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Tyler Helm (right), receives the O.R. Grawe Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding geology student, from the Association of Missouri Geologists President Carey Bridges. (Submitted photo)

Tyler Helm (right), receives the O.R. Grawe Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding geology student, from the Association of Missouri Geologists President Carey Bridges. (Submitted photo)

Oct. 28, 2019

Helm continues Northwest legacy of Grawe Award recipients

By Kala Dixon, communication assistant

Northwest Missouri State University alumnus Tyler Helm is the latest to receive the O.R. Grawe Award from the Association of Missouri Geologists.

Helm, who completed his bachelor’s degree in geology in August, is the eighth Northwest graduate to win the Grawe Award since 2004.

The association annually awards the Grawe Award, named for its first president, Oliver Rudolph “O.R.” Grawe, to the top junior or senior geology major in Missouri.  

Recipients of the Grawe Award receive an engraved Brunton pocket transit and case, a plaque and certificate of recognition as well as a cash stipend of $300. The award was presented during the association’s annual meeting Oct. 11-12 at Lake of the Ozarks.

Winners are selected on the basis of a nomination letter from the applicant’s department chairperson, a written statement by the applicant describing why he or she selected the field of Earth science and post-graduate plans, the applicant’s academic transcript and letters of recommendation from two department faculty members.

“The O.R. Grawe Award was a goal of mine to get when I became a geology major,” Helm said. “I had seen and heard of the past winners and how great of geologists they were now, and I knew I wanted to achieve the same level of success as people like Ashley Leger or Alex Geisler. Winning the award also showed the work I put in at Northwest, and it means a lot to be noticed for the extra effort.”

Northwest Associate Professor of Geology Dr. John Pope, a past recipient of the Grawe Award, said Helm is deserving of the award because of his activity in the field.

“Tyler was an exceptionally bright student,” Pope said. “He is very humble and quiet, but was a very hard worker in academics. He not only had high grades, but participated in geology organizations as an active member and as an officer. He participated in activities outside of the department and outside of the University. He also worked on undergraduate research and presented it at a Geological Society of America meeting with a published abstract.”

Northwest’s geology program centers on field-based, experiential learning. Nearly all courses have a field component and three courses – field methods, a fall field trip and field geology of the British Isles – are completely field-based. During four years at Northwest, geology students may participate in as many as 10 field experiences.

Helm believes the faculty and his coursework at Northwest contributed to his success as a student and helped him launch his career. A native of Creston, Iowa, he started working for Schildberg Construction Company Inc. as a junior at Northwest and earned a full-time position after graduation. He now serves as chief geologist there.

“I don't think I would have the job I have now if it weren’t for the experience I got at Northwest and the help of all the professors there,” Helm said. “I learned how to read core samples in a geology lab, and that was how I got hired on at Schildbergs.”

The Association of Missouri Geologists is a professional organization tasked with promoting geology and geoscience education in Missouri. The association includes professional and academic geologists as well as student members at colleges and universities throughout the state. The association also admits members from other states who are interested in Missouri geology or have academic ties to the state or its institutions.


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