The California Geographical Society is pleased to offer a variety of awards and scholarships in recognition of outstanding scholarly activity.

The CGS distributes more than $2,000 each year in student scholarships and awards. Presented each year at the annual conferences, these awards are a significant source of pride for the California Geographical Society.

The maintenance of the endowments funding our awards and scholarships is largely underwritten by donations made by society members. We encourage you to consider donating to one or more of the funds that reward outstanding student geographers.

Many folks simply donate what they see fit during the conference registration process, but for those of you who would like to keep their donations separate from their conference costs, there are other options. 

Below each award is the option for those who would like to donate to one of our funds that support student scholarship. Simply click on a "donate now" button and your browser will open a new window at the PayPal site.


Donations to this scholarship support one graduate and one undergraduate award annually.

Donations to this award support three graduate and three undergraduate awards annually.

Donations to this award support three graduate/undergraduate awards annually.

Donations to this award help provide financial assistance for students seeking to attend the annual conference. 

Donate to the California Geographical Society's general fund, which supports a variety of student-oriented activities, scholarships, and awards.


Student competitions are an exciting element of each year's conference.  Individuals and colleges compete for recognition and school pride, and a few dollars, in a series of judged events in three areas: papers, posters and cartography.

Each year, the specific deadlines, rules and other useful information about each of the competitions is posted on the web pages associated with the conference.   If you are interested in preparing well in advance for any competition, consult with a faculty member familiar with the CGS conference, or view the competition guidelines from the previous year's conference web site.

Please consider donating to the funds that help the CGS distribute cash awards to student in recognition of their academic excellence.  Pick an award category from the list below, or simply donate to our general fund.

If you are a student presenting at our conference and are looking for information about how to apply for an award, judging criteria, etc - you can find more information at this link


The California Geographical Society invites faculty members of Geography Departments and Programs in California to nominate a deserving undergraduate and/or graduate student to attend the Annual Conference of the California Geographical Society. The student travel award provides a minimum of $100 to recipients to offset costs associated with the annual meeting

The award provides an opportunity for a student to gain experience from attending a statewide conference; it is not necessary that the student give a paper. 

We ask that grant recipients share their experience by submitting a short reflection piece on their conference experience, to be included in the CGS Bulletin.


The Tom McKnight Student Paper Award honors a longtime supporter of the CGS and its mission. Tom McKnight, from UCLA, was named Outstanding Educator in 1988. His consummate professional style and inquisitive nature earned McKnight the respect of generations of students, whom he engaged with his dynamic lectures. A prolific author of textbooks on North American and introductory geography, McKnight received awards from both Australian and Canadian geography organizations for his contributions to the field.

1st Place Katie Piper Cal Poly Humboldt
2nd Place Jessica Janecek Cal Poly Humboldt

1st Place Jared Whear Syracuse University
2nd Place Albert Rossmeier University of Tuebingen, Germany

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1st Place Luis Devera CSU Northridge
2nd Place Erika Trinidad Soka Univ. of America
3rd Place Alexandra Borunda CSU Fullerton

1st Place Stacie Towsend UC Davis
2nd Place Lauryn Duoto CSU San Jose
3rd Place Dustin Tsai UC Davis


The Geosystems Award is the first endowed award in the organization’s history. This was made possible in 2002 by Robert and Bobbé Christopherson. Bobbé and Robert’s textbook, Geosystems: An Introduction to Physical Geography is a leading textbook in physical geography. He is working on the 11/e at this time. Their dedication to furthering our knowledge of the environment is reflected in their enthusiastic support of students. 

Robert Christopherson, now retired from American River College, received the Outstanding Educator Award in 1997. Robert was the keynote speaker in the Presidential Plenary at the 2002 meeting.  In 2012, Robert and Bobbé were recognized together with the Friend of Geography Award. They continue research expeditions for Geosystems.

Each year two $500 cash awards for best physical geography/Earth systems science paper are presented to an undergraduate and a graduate student who present their research at the CGS annual conference.

2021 Undergraduate, Gwenyth Greco CSU Northridge
2021 Graduate, Germán Silva UC Santa Barbara
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2018 Christopher Notto CSU Northridge


The Joe Beaton Student Poster Award carries the name of the late Joe Beaton, who received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1994 and a Friend of Geography Award in 1997. Beaton, who taught at the California State Polytechnic Institute at Pomona, worked hard to stimulate students to observe and participate in the world. Never known for timidity, he taught with a bravado and energy that inspired students and colleagues alike.

1st Place Sophia Reyes CSU Northridge
1st Place Sipan Kiremidjian CSU Northridge
2nd Place John Crowell University of North Alabama
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1st Place Mark Johansson Grossmont College
2nd Place Wyatt Caldeira CSU Chico
3rd Place Carly Agar CSU Chico

1st Place Drew Smith San Jose State Univ.
2nd Place Hamilton Lam CSU Long Beach
3rd Place Guadalupe Maldonado CSU Fullerton


The California Geographical Society invites students - undergraduate and graduate - to share and be rewarded for their work in cartography at our annual conference. The CGS offers a serious and supportive environment for students to present their cartographic work. A panel of cartographers will judge all entries. Students entering maps in the competition must be available to answer judges’ questions during the judging period. Awards are made for outstanding cartography in both analog and digital formats. Funds for the Cartography Awards generally are derived from the CGS General Fund.


1st Place Faith Rehagen Cal Poly Humboldt
2nd Place Michael Flynn Cal Poly Humboldt

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1st Place Kira Evers Cal Poly State Univ.
2nd Place Greg Beringer CSU Fullerton
3rd Place Quint Migliardi Humboldt State Univ.

1st Place Samuel Wood Humboldt State Univ.
2nd Place Joshua Schindelbower Humboldt State Univ.
3rd Place Carlos Lopez CSU Fullerton


The CGS annually awards scholarships to college and university geography students to further their education.  The primary award is the David Lantis scholarship, given each year to one graduate and one undergraduate student. 

The David Lantis Student Scholarship is named after the organization’s seventh president, from CSU Chico. David Lantis received the Distinguished Service Award in 1976 and was named Outstanding Educator in 1991. Now deceased, Lantis authored numerous articles and textbooks including a California geography textbook used by educators throughout the state. He was a strong supporter of the California Geographical Society.

2021 Graduate, Ryan Koyanagi CSU Fullerton
2021 Undergraduate, Noelani Fixler Pasadena City College
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2018 German Silva CSU Stanislaus



The Outstanding Educator Award, established in 1975, has been given to geography educators throughout California. Many of the past awardees have been from four-year institutions, but several were from community and junior colleges and others from public schools in California. One time, the award went to the two California Geographical Alliances, north and south.

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2018 John Aubert American River College


The California Geographical Society operates through the generous donations of time from about a dozen or so key volunteers.  Many dozens of additional volunteers step up during the conference each year to serve as judges, sales persons, technical assistants or simply running errands.  Their time, effort and energy is greatly appreciated.In 1970, the first Distinguished Service Award was bestowed upon Art Carthew of L.A. City College and it has been given each year since to a member of the California Geographical Society who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the organization.


The Distinguished Teaching Award was established in 1974 to honor those teachers who are largely responsible for generating the love for geography among so many CGS members. Many of the recipients this award have been primary and secondary school educators. This award is presented at the annual spring conferences, with two or more distinguished K-12 educators frequently honored.

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Christopher Lee CSU Long Beach
Stephanie Cook George Washington Carver
Dr. Molly Shaw UC Santa Cruz


In 1995 the first Friend of Geography Award was established to recognize persons who, though perhaps outside the organizational structure or membership of the California Geographical Society, have nevertheless contributed mightily to the cause of geography in California (and beyond). The first award was given to Frank Baughman, DDS of Porterville. It has been awarded irregularly since, but always to deserving recipients.

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2018 Timothy (Tim) Cliffe Grossmont College

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