Monday, November 12, 2018


On the Rocks!


The weekend was wet and cold, weather that drives most of us indoors. Not Geologists. They’d rather be on the rocks any time. In spite of less-than-ideal conditions, the 48th Annual Virginia Geologic Field Conference held on Saturday October 27 was well attended by 60 academics and professionals and 20 students – 11 from Virginia community colleges.

Reynolds Professor Karen Layou, and Geology Instructor Lynsey LeMay from Thomas Nelson Community College organized a pre-field trip Mentoring Workshop to get students started on the next day’s adventure. “For the workshop, we did a series of “geoscientist speed dating” sessions, where students chatted in small groups with one or two professionals, then they rotated. We ended with a discussion of knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow you to be successful in geoscience careers,” said Professor Layou.

Layou and LeMay organized the first of these workshops in 2017. About this year’s workshop Layou said: “Most people don’t know a geoscientist personally, so they don’t know the various ways you can be employed as a geoscientist. There was a fantastic energy in the room as students learned more about the professionals' jobs and educational experiences.  Because we had a diverse group of professionals (field vs. office-based/private vs. public sector), students were able to explore many options within an hour. The professionals who were involved are an enthusiastic bunch and happy to share their knowledge with the students.  These interactions then extended to the field trip the next day, allowing the students to feel comfortable engaging with the professionals and other attendees during the day.”

“It was so much fun,” said Reynolds student Rachel Phelps who attended both the Mentoring Workshop and the Field Trip. (Rachel is pictured here with the other VCCS students - bottom row, center.) “I had no idea how much fun education could be. I met a lot of people, many from William and Mary, and I really got to know how the geology community works. The most important thing for me was it made me decide what I want to do and where I want to go. I know now I want to transfer to William and Mary and go in to environmental science or geology – maybe even chemistry.”

Rachel graduated early from New Kent High School and is in her first semester at Reynolds. Her friends came to Reynolds and told her about their great experiences and she decided to come here too. She is already headed on an Honors track, thanks to help from Professor Layou. “I never really struggled with school, I understood math and chemistry . . . I didn’t enjoy trying to remember all of those dates in History,” Rachel said. When she isn’t working at her part-time job, studying, or going on her own field trips (she loves the outdoors) Rachel is teaching herself calculus online.

No surprise a little cold rain didn’t keep Rachel away from the weekend event. She has found her place with friends, students, academics and professional, on the rocks.