Rock Hound of the Year 2002

Cowboy Jerry





Jerry is referred to as Cowboy Jerry sometimes because he has operated a ranch since 1982.  He considers ranching his "sideline" because he has been a school teacher since 1962.

Jerry has been a rock hound for most of his adult life.  His interest in earth's processes, land structures and rocks began to develop when he enrolled in geology classes at Tarleton State Junior College in 1957.  His interest continued to grow as he studied mineralogy at Texas Tech University.  He obtained a degree in Secondary Education, chemistry and mathematics from Howard Payne University and began teaching science in grade levels 6, 7 and 8 in San Antonio.  Later he taught earth science, life science, chemistry, and physics at Brady, Texas.  He developed the science project's curriculum and show techniques for the Brady Jr High and High School.  A few years later, he taught earth science and mathematics in the Mesquite School District and helped develop their science curriculum as he pursued a master's degree in earth science from East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas. 

Jerry obtained a master's degree in earth science with a 4.0 grade average.  The science background, which involved studying historical geology, astronomy, meteorology, and mineralogy in the earth's history, helped his teaching of science in the public schools and of course increased his interest in the hobby of fossil and rock collecting.

Jerry was later asked to come to the Cisco Independent School District to revise the high school chemistry and physics programs and laboratory science; to improve on the organization of the laboratory science; and to bring safety standards up to date to meet state requirements.  Cisco ISD at the time was graduating many students interested in attending college.  Many of these students wanted to become medical students, nurses, veterinarians. There was also a big thrust into areas of agricultural fields requiring a knowledge of  laboratory science. 

In 1982 computers were beginning to be a tools that had a future in the classroom and were catching the attention of math and physic students and teachers.  In a couple of years TI in Dallas  developed a hand calculator that very quickly replaced the slide rule as a tool in the classroom.  Teachers were debating whether to let the calculator into the classroom and UIL contests.   With some fear that mathematical skills would be lost while other skills were being obtained, the calculator slowly made it's way into the classroom and slide rules were put away with some celebration.   Jerry learned computer programming during this revolution in the classrooms and began to see how computers could be used by teachers.   He developed software for doing grades, tests and other record keeping utilities that were normally being done by hand or with calculators. 

It wasn't long before desk-top computers were needed in the classroom in Cisco ISD, Jerry was qualified to set up the classes and computers.  He set up three computer labs in the High School and Junior High and taught both science classes and computers classes until his retirement from public school in 1994.  Jerry also taught classes in computer word processing at Cisco Junior college in Cisco and Abilene after his retirement. 

Jerry and Don Brenholtz maintain a website for the Central Texas Gem and Mineral Society of Abilene.  The website is sponsored by TXOL.NET in Eastland Texas.

Central Texas Gem and Mineral Society decided to provide classes in several different areas of interest in 2000.  Jerry volunteered to be the first instructor for the silversmithing  classes. He developed curriculum for silversmithing classes and has taught silversmithing for the club since that time.  Jerry began studying silversmithing and casting in Dallas in 1975 at the Crafts Guild of Dallas.  He also studied with Russ Cable of Abilene and Irma Latham of Austin.  Jerry has mostly been self taught and developed teaching techniques for beginners and for advanced students.  To Jerry, being self taught means that he has read books on the subject, observed techniques of others and taken advice from silversmiths along the way and practiced a lot.  He doesn't claim to know everything about silversmithing or metals but continues to try to improve techniques and learn more about these subjects.

By now you know some of Jerry's hobbies and should know that when he sees a rock or mineral he is thinking of its history in the formation of the earth as well as its value as a gemstone or display piece or its teaching value.   To the through-and-through rock hound, rocks don't have to be beautiful to provide a few moments of consideration before deciding if one should leave it, bring it home for a "yard rock," or take it through the lapidary process.   This type of rock hound finds very few rocks that are too ugly to consider.

Jerry loves the outdoors and would be traveling and camping in the desert, mountains or coast full time if responsibilities would allow it. 

He was very pleased and honored to get this award from his peers at the Central Texas Gem and Mineral Society and wants to thank everyone that had a part in the decision.