Skip to Content

The Val Wilkie Jr Award For Excellence In Teaching Geography

Portrait of Valleau Wilkie Jr.

Mr. Wilke was a natural leader and lifelong educator and mentor. He headed the Sid W. Richardson Foundation from 1973-2011. It was during this time that Mr. Wilke recognized the importance of the link between Texas State University and the National Geographic Society and how that relationship could improve teaching and learning in geography in the schools of Texas. Mr. Wilke and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation have played a major role in support of the state and national leadership of Texas State University in geography education.

Description of the Award

A $500 honorarium and a recognition plaque for the award winner. Plus, permanent posting in the Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education.


1. Must have been or currently is a Texas teacher of High School World Geography, AP Human Geography, or 6th grade World Cultures.

2. Been a Geography teacher in Texas for at least three (3) years.

Applications Must Include

1. Statement of quality teaching within last three years (500 words or less).

2. Two (2) letters of reference.

3. Two (2) short statements on quality teaching by students, if possible.

4. A current educational resume/professional biography.

Important Dates and Deadlines

All materials must be received by the Texas State University Gilbert M. Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education by May 5, 2024.

A winner will be announced by the end of May 2024. 


This Award will be awarded annually to one (1) Texas Geography teacher.  Teachers who do not receive the award must reapply each year for consideration. Applications will not carry over. Winners will only be awarded once in a lifetime. 


Val Wilkie, Jr. (1923 – 2014) was the retired Executive Vice President of the Sid W. Richardson Foundation in Ft. Worth, Texas. As he grew up, he served his country heroically in World War II as an Air Force co-pilot in Europe. After being shot down, Val evaded capture for a time and then spent almost two years in German prison camps. His military “travails” qualified him to be a member of what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.”

In 1948, Val began is years in education and philanthropy in Andover, Massachusetts at the Phillips Academy and later as Headmaster at the Governor Dummer Academy, the oldest boarding school in America. “Throughout his whole life at Andover he displayed a sureness of purpose and a kind of serenity that helped to bring out the best in all who worked with him.” He brought that creative calm with him to Texas in 1973, when he was selected to head the Sid W. Richardson Foundation. There Val was a superlative executive guiding the Board of Directors in providing hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to non-profit organizations. He earned a reputation as a thoughtful and caring counselor always available to advise non-profits on how to advance their missions. More details are provided in Val’s obituary and in this dedication program of Vals many awards in service, education, and foundation philanthropy.

In the late 1990’s Val became aware of the important work going on in geography education at Texas State University. He wisely understood the partnership between Texas State and the National Geographic Society. He was able in 1998 to direct the Sid W. Richardson Foundation to support the creation and subsequent activities of the Gilbert M. Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education at Texas State. Named after National Geographic CEO Gilbert M. Grosvenor, the Center continues to be the leading geography education Center in the world. How appropriate it is to dedicate and honor Mr. Val Wilkie Jr. with an award for teaching excellence in geography.  His name and likeness will long remain in partnership with Gil Grosvenor, the Grosvenor Center, the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education, and Texas State University.

Gil and Val
Val speaking


Nicole Vickerman 2022 Winner

2022 Winner

Nicole Vickerman

Michelle Crane

2023 Winner

Michelle Crane