Lesson Plan: Coal, Careers and You


Wendy HutchinsonBased on the article “Wendy Hutchinson: Making the Land Better for Everyone”

Click here for a printable PDF version of this lesson.


Objective: To identify, compare, and contrast traits and skills needed for a variety of jobs within the coal industry.

Overview: Students will read “Coal, Careers and You” and identify necessary traits and skills needed to work in the coal industry. They will then take a quiz on the material and discuss the reading as a class.

Standards Addressed: Career Development K-12 Competencies and Indicators:

  • Competency VI: Skills to understand and use career information.
  • Competency VIII: Awareness of how work relates to the needs and functions of society.


Activity Steps:

  1. Print out or have students read on a computer/tablet the “Coal, Careers and You” booklet. Students can read in small groups, individually, or as a class.
  2. Hand out the quiz to students and have them use “Coal, Careers and You” to find the correct answers.
  3. Go over the quiz as a class.*
  4. Use the following discussion questions to compare skills students are learning in the classroom to the skills needed by workers in the coal industry:
    1. If a friend said they wanted to work in the coal industry, what subjects would you tell them to learn about?
    2. Based on the skills mentioned in “Coal, Careers and You,” what coal industry career(s) do you think you would be good at? (i.e. computer skills for a mapping specialist, math skills for a ventilation engineer)
    3. What coal industry career sounds most interesting to you, and why?


*Quiz Answers

1. United States

2. Drills holes through the coal deposit to obtain a core sample

3. Math, trigonometry, computer

4. 20

5. To keep mine air circulating, remove harmful emissions, and control dust to protect workers’ health

6. Worked with Native Americans to plant vegetation / cleaned up old piles of anthracite coal and used it to generate electricity / returned degraded stream to its natural state / used native plants to turn a former mine into a wildlife habitat / created cattle grazing and wildlife habitat

7. Safety specialist / mine rescue specialist / industrial hygienist / director of safety training / ventilation technician or engineer / safety inspector / EMTs

8. Air and water around the power plant

9. 12,000 to 15,000

10. Alabama / Illinois / Indiana / Michigan / New York / Ohio / Pennsylvania / Virginia / West Virginia