Becoming an Outdoors Woman as an Instructor

Continued from TPWD Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program

 

The best way to get introverts to come out of their shell is to ask about something that interests them.  In mine and my friend’s case, it’s rocks.  My running partner and sometimes travel companion also has a geology degree, so we now teach geology together for Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) in Texas.  We started out as participants, but felt like we could offer something to the program.  She and I are a lot alike, but we process and communicate information differently.  I am more presentation and organization, she is more technical.  In that respect, we complement each other when we teach geology.

 

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In preparation for teaching Geology Basics, I condensed an entire semester of my college freshman level physical geology course into a 3.5 hour workshop.  Ideally, the workshop would be equally divided into three parts: lecture, lab, and field.  The first hour is a necessary whirlwind of basic geologic concepts such as geologic time, plate tectonics, rock cycle, minerals and rock types, and big picture Texas geology.  The second hour (my favorite) is hands-on rock, mineral, and fossil identification.  And finally, the third hour is time spent in the field at each site of the BOW workshops identifying local geologic features, rocks, and fossils.  The extra 30 minutes allows additional time in lecture or lab if needed, depending on class participation and questions.

 

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Our first time teaching geology at BOW was in Concan, Texas (Hill Country) in October 2014.  We were very nervous so one of us (looking at you, Katy) wore a dinosaur costume as an ice breaker.  It was very effective, and at times, hysterical.  The ladies who took our class were wonderful.  They had great questions, seemed genuinely interested, and provided very helpful feedback.  Local geology at Neal’s Lodge in Concan included a classic small stream river system, crinoidal limestone and travertine.  The property was beautiful and the cabins were very country chic!  In my free time that weekend, I practiced my archery skills, sat in a knot tying class and introduction to horses.  The horseback ride was very therapeutic, and my horse was a sweetheart.  I also goofed off during a Zumba class, but would probably be murdered in my sleep if I posted any of those photos.

 

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Our second time teaching geology at BOW was in Palacios, Texas (on the Gulf Coast) in April 2015.  It rained ALL weekend, so we were confined to the indoors most of the time.  Coincidentally, there wasn’t much geology to show “in the field” so we made lecture and lab slightly longer, and spent some additional time studying maps.  In my free time that weekend, learned bow fishing and practiced my archery skills, then sat in on a fantastic Camping 101 class where I was surprisingly blown away by the advancement in gear since I started camping in college in the 90s.  I decided that weekend I would throw out all my old cheap Walmart gear and really upgrade…you know, for comfort!

 

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Our third and most recent time teaching geology at BOW was in Granbury, Texas (near Fort Worth) in October 2015.  This may be my favorite workshop to date.  The property was gorgeous, cabins brand new, and geology everywhere!  We were asked to teach an advanced geology course in addition to the Geology Basics course that we had been teaching.  Building on what was taught in the basics course, I designed the advanced course to be the “next step” in geologic appreciation, using new and enhanced methods for local and state park geology.  I created some blank geologic maps that the class would code and color, and collected rock samples and fossils for the class to spend more time with.  I also found out that the workshop was within a short drive to Dinosaur Valley State Park, so we proposed an optional post-BOW field trip to the park.  So this was a busy weekend of teaching, hiking, and pointing (to rocks and fossils).  I managed to sit in on Got Food? Will Travel (clean eating course) in the few hours I had free, and I loved it!  After the workshop, about a dozen of us caravanned to Dinosaur Valley SP and spent a couple hours walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs.  Some ladies stayed after I left and hiked off on their own to find even more footprints.  I am so proud of them for applying what they learned in class, and having fun with it!

 

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The next BOW will be back in Concan in April 2016.  I’m sure I’ll have more fun stories to tell then…