FAIRFIELD — Tina Anderson thinks she picked up her first rock when she was about 7, walking on Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
She graduated to rock field guides shortly after that. Then, it was rock collecting and a degree in geology.
“As a young child you don’t process too much about it,” she said of rocks. “It was more about the physical item, that they are not all the same. Everything made sense when I started to read the field guides.”
Today, Anderson is a key player in the Vallejo Gem & Mineral Society, which is hosting its Spring Bling on Saturday and Sunday at the Solano County Fairgrounds. The organization is also housed at the same location. The show is in a different building but the gem and mineral building will be open.
Anderson joined the Vallejo Gem & Mineral Society about six years ago after attending one its shows. She also teaches classes for the group as well as instructing new members on how to use the equipment. Anderson also leads some of the rock-hunting jaunts.
New members are becoming harder to find, she said. Anderson said she knows of two rock clubs that have folded in the past few years due to lack of membership. The majority of members in the Vallejo group are older than 50, she said.
Hunting for rocks is a great way to get children and teens away from their electronic devices and get them in the outdoors, Anderson said.
“They don’t know what they are missing,” she said of a rock-hunting expedition.
This year’s show has placed an emphasis on youth and expanded its Kids Corner area, which was introduced last year.
Dan Wolke, who has been with the group since 2001, would like to see more youth involved. He’s retired and got the “rockhoud” bug from and FBI agent he knew.
“The guy would disappear every January,” Wolke said.
That’s when the FBI agent went rock hunting. One look at some turquoise collected by his acquaintance and Wolke was soon packing up his 1999 Buick Regal for a trip to Denning, N.M. on his own rock-hunting trek.
“We have got to foster a love of geology,” he said. “We need to start with the kids. Let them know rocks are special.”
Wolke and his wife make jewelry from their rock collection, sell it and donate all profits to nonprofit groups such as food banks and the Wounded Warriors project. Money also goes to missionaries in the field and agencies that help the homeless.
“It makes selling easy,” he said.
Last year’s show drew about 500 visitors. Vallejo Gem & Mineral Society members hope for 750 people to pass through the doors of McCormack Hall during the two days.
“This is a great place for people of all ages,” Wolke said of the show.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.