December 1 Program -- Smithsonite: My Global Micromineral Collection & the Legacy of James Smithson, presented by Kathy Hrechka

by Yury Kalish, Vice President

Our featured speaker for December will be Kathy Hrechka, a retired career flight attendant, who now works as a volunteer in the Geology, Gems, and Mineral (GGM) Hall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. As a micromineral collector, she decided to collect smithsonites in 2012 after taking an interest in the Tsumeb exhibit in GGM. Kathy noticed the different forms that smithsonite can take, much like calcite, and became interested in learning more. This interest led her to assemble impressive collection of over 100 different smithsonites from around the world.

In her presentation, Kathy also will discuss the legacy of James Smithson, an Englishman who left his fortune to the United States to establish an institution that has become the largest museum and research complex in the world.

As a child, Kathy began collecting  Lake Superior agates and banded iron pebbles in Superior, Wisconsin. Upon her career move to  the Washington, DC area in 1984, she began collecting microminerals, under the mentorship of Fred Schaefermeyer. Presently, she volunteers as editor of The Mineral Mite, a monthly publication for The Micromineralogists of the National Capital Area

Kathy has been married to Kenneth Hrechka for the past 30 years and together they have two grown children, Julia and Michael. One side note: due to her passion for geology, many of her travels have taken her to geological wonders of the world.