VTCA Conducts Rockin’ PD Quarry Tours

Member and Industry News ,

VTCA has a long-continued partnership with the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST). VTCA has been attending the VAST Professional Development Event for many years where VTCA members have given out the ever-popular VTCA Rock Kits. However, in 2020 and 2021, the VAST PD Events were held virtually and VTCA could only offer published literature and short videos for teachers to utilize in the classrooms for teaching earth science and geology.

VTCA believes engagement with the science teachers has many benefits. First and foremost, we are providing free educational materials and opportunities for teachers to utilize for educating students on the earth sciences. Secondly, we are providing the “why” for the study of earth sciences and geology. Additionally, our Aggregate Producer Members are part of their communities through aggregate plants or workers and their families that live in the area, we want to give back. Lastly, we want the public to understand aggregate operations are good neighbors that operate clean, environmentally sound, and safe facilities that provide critical materials required for the growth and maintenance of our communities.

Because VTCA Aggregate Members strongly believe in their communities, we have decided to up our game with our engagement with VAST.

VTCA has partnered with the Virginia Chapter of the Friends of Mineralogy (FMVA) to work with us on this effort. Earlier this year, VTCA and FMVA dedicated a VTCA donated mineral display case to a middle school in Orange, VA.

Another effort VTCA and FMVA agreed on was to conduct four - summer quarry tours for science teachers, specifically VAST members. The tours were designed to allow teachers to not have to travel too far to experience aggregate operations as well as permit teachers to attend more than one if they choose to.

The tours were designed to educate the teachers on not only the geology of the host aggregate operation but to include educating them on the processing of the material and the many uses for aggregate materials with a focus on safety and the environment of our operations. FMVA also provided other earth science related activities in the regions of the quarry tours.

The tours began on June 17 at Salem Stone’s Holston River Quarry in Dublin, VA. This limestone deposit is some of the oldest rock in VA. The Holston River Quarry Tour was titled “Come take a dip in Ordovician Seas at Holston River Quarry!”

Teachers at Holston River Quarry Danny Booth and Hunter Thomas, Salem Stone

On June 24 the tours continued at Boxley’s Buckingham Slate Quarry in Arvonia, VA. The tour was touted as “Come Visit Buckingham Slate! One of the oldest continuous operation mines in the country.” At this event teachers were treated to a tour of the architectural slate processing mill.

Teachers tour Buckingham Slate Stockyard. Slate Processing Mill

The tours resumed on July 22 in Culpeper, VA with the very popular tour of Luck Stone’s Culpeper Plant. This quarry is where the dinosaur footprints were found and Luck Stone vows to preserve. This tour was billed as “Come walk with the dinosaurs at Luck Stone, Culpeper”. Over 40 teachers and guests attend this tour.

Luck Stone's Katie Kosloski giving lesson plan
ideas to teachers.
Standing where dinosaurs once roamed.

Our Rocking PD quarry tour series concluded in the Tidewater area with a tour of Branscome’s Charles City Plant. This is a sand and gravel operation located near Williamsburg. The tour was labeled as “Check out some of the Youngest Sediments in Virginia!”

Dave Matchen, Geologist - Madison County    Branscome's Kevin Varble discussing Sand & Gravel Processing
Teachers gathering samples for classrooms. VTCA's President Bob Gallagher attended the tour.

The Rockin’ PD Quarry Tours were a big success! Nearly 80 teachers attended all the tours. Along with the tours, the hosts handed out some swag to the teachers and allowed teachers to “collect” rock samples for their classrooms in bags provided by Rockydale Quarries.

Rockydale's "Rock Bags" provided to teachers.

Below are a few comments we received from some of the teachers:

Fantastic experience! I learned so much and can't wait to incorporate all this material into my gym. This is one of the missing pieces to the cross-curriculum puzzle. Thank you for the invitation to be a part of this unique opportunity. – Bristow Run ES

I didn’t know this was even here – what a fantastic resource! I was interested in looking back over time of the biology of the systems buried in the layers of rock.  A bonus surprise was evidence of dinosaur tracks to and from the water source – and the nearby resting spot with rib marks. – Bridgewater College

I found the quarry visits incredibly informative. I recently moved to Virginia, and in my first year here I found it difficult to teach my students lessons related to Virginia's regions and resources, as I had no previous experience with these topics. The quarry experiences have helped me explore the state and have meaningful experiences regarding its geology and resources. As a result, I feel confident that I will be able to make lessons on these topics more meaningful for my students. Thank you so much for providing these opportunities! I highly recommend them to all science teachers who are new to the area. – Chesterfield Schools

I teach a little materials science unit and we discuss different materials and concrete. Also it's good to be able to tell students what jobs are available locally. Finally, it helps emphasize the importance of learning geology and rocks. My favorite part is I see the world differently.  When I observed construction at VT, I saw rocks, rocks, rocks. I don't think I paid that much attention to it before. Also, I met some great teachers. – Blacksburg

The tour/workshop went quite well. All presenters....right down to the site supervisor and foreman were terrific. They genuinely took time to answer questions from the participants and talked about their education, experiences, and on the job training. This was a great contribution since career considerations are an integral part of Virginia's 'Profile of a Graduate'. So not only did we learn about geology, but they integrated a significant amount of information about the diversity of career opportunities in mining. They also related rock/stone quarrying to the necessities and conveniences of "everyday life" as well as the significance and contributions to the local economy. - Scott County

A special thanks to:

Salem Stone, Boxley, Luck Stone, Branscome, FMVA and VAST.