The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently announced the recipients of its 2016 annual minerals education awards. Founded in 1999, the minerals education awards are presented each year in two categories: the mining awareness educator category, presented to a teacher or school from one of the 25 member states of the IMCC, and the public outreach category. This year, two awards will be presented in the public outreach category. No educator awareness award winner was chosen for 2016.
The public outreach award is presented to an industry, environmental, citizen or other group, or to a state government body, that has achieved excellence in one or more of the following categories: provided educational outreach in an innovative manner that increases the level of understanding in the community about mining and its impacts; promoted awareness of environmental stewardship associated with mining through active involvement of citizens; fostered cooperation and partnerships with diverse groups to achieve understanding; enhanced the understanding of issues associated with mining and natural resource development; and/or fostered public education through mine tours, visitor centers, community awareness days, career days, personnel volunteerism in the schools, maintaining adopt-a-school programs or education partnerships, or any other innovative initiative deemed deserving by the awards committee.
The minerals education awards will be presented at a banquet held in conjunction with the IMCC Annual Meeting, April 17 to 20 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
The first winner in the public outreach category for 2016 is the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association (OAIMA) located in Gahanna, Ohio.
The Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association has developed an innovative and multi-faceted minerals education program that promotes awareness of the need for aggregate, rock and mineral resources.
In 2012, OAIMA embarked on a partnership with the Miami County (Ohio) Park District. Initially, the project provided book bags and educational rock box kits to children in area schools as a reward for completing the “Family Quest Nature Program,” and later, OAIMA helped to develop and participated in the park district's annual week-long “Hug the Earth” program. For one week in May each year, children from local school districts arrive by bus in intervals throughout the day and each class rotates between offered activities. Often children who attend with their schools during the week choose to return with parents and families to participate in the activities again during the Saturday “Family Day” held at the end of the week-long program.
With guidance from the OAIMA Public Relations Committee and endorsement of the Association's Board of Directors, the new “Hug the Earth” education program was developed to be both informative and entertaining for participants. OAIMA supports and funds the efforts and provides materials and member volunteers who freely donate their time. New and innovative activities are used to engage children in the learning process while having fun. The “Rock and Mineral Dig” activity involves creating several piles of natural sand in which rocks and minerals mined in Ohio are interspersed. Children are given buckets and shovels and given an allotted amount of time to “mine” for rocks and minerals. With the help of OAIMA and park district volunteers, the children use an identification panel developed by OAIMA to identify the rocks and minerals they collected and learn how they are used in their daily lives. The children are allowed to keep the buckets and the minerals they collect.
OAIMA also collaborates with Wright State University's departments of earth and environmental sciences and teacher education on project STONE (Science Teaching for Ohio's New Economy), a nationally recognized award winning professional development program. Teachers of grades K to 12 attend a summer two-week workshop where they learn how to infuse earth science content into their inquiry science lessons and other curriculum; what career opportunities are available for students in the fast growing field of earth science; how to connect with professional earth science practitioners for classroom resources, career days and field experiences for teachers and their students; and how to develop, assess and report on an inquiry-based activity the teachers develop for their classroom during the academic year.
“The members of the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association are extremely honored to be recognized by the IMCC for our education and outreach activities. The members of the OAIMA are passionate about education and it is important to continue these efforts in order to maintain our vital operations. The average citizen is generally unaware of where the materials come from that build the roads, schools, homes and products that we use daily. Outreach programs like those for which the OAIMA has been recognized, are a critical element in maintaining and strengthening our industries workforce and providing jobs and materials for future generations. We are proud and grateful for the dedication, time and materials that our members unselfishly give in order to continue these important educational efforts,” said Patrick Jacomet, OAIMA executive director.
A 2016 Public Outreach Award also will be presented to Michael C. Korb. Korb serves as environmental program manager in the Wilkes-Barre office of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
For more information, visit www.oaima.org.