Dear Friends of GeoFORCE Alaska,
In July 2015, the first GeoFORCE Alaska cohort embarked on their fourth and final field academy. Over the course of ten eventful days, they greeted their peers with enthusiasm, navigated airports with confidence, volunteered observations in the field, and took selfies in front of erupting geysers and articulated dinosaur skeletons. The tremendous personal and academic growth evinced by the students as they engaged in collaborative presentations or discussed plans for college led me to reflect on the unique and valuable nature of the GeoFORCE experience.
GeoFORCE is the only four-year summer science program available to Alaskan high school students; fifteen of the sixteen 8th graders who entered the program in 2012 returned for four years, and all eighteen students who participated in at least three summer academies are on track to graduate from high school. GeoFORCE Alaska is the only summer program for rural students with a geoscience emphasis; 60% of the first cohort plan to major in science or engineering and 28% plan to major in geology or earth science. GeoFORCE Alaska is the only program that offers high school students the opportunity to complete field-based projects at spectacular geologic locations within and beyond Alaska; 0% of our students think science is boring.
GeoFORCE Alaska is designed to promote high school graduation and encourage pursuit of a college education; we have been overwhelmingly successful on both fronts. The GeoFORCE program works, and our students’ achievements demonstrate that it works in Alaska. This year we will solicit applications for a new, larger cohort of 8th and 9th grade students from the North Slope and Northwest Arctic Boroughs. Program Coordinator Anne Rittgers and I are deeply grateful to our sponsors for the opportunity to impact the futures of 40 high school students from rural Alaskan communities over the next four years. Participation in GeoFORCE expands options and changes lives. Thank you for making it all possible.
-Dr. Sarah Fowell
This letter appears in our 2015 Annual Report.