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Rodewald Receives Nolte Award from UWFox Weis Earth Science Museum

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Pete Rodewald

Pete Rodewald has been named the 2010 recipient of the Donna Nolte Inspiration Award, presented by the Weis Earth Science Museum (WESM). The award is presented to individuals 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.  The WESM is the state’s official mineralogical museum and is located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley.

The Donna Nolte Inspiration Award is named for Donna Nolte (Omro, WI), in honor of her long-time service to the hobby of geology as well as the inspiration and innovation she has shown in encouraging people to understand and enjoy Earth’s treasures.

Rodewald, a self-taught amateur mineralogist known for his warm personality, spent much of his life studying rocks and tirelessly sharing his knowledge with others.  As a boy in western Wisconsin, he started picking up agates and other interesting rocks on Rush River gravel bars. He settled with his mother south of River Falls (WI), where he worked at various farm-related jobs. His real passion was natural history, especially rocks and birds. He trained himself to be an outstanding photographer of both subjects.

Rodewald did as much field collecting as his work allowed, including traveling to Montana, Wyoming and particularly to Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. His eye for spotting interesting samples, as well as his skill with a metal detector, are legendary.

He is an expert and innovative lapidary.  Rodewald has a particular interest in Lake Superior agates, Keweenawan native copper, and their unique combination:  the copper-bearing agates from the Wolverine Mine.  He has been generous with specimen donations to universities and other institutions.

He was one of the charter members of the St. Croix Rockhounds Club based in Stillwater, Minnesota.  He has held every office within the club, and has displayed at every one of that organization’s mineral shows.  He has exhibited at many other area shows, additionally being a lively and popular speaker at many area club meetings and shows.  Two personal highlights for Rodewald include speaking at the 2005 Munich, Germany agate symposium and at the 2008 Wonderful World of Agates symposium held at the WESM.

Rodewald’s remarkable photographic skills make his images a highlight in all of his talks and presentations.  He has become particularly adept at photographing the spectacular color patterns in iris and fluorescent agates.  His photographs have been widely published, most notably in "Rocks and Minerals" magazine, Michael Carlson's "Beauty of Banded Agates" and Johann Zenz' massive "Agates II" volume.  He has developed an award winning slide show, "Lake Superior Agates, Naturally" for the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.  He also co-created, with Dean Stone, another award winning slide show for the Federation, "Michigan's White Pine Mine."  A third program, based on his iris agate slides, is currently being prepared by Dr. Wayne Sukow of the National Science Foundation.

Rodewald’s stunning photographs, many talks and displays have served as a delight and inspiration for young and old, encouraging many individuals to collect and learn more about the Earth.  He is a role model for the idea that persistence and dedication, coupled with a great joy and love of life-long learning, even without college-level training, can lead one to make significant contributions to the understanding of the Earth. 

For more information about the Donna Nolte Inspiration Award or to nominate someone for the award, please contact Joanne Kluessendorf, joanne.kluessendorf@uwc.edu, 920-832-0125 or visit the WESM website at www.weismuseum.org.

Posted 02/10/2010