TX Mining Monthly

A Privilege to Help with Coal Teachers’ Workshops

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A Privilege to Help with Coal Teachers’ Workshops

By Dr. Sam Feagley

I was privileged to help with the four Coal Teachers’ Workshops this year, Sabine, Walnut Creek, San Miguel, and Kosse. I always increase my knowledge of the coal mining industry in Texas and learn about the misinformation that many teachers have about this industry. This year I learned that the mining companies have cut back their workforce in many areas and still produce the electricity and take care of mining the lignite and reclaiming the soils. Many of the teachers have seen pictures of open pit copper mines or underground coal mines and think that is what they are going to see at the workshops. They go away with a paradigm shift.

I also learn from the teachers, some of their needs in the classroom, triumphs and struggles in teaching. I thank them and congratulate them on teaching the children. I help teach the cuttings lab, cross sections, erosion races, soils and overburden information. The mining companies are kind enough to dig two soil pits for the teachers to see (and me to dig in, AWESOME!), one in reclaim and one in native soils. There is always a drastic difference in the amount of roots deep in the reclaim soil compared to the shallow rooting depth of the native soils due mainly to the clay pan soils in most of the mining areas of Texas. The teachers see the great job the mining companies are doing in their reclamation, safety at work and home, and the environmental stewardship that they show in every part of the mining process. They are always impressed, as we all are, by the equipment and the immense size of the equipment. It gives us all a different perspective on adult Tonka Toys! The teachers get to meet and interact with many different mining employees. It always impresses me that at almost every mine we will have several employees that their fathers (mothers), brothers (sisters), and children have worked or work at the mine. This is a testimony to the family atmosphere at the mines.

Many facts about the mining industry are presented and the tours of the mining operations, reclaim, and power plant help them see many of the facts in action. The teachers go home with lots of activities they can use in the classroom, contacts, and a new perspective on what coal mining is and how it is a part of the electric tool box in Texas.


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