The RMAG Foundation Trustees are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Neal J. Harr awards. Every year since 1976, the Foundation has invited all the Colorado colleges and universities, now 10 in number, to nominate the outstanding senior geology major for this award. Fondly known as the “Pick” Award, each winner receives an engraved rock hammer and a free one-year membership to RMAG.

This year, the Foundation hosted a virtual awards ceremony and invited the students, faculty, and family members to celebrate these students.


Shahad Aldhamin attended CSM at a Saudi Aramco Scholar. With an interest in both petroleum and mining, she will return to Saudi Arabia this summer and hopes to work in the Unconventional Resource Exploration Department with Saudi Aramco. Her professor, Wendy Bohrson, praised her academic intellect, her enthusiasm for learning, and her leadership.


Isabel Rodriguez was unable to attend the awards ceremony.


Diego Ray Schutz was disappointed to miss the awards ceremony, but we understood his absence since he was attending field camp. In addition to his geology major, he received a GIS certificate. He will be working for a minerals exploration company in Durango following field camp.


Mingxi Hu was unable to attend the awards ceremony.


Jarad Lavelle introduced himself as a non-traditional student. After working in the automobile industry for 15 years, he returned to school with a renewed interest in academics and an initial fascination with soils. As a native of California, he was aware of aquifer and snowpack issues affecting the state’s hydrologic supply. He will be working as an environmental consultant after graduation with plans to get a master’s degree in hydrology in the future.


Jacob King returned to school after 6 years with the Marines which gave him an opportunity to travel the world. Growing up in Fort Collins afforded him an opportunity to become an outdoor enthusiast with an ultimate focus on environmental geology. His professors, Dr. Bill Sanford and Jerry Magloughlin spoke highly of his maturity and experience that led him to be an outstanding role model for other students. Jacob will take an academic break to spend time with his children while his wife, who works, pursues additional coursework in her field.


Sydney A. Clayton supplemented her geology major with a minor in anthropology. Growing up in Gunnison, we developed a fascination with rock collecting which ultimately led her to UNC. She has enjoyed volunteering with the paleontology department at the Museum of Nature and Science and indicated a second interest in groundwater studies. Professor Graham Baird was highly complementary of her academic achievements, her drive, and her seeming ability to succeed in any scientific venture.


Destany Vargas was unable to attend the ceremony because she was serving as a TA for field camp. Her academic emphasis is in petroleum due, in part, to a grandfather who worked in the industry and introduced her to all aspects of his work. Her enthusiasm for geology and the hands-on experiences that she has had provides her with an enthusiastic plan to pursue a master’s degree.

Screen shot of participants for the Neal J. Harr awards ceremony.

Screen shot of participants for the RMAG Foundation’s scholarship winners.


The RMAG Foundation Pick Award is a tribute to the memory of Neal J. Harr who, in addition to being one of the most respected men in the oil and gas industry, served as the President of RMAG.  Neal’s presidency was cut short by his death in 1979 from lung cancer at the age of 48.  This award recognizes the outstanding senior class geology student from all ten Colorado colleges and universities.   This year, we received nominations from eight schools as shown below.

These students will receive an engraved rock hammer commemorating their award.  In addition, the Foundation will pay for a one-year membership to RMAG that will allow an opportunity for them to engage with the organization, its members, and its various educational and social benefits.

Congratulations to this year’s 2020 Award Recipients

Hannah Runyon Colorado College
Nicole Mejia-Mendoza Colorado Mesa University
Robert Johanson Colorado School of Mines
Cody Delgado Colorado State University
Hanna Janssen Fort Lewis College

Elizabeth Schaeffer Metro State University
Blake Brazell University of Northern Colorado
Brock Arveson Western College University

2019 Award Recipients

Ashley How Adams State College
Benjamin Lloyd Colorado College
Tatjana Scherschel Colorado School of Mines
William Gnesda Colorado State University
Connor Broaddus Ft. Lewis College

Tristan Bates Colorado Mesa University
Carlton Mueller Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Kate M. Nelson Univ. of Northern Colorado
Gordon Gianniny Western State University
Celine “Bean” Gill Metro State University

Earth Science Teacher of the Year Award

In 2000, the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists (RMAG) Foundation instituted a joint award with the RMAG to honor an elementary or secondary school teacher who has promoted teaching of Earth Science to K‐12 students in Colorado. The winner receives a commemorative plaque and a $1500 cash award provided by the RMAG Foundation. The RMAG Foundation also awards the winner’s school with $1500 designated for its Earth Science program.

Earth Science Teacher of the Year Winner – 2021

2021 Earth Science Teacher of the Year Award

The RMAG and the RMAG Foundation are pleased to announce the 2021 Earth Science Teacher of the Year Awardee! The outstanding finalist is Tricia Kearns science teacher at Webber Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado. She personally receives $1500 to further her professional activities, and Webber Middle School receives $1500 to be used for Earth Science purposes, as directed by Earth Science teacher awardee.

Tricia Kearns has an MS in Science Education and a life-long fascination with geology. Her philosophy is to get kids interested in the amazing phenomena of Earth Science and then get them to understand the processes that cause those phenomena. Normally, she teaches Earth Science to 180 students a year, but with the Pandemic she had to modify her program with a fully remote model, creating challenges to her regular subject content. To that end, she connected remotely with geology teachers all over the U.S., sharing best practices, lessons, and collective learning about geologic phenomena. Her hope is to use some of the award funds for a geology field trip to study volcanoes. And for the classroom, she wishes to get a better collection of rocks and minerals along with a microscope. Tricia also plans to designate part of the award to take the entire 7th grade class to the Heart J Center for Experiential Learning at the Sylvandale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado for the Earth Science field trip they didn’t get in 6th grade due to the pandemic. She has been teaching for 17 years.

Tricia says: “I am so humbled and grateful to receive this award. Colorado truly is one of the best places to teach Earth Science! I have been teaching secondary science for 17 years, with the past 10 years being at Webber Middle School in Fort Collins. Earth Science has been a passion of mine from a very young age. I became fascinated with the variety of crushed stone in our Merrimac driveway in Deer Park, Illinois and that natural curiosity led to a love of science. I try to inspire my students to understand and appreciate the unique geology that exists locally to connect to the phenomena found worldwide and on Mars.

Ms. Kearns received high praise from her school.

Patrick Kind, Assistant Principal formerly at Webber Middle School , says, “Tricia is a wonderful teacher and Webber is very lucky to have her as a member of our staff. We are so proud of her and all of her accomplishments. Thank you to the RMAG and the RMAG Foundation for recognizing this outstanding educator.”

With the mission to inspire and educate current and future geoscientists, the RMAG Foundation recognizes the importance of this dedicated teacher who provides earth science education. In honoring Tricia Kearns, the RMAG is pleased to encourage and foster interest in STEM careers in general and particularly in earth science.

The applicants for the Award this year were highly qualified. To foster educational outreach and engagement, they each will be given complimentary one-year memberships to the RMAG, funded by the RMAG Foundation. Congratulations!

Earth Science Teacher of the Year Award Winners – 2020

Merideth Sparks

Merideth Sparks

Craver Middle School
Colorado City, CO

“Merideth Sparks is well deserving of this award. In all my years in education, rarely have I witnessed an educator so willing to go wherever she has to go to provide her students with a quality education and the skills to attain greatness in all aspects of life through the maturation process. Merideth understands that teaching students is much more than a subject. It’s a lifelong endeavor that a subject, such as science, allows us to engage students in the preparation of life successes.” Brian Schipper, Principal

Matthew Thomas

Matt Thomas

Alameda International High School
Lakewood, CO

“The Alameda International family is proud to have Matt Thomas as a member of our teaching community. His love of the Earth, the science that makes it thrive, and teaching to develop that love in his students is evident in everything he does. He has a tremendous spirit and it is infused in every lesson he teaches!” – Andrea Sabadosh, Assistant Principal

Matt Thomas Alameda International High School Lakewood, CO

Michael S. Johnson Explorer of the Year Award

The RMAG Foundation is pleased to honor as the 2019 Explorers of the Year

  • Brian Berwick, Axia Energy
  • David Schmude, Axia Energy

2018 Explorer of the Year Award

The RMAG Foundation is pleased to honor as the 2018 Explorers of the Year:

  • William Armstrong, Armstrong Oil and Gas
  • Jesse Sommer, Armstrong Oil and Gas


Guildelines for Publication Charge Grant(s)

Purpose: The grant(s) are intended to help members offset costs for publication, including page charges, color charges, and/or open-access charges for articles relevant to Rocky Mountain geoscience. Preferred publications include those of non-profit geoscience organizations.

Guidelines for access to Publication Charge Grant: 

  • Authors must submit proof of publication and an invoice for charges in a credible journal.
  • Valid charges are page charges, color charges and/or Open Access charges in the publications mentioned above. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case
    basis, and grants will be offered at the sole discretion of the RMAG Foundation.
  • The amount of money provided by the RMAG Foundation will be at the sole
    discretion of the RMAG Foundation trustees, and may be for any amount, up to the
    total invoice amount of the charges.
  • Authors must submit a one-page summary of article including:

i. Title and author(s)
ii. Journal or Book
iii. Summary of new and unique information disseminated in this publication as relates to Rocky Mountain Geosciences. This should be expressed in 300
to 500 words and may be bulleted.
iv. Estimated publication date
v.  Provide one copy of publication to the RMAG Foundation, and allow name,
title, and authors to be published on the RMAG Foundation website, articles
in the RMAG Outcrop, or on slides promoting the Foundation at RMAG

  • The number of grants offered in a fiscal year may be variable and is at the sole discretion of the RMAG Foundation.