If you're lucky enough to be doing a job that you dreamt of doing as a child, do you remember the moment, or the event that got you interested? I do. As a geologist, I can trace my interest back to a family holiday in Yorkshire, England, when my dad bought me an ammonite from a gift store (a Dactylioceras like the one in the picture). Ten-year old me had never considered earth science before, let alone thought it could be a career, but after that I was hooked.
Fast forward twenty years and my job was pretty heavily focussed on geoscience education. Along with like-minded colleagues we strived to get it onto the radars of parents and teachers. We knew from experience that we could quickly get from 'rocks are dull' to 'wow, that's really cool', if only we had an opportunity to show kids what earth science involved. The grown ups too were equally as interested. The challenge was often in getting them to pay attention in the first place. Schools in particular were particularly tough as geology is always limited, pushed aside by the more mainstream sciences.
Having kids and adults interested in earth science is one thing. Getting them to think of it as a career is yet another. It's all very well to talk about dinosaurs, giant insects (such as the 2 metre long millipedes of the Carboniferous) and volcanoes, but how do you get beyond that to talk about making a living as an earth scientist?
Websites extolling the virtues of being an earth scientist are out there for sure, but I recently came across the Explore A Career In Earth Sciences site from Earth Sciences Canada. I was impressed! It has funky/cute graphics, the right amount of interactivity, a ton of useful information, a bunch of videos profiling different jobs, and bios of earth scientists in Canada. All in all a really great site.
So if you're a teenager who is thinking about a career, or if you are considering that it's time to retrain for a new path in life, then be sure to check out this site.
As for me, I'll continue to love the earth sciences and to be passionate about sharing it with others. I still have the ammonite my dad gave me. In fact it's sitting on the bookshelf behind me as I write....a reminder of how one little seemingly inconsequential event can change the path of life. Maybe checking out that website could be yours!
Header photo: Dactylioceras by James St. John, via Wikimedia Commons