Volcano Watch — Student opportunities, volunteer programs

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The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is to monitor the volcanoes of Hawaii, to study the geological processes associated with eruptive and seismic activities, and to inform the public of the results of our studies.

The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is to monitor the volcanoes of Hawaii, to study the geological processes associated with eruptive and seismic activities, and to inform the public of the results of our studies. In order to accomplish all of this, we augment our limited permanent staff with students on temporary work appointments and with volunteers.

During the summer months, we employ six to nine student workers. Funds from the U.S. Geological Survey's Minority Participation in the Earth Sciences (MPES) program allow us to hire six students locally from the Hawaii Community College (HCC) and the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) campuses. This summer, we have two students from HCC's electronics and data processing programs and four students from UHH's geology and computer departments. The students earn school credits as they work if they are under a cooperative education appointment.

Since the inception of the MPES program at HVO in 1974, 125 students have helped us carry out our programs. These students work alongside our staff members and are exposed to the latest technology and techniques employed in Earth science research. Although not all of the students continue to pursue careers in the Earth sciences, the knowledge and skills that all of them acquire at HVO can be applied anywhere.

Another program that sponsors students during the summer months is the National Association of Geology Teachers. Up to three students are awarded grants to work at HVO for two months. In order to qualify for the grants, students must have successfully completed a field geology course in mapping and be recommended by their geology faculty. Grantees are then selected by a national committee and assigned to various projects throughout the country.

The U.S. Geological Survey also has a well-established Volunteer for Science program, and HVO's program is probably one of the most popular. Last year, volunteers contributed over 12,600 hours of their time working at HVO. They archive our photos, build instruments in our machine shop, monitor and map the active lava flows, measure and document changes of the active volcanoes, and accompany our geologists and geophysicists in the field. Volunteers range from undergraduate students to retired persons and come from around the world. Due to the time required for training, we only accept volunteers willing to work for three months or longer. The small size of our staff and of our dormitory limits the number of volunteers at any one time.

Volunteers from off-island are housed at our cost in a student dormitory located a few miles from the Observatory in the National Park. They are responsible for transportation to and from Hawaii and for meals and incidental costs. Eligible students can earn tuition credits through the Americorps Program. (This program may not exist after this fiscal year due to Congressional cuts.)

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, please write to us at: Volunteer Program, U.S. Geological Survey, P.O. Box 51, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718. Include information about your background, interests, availability, and future plans. List the names and phone numbers for three references. Volunteers gain valuable experience while making an important contribution to the programs of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.