by Louis Stieffel, Fossil Club of Lee County
In February, I attended, along with long-time member Al Govin, the North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC), in Gainesville, Florida. This opportunity was initiated through a new program, THE FOSSIL PROJECT. With guaranteed funding for four years, the goal of the project is to join together professional paleontologists, natural history museums, and amateur or avocational paleontologists, such as us. As the NAPC convention wound down, the participants in the FOSSIL project commenced meetings to meet and discuss ways to make this program work. We had organized workshops on various topics, such as involvement of citizen scientists with museum collections, how to best maximize communications between the professional and amateur communities, and the future of digital advances on the hobby. There were many other topics and after the round table discussions we reviewed the results as a total group, with everyone attending understanding the objectives needed to reach the goal of that particular topic.
We all stayed in the same hotel, so after-hours consisted of meeting each other and networking for future communications. There are a few clubs, in various parts of the US, that now have some Florida fossils which I sent to them. In turn, we will get some fossils from their local area, which I plan on putting into next year’s auction.
How often, when on a vacation trip, have we wished we knew of a fossil location to hunt while there. This new, developing network will help us have the contacts in those places to help us do this. Want to visit a natural history museum? We just may have the acquired the right contact person to help show you around. We may also get some interesting speakers for our meetings as many of these club members, and professionals, from other parts of the country visit our area. So, the direct benefit to our club is a bonus from this project and should continue to get stronger.
While at the convention, I was able to procure a number of publications which are not readily available, on paleontology. Many are now out of print. These will be going into our club library, as soon as David Sheehey, (the club librarian) can curate them into the library.
Another project that is happening right now, with a direct interest to us, is the iDigBio project. This ambitious project is trying to put entire collections on the internet, using the cloud as the repository. You will then be able to see the collections hiding behind the scene, in the basements, and out of view of the general public. You can learn more at www.idigbio.org
We learned a lot about other fossil organizations, which were attending from all over the US. I hope to present some of their unique and creative ideas to our club. In the meantime, you can learn more about the fossil project at: www.myfossil.org.
I will do my best to keep you informed of continuing developments with the FOSSIL PROJECT and how it affects our club. In the meantime, check out these websites and see how interesting things are getting!