IDEAS ON GROWING A HEALTHY CLUB
By Tom Reeves, President of Calaveras GMS
host of the 2006 CFMS Show
Yes, you can grow a club as we can show. While it's a lot of work the joy of seeing a club gain strength is rewarding in itself. We have hit upon many ideas and a great combination of people that have made the future of our club look bright, I know quite a few clubs are going through a downturn in membership and have been asked to share what has worked for us.
First, let the public know you exist. We placed a nice road dept. style sign out front and put contact information on the building for those that drive by. Next we printed some business size cards on our home computer that appealed to kids of all ages that are still picking up rocks?".
Then we went to our local rock shop and area libraries and museums with flyers announcing ourselves to the public. These should include meeting time and place as well as contact info.
Next is open a shop. Whatever you can manage will work as a starting point and it will quickly grow with donated machinery and smiling faces once you get the word out. It also helps to have a great shop person like ours who is patient and understanding. It needn't be fancy, ours is a converted portable office of approx. 8' X 25'.
Third is get out and go; somewhere, anywhere, on a field trip that is fun. I think there must be something worth collecting or visiting near every single club. And it's a great help to have a retired geologist like ours in the club, may you be so fortunate.
Have a dedicated individual keep everybody posted in the clubs bulletin. Ours keep us well informed of any activities that are planned for the month. Keep a roster handy so you call your new extended family.
Host a show. Yes it's a ton of work but you get great exposure and you visit with the many dealers who help us keep this great hobby alive.
So there you go, when you combine a great team and some happy and willing members it's like a rolling boulder, it just keeps going.
QUARTZSITE FIELD TRIP REPORT
Submitted by Bob Fitzpatrick
Best laid plans gone to waste, I got out of San Diego later than expected and made it into Quartzsite just before dark Tuesday evening. I could have gone right then to find a campsite, but instead opted to look up a friend in Desert Gardens. We had a good chat and some nice folks in the stall next door invited me to a delicious dinner. Who could resist! After all, I was so good at pitching the tent that surely I could do it in near darkness right? No need to rush things, better to camp on a full stomach! But what I hadn't counted on was the difficulty of finding a campsite in the darkness! After dinner, stumbling around in the dark, I spend quite a bit of time accidentally running over bushes before I finally found a good place to camp. The tent pitching went smoothly after that with the help of one of those super bright searchlight style flashlights and I fell asleep quickly. Later it got quite cold and I was kicking myself for not bringing in enough blankets. What's more unpleasant, being a little bit cold in the tent or going out into the freezing cold for more blankets!?!
The next morning, I broke camp in record time, packed everything back into the truck and got gas and food. I realized I had camped near the Las Vegas club so I also found a few minutes to visit with them as well and still had plenty of time to get to the meeting place for the first QIA field trip for Agate/Fossils. There I ran into a friend from previous hounding excursions and the whole group of about 10 vehicles was off to the site. There, we found various small bits of agate, jasper, and fossil, although nothing to write home about. My friend did manage to find some bits of petrified wood far from the road. The field trip leader had neglected to mention that she wanted us back at the vehicles by noon so she was getting a bit antsy by the time my friend finally came back at about 1PM! Then my friend and I decided to head out to the Powwow. It was getting late so we only got about half done before venders began to shut down. We grabbed some chow and I decided to camp out at the Whittier club's site so that I would feel more comfortable leaving all my stuff out during the day. Having learned from the previous night, I was sure to assemble my brand new tent heater and fan so that I would not be so cold. Up until that night, I never realized how much better I sleep in a nice warm comfy heated tent!
On the morning of Day 2, we opted for the Jasper/Hematite field trip. The metallic hematite actually runs in veins through the red jasper and the material is quite plentiful in locations right near the parking area so this would be a good trip for those who don't want to walk too far. You can either chisel it out of numerous veins yourself or just pick it up from what others have left behind. On this day, many hounders were diehard and moved a lot of rock out of the thick veins. Even I, against my better judgement, decided I just couldn't live without a few more boulders of the stuff and also managed to cut a nice gash into one of my fingers and leave behind almost as much red as I had taken out! As I always say, the rock gods demand sacrifice for their booty!
After that, we faced a conundrum as my friend was interested in both potential field trips for the next day and since they ran simultaneously, he had to choose! As a solution, I offered to look for the Banded Rhyolite site I had visited 2 years previously. Streaks of dark or greenish color mix with a lighter whitish colored background. With some info from the locals, we were finally able to find it and collect in the same location as one of the next day's field trips. However, I had heard rumors of even better material being located in the surrounding hills so we broke up and started inspecting the surroundings. After a great deal of searching, we did in fact find some nicer material, similar to what we had seen on display at the Powwow. As I was pounding away at some rock, a chip nailed me right in the eye. Luckily, I had managed to blink in time so damage was minimal, but the eye continued to be mildly sore for about a week or so. Don't forget to wear eye protection when pounding rocks!
Soon, were we heading back towards the trucks with our booty when we ran into the Las Vegas club heading the other way! They had gotten clued in on the better location from an inside source and so we at least knew we had found the good stuff and could go home satisfied. After that, we headed back to the Powwow and I realized I was slowly becoming addicted to the cinnamon rolls sold at the Powwow. I wonder how much rock hounding can be powered only on cinnamon rolls and diet coke! But it was late and many vendors were closing up before we finished. That night, I slept like a log in my nice warm tent with my dog snoring gently in my ear. On Day 3, we went to the other field trip option which was apache tears (balls of natural black volcanic glass called obsidian). At the conservative pace of the wagon master, it took a full 2 plus hours out of Quartzsite to finally reach the collecting location. At the end, the road was rough and this would probably be one of the more difficult QIA trips to make with a car. I was glad to now have the clearance of the Chevy Pickup instead. Apache tears were few near the parking place, but plentiful just a few hundred feet away. But beyond that, many of us discovered quite a lot of bits of agate and druzy quartz. Many pockets of interesting material were to be found mixed in with the rhyolite. At the end of the day, I crossed the road and went far into the back mountains and found two large geode looking blobs. One was surrounded with bubbly looking rhyolite and another was UFO shaped like a giant petrified clam, even having a pinched in seam like line running around where the two 'halves' of a UFO might be put together. People who lifted the UFO geode seemed sure the rock was light and must surely contain a cavity, so that was first on my list when I finally arrived home to the rock saws. Once I cut them open though, I found that both geodes were simply full of rhyolite! One did have a tiny line of agate inside, but for the most part, perhaps that isn't such a good geode location after all! However, I will still be interested in going back next year and going further up the road to see what might be found.
The next day, my friend had a meeting and I went by myself for Birdseye Rhyolite. The rhyolite in this location has circular patterns of orange that look nice when cut into jewelry . I realized then how much my rock hounding eye has improved in the two years since I have begun rock hounding. I was able to look at the sample material and quickly learn what on the ground was and was not the right stuff. Again on the advice of rumors, I hiked far from the vehicles and found better stuff several hills over. This time, I was done rock hounding by noon and took off for the all important shopping.
On the last day, we decided bypass the QIA field trips to do our own hounding expeditions near Brenda. First we looked for a geode location from a book. We found an old partially collapsed mine with barbed wire around it. However, it looked as if people were still going in and out of a small opening in the collapsed area. I however, was not feeling lucky and decided to pass on crawling in there. In a nearby area, we found many of the typical digging holes in the ground that mark geode hunting sites. My friend started in on a likely one, but my dog quickly decided that really was the best hole and became determined to lie down in it. From then on, my dog owned that hole and my friend was too polite to kick him out and so chose another hole, which luckily did pan out reasonably quickly with some baseball sized geodes. My hole took a lot more digging to get past the tailings of others but right when I was just about ready to give up, I found a few decent sized geodes and felt satisfied. One of them, I even had to pry right off of the rhyolite outcropping! Geodes there were often filled with druzy quartz, some with bits of black on it (calcite?) and would have been an extra pleasure for micromounters. Some had big blobs of black stuff that were probably the black calcite that was described in the book we had. Overall, it seemed a site that still had a lot of geodes of decent quality to offer, in some areas even near the surface of the ground. We also discovered that many very small goedes along the road were filled with a lot of white crystals that would make them great to give out to kids.
From there, we headed further down the road for lunch and then a plume jasper collecting site. Some of the red jasper here is mixed with clear agate in a swirly plumelike pattern that can be quite beautiful. You park along the road and in the distance, rock jutts up like a giant backbone from the land. You must hike up towards and around the thrusting rock to look for the better jasper. As often happens, the further you hike, the better the material, but at some point, the red finally ran out, the vehicles were just glints in the setting sun and it was time to head back. I found some decent plume in one specific area, but the pieces had a lot of air pockets and probably will not be good for much more than one big cabochon per slab. Still, it's some nice looking stuff and in my opinion, the hike is worth it, even if just for the beautiful view and observation of the many makeshift holes and mines that others have hacked into various areas around the rocks. After that, we rushed back to Quartzsite to catch the tail end of the Powwow and found the luck to see the fire obsidian before the vendor left for good. I also got a very good deal on a piece of fiery purple opal. So much for saving money!
Technically, that was the last day of the Powwow, but as often happens, plans change, and the next day that had been reserved for driving home soon became filled with other adventures. At first, we were just to check out one little bitty site on the way home and soon that site ballooned into 2 and then 3 and 4 other options! We had to choose so first we went looking for saginite along the 10 freeway. Saginite is another type of agate that can have a nice plumelike pattern. With little info to go on, it was tough to find the location though. We knew what road to take off the main road but were unsure where to park or which mountain to inspect. Three of us fanned out and saw some interesting clear agate amygdules, but did not find the saginite before becoming exhausted trudging through many deep washes. This location may require several days of searching in the future to find the good stuff. After that, we headed back towards the 10 freeway and then on to Chiriaco summit for fluorite. The road was sandy and my 2WD surfed much of the way but managed to get the job done anyway. At the location, we found there were a number of seams with fluorite that had hints of purple, green, or amber brown in them. One thing nice was that the seams were actually thick enough and solid enough to actually make into something, unlike the crumbly fluorite I have found at other locations. I was tired by then and not in the mood for hard rock mining so I opted to pick many decent sized tumbling pieces out of the many tailings piles. After that, we all split up and headed home. Six days and nine collecting sites later, it was good to be heading home.
YOUR CLUB'S FOUNDATION
By Fred Ott, CFMS Secretary
Does your club want more members? If so what are you going to do about it? There are many ways to develop increased membership...tools, shortcuts, tricks-of-the-trade, etc. but, above all else, a successful club must have a solid foundation. It must be organized. It must be consistent. People don't like to join organizations that have nothing to offer, are disorganized and/or lack leadership and direction.
It may seem silly, but you must first ask yourself: Why is increased membership in your society a worthwhile goal? A constant complaint heard throughout the Federation is that clubs are aging and membership rosters are down. There are, however, a number of success stories. As an example, the El Dorado County Mineral and Gem Society had 77 active members on January 1, 1999. As of December 31, 2005, they have 207 members! They're doing something right!
Again, why new members? New members can provide:
- New blood to fill the ranks of officers, directors and committee chairs.
- More members to do the work of your society.
- Stability to your club's long-range viability.
- New ideas and energy to expand your club's activities.
Without increased membership, the same people will always be called upon to do the work of the society.
What does your club do to encourage interest in new members? Many clubs in the Federation are focused on a single interest such as fossils, faceting or metal detecting. Others are multi-focused: rocks, gems, mineral, fossil, faceting, field trips, metal detecting, gem shows, etc. Regardless of the focus, your club must have a clear vision of its reason to exist. For those multi-focused clubs, establishing the concept of a platform works very well. This concept means designing a club to accommodate the many varied interests of prospective members. Obviously this can't be done overnight, but having:
GOALS can be the first step in pointing your club in the right direction.
So, here's something concrete that your club can do to begin the process. Establish a Long Range Planning Committee. It's simple; have your club President establish an ad hoc committee, appoint a chairperson and invite all your members to attend. Make sure the setting of these meetings is in a relaxed, social atmosphere: restaurants, member's homes, etc...anywhere that you can spend quality time discussing recommendations without the normal pressures and time-restraints of Board and General Membership meetings. Establish guidelines for the committee, such as:
- All members should be invited to attend each meeting.
- The Long Range Planning Committee should be an advisory committee, only making recommendations to your Board of Directors for their action.
- Meetings should be regularly scheduled (that is, every other month, quarterly, etc.
You'd be amazed at the energy and creativity found at these gathering.
More to follow next month...
CFMS MEMBER RECOGNITION
By Loretta Ogden
The Roseville Rock Rollers nominates Gloria Tomczyk for CFMS Member Recognition for 2005. Little did we realize when Gloria joined our club in 2001 that four years later she'd be running the show. The entire CFMS Show, that is! Starting as our club Federation Director in May of 2003, Gloria attended her first CFMS Directors' meeting in November 2003. She came back with this crazy idea of our club sponsoring the CFMS Show and Convention for 2005.
Thanks to Gloria's enthusiasm and leadership, our whole club became caught up in the excitement of hosting the CFMS Show. Gloria served as show chair, plus she worked on publicity, programs and facilities for the CFMS functions and she invited the state geologist, Dr. John Parrish, to do the opening show ceremony. Her high spirits kept us all on track and gave us the desire to do a great job.
Many non-rock hound attendees were amazed at our exhibits, demonstrations and dealers. Their eyes were opened up to a whole new hobby! Our show provided 3 days of ongoing education and appreciation of the earth sciences.
Gloria lives in the rural community of Foresthill, east of Auburn, and commutes over 80 miles daily to her job with the Department of Conservation. Other interests include a gold mining club and metal detecting, and her at-home hobbies are chopping wood and relaxing with her two cats. We all wish we could be as tireless as Gloria, and do as much as she has done for our club!
Submitted by Jim Hutchings
President, Roseville Rock Rollers
ONE ROCK HOUND AT A TIME
By Fred Ott and Richard Pankey, Membership Committee
Declining membership in CFMS and local clubs/societies, as well as a decline in the total numbers of clubs in CFMS, has been a source of much discussion and concern to many of us in the past few years. The reasons for this decline are many and a constant source of much speculation. Whatever the reasons, we need to make changes. At the Friday evening Cracker Barrel in Visalia in November, there was a lot of discussion and ideas about declining membership, attracting new members, and targeting potential member groups - a lot of great ideas and a lot of opportunity. Our objective is to not only stop the decline but to grow membership.
The outcome of all this talk and discussion is that a new ad hoc committee has been appointed by President Colleen McGann to address the needs of the Federation and its member societies in their efforts to increase membership rosters. Established as the "Membership Development Committee," a committee chairperson will soon be appointed to work with officers and directors of the Federation as well as volunteers from northern and southern California societies. The committee has been charged with the task of:
- Helping member societies attract new members.
- Helping member societies retain existing members, and
- Attracting new societies to join the Federation.
To help get this committee started, we would like to hear from all clubs and societies who are interested in membership development - what they are doing and what they need. There are clubs in our Federation that are way ahead of us in the process of attracting new members. We need to hear from you about your successes and what you are doing. This committee will act as a clearinghouse to gather ideas, coordinate information and synergies, disseminate information, and assist directly where needed.
Articles, tips, suggestions and success stories will be included in each month's Federation newsletter and a special forum will be held at the annual Federation Show to provide a hands-on opportunity to share experiences with other societies. Until a chairperson is appointed, Dick and Fred will serve as the points of contact. Please send them an email at email@example.com or :firstname.lastname@example.org respectively with your thoughts. It's not too soon to start sending us your ideas, tips, and success stories. Also, please contact us if you would like to serve on this important committee that is so important to the future of the Federation and our societies.
Together, we will Grow the Federation – One Rockhound at a Time!
ROCKS FROM SPACE
By Jim Brace-Thompson, Junior Activities Chair
Geology isn't only underfoot. The earth is a little blue marble floating among other little marbles and big gassy balls and little metallic BB's that occasionally make a splash. Our exploration of the solar system—and now planets within solar systems far from our own—has entered a new glory day. With remarkable imaging techniques and robotic crafts journeying across the solar system, geologists no longer find themselves earthbound, and fascinating discoveries are announced with each new issue of a scientific journal. While the typical rockhound has eyes glued to the ground, encourage kids to look up to the sky to join a generation that may be collecting from Mars, exploring the surface of asteroids, and analyzing the pixie dust of comets.
Meteorites offer an excellent entry into extraterrestrial geology. You can discuss with kids how our solar system is filled with cosmic debris in such areas as the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and the Oort cloud that sends comets hurtling our way. In many clubs, at least one member seems to have a collection of meteorites and tektites. (Meteorites are stony or iron rocks that fall to earth from space; tektites are glassy "buttons" created when rock is ejected and melted by a meteorite strike and cools quickly as it plummets back to earth.) Invite that person, or perhaps an expert from a local museum or university, to show off a few meteorites with your kids and to talk about why some meteorites are stony and some are iron and how tektites form. It's a real thrill for a child to hold a heavy iron meteorite and feel the weight of a visitor from space!
An excellent book to provide a juniors activities leader with background on meteorites and tektites is O. Richard Norton's Rocks From Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters, Second Edition (Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1998). It gives all you need to know about what a meteorite is and how to identify one, where they came from, famous meteorite hunters and collectors, and some of the great meteorite craters, along with handy appendices, references for further reading, and a glossary.
One fun activity is making meteorite craters by dropping a marble into a pan of wet sand. Have kids toss a marble from different angles and different velocities. Drop the marble onto different surfaces: dry sand, wet sand, clay, mud, topsoil, etc. You can also talk about the effects of a truly massive meteorite or asteroid hit on earth by talking about the theory of how the Age of Dinosaurs came crashing to an end. A neat web size from the University of Arizona lets you determine the destructive power of a meteor or asteroid hit by changing variables such as the size of the object, its composition, and your distance from ground zero. The site is at www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects.
A follow-up homework assignment might have kids researching to name and learn about a prominent crater on earth left by an extraterrestrial impact, such as Arizona's Meteor Crater, Canada's Manicouagan Crater, or West Australia's Wolf Creek Crater. A terrific web site on meteorite craters is www.geology.com/meteor-impact-craters.shtml. It allows you to browse 50 meteorite impact caters on Earth with an interactive Google map. Special features allow you to click on a crater to see its name, location, and size. You can also zoom in for a close-up view that allows you to hover above a meteor crater.
So let's all lift our eyes to the sky and, as signs say along mountain roads, watch for falling rocks while—as always—having fun!