The nonprofit organization Rhode Island Mineral Hunters (RIMH) presented University of Rhode Island geosciences student Morgan Haldeman with a $1,000 scholarship at their annual rock and mineral show.
Founded in 1962, RIMH is dedicated to the appreciation and study of minerals, crystals, fossils and all aspects of the Earth sciences. “We disseminate knowledge about geology and go on field trips to interesting and educational locations,” said RIMH president and URI alumnus Steve Emma. “We just like to get people involved with studying geology. That’s our mission.”
Through dues collected at their monthly meetings and funds raised during their annual rock and mineral show, NIMH gives back to Rhode Island by offering yearly scholarships to local students in good academic standing.
“We give out scholarships to any student who is studying geology or a related field or environmental science,” Emma said. “We’re not wealthy. We have a small budget but we would like to keep our money in students going to school in Rhode Island or nearby Massachusetts.”
Haldeman learned about the scholarship when a geosciences advisor linked to it on Sakai. Though she was this year’s only applicant, Emma said he and his fellow NIMH member were impressed by Haldeman’s passion for geology. Haldeman is interested in pursuing a career in volcanology, an interest that began when she was a child. “It was something I wanted to do since I was about 3-feet tall,” she said. “I ended up picking up one of those Eyewitness books on earthquakes and volcanoes – the big ones with all the pictures and all the little captions under them. The next thing you knew, I was kind of hooked.” Haldeman began attending academic lectures on volcanology at age 8, including one by her current advisor, oceanography professor Steve Carey.
RIMH invited Haldeman to receive her scholarship at their 42nd “Rocktoberfest,” an annual event where members display and sell rare minerals, gems and fossils. Held at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Knight Campus on Oct. 25 and 26, the event also featured a silent auction and educational exhibits. In addition to receiving free admission for herself and her mother, Haldeman was asked to judge a competition in which she assessed the quality of mineral samples brought by RIMH members, choosing the best three to receive awards.
Having never attended of the event before, Haldeman was amazed by the variety of displays featured. “It was a lot of fun,” she said. “There were probably 50 booths and tables of just these absolutely gorgeous displays.” She was especially impressed by a tent filled with fluorescent minerals that glow under black light. “It was pretty amazing,” she said. “There were so many people there which was very exciting. They had definitely gotten the word out.” Haldeman said she will definitely attend events in coming years. “We had a really great time and I wish I could have stayed longer,” she said.
While Haldeman is certainly interested in joining RIMH, her further studies in volcanology might keep her away from Rhode Island for the foreseeable future. Though she’s a Rhode Island native, Haldeman spent her first two years in college at the University of Hawaii at Hilo due to its proximity to volcanoes. “Kilauea is only 30 miles away from the school,” she said. “They actually had a bus that went right from the school to the park every morning and every afternoon. It was pretty cool.”
Haldeman is currently applying to a variety of graduate schools, all out of state, due to the lack of volcanologists in Rhode Island. “Unfortunately there’s only one volcanologist at URI – Steve Carey,” she said. “It would be great to stay with him but right now URI’s just not the place for volcanology necessarily.” She’s certainly thinking about how she can fit RIMH into her schedule though. “They’re fun people,” Haldeman said. “I really enjoyed hanging out with them and meeting them. It would be great to go to more of their meetings and see what they’re up to.”
Emma hopes that more students will take notice of the RIMH scholarships and urges anyone with a passion for geology or the natural sciences to apply. “We give them out every year if we can,” he said. “Usually we get at least one person applying, but hopefully we get several. We could give even three scholarships depending on what money we have and who applied. It’s something that we want to let people know that we have.”