Burgess brings geological specimens to Wetlands Centre
By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor
Prairie du Chien’s Phil Burgess has displayed items from his fossil and mineral collection at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre in Marquette. Burgess’ Drusy Quartz Crystals and Brazilian Agates are currently on display, but, with at least 100,000 specimens in his collection, he said it will be a rotating display, so visitors can check out new finds every few months.
Burgess houses his collection in his home, and often invites groups there to view it, so he joked that the Wetlands Centre is an “excuse for extra storage,” as well as a good venue to hold presentations.
“It’s hard to fit 50 to 60 kids in my house,” Burgess said, “so it’s nice to have a place for other people to see this stuff.”
Burgess said the area’s geological history is often neglected, so he commended the Wetlands Centre for including it along with the plant and animal displays and information.
“These are the types of things we want at the Wetlands Centre,” said Rinda Ferguson. “When we started envisioning the centre, we thought about what was in the area and we approached him. We’re lucky to have people in the area to share that knowledge. Maybe it will pique the interest of people who haven’t been exposed to it.”
While Burgess admitted that many of his specimens are not much to look at, the collections currently on display are quite colorful. The Brazilian Agates, which Burgess labeled the most complex stone in the world, are shades of blue, amber and gray. The Drusy Quartz Crystals sparkle within the lighted display case.
“It’s nice to see something around that says geology is a part of our environment and our area,” Burgess said. “Whether people think the rocks are pretty, or they’re really interested, the display will be here.
“It’s all about educating people on the environment and educating them on how to respect, love and take care of it, then pass that on, or else it won’t be there.”