Geology photo contest highlights adventure and education

Courtesy Photo / Dr. Kevin Cole

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Dr. Kevin Cole

Jessica Smith

Geologists at Grand Valley State University have traveled all over the United States and abroad learning and discovering the geological make-up of our world, and they have found a way to share the experience.

Professors Peter Wampler and Peter Riemersma want to show students the adventure awaiting them in the geology department, and they’ve decided to do this with a photo contest.

“Most geologists are geologists because they like to be outdoors and they like to see beautiful places, and this is a great way to do that vicariously through other people’s experience,” Wampler said.

The two professors were inspired during the Geological Society of America Conference, and they took the idea home and made it their own. Last year, they did all the work through Blackboard, but this year they partnered with PhotoScramble to take the load off their shoulders.

“We take students on field trips and we know everyone’s taking photographs and we’re taking photographs, and they just sit in a file somewhere. The best ones you never get to see,” Riemersma said.

With constant communication and new ideas always popping up, the Peters and Eric Freed, PhotoScramble’s digital marketing manager, worked together to create a platform that highlights the geology department’s experiences for both students and alumni.

“It’s a way for outsiders to see what the geology department is up to and the way they can share photos and see what it’s like to actually graduate with the major and see all the cool field trips they go on,” Freed said.

A little friendly competition is the basis, but the goal was to create a window into the geology department. The professors are hoping to spark interest in future geology majors and create a positive outlook for students enrolled in the program.

“We wanted to make it kind of fun and give students a flavor of what our students and people who are geologist do,” Wampler said. “So that’s why we have geologists at work and geologists at play because we have a lot of fun on our field trips and we wanted to capture that and let people see that.”

The contest is made up of seven categories; Abstract Images, Best Field Trip Photo, Geological Processes, Geologists at Play, Geologists at Work, Midwest Geology, and Most Educational. Each student was allowed to submit up to four pictures into each category, and over the span of a few weeks, students submitted nearly 150 photos.

Now, geology students, faculty, and alumni will cast their votes for their favorite photos in each category. The winners will be announced Monday, Feb. 25, at the Geology Department’s Ninth Annual Chili Cook-Off.

If you want to check out the pictures you can find them at or playing on a kiosk in Padnos Hall.

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