Unpredictable path with strong mentoring

Hannah Scherer, Virginia Tech

My interest in Geoscience Education Research stems from my long-standing interest in teaching and learning, particularly in the geosciences. My involvement in teaching-related professional development as a geology graduate student made me aware of GER and how it can benefit the classroom, but I did not have the opportunity to conduct GER as this training was not available in my PhD program. At the time I decided on a graduate program, I was not aware that this could be a potential career path in the geosciences. Strong mentorship from my PhD advisor and others led me to teaching positions at the secondary and post-secondary levels where I developed a deep understanding of the challenges faced by instructors. My entry into a faculty position in agricultural education was serendipitous and the position I currently hold is unique. One of the aspects of this position that has benefited me greatly is the support I received from my department head to gain the training I needed in education research. I was hired because of my content area expertise and classroom experience with the understanding that I would need to develop research expertise. This latitude has allowed me to develop a budding research program that is grounded in both practitioner experience and a strong theoretical framework. Starting out, I would not have predicted the path I ended up taking but somehow I ended up exactly where I should be. My advice to my younger self would be to capitalize on every opportunity that arises that gets yourself closer to your goals and seek mentorship from a wide variety of individuals.