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MFSW Education Outreach

Mining Foundation of the Southwest (MFSW) funds an Education Outreach Coordinator position managed through the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources at The University of Arizona (UofA). Molly Radwany has served as the Educational Outreach Coordinator since July 2018 where she creates educational materials, demonstrations and activities to help stimulate interest in and understanding of mineral resources and the mining industry. She reports to Jodi Banta, Program Manager of the Institute.

She holds an M.S. in Earth Science from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Geology and Geography from George Washington University. She has been an earth science educator since 2011, first as a teaching assistant and most recently as a lecturer at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Her background is in metamorphic petrology and tectonics and she has undertaken research projects in Virginia, Wisconsin and Turkey. She has also worked in environmental consulting and at the American Geosciences Institute.

Much of her time has been spent developing the digital aspect of the engagement program. Molly believes that a stronger web presence will make it easier to develop and maintain connections with students, teachers and organizations and to reach more people overall. The goal is to increase the visibility of mining, and social media is incredibly important in giving us the ability to reach thousands of people on a daily basis.

During the 2018 / 2019 school year, the Outreach Program visited 42 schools and participated in 15 tabling events, 3 lecture-style events, 2 workshops and 4 tours at San Xavier Mine reaching over 12,350 students, parents and educators. The Program is designed to ensure that the public understands the importance of mining to our economy, our lifestyle and our quality of life.

Your support of this education program through the Foundation is appreciated.

Additional Outreach Funded by the Foundation

In addition, a scale-model diorama of a modern open pit copper mine, funded by the Foundation, is on exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park in Tempe. The diorama is 28-ft long by 15-ft deep, from front to back. The structure is 8-ft tall with about a 2-ft high wind turbine on top. There are 18 DVD screens on the front of 9 consoles with 21 learning modules. Each module illustrates a critical part of the mining and processing story.

History and Evolution of the OUTREACH Coordinator Program

March 30, 2009 to April 1, 2019

The program began March 30, 2009 through the former Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (ADMMR) located in the former Shriners building in Phoenix, which also housed the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. The MFSW funded and tasked Pam Wilkinson, Education Curator, with educating students in grades 7-12 about mining and the mining industry.  The expectation was that Pam would accomplish this by spending 30-60% of her time actually working with students in classrooms around the state. The focus was on grades 7-12 because the mineral museum was doing a great job with outreach to the K-6 grade students. 

Pam developed teaching materials that linked to state standards and began to network with science organizations in the state including, Arizona Foundation for Resource Education (AFRE), AZ Science Teachers Association (ASTA), and AZ Science Coordinators Assoc. (Now called AzSELA). These organizations gave her the opportunity to meet influential teachers in the state who could, and did, provide invitations into classrooms.  Presentation requests soon began to arrive in early August and soon after Pam was presenting programs in schools in Arizona and New Mexico.

When ADMMR was defunded, the employees transferred to the Arizona Geological Survey in January 2011. The program was set to continue there, however, State statutes for the AZGS were different from those at ADMMR, and collaboration with private industry was not allowed.  This limited the role MFSW was able to play and the support that industry was allowed to provide.

Dr. Mary P. Poulton, Chair of the Mining and Geological Engineering Department at The UofA, and Director of the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources needed an Outreach Coordinator to provide K-12 outreach and recruiting for the department. Hence, the program moved to the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resource at The UofA in July 2011. 

Along with the move to the university and the new title came additional job responsibilities. Now in addition to educating students and adults about mining, the Outreach Coordinator would help recruit students to the Mining & Geological Engineering Department, create and implementing a summer camp for mining, and provide activities and presentations at the interdisciplinary summer engineering academy and working with the ENG 102 high school teachers. Over the next 8 years the program blossomed.

On April 1, 2019 Pam officially retired.  Pam's ability to match the message to her audience made her presentations on mining, minerals, and earth science interesting and engaging. She spoke their language and knew what would get through to kids and young adults interested in science, and opened their minds through fun, hands-on activities.

Pam stated “This job was a perfect match for me and I cannot thank the MFSW, ADMMR, AZGS and IMR for providing me with the opportunity to share my knowledge of and passion for the mining industry with people, not only in Arizona but also across the country.  The program of being face to face with people and teaching them about mining is so very important. We are a small but mighty industry, upon which all other industries rest. You could say that mining is the bottom of the food chain for humans. Once again: THANK YOU!”

The Mining Foundation of the Southwest is indebted to Pam Wilkinson for all she has done for mining and for educating today’s youth.


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