By Linda McCall (@lmccall)
It was especially meaningful for me to attend the 50th Anniversary North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC) in Riverside, CA June 23-27 as a guest of the myFOSSIL Project.
These conventions are held every 5 years and I had attended the previous one in 2014 in Gainesville, FL at the kick-off of the myFOSSIL Project, so it was especially poignant for me to be attending this one at the Project’s close.
I am no stranger to working with professionals and presenting at paleontological conventions but I have learned a lot in the ensuing years since the FOSSIL Project’s inception, becoming even more aware of the vast variety of opportunities that exist to interact with the broader professional community in a meaningful way. The FOSSIL Project has also been invaluable in helping me connect with other amateur/avocational paleontologists from all across the country. These are friendships that will last for the rest of my life and I am deeply indebted to the project for facilitating those introductions.
As an active advocate for advancing the collaboration between the non-professional and the professionals sides of paleontology, this convention was particularly noteworthy in that for the first time ever (that I am aware of), an entire session was created by, dedicated to, and run by Amateur/avocational paleontologists. Offered by the Dry Dredger Fossil Club from Ohio: Symposium 32: Two to Tango: amateur-professional interactions in advancing paleontological knowledge. The session was chaired by Dry Dredger and Paleontological Society Strimple Award Winner Jack Kallmeyer and Dr. David Meyer. There were 18 presentations – all well attended, some talks with over 60 in the audience.
It was an honor to be a part of this inaugural foray of the amateur/avocational community into the world of professionalism and I hope it will continue and serve as a model for future sessions to draw on. The myFOSSIL Project and the NAPC Convention have enriched my life and I will be forever grateful for the lessons learned.