Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences Outreach

The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences is involved in three basic activities: scientific research, education, and community service.  We are committed to sharing our research and excitement about the earth and environmental sciences to the larger community. The outreach committee partook in several outreach events within the community and local schools during the 2018-2019 academic year.



In the area of public service, the faculty advises state agencies and communities over a range of matters, such as waste disposal, lake restoration, groundwater protection, conservation of natural resources, and exploration of the state's mineral resources.  In addition, the faculty and graduate students in the department cordially make time for the general public in the identification of rocks and possible meteorites as well as other areas of outreach which are listed below. We are constantly looking for ways to continue the departments commitment to outreach and education.



If you are interested in learning more about us or collaborating, please email the Earth and Environmental Sciences at or visit the College of Science and Engineering’s outreach website (




News and Recent Community Engagement

Graduate Student Hannah Blatchford talking about her work on our microprobe and how she uses it to study thermochronology


Visit from a local geology club


We were thrilled to host the monthly meeting for a local geology club! As a combined effort with graduate students and faculty, we got to share our passions for our research and talk about potential careers in the Earth Sciences. After a series of short presentations, we took a tour of the IRM, Electron Microprobe, and the Mineral Rock Collection. We were so inspired by the young students and their families joy in geology and thankful for their time and enthusiasm!







Graduate student Morgan Monz sharing some fun information to a young scout about teeth!


Cub Scout Presentation 

During the Spring semester several graduate students went on a “A Journey Out West” with a local Scout troop. We guided them through field safety, the geologic history of Minnesota, fossil hunting, how mountains form, and even how to pan for gold in the Sierras! Afterwards we gave them the chance to have a hands on experience with a variety of fossils, minerals and rocks, and gear that we work while also talking to them one on one and answering all their great questions. Thanks for inviting us!






Work with the Bell Museum 


Last year, a handful of our grad students helped create a new gallery cart for the Bell Museum, focusing on fossil plants and paleoclimate. Volunteers at the museum (including some of our students) could show visitors how we use plants to determine information about modern and past climates and environments, and why that matters. The cart was active in the museum galleries for several months. We hope to partner again with the Bell Museum to create more gallery carts, and potentially branch out into other outreach endeavors as well!









Other Earth Science Outreach Groups


Several of our graduate students and faculty lead independent groups and clubs whose mission is also engagement to the greater community through Art, Dance, Exhibits, and more! Please take a look at some of the exciting work they do and if you’re interested- please reach out to them directly.




Outreach Through Science and Art


Outreach through Science and Art (OSA) is a group of graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota dedicated to uncovering connections between the arts and sciences and sharing these connections with the general public. OSA partners with University and community groups to create public displays, interactive exhibits, and events to accompany artistic endeavors with scientific themes.  These projects provide scientific context for the artistic works and demonstrate how artistic media can be used to explore human interactions with scientific concepts and understanding. OSA also connects scientists and researchers with local artists, promoting our goals of sharing expertise, learning how science can inspire art, and investigating how artistic media can be used for science communication. Please visit the OSA website for more information.





The MESA Program


MESA (Make Earth Science Accesible) is a program through the N.H. Winchell School of Earth Sciences whose initiatives are to make educational and research material accessible to the public through a series of exhibits in and around John T. Tate Hall on the east bank of the UMN Twin Cities campus. Please visit the program website for more information.





Rock and Meteorite Identification


Due the concerns around COVID-19, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences has moved to extended reduced operations in accordance with the University of Minnesota and is not able to provide testing and identification for any objects at this time. If you are interested in having and object identified and/or tested, please contact us when the University has reopened and resumed a normal schedule. Thank you. 


The Department of Earth Sciences has some faculty members who provide outreach in the form of rock and meteorite identification. For more information meteorite identification, please through our meteorite identifiction page.


For rock and mineral identification (not meteorite identification), please send 3-5 clear photos with as much information about the rock as you are able to provide, i.e. where it was found, how much does it weigh, how large is it, and other details that you are able to provide, to and your e-mail will be forwarded to the appropriate faculty member.


WE DO NOT ACCEPT WALK-IN/DROP-INs for ROCK/METEORITE IDENTIFICATION. It is extremely rare that we would have a faculty member available at any given time to meet with someone in regards to rock/meteorite identification. Save travel time by contacting us via e-mail first.


Please keep in mind that these faculty member are first and foremost professors and researchers who have very busy schedules including teaching, research and fieldwork.  This means that they may take longer to respond to inquires and will only be able to provide outreach when available. Please understand if they are unable to work with you immediately. If you have any further questions, please call 612-624-1333 to speak with the front desk.



Community Partners


A priority for outreach within our department is to work with community partners. Here are some of the organizations and groups we are currently work with or hope to work with soon (*). 


Letters to a Pre-Scientist

Frontiers for young minds* 

Bell Museum 

Market Science