Burlingame teen’s love of geology bestows him with ‘Rock Star’ title

Zach Smith – Rock Star rockhound

Topeka Gem and Mineral Society will recognize a Burlingame teenager as a “Rock Star” after he recently became one of only two Kansas students to achieve this national status among dedicated rockhounds.

Zach Smith, 15, of Burlingame, Kan., recently completed the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies’ Future Rockhounds of America Program, earning the Rock Star status. Only one other student in Kansas, and only 27 in the United States, have ever achieved this national status since the program began in 2009.

Smith’s love of geology began when he was about 8 years old. He and his brother were looking for golf balls that had fallen into a drainage ditch near Forbes Field Golf Course in Topeka, Kan. Instead of golf balls, Smith found what he believed to be a Dalmation stone. The white stone with black spots was the beginning of a new adventure.

Since then, he has attended geology camp at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, visited geologically rich locations like the Coralville Formation in Coralville, Iowa, and went on a three-day geology field trip across Kansas as part of Cair Paravel Latin School’s summer programming.

Smith joined the local AFMS chapter, the Topeka Gem and Mineral Society in 2015. He knew they had a program for youth, but had no idea how engaging and challenging the Future Rockhound program would be.

“I’ve been able to go on geological digs for fossils and learned how to turn rocks and minerals into beautiful jewelry,” Zach said.

In 2016, Zach earned the title of Junior Rockhound of the Year, and became a TGMS intern in 2017. Then, on Sept. 7, 2017, he completed the last of 60 activities required to complete the program and earn the title of Rock Star.

The Future Rockhound program requires students to complete three activities in each of 20 areas. Most of the subject areas cover geology-related topics like fluorescent minerals and earth processes. But this comprehensive curriculum also gives students experience in other subjects, including lapidary arts, leadership, and conducting research.

Jim Brace-Thompson, AMFS junior program chair, says the goal of the program is to “foster and develop science literacy and arts education among our youngest members.”

Smith is home schooled and will graduate from high school in May 2018. After high school, he plans to pursue an Associate of Earth Science Degree from Allen County Community College before transferring to a four-year college to complete a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology. He hopes to find a career that will allow him to study minerals in a laboratory.

Topeka Gem and Mineral Society will recognize Smith for his accomplishment at its business meeting at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22, 2017, at Washburn University, Stoffer Science Hall, Room 138. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Some of Smith’s work will be on display at TGMS’s 61st Annual Gem and Mineral Show, Oct. 14-15, 2017, at the Topeka Expocenter Ag Hall.

Information and photo thanks to Lettie Thomas.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas