Pamela A.K. Wilkinson, education outreach coordinator with the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources at the University of Arizona, has received the 2016 Ivan B. Rahn Education Award from the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration for her dedication to educating Arizona schoolchildren and adults about responsible mining and the role of minerals in everyday life.
The Colorado-based international organization honored Wilkinson at its 2016 annual conference in Phoenix in late February.
"I am so humbled to receive the Ivan Rahn Award, especially the year after Mary Poulton received it," said Wilkinson, referring to Lowell Institute director and University Distinguished Professor Mary Poulton, who received the honor from SME in 2015.
Wilkinson earned a bachelor's degree in geology and teacher certification at the College of William and Mary and a master's in geology at Eastern Kentucky University before working in the mining industry. She taught science to children in grades K-6 as a volunteer for 15 years.
In 2011 she joined the UA Lowell Institute to start its K-12 education outreach program, with primary funding from the Mining Foundation of the Southwest -- and brought her passion for mining to a much larger audience.
"SME recognized the extraordinary accomplishments Pam has made in outreach on behalf of the minerals industry," Poulton said. "She is incredibly energetic and a terrific spokesperson for the importance of minerals in our daily lives. I don't think anyone else could have built this program from scratch and made it as successful as it is."
Wilkinson was with the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources when the UA started the mineral education outreach program in 2009. That year, she presented to some 5,000 students and 60 teachers at 35 schools in Arizona. Today, she annually reaches more than 10,000 students and nearly 100 teachers at 64 schools and hundreds of others in the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, tribal colleges, Lions Clubs and elder hostels.
Wilkinson developed the summer mining engineering camp program in the College of Engineering and has mentored many UA mining engineering students.
Alyssa Hom, a senior in mining engineering, has worked with Wilkinson for six months as an education outreach intern in the Lowell Institute.
"Pam has a gentle way of providing constructive criticism, while encouraging growth and learning," said Hom, a College of Engineering Ambassador who interned in 2015 with Behre Dolbear and in 2016 with Sundt Construction. "She is a motivator who imparts a love for learning in the people she works with."
In 2014, Wilkinson received the Prazen Living Legend Award from the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colorado.
Mining Foundation Honors Alumnus Conrad Huss
The Mining Foundation of the Southwest supports several UA programs and students and has worked with and honored many College of Engineering alumni.
At its 2015 awards banquet in Tucson in December, the foundation inducted UA Engineering alumnus Conrad Huss into its American Mining Hall of Fame.
Huss received his master's and doctoral degrees in engineering mechanics from the UA in 1968 and 1970 and is a founder of Tucson-based M3 Engineering and Technology Corp., a global mining industry design firm. Since its founding in 1986, the company has managed more than 10,000 mining-related projects and employs more than 1,000 employees in many countries.
Huss joins other inductees with ties to the College -- including two of the three women ever to be inducted. Frontierswoman and prospector Nellie Cashman was inducted posthumously in 1994. Alumna Barbara Filas, BS mining engineering 1978, former president of Geovic Mining Corp., was inducted in 2008. And Mary Poulton was inducted in 2009.
The foundation elected three UA Engineering alumni to its board for 2016: Eben Robinson, BS 2000, president; mining consultant John Fenn, BS 1976, treasurer; and Andrew Soderman, BS, 1988, secretary. More than 30 UA undergraduates attended the banquet, thanks to industry and corporate sponsors.
Top picture: Pam Wilkinson, standing second from left, with visitors to the UA San Xavier Underground Mining Lab, the nation's largest student-run underground mine.