As part of a public outreach effort, the Kansas Geological Survey initiated the Kansas Field Conference in 1995 to educate policy makers about natural resources issues in Kansas. The Conference targets state legislators, governmental agency officials, business leaders, environmental leaders, and others in positions that make or influence state policy. The primary objective is to present policy makers with balanced, unbiased information about Kansas's natural resources. Through a field experience that visits sites where natural resources are produced or used, participants gain first-hand knowledge from local operators, regulators, and others who are affected by, or carry out, their decisions. Cosponsors (usually other state agencies) are recruited to broaden the Conferences' topics and help defray expenses.
In addition to educating State policy makers, the Conference benefits the KGS and other agencies. It raises the KGS's visibility within the Legislature, improves relationships with other state agencies, and informs policy makers about what the KGS does and how it can be utilized. The experience also helps the KGS plan future research and service activities.
Geoscientists want to be involved in public policy decisions, but often don't know how to reach policy makers. Providing policy makers with hands-on field experiences involving natural resources-related issues is an effective method of educating this difficult-to-reach group.