Volunteer, Patrick Rowe is the Vice President for Field Trips for the Los Alamos Geological Society and is a Project Engineer for Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received a degree in engineering from the University of Oklahoma. Patrick has been collecting rocks for more than 40 years and leads geologic field trips for PEEC; Future Rockhouds of America Pebble Pups Program.
PEEC: Where are you from and how did you end up in Los Alamos?
P.R.: I grew up in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. After college, I worked in Nevada for almost 25 years. In 2005, I spent a year in New Orleans helping with the relief effort from Hurricane Katrina. It was during this period that I found my center; helping people and giving back to the community.
A friend of mine interviewed for a job with KSL here in Los Alamos. He felt that my background was better suited for the expectations of the position and recommended me for the job. After leaving New Orleans, I came home and took the position with KSL. Later I accepted a position with the Laboratory. I have enjoyed every job I’ve had, but the hardest one for me to leave was the relief effort in Louisiana. There was still so much that should have been done, but politics got in the way.
PEEC: How did you get involved in Geology?
P.R.: I was fortunate in that my father was a geologist. I have been collecting rocks since I was about five years old. Geology was a seamless part of our family activities. While my degrees are in engineering, they include a strong basis in geology and earth sciences.
The Los Alamos Geological Society and PEEC allow me to combine my love for geology with my love of giving back to the community. The technology behind geology is advancing in leaps and bounds; I want our kids to be part of this adventure.
PEEC: What’s your favorite rock?
P.R.: Wow – there are so many beautiful minerals out there. For large specimens, I would have to go with fluorite. It comes in an almost an endless array of colors and many excellent shapes.
Over the last couple of years, I have focused a lot of my mineral collecting to micro-minerals (minerals that can only be seen or studied using magnification). Micro-minerals are the perfect crystalline form of most minerals. The variety of crystal shapes, colors, and combinations is endless. Even non-collectors do a double-take upon looking through a microscope. My favorite micro-mineral is a beautiful spray of green Mixite, and it just takes your breath away.
PEEC: How did you get involved with PEEC?
P.R.: I was asked to lead a geologic field trip. After meeting the wonderful folks and professionals at PEEC, I was hooked.
PEEC: What type of volunteer work do you do with PEEC?
P.R.: I lead geologic field trips and co-lead the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS), Future Rockhounds of America Badge Program.
Geologic field trips are lovely events for both parents and kids. Northern NM has some of the most spectacular scenery available anywhere. Understanding the geology and the events that led to its creation gives the participants a deeper appreciation for our earth and our State.
The AFMS Future Rockhounds of America Badge Program is a nationwide program dedicated to educating and promoting earth sciences. The underlying goals are to foster science literacy and arts education through structured activities that are engaging and challenging and by which kids—and the adults who mentor them—learn while having fun. Pebble Pup participants learn about rocks, fossils, and local geology with active games and activities!
PEEC: Where is your favorite Pebble Pup field trip location and why?
P.R.: Small Fry prospect. All participants found a wide array of excellent mineral specimens and everyone appeared to have a wonderful time.
PEEC: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
P.R.: Giving back to the community. Over time, I have learned that friends and community are more important than material items. The smiles on the kid’s faces when they collected something wonderful or learned something new is priceless and could have a meaningful impact on their lives.
Geology is science and teaches a methodology for learning and critical thinking. While not as bad here in Los Alamos, I believe, a deep erosion in our science curriculum has occurred across our nation. I believe we are in need of more professionals to stand up and attempt to turn this tide. After all, our kids are our future!!!
PEEC: In your opinion what is the most important work PEEC does?
P.R.: Educating the public and our kids. We learn through listening, seeing, and experiencing (or stimulating our tactile senses). The Nature Center brings all these elements together and allows everyone to get up close to nature and learn while having fun.
PEEC: What outdoor hobbies do you enjoy?
P.R.: My favorite hobbies include those recreational activities that get me out in nature. My favorites include collecting and studying minerals; collecting and studying fossils; hiking, camping, and fishing.
PEEC: What do you love about the Pajarito plateau?
P.R.: The beautiful scenery and the wonderful people. I have traveled quite a bit in my professional life, and our focus toward community and our kids is excellent. We also have the folks that are willing to make a difference. While this sounds a bit like a cliché, very few communities have these essential focuses.
PEEC: Best outdoor experience in LA/WR area?
P.R.: Hiking the Canyon de Cobre area north of Abiquiu. The scenery is spectacular and the geology is kinda cool too. It is inspiring in its beauty and screams for the participants to learn how it was formed.
PEEC: What is your best or funniest memory working at PEEC?
P.R.: On one of the field trips, I was showing the kids what wonderful things could be found in ant piles. Shortly afterward, a very large friend of mine walked up and one of the kids asked him if he had found anything. The reply was not yet. The child replied, well come with me I will show you how to find some cool stuff. They both kneeled by the ant pile and the child showed him what could be found and placed wonderful little specimens in his big hands.
PEEC: What is the most interesting question a kid has asked you in Pebble Pups?
P.R.: After watching a movie about dinosaurs, a child asked why the dinosaurs in the movie were pooping out the eggs. Never was there a more perfect question, or a better segue to talk about how birds are the modern relatives of dinosaurs. Like dinosaurs, birds lay eggs (nether poop them out).
PEEC: What is on your wish list for PEEC for the next 10 years?
P.R.: Working with UNM LA to establish some adult learning classes covering topics of interest to the Los Alamos community.
PEEC: If you could be a local animal, which would you pick and why?
P.R.: I have always had a thing for Mountain Lions. In my teens, I was hiking below the Tram in the Monzano Mountains. Some deer spoked ahead of me, and I knew I was not the one that had spoked them. Close observation revealed a large Mountain Lion sitting on a rock watching the deer run away. I saw her about the time she saw me. Instead of being frightened, I sat down on a rock and watched her. She ended up laying down on the rock, and rolled on her side and watched me. Eventually, we both got up and walked in different directions. What an invigorating and exciting experience. What a graceful and beautiful creature.
-If you are interested in learning more about PEEC and the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road visit peecnture.org. To learn more about volunteering or how to support our Nature Play area, ask to speak with Christa Tyson, Volunteer Coordinator, or send her an email.
Article by Christa Tyson, PEEC Visitor Services Manager