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Teachers helping teachers since 1967. 

In the beginning...

On Saturday, April 15, 1967 a small group of Michigan Earth Science teachers (drawn from both high school and college levels) met at Lansing Community College to discuss forming an organization of Michigan Earth Science Teachers.

Although The Michigan Earth Scientist journal had been around for well over a year, it had not represented a professional organization.

In this first formal meeting, a name was selected for the organization: Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association (MESTA), an Executive Committee was set up to help run the organization, an application for membership was developed and an initial dues of $1 was to be assessed to all individuals desiring to become members.  In addition, The Michigan Earth Scientist was designated as the official journal for the new organization.

Free, Cheap, and Inexpensive...

The Summer 1983 (Vol XIX No. 3) issue of the Michigan Earth Scientist was a treasure chest of information for members. One interesting article written by long time member Steve Tchozeski detailed the history of MESTA’s Free and Inexpensive sessions. Initially, these sessions - perhaps the most popular of any activity MESTA has created – were called “Free, Cheap and Inexpensive” (F.C. & I.). The essence of the 1983 article outlined how to provide items and participate in Free and Inexpensive sessions. Detailed instructions on what and how to prepare materials, contribute them, and assist in this activity was presented.

F.C. & I. was first conceived in the mid-1970s as a result budget cuts in education along with a desire to create a way to share materials with Earth Science teachers. It started as an impromptu event at various science conferences and quickly became extremely popular with teachers at all levels. Later, MESTA assumed the role as a clearinghouse for the materials being offered. While Earth materials now make of the bulk items being offered, all kinds of materials show up at Free and Inexpensive sessions. As Steve noted “One teacher’s junk is another person’s treasure.”

What is now a common experience for hundreds (1,000s?) of teachers attending science conferences across Michigan was not obvious some 30 years ago when MESTA’s Free and Inexpensive was just beginning.

MESTA Suggests a National Earth Science Group...

At the 1983 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) in Dallas, Texas, the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) was formed. The idea for NESTA was “hatched” by a couple of Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association (MESTA) members on their return to Lansing from a MESTA board meeting held in southeast Michigan. Harold Stonehouse and Rod Cranson presented their idea at the next MESTA board meeting-- asking for support and resources to explore the idea. Their request was granted.

The methods used to organize the Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association, known as the MESTA Blueprint, was presented to teachers attending that initial NESTA meeting. It was a guide detailing how to organize Earth Science teachers on the state level. Thus, the dream of a few Michigan Earth Science teachers some 15 years earlier took root on the national level. (MESTA dates back to 1967.)

The first NESTA officers, elected at the April 9 organizational meeting, were featured in the 1983 Summer issue of the Michigan Earth Scientist. Jan Woerner, an active MESTA member for many years, was named NESTA’s first President. She sent out a proposed draft of a NESTA Constitution and Bylaws to the members present at the April 9 NSTA Conference. A NESTA Constitution and Bylaws was adopted at that meeting.

MESTA Slide Sets...

Forty years ago 35 mm slides were “State of the Art” instructional tools used in science classrooms. Slides were one of the best way to illustrate many aspects of Earth Science topics being taught. In MESTA's 1973 Fall Issue of the Michigan Earth Scientist three colored slide sets were announced as being available to members. These were a joint venture between the Michigan Basin Society and MESTA and were very affordable, priced at just $6 to $8 each.

Two of these slide sets featured Michigan Geology. Uncovering Michigan was created by Harold Winters, Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. The 34 slides in this set detailed the way the Pleistocene Ice Sheet melted and the features it left behind. Our Changing State illustrated the geology of Michigan - the relationship of rocks across both the Northern Peninsula and the Michigan Basin along with the Pleistocene cover. Jan Woerner, an Earth Science teacher at Freeland High School and long-time MESTA Member, researched and published this 50 slide set.

First MESTA Field Conference...

The first MESTA Field Conference took place in June 1972.  The Annual Field Conference in the Keweenaw Peninsula this past August (2013) marked the 40th anniversary of the first MESTA field trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This first event was held in June of 1972 when eight members spent 7 days studying the geology across the northern peninsula. To keep the cost down, and accommodate family activities, the group stayed at campgrounds during the trip.

After a stop at the U.S. Gypsum Mine in Alabaster, collecting Devonian Fossils and checking out the Karst features near Alpena, the itinerary included a stop at the giant limestone quarry at Rogers City. Doug Allen served as guide for the geology of Mackinac Island as conducted by a bike trip around the island. After inspecting the Mackinaw Breccia just north of the Big Mac the group visited the Soo Locks, Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for a hike along Lake Superior to check out the Jacobsville and Munising Sandstones.

Modern mining methods were studied at the Republic Iron Mine and Pelletizing facility. This was followed by stops at numerous outcrops in the Ishpeming and Negaunee area. The trip concluded with a tour of a copper mine and many outcrops along the Keweenaw Peninsula. Art Weinle logged the entire trip in detail, which became the basis for numerous future MESTA Field Conferences in Michigan’s Northern Peninsula. It was 41 years ago this month (June 2013) that this small group of Michigan Earth Science Teachers explored the UP geology for the first time.

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1972 MESTA Field Conference

Front Row:  Doug Allen, Virginia Chamberlain, Rod Cranson, Steve Wessling

Back Row:  Steve Tchozeski, Carol Dalebout, Art Weinle, Woody Wilson

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