I’m a 2008 University of Southern Maine graduate with a degree in geosciences. If there’s one thing I’ve learned (and taught) over the years, it’s the importance of understanding our Earth on the many levels made possible via geoscience.

Interestingly, I’ve also found that kids who would otherwise lack motivation to learn actually perk up and learn.

Through geoscience, students learn about the Earth, but also how they fit into history, how to think, write and reflect on something they see, walk on every day – the Earth.

USM’s phenomenal Geoscience Department plays a central educational role for Maine. Students have gone into geographic information systems, the Environmental Protection Agency, hydrology and other geologic industries.

In a moment in American history when we aim to have our kids lead on environmental issues and awareness, no program begets more care for and awareness of the Earth than the geoscience program.

The irony is that when we need this unique avenue to learning about the science and relevance of the Earth around us, the option appears to be slipping – or being pushed – off the table. Is this right?

Beyond losing an educational moment about the Earth, we lose a powerful learning tool: training to support the many Maine industries that rely on sound geologic education. Maine mining accounts for about $118 million annually, according to the National Mining Association.

Every major accredited university in the country is working to get aligned with the changing nature of the Earth. Every major university – and USM is one – needs an earth science component.

The surrounding communities and Maine will suffer an enormous loss – in learning opportunity, student awareness of their world, personal growth and connection to the world in which they live, national trends in earth science, environment and industry, and a touchstone that is vital to the university system.

Roland W. Charles III

Sebago