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Even Students Can Move the Geology World

By John F. Rhoades and Dawn M. Ostrye

Photo of Dawn Ostrye Dawn Ostrye re-boxing cores in the Core Research Center, Denver.
Photo Credit: Josh Hicks, Core Research Center

Dawn Ostrye is a senior at Metropolitan State University of Denver studying environmental science with a concentration in geology. She was instilled with a love of science and a fascination with nature at a young age by her father, who was lucky enough to have two girls that he taught all sorts of fun, adventurous things. In 2004, she joined the U. S. Air Force and spent four years as a ground radio communications technician, during which time she was able to earn an associate's degree in electronic systems technology from the Community College of the Air Force by attending night classes at a local community college. After honorably completing her four-year enlistment, Dawn decided to move to Colorado to pursue a bachelor's degree in environmental science.

In the Core Research Center (CRC) search for a summer intern, Dawn came highly recommended, with an impressive resume—and we have not been disappointed by her performance. She came to the CRC in June 2012 through the Department of the Interior (DOI) Youth Initiative program, which is intended to build a pool of potential future DOI employees. The focus of the Initiative is to increase diversity in the DOI workforce. As a Youth Initiative intern, Dawn has been quick to learn the processes that make the CRC run smoothly. With a "can-do" attitude she has readily accepted any challenge we've made to her, including forklift operation, which can be intimidating for someone who has never operated heavy machinery before!

In her short time here Dawn has become an integral part of CRC operations and is currently an employee through the USGS Student Temporary Employment Program. She has been trained to operate several types of forklifts and uses each one regularly. Her daily activities at the CRC are varied and change from week to week. She and two other CRC employees rotate weeks working the front desk/customer service at the CRC, setting up and confirming appointments to view cores with visiting scientists, pulling and laying out rock core for examination, cutting samples, signing out thin sections, entering returned data into the CRC database for access by the public, filing data, and answering the phone and customer emails.

When not working the front desk, Dawn assists with retrieving boxes and pallets of core and cuttings from the warehouse for placement in the CRC exam room, and with stacking, strapping, and replacing the materials in the warehouse once examination is complete. When not helping with these duties, she focuses on re-boxing and relabeling old, worn-out core boxes; to date, she has re-boxed over 5,000 linear feet of core! Her other duties include photographing cores and uploading the photos onto the CRC database for access by the public as well as giving tours to the public. She also helps with other CRC projects; for instance, placing the cores in proper geologic order and photographing over 725 boxes of core the CRC recently rescued from Webster Pass in Colorado.

Dawn contributes to the USGS mission of data preservation on a daily basis, making sure cores are cataloged and stored properly and that any corresponding data are uploaded and filed in the appropriate areas. Proper storage of cores ensures they are not lost and can be examined by future scientists, essentially safeguarding valuable scientific information. Along with data preservation, she supports the intellectual pursuits of Federal, State, and academic institutions by making cores and data available to them for examination and review.

Thanks to the Youth Initiative program, Dawn's efforts have been reciprocated by the USGS. Her summer position at the CRC fulfilled a five-credit internship in geology requirement for her bachelor of science degree in environmental geology. In addition, she has acquired a variety of other skills at the CRC that will serve her well in her future geologic endeavors, including forklift operation certification and training on a range of rock cutting equipment.