NESTA History


New ESS Movement of the 1960s 

Launch of Sputnick, amid the Cold War, proved US science education lacking, focusing a new push towards improvement—increasing student ES enrollment from couple thousand - 1948, to quarter-million+ - 1963

In 1963, the ESCPone of several national science projects to improve HS science education, funded by NSF/supported by AGIformed group of college professors in Boulder, CO —for many years hosting summer in-service conferences for H.S. teachers.  ESCP developed a new textbook;  it is fair to say Investigating the Earth was groundbreaking, it did two things:

1. Attention focused on ESS (geology, astronomy, oceanology & meteorology) in secondary schools, especially at HS & MS level

2. Changed philosophy on how ESS was presented—from fact-based approach to an emphasized investigative approach

While the ESCP was a national project, there was no national ESS organization for HS schools/teachers. NAGT for college/university existed, but it did not serve HS education.  Times were changing & need grew with the new approach to teaching

MESTA— 1st Association for ES Teachers 


"What was ES Education in Michigan like during the mid-1960s?"

Rod Cranson asked as a young ES teacher at Waverly HS.  After research it was obvious—very little—& led to a research project with Dr. Julian Brandou, Michigan State University.  During the project, Cranson conducted a survey included a question: "interest in ES newsletter" —the reply was resounding & 1st issue of "Michigan Earth Scientist" (MES) mailed 1965 as a small pamphlet

MESTA's participation of the 1966 Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) annual convention started a long tradition of conference representation.

Results of a 1970 questionnaire instituted field trips to draw ES teachers together & encourage membership; becoming frequent & numerous over the years, and successfully increasing membership

Then in 1982, increased ES presentations at MSTA Convention (20% of 86 sessions featured ES topics, mostly by MESTA members) showed interest was booming & discussions for a national organization became serious.


Birth of NESTA

“Let’s take what we have, ‘Teachers helping teachers’ national?” 

Rod Cranson: "I have a clear memory of when & where the idea of a national ES teachers organization originated. In late 1981 (December?) Harold Stonehouse & I were driving back to Lansing after a MESTA board meeting in SE Michigan. We  wondered if other State ES teachers would be interested in getting together as we had done in Michigan At the next board meeting (February, 1982) Stonehouse & I proposed using  MESTA organization techniques -  MESTA’s Blueprint that Stonehouse developed - to form NESTA. The board contributed $300 to that effort - the grant was used for mailings to promote the idea. Then, he took the idea to the NSTA Annual Conference in Chicago in May, 1982 to pass out NESTA  membership applications. In Sep of that year, he reported  some 16 Charter NESTA members were recruited.  Later, at 5-15-82 board meeting, he reported receiving 14 NESTA applications. Fourteen NESTA Charter Members were reported at the 9-18-82 board meeting & Feb 1983, Stonehouse reported 60 NESTA members &  NESTA information started being included in the Michigan Earth Scientist"

Since that initial meeting NESTA membership has grown, at it largest, to several thousand teachers across the US.  Additionally, many other State ESTAs were organized

NESTA spearheaded networking Earth-related organizations & professionals. Early liaisons with AGI placed NESTA members on national committees and served as interns at AGI / USGS. NESTA is associated group/society of NSTA, AGI, AGU, GSA & member of the Triangle Coalition

In its association with NSTA, NESTA in conjunction with NAGT, recognize teachers selected as outstanding Geoscience teachers with the OESTA Award

History of Advocacy

MESTA's promotion of ES increased the number of schools offering ES courses in Michigan from 132 schools in 1967, to 247 schools by 1971

The May 1970 MES summarized the status of K-12 ES education— Approx two million students attended 7-9 grade ES course, but stressed drastic shortage of qualified ES teachers with no solution to the problem in near future

By 1970s, ESCP textbook/materials were being used across the Country—135,000 copies produced.  MESTA  lobbied for self-directed approach where the teacher’s role likens to a research coordinatorstudent having a larger part in deciding study; requiring major revisions to teacher-preparation in college 

In 1984-85 NESTA , in correspondence with National Commission on Excellence in Education, Carnegie Foundation & other national commissions, emphasized the "lack of consideration" for ESS as an integral part of K-12 science education. Replies from correspondence confirmed this idea was held in many circlesNESTA drafted a position paper on Importance of ESS Education— published in The Earth Scientist & NSTA publicationsendorsed by NSTA, NAGT, AGI, AGU & Council for Elementary Science Internationalcausing more inclusion of ES as part of all K-5  curricula; ES as one of the integral strands in the NSTA Scope & Sequence Coordination project. These and efforts by NESTA members had important impacts on the National Science Education Standards/Benchmarks.

NESTA’s association with AGU results in a program: "The Earth Science Alliance" placing individual NESTA members in touch with ES professionals to improve "Earth literacy" of pre-college students. Professionals provided support, short field trips, seminars, discussion sessions, etc. to help teachers in the classroom




NESTA in the 21st Century!

Times have changed—social media—free-access to information—conferences not the strength they once were—What could a teacher's association possibly offer?
ESS is at the forefront of public policy (climate change, fracking, earthquake design, clean energy, clean water, etc), yet the populace is not fluent in the science & easily manipulated towards government policies that often damage the environment & economy even further.  Anyone would think schools would step up to the challenge

ESS is in a decline across the Nation.  States have reduced the amount of ESS classes, often embedding them into other science classes.  Many districts do not have college-preparatory ESS class for college bound students.  Counselors advise students ESS is "rocks for jocks."  AP / IB refuse to recognize ESS.  Geoscience departments are closing in universities.  We are in crisis

There has never been a time greater than NOW for a teacher association that advocates strongly for ESS for everyone

Join us as we advocate for ESS in many waysoffering cutting-edge professional development—bringing a community of ESS teachers, academics, professionals together—offering training/resources to fight for ESS in your State/district—ensuring academic & professional organizations bring K-12 issues to the forefront
There is much to do. 

Notable Milestones

1965- Michigan Earth Scientist first mailing

1966 - Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association formed

1966 - MESTA attends first convention, MSTA at Everett HS

1966 - NAGT & AGI organized, also offering support to K-12 teachers

1971 - MESTA first field trips

1971 - ES Class - Scripted slide sets pioneered by MESTA.  Later, NESTA members assisted, 25 sets & 18 short sets.  Development of internet retired  slide sets

1974 -  Board Meeting note refers to MESTA President writing letters to other state ESTAs to ask interest in forming a national association

1974 - MESTA plans affiliation with NAGT

1975 - NAGT demands MESTA teachers could only be members of the East Central Section

1982 - $300 grant - "mailings to promote NESTA" approved to inform plans for new organization available at 1983 NSTA Chicago Convention

1982 - Jan Woerner elected 1st NESTA President, organization has 14 members

1982- MESTA journal include NESTA information

1983 - 9 April  - NESTA officially organized at the annual NSTA Meeting & recognized as  NSTA Associated Group

1984 - The Earth Scientist(TES) first printing—initially MES w/ different cover—this continued until 1991; 165 members

1984 - 1st NESTA field trip in conjunction w/ NSTA“The Geology and Archeology of Boston Harbor"

1984 - 1st NESTA-MESTA Field ConferenceBlack Hills & Glacier NPlead by Dick Munson

1985 - Developed new slide sets off MESTA's past idea, assisted in finances 

1985 - begins Internship program for teachers at various government/industrial organizations.most successful w/ AGI & USGS

1985 - The 1st Share-a-thon—held because Jan Woerner challenged Sharon Stroud to come up w/ session for NSTA Cincinnati

1985 - . Nonprofit status first filed w/ IRSincorporated in Michigan as Domestic Nonprofit Corporation; Dues $5

1986 - 1st evening social/reception Friends of NESTA held at the annual NSTA meeting sponsored by Sharon Stroud w/ help from Dave Mastie & others renting adjoining hotel rooms to provide space

1987 - 1st coffee social associated w/ the Rock Raffle at Washington D.C. NSTA annual meeting

1987 - 1st Position paperThe Importance of Earth Science Education—endorsed by NSTA, CESI, NAGT, AGI, AGU, AEGwording by Frank Ireton & teachers from Idaho

1987 – The first NESTA Regional Directors were elected modified by input from members

1987 – 1st Regional Directors elected—1st NESTA Procedures manual

1991 -  Dr. Harold B. Stonehouse retires as Executive Advisor and the NESTA Executive Board conferred the title “Executive Advisor Emeritus" 

1992 - Coalition for Earth Science Education (CESE) formed. NESTA participated in formation & charter member

1994 - Served as focus group to respond to National Science Education Standards

1995 - TES published on polished paper, B & W

1996 – NESTA NET formed to help communication among officersevolved into NESTA Website, www.nestanet.org, in 2000

1996 – The Earth Scientist assigned ISSN 1045-4772

2001 – Beginning of the NESTA E-News, an electronic newsletter first distributed as a printed documentevolved into email & online version

2004 - The Earth Scientist returns after short absence

2004 - Establishment of telephone conference callsBoard meets more than once a year


2005 - Formation of "Task Force Five", a way of looking ahead to develop a 5-Year Plan

2005 - First full color TES on polished paper

2005 -  Task Force Five. A multi-year attempt at moving NESTA into the future

2006 - The last paper ballot election of Officers & Regional Directors

2008 – Tom Ervin becomes TES Editor, improving quality of publication both in appearance as well as successful peer review system; 1st TES professional lay-out 

2008 - Facebook Group created to offer safe discussion room for ES Teachers

2010 - Windows to the Universe™ leaves UCAR—new project of NESTA—accomplished by grant Roberta Johnson received from William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

2013 - NESTA Student Achievement Award  initiated

2013 - Supplemental grant spreads NESTA web services to state-based ESS teacher groups—MESTA, NESTA’s first Affiliate comes online in NESTA format—MESTA E-News publishes for the first time

2015 - First all-electronic publishing of TES online

2015 - 5 year Strategic Planmultifaceted attempt to move NESTA into the future

2017 - @NESTA_US Twitter account opened, to build community with ES information

2020 - 5 year Strategic Planmultifaceted attempt to move NESTA into the future

2020 - Restructuring Committees into four overarching committees to ensure that bottom-up thought, to reactualize the "by teachers, for teachers" origins

2021 - Website receives complete overhaul, changes servers and direction of focusassist  teachers to advocate for ESS  in their State, region, district, school

                AGU 100 Logo                                                  American Meteorological Society Logo

                    NOAA logo         

American Geosciences Institute logo




 Stay Connected:

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software