Member Spotlight: Dr. Bill Witherspoon

Member Spotlight:  Dr. Bill Witherspoon

Author:  Anne Heikkila, Board President

Growing up in Knoxville, TN, William (Bill) Witherspoon has been interested in geology since he was 10 years old.  It wasn’t until he was in his mid-twenties however, that he decided to make a career out of it.  His interest was piqued by a London museum’s display in the early 1970s that highlighted the plate tectonics revolution.  Plate tectonics is a scientific theory pertaining to the movement of the earth’s plates, which are made up of the earth’s crusts and uppermost mantle.  It is this slow, physical process that explains how and where our mountain ranges are shaped that fascinated Bill. He  went on to receive his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Tennessee.

After graduation Bill worked in the oil industry in Houston, where  he met his wife, and they relocated back to the southeast to raise their family.  Bill left the geology field for a number of years to work in software, but it was during his son’s field trips that he realized that he was enjoying the science of the field trips more than his day job in the software industry. 

He made the career shift back to academics and taught K-12 students and their teachers for over fifteen years at Fernbank Science Center, part of the DeKalb County School District.  In 2007, the National Associations of Geoscience Teachers named Bill the Georgia Outstanding Earth Science Teacher.  

During summers and weekends, Bill collaborated with Pamela Gore to author the book, Roadside Geology of Georgia, which was published in 2013.  To date, over 8K copies have been sold, and upon retirement Bill began to spend his time promoting their book during hike outings, presentations and newsletters. He is passionate about sharing the stories that lie below the surface of Georgia and its billion year history. 

Bill discovered Georgia ForestWatch and the work that we do in the late 2000s.  He attended hike outings and was impressed that ForestWatch employed a forest ecologist to lead outings and to incorporate the science of forest ecology into the work of ForestWatch. He has continued to support ForestWatch as well as lead outings.  By attending an outing with Bill, you will learn the geologic history of what shaped, and continues to shape our beloved north Georgia mountains. 

Bill describes Georgia ForestWatch as a “wonderful organization that combines the educational outings that teach the science of the forest with the oversight of the Forest Service projects that help protect our forests.” He says,  “I am proud to be part of this organization”.   

If you would like more information, or to purchase a copy of Roadside Geology of Georgia, please visit:

Join Bill on an Outing!
Mt. Yonah Geology with Bill 11.21.21
Keown Falls Geology with Bill 12.16.21