Far Western Section Awards

2009 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year

Anna Foutz, a 9th grade earth science teacher at John North High School in Riverside, CA is being recognized as the Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Far West Section (NAGT-FWS), which includes the states of California, Nevada and Hawaii. She is receiving the honor this weekend at the conference of the Far West Section at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California. Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the secondary level." Middle school and high-school teachers are eligible. Only ten national awardees are selected each year, one from each NAGT regional section.

As the sectional awardee, she is receiving:

Anna Foutz has a BS and MS in Geology from California State University, Los Angeles, and teaches 9th grade earth science at John North High School in Riverside, California, where she is currently the schoolís representative on the District Earth Science Committee.

She was nominated for this honor by NAGT members because she is an energetic and enthusiastic teacher who encourages students to be excited about earth science, to be aware of the geologic hazards around them, and to be respectful of the environment. She strives to make the course material relevant, creating lesson plans that relate to current events, such as recent major earthquakes, or local issues, such as flood hazards in their own neighborhoods. Anna makes certain her students are confident as they take the California Earth Science Standards Test, but she focuses on making her earth science class fun and challenging as well.

Anna encourages critical thinking by having students work in groups on a daily basis, which gives the students a chance to teach each other and allows Anna to circulate around the classroom, guiding those with different learning abilities. All of her students are involved in every lab activity and they are all expected to turn in professional-quality lab reports using the scientific method.

Anna is a member of one of her schoolís Ninth Grade Teams, which share a common Science teacher, English teacher and Health teacher. As part of the program, she organized a trip to Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert for the students to see firsthand what they were studying in their class, including the San Andreas fault, wind generators, volcanoes, and topographic maps. Anna also had them imagine and describe what they would do or think if a cinder cone began forming in their backyard. This trip showed students the reality of what they are learning, and has inspired a few to think about becoming geologists.

The Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards program was adopted by NAGT in 1971. Any member can nominate a teacher in their area; nomination forms are available on the Far West Section website. For questions, please contact Garry Hayes

2004 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher

Noah Hughes

The recipient of the 2004 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award from the Far Western Section is Noah Hughes, a physical science teacher at Sonora High School in the Sierra Nevada foothills of central California. Noah's students benefit from a variety of pedagogical techniques including cooperative learning, project-based learning, multi-media, and off-campus field trips. He regularly groups students into "research teams" so that they can work cooperatively and solve scientific problems in class. By using these strategies, Noah successfully accommodates students with varying abilities and learning styles in his classes. One colleague commented: "Noah is always trying to build a better pedagogical mousetrap."

Noah has developed two innovative, small-group research projects. In one case, students analyze the water chemistry of the creek that flows through campus. Collaborating with students in a biology class, Noah's students also collect information on aquatic life in the creek. In the second project, students research an energy resource, its advantages and disadvantages. In both cases students must present their results and conclusions using Power Point technology. These projects allow students to develop their information retrieval, data collection, and observational abilities as well as developing interpersonal, communication and critical thinking skills.

Noah also works with special needs students at Sonora High School. His willingness to believe in these disadvantaged and troubled youth and to spend time with them outside the classroom, has had a significant impact on many of their lives. By going the extra mile Noah has made the community a better place.

A member of the Geological Society of America, Noah earned his B.S. at the University of Colorado, Bollider and his M.S. in geology at the University of Montana. An avid kayaker, when he is not interacting with students, Noah can often be found studying Sierra Nevada geology while kayaking down the Tuolumne or Stanislaus Rivers.

Noah Hughes


Victor A. Fisher

At the Fall 2005 conference, the Robert Wallace Webb Award was presented to Vic Fisher in honor of his excellence in teaching and service to the society. Vic has had a tremendously positive influence on a huge number of students during his tenure at Chico State, and has acted as Treasurer of the Far West Section for donkeyís years. A student of Webbís, Vic was especially honored and surprised since the award is not given annually, but rather only when it is well deserved. A complete citation, given by Howard Stensrud, will appear in this space in the future.


I am pleased to introduce Paul Bauer as the recipient of the 2002 Robert Webb award for teaching excellence and service to the society. I am particularly pleased tonight as I look around and see several past recipients of this honor including Drs. Greg Wheeler, Barney Pipkin and Dee Trent. Other awardees not here include Drs. Bob Norris, Joan Baldwin, and the late Dottie Stout. I have had two of these professors myself and from experience I can say with conviction that they were truly exceptional.

For those who arenít aware, the Webb award is not given annually, but rather only on occasions when someone clearly deserves the award. It honors a great teacher and active member of this society, the late Dr. Robert Webb. I canít pretend to have known Dr. Webb, but I have worked with several that had studied under him at UCSB. From the respect they showed for him it was clear that he was truly a teacher of the highest caliber. Tonight, we are honoring a similar person of high ability and commitment to our profession, our society and to his students.

Paul Bauer has taught geology for over 31 years. Having earned degrees at the University of Oregon and San Jose State, Paul worked briefly for the USGS and as a middle school and high school science teacher before moving to San Luis Obispo and Cuesta College in 1971. Paul assumed the role of the resident "hard-rock" geologist alongside the late Jeb Bowen and has taught Physical Geology, California Geology, Geologic Hazards, Physical Science and until recently, a rigorous, transferable course in mineralogy for geology majors. By a conservative estimate, over 5000 students have taken his classes and many have earned bachelors and advanced degrees in the field. Most important, he has helped many students by being a rock-solid teacher, a mentor and sometimes, a surrogate father. During my 15 years at Cuesta, I know of several students who have stayed for extended periods in his home where he has provided food, shelter and much needed guidance.

I too have benefited from his guidance. I leaned heavily on his expertise during my early years when the prep time involved in teaching seemed overwhelming. At times I simply copied his lectures to get by. I realized tonight that I have been schooled by not two, but three different winners of this prestigious award! Thank you Paul for all your help.

Paulís service to the society has also been great. He has served as president of the Far Western Section, counselor at large representing our section at the national level and for the past five years, has taken on the big job of publications coordinator, responsible for the organization and sale of guidebooks throughout the year. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of his tenure with the society was his near single-handed sponsorship of the fall 1993 meeting held at Cuesta College. This was the most successful meeting, in recent memory and Paul not only edited the guidebook, lead a field trip, taught a workshop for secondary educators. He even got around to cooking the meal for over 200 participants! Quite an achievement!

Often these honors are given to people near the end of a career, and with 31 years in front of a chalkboard, it would seem logical that Paul might be moving on soon. But the spark is still there, and his lectures today are as clear and timely as when I joined the school in 1988. I am convinced that when I drop dead at my desk, Paul will be the one to hire and train the new instructor!

One more thing, Paul has a wonderful wife and family with three incredible children. The youngest of whom just completed his degree (with honors Iím told) in geology at UCSB! Dr. Webb would be so proud!

As the old TV commercial used to say, for professionalism in the classroom, commitment to students and dedication to the profession and our society; Paul Bauer, the 2002 Webb award recipient, you got this the old fashion way, you earned it!

Jeff Grover

Record of Previous Awards

Robert W. Webb Award

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST)


The Robert W. Webb Award

The Robert Wallace Webb Award is presented for sustained excellence of earth science teaching and sustained exceptional service to earth science teaching profession. It is presented occasionally to a member of the Far Western Section.

Robert Wallace Webb Award Recipients

2005 Victor A. Fisher California State University - Chico
2002 Paul Bauer Cuesta College
1998 Greg Wheeler Cal State University - Sacramento
1997 Dee D. Trent Citrus College
1994 Joan Baldwin El Camino College
1993 Bernard W. Pipkin University of Southern California
1990 Dorothy L. Stout* Cypress College
1986 Richard A. Smith San Jose State University
1984 John R. Coash Cal State University - Bakersfield
1984 Paul H. Dawson* College of the Siskyous
1983 Raymond P. Puck* Hartnell College
1982 Arthur E. Flint Chapman College
1981 Robert M. Norris UC Santa Barbara
1981 Alfred O. Woodford* Pomona College
1981 Gordon B. Oakeshott* Calif. Division of Mines and Geology
1979 Kazimierz Pohopien Mt. San Antonio College
1977 York T. Mandra San Francisco State University
1977 Highoohi Mandra* San Francisco State University
1976 Robert L. Baxter* Modesto Junior College
1973 Robert W. Webb* UC Santa Barbara


Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST)

The OEST is given each year for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences at the secondary school level. Each section makes an OEST award and all winners are honored nationally. Application/Nomination forms for this award can be found on this website and in the section newsletter. Anyone may nominate.

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) Recipients

2004 Noah Hughes Sonora High School, Sonora, California
2003 Joan Carter Branham High School, San Jose, California
2002 No award was made .
2001 Tom Hollis Atascadero High School, Atascadero, California
2000 Ted Reeves Chaffey High School, Ontario, California
1999 No award was made .
1998 Jim Ryono Peninsula High School, Palos Verdes, California
1997 Wendy Van Norden Harvard-Westlake School, North Hollywood, California
1996 Rudy de Mordaigle LeConte Middle School, Torrance, California
1994 Michael Martin Porterville High School, Porterville, California
1988 Sister Maria Foraboschi San Domenico School, San Anselmo, California
1987 Leonard Svinth Petaluma Jr. High School, Petaluma California
1986 David Lindahl Saddleback High School,Santa Ana, California
1984 Alfred W. Guenther  
1983 Robert J. Allen Edison High School, Huntington Beach, California
1881 Robert Tye Clayton High School, Reno, Nevada
1979 Clyde Parrish Cubberley Senior High School, Palo Alto, California
1979 Thomas B. Conrow El Molino High School, Forestville, California
1979 Raymond Alf Webb School, Claremont, California
1978 Nancy Harms College Park High School, Pleasant Hill, California
1977 Don Thrift Rincon Valley Junior High School, Santa Rosa, California
1976 H. Thomas Faul Toll Junior High School, Glendale, California
1975 Carol J. Stadum Huntington Beach High School, Huntington Beach, California
1974 Steven Cohen Parkway Junior High School, South San Francisco, California
1973 William B. Rowley Anaheim High School, Anaheim,CAlifornia
1972 Ronald Burgo Fontana Junior High School, Fontana, California

See the NAGT (National) website for other honorary awards and for scholarship announcements.

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