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Holly Olivarez in the fieldOver the next several weeks, we will be sharing stories from those who have been beneficiaries of GSA’s community of support. The first group you will hear from are recipients of GSA’s field camp opportunities scholarship. Thanks to your generosity, several students like Holly, who you’ll meet below, received scholarships to use at the field camp of their choice.

Please click the DONATE button at the top right and make a gift to the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship Fund to make more stories like these possible.


Holly Olivarez attended the University of New Mexico’s field geology course and shares how receiving GSA’s field camp scholarship helped her feel invested in by GSA and that she has what it takes to join GSA’s ranks as an extremely qualified and experienced geologist.

Where did you attend field camp?

The University of New Mexico’s field geology course took us first to Gutierrez Canyon (20 km east of Albuquerque, Mexico) for an introduction to topographic map use, field-mapping procedures, route-finding, and GPS use. We then spent six days in San Ysidro (also known as White Mesa and Tierra Amarilla, located 50 km northwest of Albuquerque), where we learned the fundamental practices of topographic, geographic, and geologic principles, as well as had an introduction to the sedimentary deposits in a location where the Colorado Plateau, Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, and Rio Grande Rift come together (which is a must-see!). Our third mapping project took place 100 km south of Albuquerque on private land near Abo Pass, where we camped and produced and interpreted a geologic map of a structurally complex area that included Paleozoic stratigraphy, complex Laramide deformation, and Quaternary fluvial and geology. Our final mapping project included us camping in the northern San Pedro Mountains in the Santa Fe National Forest. We mapped and interpreted a geologic map of Neogene volcanics in the Valles Caldera and Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.

What did receiving the field camp scholarship mean to you?

I feel so honored to have received the GSA Field Camp Scholarship! GSA is a top-notch organization of extremely qualified and experienced geologists. By GSA investing in my field camp experience, I feel they have invested in me and believe I have what it takes to one day be one of those extremely qualified and experienced geologists.

Receiving the GSA Field Camp Scholarship allowed me to not only pay to attend field camp, but also to give it my complete focus with the tools and supplies I needed for a successful and rewarding experience. I was able to purchase a tent, sleeping bag, and a sleeping cot. I also purchased hiking boots, clothes made for the field, a field hat, and a proper belt to hold my Brunton, GPS unit, and field pouch. Lastly, I purchased proper writing tools for map-making.

What did that experience teach you about the geosciences, yourself, and your future career?

Field camp changed my life in many ways! First, my appreciation for fieldwork and instruments has grown exponentially. To be able to interpret what the rock, geomorphology, structural features, fossils, vegetation, and more are telling us is a skill I will never forget. I especially appreciated using the Brunton I was awarded at my graduation ceremony by the Earth & Planetary Sciences Department at the University of New Mexico! My perspective on observational data has become a rich one and I will always remember and acknowledge those who go into the field to collect the data the rest of us earth scientists could not do without. Second, the team that led my field camp helped us understand the value of looking at things on a grand scale in order to find relationships, and also narrowing in to learn more when needed. Third, the value of teamwork in the field cannot be overstated. Finding colleagues who are a match can make for a much more productive day. Finally, I did not know I had it in me to trek in the wild for ten hours a day and then work for a couple more once back at camp. I recognize the value of hard work, eating and sleeping well, as well as planning ahead for productivity.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

Field camp is the only course in my undergraduate studies that really allowed me to understand working in the field. Data collection and information are one thing, but learning how to know and understand what the geology is telling us is a skill not learned in a structured classroom. The work, the team effort, and the perspective gained during field camp are invaluable to my future.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

I hope individuals will support field camp opportunities because of the direct impact those donations make on students. Because of the GSA Field Camp Scholarship, from day one I approached field camp knowing I had the support of GSA behind me! I was inspired and motivated to invest in myself during field camp because of this. Even now, after field camp has ended, I feel invested in, supported, and very confident in my future endeavors because of the GSA Field Camp Scholarship. Thank you to the individuals who have donated in the past, as well as those who will donate now and in the future, for sending me and others like me to field camp!



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