Richard and Helen Rice began their love affair with rocks as the result of a weekend family outing to the Oregon Coast. While on this trip they picked up a handful of agates and jaspers they simply thought were pretty. A local rock shop polished the stones and revealed their beauty. After seeing the transformation of these seemingly ordinary pebbles into beautiful stones, their lifetime romance with rocks and rock collecting began.
Soon after their beach agate collecting experience, the Rices joined a new club in Portland, the Oregon Agate and Mineral Society (OAMS). Through OAMS they learned about and took part in field trips where they could find thundereggs, petrified wood, carnelian, moss agate and other beautiful rocks of the Northwest. They enjoyed this so much that they took an active role in the leadership of OAMS.
Around this time they also became active in the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies’ gem and mineral shows and other activities, leading to involvement in the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS). Helen Rice served as President of the American Federation in 1959-1960. During her term as President, Helen also served on the AFMS committee that wrote the first set of “Uniform Rules” for competitive exhibits at the Federation shows. She was also instrumental in the AFMS obtaining IRS 501(c)3 status as a non-profit educational organization.