Heart of America Science Resource Center - a place where dinosaurs, old rocks come to life
The building that houses the Heart of America Science Resource Center at 312 E. Hwy 54 in Haviland has undergone changes in the past few months, an ever-present evolution of sorts to maintain positive community impact and prepare for future endeavors. Dinosaur bones, ancient bison horns and geological rocks from multi-bygone eras bring visitors from a wide variety of backgrounds to the Haviland-based museum
With plans to make the building more handicapped accessible, the couple behind the entire science center concept, Dr. Jerry Simmons and his wife Linda Simmons, have one of the most amazing partnerships. They are not only very happy together as a married couple, but they of course enjoy hosting both families and individuals on the various geologic and discovery trips they have made to various sites in the United States.
The Heart of America has been open throughout the summer on Saturdays, but also they offer appointment only opportunities to walk through the center with DocRoc. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The phone numbers to call are as follows: 620-862-5654, or 620-518-3167.
DocRoc has a penchant for offering very informative and obviously unique tours that feel very personal and enthusiastic because he is very enthusiastic about what he does here.
DocRoc has deep interest in dinosaur bones. He has some dinosaur bones at the center. He said that the word dinosaur did not even come into use until 1864.
"When the Spanish came into South America, they were sending back certain relics that they found among the Incas and various other cultures down there. And on some of those things there were pictures of things like Triceratops, but they were calling them dragons," DocRoc said. "So this really opened things up, because here are historical records from people like explorers and conquerors, etc. They were sending these things back into Cadiz, Spain, and they are making records because everything is recorded. In some of those records it mentions these curious stones with the dragons on them."
He has an excellent photographic and typed presentation in one of the rooms detailing the Brenham Pallasite and iron/nickel meteorites that have fallen from space and found in Kiowa County, particularly Haviland prominently.
In July a group of 29 students from four-years-of-age up to teenagers attended what a Creation Science Day Camp where they participants explored geology from a biblical perspective.
The Simmons are vibrant in their faith approach to all things creation-related. They said they strive to plant seeds of truth and nourish the hearts of children will produce good fruit in years to come.
Doc Roc plays the role largely of curator for this resource center. His wife Linda is the administrator and records keeper. She dutifully keeps records and does filings for grants, and whatever is needed to keep the center up and running from the standpoint of budget and practical means.
The Simmons have a 10-member board they rely on to keep a good handle on the operations and administrative necessities to keep the center running well.
They are working on developing a more accessible eastern entrance point to the building that will essentially be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and are working to encourage donations for the sake of project development and construction.
Linda Simmons said she is hoping for an opportunity of a matching grant coming into play so that the new disabilities accessible entrance can be realized.
"We have applied for the grant and if we receive it, then donations to Heart of America from now until October 15th will be doubled up to a total of $5,000," Linda Simmons said. "We plan to use this $10,000 to renovate the east side of the center. This renovation will enhance the appearance of the Center and make it fully handicap accessible."
Donations of $5 per visitor are suggested as they desire to really get the renovation plan into production as soon as possible.
Dr. Simmons has enjoyed a life-long journey into the world of rocks and geological formation studies.
He has a room in the center with a plaque on the door that reads Whitney Lapidary Lab. This room has an extensive mineral collection, as well as rock cutting and polishing equipment, used as an alternative so as to not take months to tumble them.
Dr. Simmons said, "This room is just pure geology."
He has a table of origins, a kind of simple but informative display that will help visitors understand a little about the difference between metamorphic, versus sedimentary rocks, for instance.
Linda Simmons said that, "You can still go down to Oklahoma to the great salt plains and find these Selenite and other type rocks."
Dr. Simmons and his wife really enjoy hosting family-oriented trips to various sites in the United States that have geological formations beyond what the average person here might see.
"We take families on these trips to visit Oklahoma. They love that trip, because it's like walking on a beach, with water, and then you can take off your shoes and get dirty and muddy, and find crystal there.
In August this year, Dr. Simmons and his wife lead a group visiting various sites of interest in South Dakota, a group comprising 16 people from Wichita who wanted to come out to it, a big group with families and children. This "Ice Age" trip to South Dakota is one they generally do every other year.
They visited several Ice Age related sites such as Monument Rocks, Agate Fossil Beds, Mammoth Site, Badlands National Park, and Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Also they enjoyed several inspirational activities, visiting Mount Rushmore. Then along the way they collected rocks and fossils at several sites.
Dr. Simmons said, "We usually have a theme when we take them on these trips, because usually my wife and I have been to these places before. So this trip in August our theme was Looking for the Biblical evidence for the Ice Age in the mid-America states, like the plains. So we went to western Kansas, western Nebraska, and to South Dakota looking at mammoth sites, rhinoceros sites, all of these death sites, about at the end of the Ice Age period, shortly thereafter."
The group enjoyed a 6-day trip to these various sites, August 1-6. In the resource center there is a storyboard with photographs to outline the sites they visited.
"We had five individuals, and two families," Linda said. "One family had five children and the other family had three children."
The mailing address for donations: Heart of America SRC, 510 N. Lawrence, Haviland, KS 67059. The resource center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry, so donations are deductible by law.