News & Events

Please visit this page regularly for fund updates and to find out about new fund efforts.

Jinny SissonJinny Sisson, long-time GSA Foundation Trustee, Research Associate Professor at the University of Houston, and Director of the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association Field Camp (YBRA), tells us how her desire to support young geoscientists inspires her giving.

What inspires you to give so freely of your time serving as a GSAF Trustee?

I want to make an impact beyond teaching and research as it helps make a difference to geoscientists and society. We often think that scientific advances are made with great thoughts alone, but they have to be supported by resources—either time and/or money—given by others.

What motivates you to give to GSA?

I was generously supported by GSA research grants as a grad student and now I can return the favor to young geoscientists. As one who grew up with limited resources but generous parents, I was taught to give whatever we can.

What would you say to others thinking about make a financial commitment to the Society?

Often what is needed most is a leader to pave the way for others. If you see a cause that needs a push—take the lead! Many find being generous with either time or money rewarding in itself, because of the opportunity to share their passion, values, and inspiration with others. When you do this, you have the ability to shape the future of the geosciences.

What would you like to say to other people who donate their time and resources to GSA?

To those who donate time as a volunteer, know that you are helping indirectly many who need it. To those who give money, you are helping directly in many ways. You may only get a short note thanking you for your time or money, but realize that you are part of a Society that gives generously in many ways.


Wes Ward, Chair of the GSA Foundation Board of Trustees and formerly of the USGS (retired), shares how his delight in geology, and desire to help aspiring geologists to share in that delight, motivates his service to GSA

What inspires you to give so freely of your time serving as a GSAF Trustee? 

I have been delighted, absolutely delighted in being a geologist! The excitement that I had in discovering this field as an undergraduate; the camaraderie, challenges, and rich relationships in my days with my fellow graduate students and faculty; and the discoveries and successes I enjoyed as a professional are not only that much better when shared, but can be improved upon by my enabling others not just to experience, but to take things even further. With all that I have seen and learned, I marvel at how much more can be experienced or discovered by others if I but give a small portion of my time or talent in advancing opportunities for them—giving them their chance to “blow us all away!” I can’t wait to see what they will do!!

What motivates you to give to GSA?

Many people, most of whom I will never meet, made it possible for me to have a great career in geology. They had the foresight to either set up, or make a contribution to, a fund to help undergrads and graduate students such as I was then. Their faith in future generations is something I admire and both feel obligated to, and very much enjoy, emulating. Working in the Society and the Foundation became a “pay it forward” joyous endeavor, as I would never be able to thank everyone individually. I could not just become personally successful in using the gifts they provided, but go a step further to help the next generation, as I was helped. I am proud to do my part in the development and continuation of our science.

What would you say to others thinking about making a financial commitment to the Society? 

There are the blunt questions such as, “If not you, who?” that remind or alert us that both students and professionals are the best to know how great our science is and what it takes to keep it strong in the future. If they but join the Society in helping us build and maintain the resources to support students and professionals at all levels of their careers, we give ourselves the opportunity to make critical advances and discoveries on which so much and so many depend.

What would you like to say to other people who donate their time and resources to GSA?

You are to be celebrated, friends and colleagues; you know what is at stake and have chosen to help us advance. Thank you, thank you!!

Camera Ford during the Andees field trip Wes Ward (mentor) and Camera Ford (mentee)

Captions: Camera Ford, a 2016 On To the Future participant, during her tectonics field trip in the Andes in January 2016.
Wes and Camera during one-on-one mentoring time at the 2016 GSA Annual Meeting.

 Terri Bowers, GSA Foundation Trustee and Principal at Gradient, an environmental and risk sciences consulting firm, shares how her experience of the GSA community as a student inspires her service for the Foundation.


What inspires you to give so freely of your time serving as a GSAF Trustee?

 GSA was my “home” when I started my career. I gave my first professional presentation at a GSA meeting; I remember both the stress of the occasion and the support I received from other students and academics that got me through it. GSA members were such a community for me when I was young that now is the time for me to help on the other end.


What motivates you to give to GSA?

 There may never have been a time when earth science education was as important as it is now. Resources for this support are ever more limited. I don’t know if we, the Society members, can make up the gaps, but we have to try.


What would you say to others thinking about making a financial commitment to the Society?

You have to decide what kinds of things you are most motivated to support. The two areas I feel most passionate about are opportunities for the young and science education. Once you pick what you care about the most, then you have to identify organizations that also support your goals. I hope GSA will be one of them.


What would you like to say to other people who donate their time and resources to GSA?

Thank you! Together we can do things.


Steve Wells, GSA Foundation Trustee and President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, took a moment to share how his lifelong experience of the GSA community inspires his current service and philanthropic support of the Foundation.


What inspires you to give so freely of your time serving as a GSAF Trustee?

The GSA Foundation is the fundraising arm for our Society, and the benefits derived from the Foundation’s efforts will provide positive impacts on current and future generations of geologists. Knowing that I can help to shape the future of our field in such a manner makes it very easy for me to serve in this capacity.


What motivates you to give to GSA?

The Geological Society of America has been my professional society of choice since I was a graduate student in the early 1970s. As a student, young professional, a professor, and academic administrator, I have benefited from the Society in ways that I cannot measure.  From support for my graduate research to honing my professional leadership skills, the Society has been one of the most important factors in my career over the past 40 years. Giving is a very small step I can take to ensure that GSA will continue to provide these types of positive impacts in the future.


What would you say to others thinking about make a financial commitment to the Society?

First, as geologists we study the past, so I would encourage them to seriously reflect on the past trajectory of your career and the role that GSA has made on that trajectory.  From your first GSA field trip where you could stand among those professionals who may have shaped your career, to the first GSA presentation you gave and the feedback provided by key mentors.  Think about the opportunities afforded to publish in outstanding peer-reviewed journals, to those opportunities provided to lead various elements of our Society.  It is this remarkable mix of opportunities that needs to be preserved through personal generosity to guarantee such opportunities for generations of students and professionals for decades to come.


What would you like to say to other people who donate their time and resources to GSA?

A very sincere thank you for all you have done, are doing, and hopefully will continue to do for our professional Society. Sometimes, we do not recognize that time is a person’s most precious asset. Giving of time and resources so freely is a form of generosity by our members that makes our Society so special, and quite frankly separates us from most other types of societies.


Year after year, we hear that one of the enduring qualities about GSA that members value most is the sense of community found within the Society. Lifelong relationships that begin as students—with professors, advisors, field camp, and lab colleagues—continue throughout our careers. We see camaraderie and longtime friendships that are palpable whenever members are gathered. These vibrant connections inherent to GSA propel not only our interactions, but our programs and initiatives. The GSA Foundation’s values reflect this same sense of community, whether through support of favorite programs or a commitment to mentoring future geoscientists. The GSA Foundation, composed of our generous and passionate donors and their dedication to GSA programs, demonstrates a community of support that we hope to convey to you in our upcoming communications.

As its name suggests, our Greatest Needs Fund provides critical resources for the programs you respect and value. The special fund ensures that we have flexible support that we can direct where available funds may not be enough to meet the need.

Vicki McConnell, our Executive Director, describes it this way:

“The GSA Greatest Needs fund provides critical finances to directly benefit many of our defining programs, which you have come to know and value. For example, I can assign the funds to increase student travel grants, to increase research grant awards, to help fund our science policy fellow, and to increase our On To the Future diversity awards—in short, to meet our most pressing needs for our science and our future.” 

By this time of year, the need is especially great because GSA leadership is getting a picture of what programs still require support to be viable. Will you make a contribution today? Click the DONATE button at the top right of your screen.

Amy Moser standing at edge of canyon

Amy Moser doing fieldwork in Clark’s Fork Canyon in northern Wyoming. Programs like this one benefit from our Greatest Needs Fund.

Camaraderie over happy hour after dusty days in the field, friendships forged under hot desert sun, new personal and professional connections—although these things may not be what lured attendees to GSAF’s first-ever Rendezvous in April, they are the kinds of experiences and connections we left with after our six-day trip together based in Shoshone, California.

We were thrilled to kick off the Death Valley Rendezvous, the first in what we hope will become a series of one–two trips per year, with 25 participants from coast to coast. Some attendees were longtime friends of the Foundation, and some we were meeting for the first time; some were students, some current professional geologists across disciplines, others retired from long careers, and some were family members of geologists attending. The trip held interest for all: Death Valley and the surrounding area offer a fascinating spectrum of geology to ponder, from the towering walls of Titus Canyon to the Amargosa River Valley. Trip leader Darrel Cowan, who has spent his career studying this area, led lively, rich discussions at each site. In addition, we spent time talking about the ecology of the area with local Nature Conservancy naturalist Len Warren, from pupfish once thought to be extinct to the curious migration of the Phainopepla. One of the students—Jason Muhlbauer, a Wright-Troxel Research Grant recipient—even gave an evening presentation on his research focused on a nearby site. And Shoshone Village was a welcoming home base conducive for us to gather, relax, share ideas and reflections on the days over meals, and explore on foot between scheduled activities.

Feedback from participants has been so positive, and the slots filled so quickly, that we are encouraged to hold similar Rendezvous trips in the future. Keep your eyes out to see where our next destination will be!

people in the field by a poolfieldwork at Death Valley

What’s better than attending one of GSA’s Section meetings? Well, nothing … except learning about geoscience careers and winning a prize for doing so! Come to the GSA Foundation booth at each Section meeting to learn how you can support impactful GSA programs. We will have custom bandanas on hand for Tektonikos student donors who have not received theirs. Finally, try your hand at a quiz about careers in the geosciences. While winning a fun prize is great, the information you’ll learn will be invaluable. We look forward to seeing you!

You make a difference.

The GSA Foundation is extremely thankful to all of our friends and donors who contribute time, resources, ideas, and financial support toward GSA’s programs. It was our pleasure to visit with so many of you over 2018, and especially at the Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. We look forward to celebrating the impact you have made throughout 2019!


Thanks to corporate partners, government representatives, and mentors from both sectors, GeoCareers Day included a room full of inquisitive students and recent graduates seeking information about career paths.


Thanks to contributions from many GSA Members, On To the Future continues to bring students from groups underrepresented in the geosciences to their first GSA meeting, where they are paired with mentors, attend daily gatherings, and are introduced to networks of professional geologists.

Booth/Rock Quiz

Meeting attendees joined us our booth each day during the Annual Meeting to learn more about the impact their support has had on GSA programs and members, and to participate in our rock identification quiz.


The Foundation’s Penrose Circle and Student Award Reception celebrates Graduate Student Research Grant recipients and brings them together with the donors who help make those awards possible.
presenter at GeoCareers Day 2018 OTF participants rock quiz at GSA Foundation Booth in Indianapolis GSA President Robbie Gries presenting award to Kadie Bennis

selfie of Tamara Adams in the fieldThank you to everyone who helped us make this Giving Tuesday a success! We are well on our way to reaching our year-end goal of $50,000 to help 20 students attend the field camp of their choice.

Thanks go to many of you who gave on Giving Tuesday and the days leading up to it. If you haven’t given yet, there is still time before year-end.

Tamara Adams, one of this year’s Field Camp scholarship recipients, attended a field camp hosted by the University of Texas at Arlington, which focused on fieldwork in Texas and New Mexico. She said this, “Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would not have been able to attend without the funds from GSA to help cover the cost of tuition. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!”

We echo Tamara’s heartfelt thanks and add to them. From all of us here in the Foundation, we are deeply grateful for your generosity.

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