The Geoscientist Development (GEODE) Program: Recruiting and Engaging the Future Geoscience Workforce is a program designed to draw high school and community college students in Riverside County, CA into geoscience majors and careers. This program represents a collaboration between the University of California, Riverside (UCR), Riverside Community College (RCC), and the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD), with engagement opportunities for additional community colleges and public school districts in the region. The American Geosciences Institute predicts that the geoscience workforce faces a potential shortfall of ~135,000 by the year 2020 unless recruitment rates are improved. The GEODE Program addresses this potential shortfall by focusing recruitment on communities that are historically underrepresented in the geosciences and thus represent an untapped pool of intellectual capital. Riverside County, located east of Los Angeles County in Southern California, is densely populated (2.3 million), highly diverse (47.4% Hispanic), and home to a wide range of geoscience career opportunities, and is therefore an ideal region in which to recruit new geoscientists.
The GEODE Program has two goals: (1) To create a range of programs designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority students in the geosciences and successfully usher them into the geoscience workforce, and (2) To test the efficacy of these programs in order to determine which programs should be used to increase recruitment and retention of new geoscientists from underrepresented minorities in other regions and by other institutions. The GEODE Program will increase the recruitment and retention of a highly diverse and academically prepared workforce by increasing awareness of career opportunities in the geosciences improving students’ transitions through three critical educational junctures: (1) High School to College (2-Year and 4-Year), (2) Community College to University, and (3) University to Workforce. At each critical juncture, the GEODE Program creates opportunities for students to be exposed to the wonders of the natural world through a multitude of field and research experiences and provides students with mentors, academic support and professional development programs to ensure retention and success. By leveraging the success of existing support programs at UCR for STEM students from underrepresented backgrounds, the GEODE Program will create a geoscience network throughout its collaborating institutions.