The Trudy Houser Youth Award

The �Trudy Houser Youth Award� was established at the request of Mrs Houser�s grandchildren � Steven Wasserman and Margie Kessel. The award has been funded by them for up to $100 per year and is capped at a total of $500 for the duration of the award. The actual award may be in the form of cash or useful durable items to enhance the awardee�s collecting experience. The award can exceed $100 for a given year with that excess being funded by the Dry Dredgers. The award may be continued beyond the original funding at the discretion of the Dry Dredgers and at Dry Dredgers expense. Although considered an annual award, this may not always happen should there be no qualified applicant in a given year.

The award may be given to one or two school children each year who demonstrate the most enthusiasm for fossil collecting. The prize would be $100, either going to one child or split between two. Officers of the Dry Dredgers determine what child/children should receive the award.

The criteria for choosing the recipient are as defined by the donors and will be administered by the Dry Dredgers. These criteria are as follows:

About Trudy Houser, from the grandchildren

The late Gertrude ("Trudy") Houser was a long-time member of the Dry Dredgers. Her granddaughter Margie Kessel and her husband Chuck Kessel and her grandson Steven Wasserman and his wife Sharon Wasserman have established this award for young fossil collectors in memory of their grandmother.

Trudy Moses was born in 1901 in Cologne, Germany. She grew up there and married her husband Max Ichenhauser in 1925. They had two daughters - Renate and Erica. The Nazis arrested Trudy�s husband the day after the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938 and sent him to the Dachau concentration camp. Fortunately, Trudy was able to secure his release after several weeks. The family fled to England and emigrated to the United States in 1939. Upon arriving, the family changed their last name to Houser.

Trudy, Max, and their daughters settled in Cincinnati. While safe from the Nazis, tragedy struck two years later when Max died of leukemia at age forty-seven. Trudy had to raise her daughters on her own, which she did by working as a seamstress at Fashion Frocks and Pogue�s. She became interested in fossils because her late husband had collected fossils and minerals as a child. Max had brought his small collection with him to the United States. Trudy began to research and label his specimens.

Trudy eventually developed an extraordinary collection of fossils and minerals that filled the basement and two bedrooms of her home on Galbraith Road. She displayed her collection at conventions and won dozens of awards. The Smithsonian Museum asked her to donate much of her collection to the museum. The specimens Trudy donated can be found in The Naturalist Center at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. Trudy also donated portions of her collection to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and the University of Cincinnati�s geology department.

Trudy gladly opened her home to all who were interested, including many groups of schoolchildren with whom she loved sharing her collection. Trudy formed lifelong friendships with collectors, including many members of the Dry Dredgers. When an interviewer asked why she collected, she said: "Consolation, and joy in the earth�s beauty; and the fulfillment of a duty to preserve that beauty for future generations."

Trudy passed away in 1982 at age eighty. In recognition of Trudy�s courage in the face of the challenges and setbacks life placed before her and in an effort to share her passion for minerals and fossils, this award is for collectors under age eighteen who demonstrate enthusiasm for fossil collecting and joy in sharing that interest with others.

Margie and Chuck Kessel
Steven and Sharon Wasserman


2024: The winner for the second annual Trudy Houser Youth Award goes to Andrew Guelpa. Congratulations!
The winner for the first annual Trudy Houser Youth Award goes to Johnathan VonAllmen. Congratulations!

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