It is safe to say that many students at Sacramento State are becoming more eco-friendly. One way students can express their appreciation of Earth is to go out and spend time learning about it. The Sac State Geology Club offers precisely that experience.
The club was founded in 1978 and has been offering geology majors and all other students opportunities to get an educational look at nature since its formation.
Students can go on day hikes, local field trips and participate in other social events such as tailgating.
The Geology club also hosts children’s events in which they expose children to the wonders of geology.
“On Fridays we often host about 50 to 75 middle school and elementary school students who come and tour the Placer Hall department,” said Mitch Harris, junior representative liaison of the club. “There we have four different science stations, working with hands on activities like a Stratovolcano display in which we actually make it foam and spew fake lava and a cool seismograph that shows local seismic activity in the area.”
Students also tour the rock garden out front of Placer hall that has some of the rock specimens that the Sac State geology department has collected over the years.
The club also creates rock sample boxes for local schools.
“We use old tackle boxes to create up to 25 samples of common rocks that elementary school children can get their hands on and get a feel for just how awesome rocks are,” said Harris.
The boxes include the always favorite “Fool’s gold,” Mica, and other common rocks like feldspar or quartz.
“Teachers are able to use these samples to give kids a real world example of some of the really beautiful rocks that often are just below our feet,” said Harris.
Thomas Johnston is a 31-year-old geology major. He has been a part of the club for almost two years and has been president since June 2014.
“The club is a really great way to learn about nature while being in nature yet still being able to have the benefit of instructors and peers,” said Johnston. “It’s taking learning to the next level by engaging in the world.”
Johnston said his favorite memory with the group so far was when they went on a night hike to the beach and watched the moon rise over the ocean.
A geology professor or a grad student usually accompanies the club on their field trips. Occasionally the group will coordinate with a professional in the field of geology to accompany them as well or give a speech to the group.
“The Sac State geology club is a place where geologists come together,” said Nick Novotny, a past geology club president and Sac State alumnus. “We have demonstrated year after year what we can accomplish by doing so at our annual rock auction, where all our funding is derived. We use this money to subsidize geology field trips and student fees.”
The club relies heavily this fundraiser to pay for the trips. In most cases transportation, equipment and location planning is all provided for by the group.
“Being a part of the Sac State Geology Club means being part of a community,” said Novotny. “We hold meetings and events that bring students entering the major together with upperclassmen and faculty to facilitate a better learning environment for everyone.”
The 11th annual rock auction will be held on Oct. 18.
“The rock auction is a great event, in which the club uses the profits to help subsidize student field camp fees,” said Harris. “We hold both silent auctions and live auctions, which can raise around $15,000 in revenue.”
There are both raw samples and some refined samples, like polished stones and fashion accessories such as belt buckles made of smooth polished rocks.
“We auction off both our own collection specimens as well as those donated by rock aficionados in the area,” said Harris, “The rock auction is open to the public and no fee is required to attend; we also offer a small dinner as you browse rock samples.”
The club holds this event to subsidize the cost of field trips, but they also have fun with other campus clubs as well.
“We will also be holding a tailgate party for the 18th Homecoming game here on campus and are hoping to team up with the Engineering Club and Biology Club,” said Harris, “We’ll be barbecuing some burgers and dogs and having a few games to get in the spirit for the big game that evening.”
Social events such as tailgating or bowling allow students to meet other people with similar interests.
“The club is not restricted to just geology majors,” said Harris, “we have students from every major, including English, communication, history and anyone who has a passion for the outdoors and natural world.”
This year the club will be doing some weekend hikes to especially interesting geological areas in the valley and Sierras.
“We often cater to those of us who have what we like to call ‘nature deficiency disorder,’ or NDD,” said Harris.
The next club meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 9 at noon in Placer 1006.