Frequently Asked Questions

About USGS

The USGS is the Nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency. We provide science about natural resource conditions and problems.

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A USGS scientist installs a storm tide sensor for Hurricane Rita, which struck less than a month after Hurricane Katrina.
When conducting research  on private property, USGS employees must comply with State and Tribal laws, including trespassing and privacy laws. USGS employees are required to obtain written permission from the landowner when conducting new research and to make the data available at the landowner's request.
Image: Earth Science Day outreach in Rapid City, SD, 2014
The USGS has offices in every state, but it does not have employees who go into the classroom as part of their job. Some employees, however, are willing to do so on their own time. If there is a USGS office in your town, you can try asking them.
Image: Map Sales and Publications Office
Yes. Educational institutions qualify for discounts on purchases made through the online USGS Store. To receive any discounts you must first be set up in their system. Please fax your request on school letterhead (or on a purchase order) to 303-202-4693 and include your Federal Tax ID number (not to be confused with your Federal Tax Exempt Number...
Photo of a USGS scientist helping students paint Caspian tern decoys
With rare exception, the USGS does not post information or materials unless they are produced in partnership with our agency. You might be able to find a USGS scientist who is interested in working with you to develop a lesson plan, in which case it could become an official USGS product.
Image: Treasures of the USGS Library: Rare Book Room
The USGS has the largest earth science library in the world. The Libraries Program includes central libraries in Reston, Virginia and Denver, Colorado plus smaller libraries in science centers scattered around the country. See our Library Locations and Contacts for more information. Holdings and services at science center libraries tend to reflect...
Image: Science Teachers Explore Mount Rainier
The USGS does not have a formal program for teacher workshops, but USGS scientists sometimes participate in teacher workshops that are organized by universities or other education groups.
Image: Outreach at Geology Camp 2008
The USGS Education website is your gateway to classroom resources. Explore links to lesson plans, activities, educational videos, online lectures, posters, non-technical publications, and images for kindergarten through college. This site is an excellent resource for teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning. Our resources are...
Image: USA-NPN Citizen-Scientist Lucille Tower
Absolutely! The USGS has partnerships with several citizen science programs that are appropriate for classroom projects or for individual students. See the Citizen Science link on our USGS Education website.
young students examine dated tree cross section
The USGS has some great science fair ideas related to earthquakes. Find inspiration for projects on other science topics by browsing the USGS Education website.
Sediment Sampling in Louisiana Photo
As a science agency for the United States government, the USGS serves all United States citizens. The USGS can only be “joined” by its employees, but citizens can get involved in USGS research through its Citizen Science programs. You can keep up with the latest USGS science by subscribing to our many social media platforms. All paid USGS...
Image: USGS Scientist is Interviewed by Media at the Flooded Souris River
Please see the following sources: USGS News Releases News Releases by state Media Contacts
A USGS scientist leads field trip
The USGS does not have a formal program for providing field trips or classes. USGS employees will sometimes lead field trips or teach classes that are coordinated through an outside organization, but these are not advertised by the USGS. The USGS also has many published field-trip guides to geologic areas. Use the USGS Publications Warehouse to...