt Lake County for teachers of 2nd and 4th grades; geologic features of Salt Lake County for teachers of 3rd and 5th grades; geologic history of Salt Lake County for all levels of teachers; and environmental geology and hydrology of Salt Lake County for all levels of teachers. In 2000 we added Antelope Island , evidence of global and local climate change, to our course offerings. In 2006-2007, we instigated school-based inservices taught for all faculty of a school. As part of that adventure, Wasatch Elementary School held Earth Science in Our Backyard in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. It was grand to see over 500 students and volunteers learning cardinal directions by geocaching (grades K-3), comparing rock types (grade 4), walking traces of debris flow scars (grade 5), and mapping roads and landmarks (grade 6). In 2009, our summer courses were offered for university college credit for elementary and secondary teachers by Weber State University.


The IRS reviewed our tax status and approved ESE as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in 1998. By then our programs were well established, our Board functioned well, our finances were stable, and ESE ran smoothly.


ESE Niche.

ESE niche continues to be, to teach teachers earth science outside. Teachers and their students want to know about their rocks, their scenery, and their environment. Unlike chemistry, a science that can be taught in much the same way in New York, Salt Lake and Moab. ESE believes that earth science should be taught differently in these places. ESE is exceptionally well-qualified to teach Utah’s backyard science because Don Mabey and Genevieve Atwood are experts in Utah’s geology and don’t hesitate to call on colleagues for back up. No other organization fills this niche.


ESE base program.

In ESE first decade, Genevieve Atwood has taught four, summer, teacher in-services, each year. Our 2009 records list over 1400  teacher-participants of whom over 1000 are “fresh faces” meaning they have only taken one course. Some teachers take all four courses. Teacher evaluations of the courses are positive. The summer in-services are a partnership of school districts, Kennecott Utah Copper, and ESE. School districts provide school busses for field trips for each in-service. Kennecott Utah Copper contributes sufficient funding for ESE to give each teacher-participant approximately $50 worth of classroom and text materials. ESE teaches the classes. Classes are taught outside in parks, cemeteries, and schoolyards of Salt Lake County. These district-wide courses are ESE base program and the school districts do not want us to drop them. ESE has created loose-leaf binder textbooks and other resource materials for these summer in-services and intends to make these materials available via the web.


How ESE functions

ESE has no full-time salaried staff, no office, and virtually no overhead. Genevieve Atwood, Board Member and President of ESE is ESE Chief Education Officer and teaches all courses. Don Mabey contributes to resource materials. ESE has no building, no capital equipment, and little overhead. KPMG has donated an audit of yearly finances since 1997.



January-May: relatively inactive although materials used in Atwood's University of Utah's GEOG3600 Geography of Utah and GEOG5810 become materials for ESE teachers.

June, July, August: full-time activity... courses, field trips, preparation of materials

September, October: one school-based course and continued preparation of resource materials

November, December: evaluation, year-end reports.



Budget: ESE operates on about $12,000 - 15,000 annually and carries forward one year's operating expenses.



Approximately $5000, one third of the budget, buys classroom materials for teacher-particpants of our courses. Approximately 100 teachers take our courses each year. Each teacher participant receives approximately $50 of materials such as maps, texts, and, for successful completion of the rocks and minerals course, a Hastings triplex genuine geologist's hand lens.

Genevieve Atwood is paid $4500 annually.

Web-related expenses run approximately $3000.

Costs associated with ESE resource materials have historically been about $1000.

Other expenses come to about $1000 including some accounting-firm costs.

Of course a great deal of time and expertise is volunteered including an annual audit of our books by KPMG.

ESE Assistant Treasurer (Don Mabey) keeps our books. We rely on Robison-Hill for salary and benefit advice. Genevieve Atwood files federal and state reports. ESE Treasurer (Kevin Steiner) is available for advice such as for investing our carry-forward as certificates of deposits.

ESE financial policies are stated in detail in ESE “Policies” document.


INCOME: ESE operates on the generosity of about seven donors. Kennecott Utah Copper has donated $5000 annually for the past 15 years and we will forever be grateful for their financial support and advice. The Steiner Foundation, Quinney Foundation, and Wheeler Foundation each donate between $1000 - $3000. Three or four individuals donate between $100 - $1000. This has allowed the Chief Education Officer to do what she does best, teach teachers.  


ESE Board

ESE Board members are volunteers. They are convivial, wise, and very much appreciated. Board members should feel under no obligation to contribute financially to the organization, although some Board members are donors or been responsible for major contributions to ESE. They provide advice as a Board and as individuals. The Board establishes ESE policies, endorses the annual work program, and authorizes the budget. The Board meets twice a year. The end-of-year meeting (sometimes held as a telephone conference) is the annual meeting and includes annual elections. The early summer meeting usually focusses on a topic of importance to the Chief Education Officer.


In 2009 the Board consists of (LINK to more information):
Chair of the Board of Trustees:                         Clark Giles, attorney
President and Chief Education Officer:  Genevieve Atwood, geomorphologist
Vice President and Assistant Treasurer:             Don Mabey, retired geophysicist
Treasurer:                                                         Kevin Steiner, business person
Secretary:                                                         Walt Layton, school principal
Frank Brown, Dean of the College of Mines and Earth Science, University of Utah
Sonya Redd, former member of the San Juan School Board
Joann Seghini, Mayor of Midvale, former director of curriculum, Jordan School District
Alisa Schofield, geologist and secondary school teacher.


For further information: contact