LFCC Adjunct Professor of Geology Russell Kohrs kinda rocks.
He was named the “Outstanding Adjunct Faculty” for winter 2018 by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), and is in the running for the annual award. Kohrs was nominated by Callan Bentley, past-president of the Geological Society of Washington and a geology professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
In his nomination of Kohrs, Bentley noted that LFCC Assistant Professor of Biology Ann Simpson said, “In my position as program lead at Lord Fairfax Community College, I have observed Russ Kohrs in action in the classroom and have been extremely impressed with his contagious enthusiasm and his desire to engage students about the wonders of geology. Russ turns rocks into stories that students find captivating.”
Kohrs’s current supervisor, Science Department Program Lead Elisabeth Dingess, calls him “fabulous” and her “go-to guy for geology,” in his nomination.
“He is constantly trying new teaching techniques in both lecture and lab to get his students engaged and loving geology as much as he does,” she says. “Russ dedicated quite a bit of time to create a new class for us: Environmental Geology. Russ’s passion and enthusiasm for his subject matter come shining through.”
Kohrs, who lives in Mount Jackson with his wife and three children, teaches dual-enrolled high school students environmental geology and earth science at Massanutten Regional Governor’s School for Environmental Science and Technology south of Mount Jackson. Additionally, he teaches one or two geology classes a semester at LFCC’s Middletown Campus.
This is Kohrs’s fourth year teaching LFCC classes at the governor’s school, and he’s been teaching at LFCC for about five years. He’s in his 15th year of teaching.
He believes it’s his work on a fluoride-reduction system for a girls’ school in Kenya that led to his being named the adjunct faculty winner. Kohrs worked on the project with his governor’s school students.
This past Christmas, he and six of his students traveled to Kenya to install the filtration system, which uses cattle bone char to get the fluoride levels closer to World Health Organization safe standards.
“The school caters to girls who come from the Maasai community, which is a pastoral community,” Kohrs says. “Cattle are a significant form of currency and respect there.”
Studying geology is useful for those majoring in the humanities and other fields, according to Kohrs.
“Students pursuing science degrees should really consider taking a geology course or two because it’s a really great way to wrap all of the sciences up into one,” he says. “It helps you better understand the world around you, the challenges we face as a society.”
The commonwealth is a great location to study geology, according to Kohrs.
“Virginia has half-a-billion years of geology to offer in terms of fabulous examples of entire cratonic sequences,” he enthuses.
Those are rock sequences that are deposited as sea levels rise and fall, and the Pangaea supercontinent came together and later pulled apart.
“There’s just a great record of Paleozoic – or ancient – geology exhibited in the Valley,” Kohrs says.
And while there is billion-year-old lava flow in the Blue Ridge, there’s newer rock in Fort Valley, he says.
This summer, Kohrs, who has a bachelor of arts degree in geology with a minor in archeology from the College of Wooster and a master of science degree in geology from the University of Cincinnati, was awarded the Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grant through the NAGT. This will allow him to work with Gigapan (high-resolution gigapixel panoramic) images.
Kohr says this will be especially helpful when sharing 3D images of rock samples with his LFCC students taking hybrid classes – partially on-site and partially online. This will aid in teaching students who can’t go to field sites.
In addition to his classroom teaching, Kohrs does contract work with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium teaching aerospace engineering and technology online to advanced high school students.