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Family donates unique collection to Headwaters Science Center

From left are Mark Jensen, his daughter Katie and his wife, Lori. The family donated a unique collection of rocks and minerals, dinosaur bones and a 25- to 30-million-year-old turtle shell to the Headwaters Science Center. Pioneer Photo/Anne Williams

The Headwaters Science Center received a unique collection of rocks, minerals and dinosaur bones as a gift, made official at a donation ceremony at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 17, at the HSC.

The donated collection comes from the family of Mark Jensen of Bemidji, who inherited the collection from his parents, Melvin and Clarice Jensen of Baron, Wis.

"My folks were amateur scientists and geologists. They had a tremendous love of geology," said Mark Jensen.

As a child, Jensen traveled to the western United States in the 1960s with his parents to explore the geological formations of the area for dinosaur bones and rocks.

"My parents put together these cases of rocks that they found wherever they traveled and they would show them to people and take them to schools to teach the kids," Jensen said.

The collection also includes a 25- to 30-million-year-old turtle shell Jensen found while exploring Chalky Buttes, N.D., with his father and uncle.

The HSC's current geology exhibit consists of several cupboards packed full of miscellaneous rocks that have been collected over the years.

"It's a great collection, but it's difficult to educate people. There's some really nice examples, but there's just too many of one kind and not enough of another," said HSC volunteer Gary Lockner.

Lockner has spent much of his time lately sorting through the current minerals and rocks collection at the HSC. Lockner hopes the new exhibit will help make it easier for people to become educated on rocks.

The donated Jensen collection is to be put in a new exhibit at the HSC, which will require time and money.

The HSC received a grant from NASA that partners with the geology department at Bemidji State University. The grant provides funding for earth science research and exhibits.

"With this grant we hope to create an excellent rock and mineral exhibit so that by 2010 we can put teachers at the HSC who will be able to use the display," said Tim Kroeger, professor of geology at Bemidji State University.

The donated collection is at the HSC for viewing, but the new geology exhibit will not be ready for several months.