How Santa Fe College Ended Up With One Of North Florida’s Largest Rock Collections

By on September 11th, 2013

Twenty-four new display cases filled with gems, fossils and minerals that date from every era of Earth’s history are now housed in an exhibit at Santa Fe College.

The collection, one of North Florida’s largest, is part of a new Santa Fe effort to provide an intriguing natural history exhibit to its students and the public, and it include a 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite from Namibia, petrified wood, dinosaur fossils and various minerals.

“Since the Florida Museum of Natural History doesn’t have minerals,” said Santa Fe College geology professor Mike Patrick, “we’re the big boy in town now.”

A geological timeline, painted to scale, sits on a column in the exhibit’s lobby, which is located at Santa Fe’s Building X .

Mike Patrick, 66, examines a display case filled with sulfate minerals. Patrick obtained and arranged 24 cases of minerals, fossils and gems for an exhibit in the lobby of Building X at Santa Fe College.

James Thicke / WUFT news

Mike Patrick, 66, examines a display case filled with sulfate minerals. Patrick obtained and arranged 24 cases of minerals, fossils and gems for an exhibit in the lobby of Building X at Santa Fe College.

Patrick, 66, spent the summer putting the exhibit’s minerals display together. About 80 percent of the collection was donated from the former Earth Wonders Geological Museum in Flagler County, he said.

Earth Wonders closed about two years ago, and its collection was housed for display in Flagler County office space, where school children could visit, according to Patrick.

Over time, children stopped visiting.

“They just lost interest,” he said. “But we saw what an incredible collection it was.”

Patrick said he competed with many other organizations for the Earth Wonders collection, including the Jacksonville Gem and Mineral Society.

He managed to finally acquire it in June with the help of donations and loans, which laid the groundwork for the exhibit.

Geology professor Greg Mead, 57, helped Patrick organize the exhibit and loaned part of his own personal collection of minerals.

The collection is still a work in progress, Mead said. He expects an increase in donations.

“We have things that a major university down the road doesn’t have,” Mead said. “Students that are taking classes here are absolutely noticing it.”

Cody Cole, 21, a student in one of Patrick’s geology courses, said the exhibit has students talking.

“This is my favorite building,” he said, adding that once he got the chance to hold the meteorite.

“I think (people will) get more interested in the science programs,” he said. “It gives them a reason to come in here.”

The exhibit is set to join the Teaching Zoo, the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium and the Jean Klein Rock Cycle Garden at Santa Fe, a location informally known as the “Circle of Science.”

Patrick, who also created the rock garden, said he will continue trying to get funds and donations to upgrade the exhibit.

“I think you’re seeing the maturity of Santa Fe,” he said. “The campus is starting to get collections like a major university would have, and we start to have graduates giving back to the school.”

“It’s a cooperative effort. Santa Fe is proud of this.”

This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Cathy

    Great article. However, is it open to the public? What are the hours? Can this information be retrieved from Santa fe’s website or has it not been posted yet?

    • James

      It is open to the public, and it’s open for all school hours, since it’s housed in the lobby of Building X, the natural sciences building. This information has not yet been uploaded to Santa Fe’s website as far as I can tell, it’s too new.


More Stories in Education

World Teacher's Day was recently celebrated, but in Florida some teachers say the best gift they could receive would be the end of high-stakes testing.

Standardized Testing Affects Alachua County Public School’s Teaching Practices

A lack of accountability with standardized testing is a common problem facing Florida schools, causing Parent Teacher Associations around Florida and other organizations to promote more positive learning environments. Alachua County Public Schools has recognized the frustration the local educators are feeling.

The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre put on two productions of “Banned!?” Saturday, a play that discusses children’s books that have been banned. Displayed above is the re-enactment of “Where The Wild Things Are,” which has been repeatedly challenged for “romanticizing anger” to children.

Book Lovers Celebrate Banned Books Week

Annual Banned Books Week from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 was celebrated at UF in the Plaza of the Americas on Thursday. Students read literature aloud from different authors who’s work has been challenged in public schools. The goal for Banned Books Week is to celebrate the liberty to read.

student Arthur Seabrooks waters cucumber plants Wednesday morning at the Loften High location in the greenhouse. Seabrooks, 18, said he enjoys everything about his program.

New Location Spurs Growth for Farm to School Program

Alachua County’s Farm to School to Work program, a place for disabled students to work in gardening and farming, expanded to a new location this Fall. This gives the students more space to grow and process healthy foods to distribute to local schools.

Inverness Middle School is the second middle school in Citrus County to host the Homework Diner program. The free tutoring program offers students help in math and a complimentary meal twice a week.

‘Homework Diner’ to Expand to Inverness Middle School

Students participating in a tutoring program at Inverness Middle School will get more than a grade boost. United Way of Citrus County’s Homework Diner program will give select students free math tutoring after school. The program also offers a complimentary dinner and a ride home […]


A Former Cedar Key Motel’s Biological Future

The University of Florida purchased the Gulf Side Motel in Cedar Key and is transforming it into a biology research center. Students will have a chance to take courses in the heart of a recreational tourism and shellfish aquaculture area.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments