Friends of Mineralogy Virginia

by Ken Rock, MSDC Editor

Friends of Mineralogy Virginia (FMVA) Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and expanding the study of mineralogy and the hobby of mineral collecting. Its mission is to promote and preserve Virginia mineral and mining heritage while expanding the knowledge of minerals more broadly through community programs and industry partnerships.

Cindy Schmidtlein, MSDC Vice President & Thomas Hale, President, The Virginia Mineral Project. Photo by Ken Rock.

Many of us have talked with or seen representatives from FMVA at local gem and mineral shows or have picked up one of their brochures or information sheets. I was fortunate to meet with Tom Hale and two other team members recently at the Northern Virginia Mineral Club's Gem & Mineral show at George Mason University. I learned that FMVA is a service organization that strives to serve as the "connective tissue" between the public and the state’s mining sector, academic institutions, and political offices.

FMVA's parent organization, Friends of Mineralogy, was founded in 1970 with the goal of bridging the communications gap between amateur mineral collectors and professional mineralogists, mineral dealers, and mining companies. The Virginia chapter was founded by a team of mineral collectors, curators, geologists, and mineralogists interested in promoting the Commonwealth’s mineral resources. FMVA provides an impressive array of programs and resources including:

1) A Teacher Manual, "Mineralogy & Geology of Virginia." A great resource for teachers wanting to learn more about the most important rocks and minerals in the state.

2) Virginia Mineral Directory. This 2022 Virginia Mineral Directory is a one-stop document for all things related to Virginia rockhounding and geoscience!

3) FMVA YouTube Series. FMVA hosts monthly speakers on the last Thursday of each month. Speakers come from all around the globe and are leading experts in mineralogy and geology topics.

4) is the world's largest open database of minerals, rocks, meteorites and the localities they come from.

5) Macrostrat. A platform for geological data exploration, integration, and analysis. This geologic map database includes over 225 maps from data providers around the world.

6) Rockd. Instant access to more than 155 geologic maps.

7) Rockhounding 101 Course. An introductory class provided to the public to help beginners learn more about the hobby and explore their own collecting interests. The class hosts five virtual sessions and two field trips.

8) Virginia Rockhounding. A community Facebook group with over 11,000 citizens across the Commonwealth who share a passion for learning about Virginia's natural resources.

In addition to all these activities, FMVA works closely with industry and teachers associations to get educators into quarries to learn about mining and the aggregate industry. In 2022, FMVA published its first book on NOVA trap rock quarries. This is the first colored book on Virginia's mineral resources and hopes to be the first in a lineup of new books across each province.

To learn more about FMVA and the great variety of programs and resources it offers, check out the website: If you have have questions or would like to connect in person, you can contact FMVA at or by phone 540-529-4506.