June 9, 2020

Mark Phillips Inspired Young Minds To Value Nature’s Wonders

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center benefited from Mark Phillips fully investing himself into its education programs from 2012-20.

Born on September 17, 1966 in Kijabe, Kenya, Mark passed away on June 3, 2020 in Glen Rose, Texas after a four-month battle with cancer.

Mark Phillips had a gift for capturing a child’s attention and getting them excited to learn about nature.

He lived a full life and impacted people around the globe. After graduating boarding school from Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Mark attended Kansas State University and earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology.

Mark began dating Cara Kirkpatrick in high school, and they were married in 1988. They returned to Kenya in 1996, where they taught and ministered at a Kenyan high school for two years. In 1998, they headed back to the U.S. and Mark commenced working at Riverbend Retreat Center in Glen Rose in 1999.

In 2003, they returned to East Africa and Mark started work in Tanzania. In 2009, the Phillips family returned to Glen Rose and, in 2012, Mark launched his career as an education specialist at Fossil Rim.

Mark Phillips served in Fossil Rim’s education department from 2012-20.

A father of four children – Caitlynn, Laurynn, Benjamin, and Natalynn – Mark knew how to capture a child’s imagination and teach him or her about the wonders of nature. He received numerous compliments from parents through social media, email, and in person over the years for how much their children enjoyed his teaching, as well as how much they learned.

Mark always helped the education department in any way he could, but he was best-known for bringing Fossil Rim’s homeschool programs to life.

Kristen Hannah, Executive Coordinator, knew Mark well at Fossil Rim and outside the facility, as well.

“I am close to Mark’s family, having gone to church with them for over a decade and living next door to them for three years,” Hannah said. “Each family member is a joy to be around, and it is clear that Mark led his family well. His faith in God shone through his every interaction at home, at church, at work, and anywhere else you may have encountered him. He truly was a genuine, loving man who greeted each person with joyful enthusiasm.

“When you spoke, Mark listened intently and asked questions to further draw you out. I have enjoyed many a dinner or afternoon chai (tea) at his home with his family, and there was always laughter and a peaceful atmosphere. The whole family is extremely resilient and, through each trial, they have rooted themselves in the peace, faith, hope, and love of God.”

“(Mark) felt pure joy in sharing his knowledge and love of the natural world with the thousands of people he taught during his years of working at Fossil Rim,” said Jennifer Arledge.

Director of Education Jennifer Arledge valued the positivity Mark brought to her department every single day.

“Mark was a truly kind, generous person who was the ultimate optimist – seeing the good in everything and everyone,” Arledge said. “He never met a stranger and made each person he encountered feel important. He also felt pure joy in sharing his knowledge and love of the natural world with the thousands of people he taught during his years of working at Fossil Rim. Not only has Fossil Rim suffered a tremendous loss, but the environment that he honored and protected lost one of its greatest champions.”

-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate 


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  • I’m gutted by this news, truly. Mark was kind to a fault when teaching, and did so with a passion, not merely obligation. He shared from a place few were able.
    The news of his passing brings me to tears.
    My heart aches for his wife, and family. Grief is a weighty ocean to cross, and I send them all the peace one possibly can during this time.
    Thank you for having shared Mark.
    Thank you Fossil Rim, for giving Homeschooling families like ours, the opportunity to learn from a man of his caliber.
    With deep sorrow…

  • Mark was an amazing man! His knowledge of creation was extensive and insightful. His enthusiasm was infectious and his love for God and people sincere. We will miss him!

  • Thank you for this wonderful tribute to Mark Phillips ❤️🙌. His was a life well lived 🥇🏆. Praying for his dear family as I am sure they miss him dearly 🙏✝️😢🥰

  • So sorry that such a fine individual had to suffer and has left this earth and will be terribly missed. What a blessing that so many lives have been touched by him and that his legacy and unique understanding of the things of this earth will multiply by the thousands, fulfilling his purpose and making life better for mankind.

  • I’m saddened to see this. I attended a photography workshop with Brian Loflin and Mark back in June 2018. Mark was so incredibly kind and gracious (and knowledgeable!). The memory that has stayed with me most, however, was when he overheard a family talking to each other in the cafe during lunch; he immediately went up and immediately began speaking to them in their native African language, and the look of surprise and happiness in their faces was amazing. Mark ended up talking to them for at least 20 minutes.

    A small gesture but he brought so much happiness to that family in that moment. It has stuck with me over the past two years.

    My condolences to his immediate family, and his extended Fossil Rim family.

  • I was an education intern at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in 2015. I had the great pleasure of knowing Mark and being able to spend time learning from him. He taught me about the blue bonnets in Texas, the cochineal bugs on the cactus, and so many other valuable conversations. He was always bright and welcoming and kind and he made me feel like family. He talked about his wife and children with so much love and I am so deeply sorry to hear that Mark has crossed over. I will always remember his kind smile and and the pure joy in his eyes when he talked just about anything ! He led by example and I will always remember his kindness. Rest easy Mark, thank you for sharing your heart of gold with us. ❤️

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