Published on Mon, 11/24/2008 by International Year of Planet Earth

Predicted shortage of Earth Scientists sparks national contest for kids


(CALGARY, AB) An urgent need to attract students to the Earth sciences is behind a national contest for Canadian youth. The "WHERE Challenge" is designed to get young people aged 10 – 14 years thinking about what on Earth is in their stuff and where on Earth it comes from. The hope is that the contest will encourage students to consider Earth sciences as an exciting educational and career opportunity.

According to the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences (CFES), Canada will soon be facing a wide-ranging shortage of qualified Earth scientists.

"We’re experiencing growing shortages across our entire profession," said CFES President Ian Young. "The time to attract students to the Earth sciences is now, because the gap between the talent we have and the talent we need will reach a point where it will begin to affect the Canadian economy."

Oil & gas, mining, environmental & geotechnical, government and academia are all predicted to face serious challenges in attracting qualified Earth scientists. While short-term employment prospects in all sectors may soften due to the current state of the economy, mid-range predictions maintain an urgent need for new talent. Many workers are nearing retirement and that – coupled with rising commodity demands, advances in technology and emerging issues such as the need for new discoveries, sustainable resource development and an increased focus on environmental geoscience – has the country facing alarming shortages over the next five to 10 years.

The WHERE Challenge is sponsored by EnCana Corporation and Teck and is in celebration of the International Year of Planet Earth. The contest is inviting students and schools from across the country to compete for thousands of dollars in regional and national cash prizes. Participants are asked to choose any object in their home or school, identify one or more non-renewable Earth resources found in that object and where on Earth those resources were discovered and produced. Students are then urged to create a story that helps explain why Earth resources are so important in daily life. Entries can be submitted until February 28th, 2009 and further contest details are available at

"Creating understanding in young people about Earth science is more important than ever," said Young. "These kids represent the future of the science. It's their imagination and innovation that we'll be relying on as we face increasing pressures on our natural resources."

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For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Lyall
(Email: or Phone: (403) 818-8984)

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