Posted December 13, 2011

Environmental Science students rock the holidays at annual sale

Geology Rock Sale

From marble to crystals to lava glass to fossils, the annual campus jewelry sale conducted last week by students in earth and environmental science offered unique and inexpensive gifts just in time for the holidays.

The sale has been a campus fixture for nearly 40 years. Its proceeds help benefit Temple EES students with scholarships to required field training courses held during the summer at other college and universities. This year’s sale was held Dec. 5-7 in the lobby of Tuttleman Learning Center.

“The department faculty pick up pieces all over the world during their travels and end up bringing them back to campus, where the students finish them off by creating many of the pieces in the sale,” said Earth and Environmental Science Professor Emeritus Gene Ulmer, who has long overseen the department jewelry sale. “For example, a faculty member might buy a strand of beads in some small village somewhere and the students will take them, cut the beads from the strand, and make them into individual pairs of earrings or other items such as individual necklaces.”

The jewelry sale typically raises about $2,000 a year, generating approximately $80,000 over the past four decades, said Ulmer. “Every nickel that we raise through this sale is one less that the students have to find to help pay their tuition to these summer field programs,” he said.

Ulmer said about 15 EES students will be attending field programs this summer, where they will learn mapping, rock recognition and other geologic and environmental field techniques.

Items of particular interest to buyers over the years, said Ulmer, have included 24 million years-old shark’s teeth collected in Africa and fossils from oil shales in Wyoming dating back 14 million years.

“Some of the things are pretty exotic, and they’re usually less than $10, so it’s a win-win situation,” he said. “The buyers get something pretty exotic and the students get helped at the same time.”