Fish Fossil (Diplomystus) from Wyoming , Image credit: Daniel Hall

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Building Partnerships With Other Youth Organizations

Partnering with other youth organizations such as 4-H, Scouts, Homeschool Associations, Processional Organizations, Local Museums, Nature Preserves, Summer Camps, and High School Geology Clubs can be a great way for clubs to build a juniors program.  These organizations can be a  great source of kids and adult leaders while helping your society increase visibility and serve local  communities.

Working with Museums

Most natural history Museums and museums sponsored by university geology and paleontology departments have programs for kids you can tap into including traveling resource trunks, group tours, summer camps, and volunteer opportunities for kids. Larger museums often have science outreach programs and internships for youth including learning to be a docent, building exhibits, fossil preparation, and field work. And don’t forget your local historical museum. Many have programs on historical geology and mining. 

If there isn’t a museum close to you and your group can’t travel, their websites are filled with activity ideas you can do at your next club meeting. This is a great resource for both new and experienced leaders. An awesome adventure can be as easy as calling your local museum!

4-H Geology & Earth Science Projects

Working with 4-H gives your club an opportunity to reach youth outside of our established AFMS circles including families who may not know a local gem and mineral society exists in their community. For many youth, the highlight of their 4-H year is exhibiting their project at a local, regional or state fair. Sponsoring these projects gives your club another opportunity to reach hundreds of visitors outside of our normal sphere.

4‑H is the nation’s largest youth organization with nearly six million kids across the United States. 4-H is administered by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture and partners with a network of over 100 colleges and universities, including Native American Tribal Universities and more than 3000 local county Extension offices.

Youth age 9-18 typically join a local 4-H club either close to where they live or based are their main interest, although there are a variety of school based programs as well. Each 4-H member then chooses one or more project areas. Surprising to many, 4-H is not just about livestock, cooking and sewing. Youth can choose from over 30 projects including pigs to cowboy poetry, art to aerospace, wildlife to wind power, and yes, geology and earth sciences.

To find a find a 4-H program near you, contact your local County Extension Service, often listed under county governmental offices; or use the “FIND YOUR LOCAL 4-H” link: This link will provide contact numbers and information on your state and county 4-H programs.

Homeschool Families

Working with homeschool families can be fun and rewarding for your club. One advantage is most homeschool kids come with one or more teachers in the form of Mom or Dad. Many of these parent-teachers are thrilled to be asked to help teach, organize and even lead a juniors club. While homeschool families come in a miriad of shapes, sizes, curriculums, and teaching styles, most are not bound by an 8:00-3:00 school day and they are all looking for enrichment opportunities; opportunities not always available to public school kids.

The majority of homeschool families will have a science curriculum they are following. Some curriculum is provided by their school district, some is purchased through a private curriculum company, and some may be designed by Mom and Dad, but the one thing they have in common is flexibility. One thing to keep in mind, every state and every school district has their own laws governing homeschooling so, what works for clubs in Montana may not work for clubs in Michigan.

How does my club connect with homeschoolers? Many homeschool families belong to a local co-op or association. A quick internet search of “homeschool groups in my area” is a start. There are a number of national and state homeschool organizations that can also help you connect with families in your area. A simple invitation letter may be all you need to start the ball rolling. 

Scouts BSA

Partnering with Scouts BSA is a way for societies to reach out to other youth organizations. When Boy Scouts of America expanded to include girls at all level and in all branches, they rebranded their name as just Scouts BSA. Adult members can serve as Merit Badge Counselors for either the Geology or the Mining in Society Merit Badges. There is some cost involved since volunteers need to be registered adult members of BSA. 

An often overlooked opportunity with Scouts is to mentor an Eagle Scout prospect. Societies can work with these scouts and encourage them to choose geology, mineralogy, paleontology, or mining related Eagle Scout projects. Examples would be to design a mineral exhibit for your local museum or library, create a geology themed hiking trail in your community, or construct earth science educational trucks for local schools. This not only helps the individual scout, but increases your visibility in the community.

About the image on this page

This Diplomystus dentatus fossil is from the Eocene Green River Formation of Wyoming and is an extinct genus of freshwater fish distantly related to modern herrings and sardines. They had a jaw that protruded aggressively upward allowing it to feed in surface waters and devour smaller prey such as schooling, Knightia. This voracious predator is entombed in a fine-grained matrix typical of Fossil Lake.

Image Credit: Daniel Hall