2012 Donna Nolte Inspiration Award
Mike Riesch has been named the 2012 recipient of the Donna Nolte Award, presented by the Weis Earth Science Museum, Menasha, Wisconsin. The award is presented to those who have been inspirational or innovative in encouraging others, especially young people, to appreciate Earth’s mineral and fossil treasures and to enjoy geological hobbies. Mike is the founder/director of Earthaven Museum in Gillete, Wisconsin.
Mike's interest in geology began early. His mother would take Mike and his sister for walks in fields where they would pick up interesting rocks. One of the earliest treasures that MIke unearthed was an abalone shell — in a Wisconsin farm field! What was it doing there?! Intrigued by that specimen, he began investigating the origins of his other finds.
His college courses were focused in the humanities, but he never lost his geological curiosity. He continued to be intrigued by the treasures of the earth, picked up geology courses as an adult and read voraciously. During the time he lived in Washington, DC, he volunteered at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum and got to unpack and catalog other people's finds. That was not enough; he wanted to find things himself.
During the time he lived in Pueblo, CO, he became involved in the local rock club, served as its President, became involved with the Midwest Federation of Gem and Mineral Societies and enjoyed field trips that gave him the opportunity to find specimens himself!
That's never stopped. His greatest joy continues to be hands-on discoveries. A decade ago he decided that his collection should no longer reside in boxes and a few cases in his home. He wanted to share it with his community. That was the beginning of Earthaven Museum.
Earthaven gives Mike the opportunity to display his specimens, especially his extensive mineral collection, and to share his love and knowledge of geology with others. He especially enjoys giving school children and scout groups tours of the museum, where he provides them with lots of hands-on education.