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GSA member and Association of American State Geologists president Harvey Thorleifson presented the USGS Coalition award to Rep. McCollum, a fellow Minnesotan (click on photo to enlarge).

Incoming GPPC chair Jeff Rubin meets with Senator Merkley (click on photo to enlarge).

GSA Executive Director Jack Hess and UCAR scientist Betsy Weatherhead discuss science funding with Senator Bennet (click on photo to enlarge).

Geoscientists Ask Congress for Continued, Sustained Science Funding

In mid-September, GSA members were part of a contingent of 50 geoscientists that came to Washington, D.C., for the 5th annual geoscience Congressional Visits Day. In more than 100 congressional meetings, participants highlighted the benefits of scientific research to the nation and asked for continued, sustained funding for the geosciences.

GSA participants included Jeff Rubin, Emergency Manager with the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and incoming chair of GSA’s Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC); Sheldon Turner, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University and the student representative on GPPC; John Geissman, past president of GSA; GSA Executive Director, Jack Hess; and GSA Director for Geoscience Policy, Kasey White.

Turner explained why he participated in the event, “I have been interested in the policy aspect of the geosciences since I began my graduate program. This was a great opportunity to see the policy in action and make a difference for the community. I also made new contacts in different geology societies, universities, and in Congress that I know will help me in the future.”

The event began with a briefing on the afternoon of 11 September on the legislative process, science funding concerns, and how to effectively communicate with members of Congress. Turner noted that he “learned a lot from the training about how Congress works, what their constraints are, and how to be succinct.”

On 12 September, participating geoscientists spoke to their congressional delegations and key committee staff about their research, the geosciences, and its importance to the nation.

After the visits, scientists attended the annual USGS Coalition reception and awards ceremony. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) were presented with the 9th Annual USGS Coalition Leadership Award in honor of their long-term support for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Both members serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the USGS. The USGS Coalition is an alliance of over 70 organizations, including GSA, united by a commitment to the continued vitality of the USGS and its ability to provide critical data and services to the nation.