Educator News

NASA Recruits Community Outreach Volunteers for 2005
09.29.04
Charli Schuler
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Phone: (818) 393-5467

News Release: 2004-243

Calling all space buffs! NASA's Solar System Ambassadors program is recruiting more volunteers to spread the marvel of space science and exploration across the nation.

Applications for Solar System Ambassador positions are being accepted through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., until Oct. 15. Those from underserved areas are especially encouraged to apply.

"Ideal candidates are ambitious and able to actively personalize the space program for their communities," said Kay Ferrari, national coordinator for the Solar System Ambassadors program, based at JPL. "These volunteers are enthusiastic about space exploration and come from all walks of life."

"As a Solar System Ambassador in Rochester, N.Y., I have made a number of presentations in the last few years to minority, inner-city, underserved groups such as low-income rural schools, church organizations and fraternity youth events," said Earle Kyle, a consultant and former engineer and physicist for military and aerospace organizations. He has been a Solar System Ambassador for two years.

"I think the best answer to today's challenge of getting kids interested in pursuing engineering and science degrees is the cutting edge technology of NASA and JPL," Kyle said. "We need as many bright brains as we can gather to keep us at the forefront of all the relevant technologies. The Solar System Ambassadors program can play a significant role."

The program consists of more than 370 volunteer ambassadors who have committed to organizing and carrying out at least four public outreach activities a year. JPL provides them with educational materials and training sessions, including videos, NASA mission updates and contacts with mission scientists.

"Living in Corbin, a small town in rural southeastern Kentucky, space exploration often seemed a distant dream that was seldom mentioned in the local media," said Solar System Ambassador Jenny Iley, a teacher at West Knox Elementary School in Corbin. "Children in our area rarely heard about discoveries and advances in our nation's space program. This has changed greatly as a result of the Solar System Ambassadors program. The training has prepared me to answer my students' questions and bring the excitement of space exploration to both them and their parents."

"Because of this program, my outlook on space science and its benefits has changed in size and scope," said Miguel Rodriguez-Galbe from Alpena, Mich., a Solar System Ambassador who holds daylong community sessions at his local public library about NASA missions and activities, astronomy and astrophysics. "I knew of many benefits already, and studying space science was 'right up my alley,' yet I found great insight into space technology, science, investigation and the hard work of people behind the scenes who make those projects happen."

JPL ambassadors are based throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, serving widespread public interest about robotic missions throughout the solar system. Each state has at least one ambassador. New ambassadors will strengthen the program's nationwide presence and include more underserved regions.

More information about the Solar System Ambassadors program is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador, or by contacting Ferrari at ambassadors@jpl.nasa.gov or (818) 354-7581. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.