Selection Process


The United States Earth Science Organization summer programs are week-long residential programs that take place at the University of Vermont. Starting in 2019, we will be running two summer institutes: the USESO Training Camp and the junior program.

The USESO Training Camp, for high school students of all grades, generally runs in late June/early July. See the Calendar page for this year’s exact dates. Only students from this program are eligible to represent the USA at the international level. To enter this program students must be nominated by their teacher and then take a qualifying exam covering the Geosphere, Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, and Astronomy related to the Solar System.

Top scoring students will be accepted under the following limitations: Only the top two scoring students from any High School may attend the USESO Training Camp each year. Younger students may take the exam, however students must be at least 15 years of age before June 1st of that year to attend the USESO Training Camp.  Regional limits may apply so that no more than ten students come from the same state each year. We limit the number of students who are accepted to our programs so as to promote student diversity and to run a national program that better represents our country at the international level.

The Junior Program, for female students rising into 8th, 9th, and 10th grade, will run from July 13th through July 20th. Students in this program will conduct field studies and explore hydrology, ecology, geology environmental science, and meteorology. This program is designed to prepare and encourage more female students to enroll in the USESO Training Camp. Interested students will need to apply for this program by contacting us for the application forms.

USESO Training Camp

Students from other countries come to the international event after several years of study. Thus, it is the expectation that students come to the USESO Training Camp with a solid knowledge base in Earth science. Throughout the program, students will go on field trips, conduct field investigations, attend lectures from guest presenters, and conduct research using both collected data and online resources. Students will be placed on teams and given a group project similar to the challenges at the International Earth Science Olympiad. Further, students will be administered daily exams to assess the breadth and depth of Earth science related knowledge and skills gained by the student both prior to and during the summer program.

Upon conclusion of the USESO Training Camp, test score totals will be considered along with team investigation scores to select the students for the U.S. Earth Science Team.

National Open Exam

Participants for the USESO Training Camp are chosen from students achieving the top scores on a national open exam designed to assess general Earth science content knowledge. Only the top two students from any high school may attend the summer program. See Eligibility.

To register for the USESO 2020 open exam, please submit the relevant forms.

Past national open exams are available here.

Junior Program

To attract more qualified female students into our USESO Training Camp, the Junior Program is open only to female students. Female students entering grades eight, nine and ten that fall may apply to attend the Junior Program. Please contact us for the application forms. Students in this program should have a deep interest in science but are not expected to have much background knowledge. The girls will go on field trips every day, and conduct scientific investigations alone and in teams. The program is designed to be fun and get the campers excited about hydrology, ecology, environmental science, geology and other fields of science. At the end of the program the teams will present their investigations for feedback.  Students will be selected so as to promote diversity in our program, and on student essays on the application forms.

Junior Program Registration

To apply for the USESO 2020 Junior Program, please submit the relevant forms.

Students at the USESO Training Camp taking exams that will later determine the students for the U.S. Earth Science Team.
Students analyze a shale outcrop in Vermont for later use in an analysis of the Lake Champlain basin in a mock ITFI.
USESO Training Camp students examine an anticline for use in their team research projects.
USESO students collect data at a local stream in Vermont for later analysis of water quality and historical flood patterns.