The sign outside Prospect Heights Middle School in Orange read “Education Rocks,” but inside the school, Kristen Boudreau was eagerly awaiting the showcase display of rock and mineral specimens that she won at a professional development meeting last year hosted by the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST).
The first such showcase was part of an ongoing educational outreach initiative between the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance (VTCA) and Friends of Mineralogy Virginia (FMVA). Both organizations recognize the importance of materials and minerals as building blocks of society and the need to educate and engage with communities as demand for these critical materials increases.
Rob Lanham, VTCA’s Aggregates Program Manager, sponsored the showcase, with support from seven aggregates companies across the Commonwealth.
Thomas Hale, president of FMVA, worked with six mining companies across the state and in Delaware and Maryland to provide input. The case was completed by Hale and a teacher’s manual was provided to Boudreau with support from FMVA’s Brandi Moore. Hale gave an overview of the donated specimens as well as teaching materials for use by teachers and students.
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Together, VTCA and FMVA came up with the idea of bringing an educational exhibit to a school in Virginia to help educate students about their local rocks and minerals. Both organizations were joined by representatives from Luck Stone, Vulcan Materials Co. and Frazier Quarry Inc. for the inauguration. National Sand, Stone, and Gravel Association (NSSGA) executive Libby Pritchard was also on hand to represent the national quarry industry.
Lanham was proud to be able to present to Boudreau, who said it was the first drawing she had won. His students applauded his success in learning of the gift that was given to the students for their education. Lanham described the aggregate industry highlighted the daily use of manufactured products throughout Virginia, ranging from toothpaste and cement to asphalt and other vital construction needs.
The students asked lots of questions and the principal, Renee Bourke, expressed her enthusiasm for the quality of the donation. His previous background was in environmental geology, so it was the perfect place for the first donation.
Lanham said this is the first such venture for the VTCA and FMVA, and he hopes it will continue in the future.
Learn more about FMVA: https://friendsofmineralogyvirginia.org. Learn more about VTCA: https://www.vtca.org.