Paper No. 13-0
THOUSANDS OF FOOTPRINTS - THOUSANDS OF EYES: SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS AT THE RED GULCH DINOSAUR TRACKSITE
SOUTHWELL, Elizabeth H.1, BREITHAUPT, Brent H.1, ADAMS, Thomas L.1, and MATTHEWS, Neffra A.2, (1) Geological Museum, Univ of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, uwgeoms@uwyo.edu, (2) National Science and Technology Center, USDOI-Bureau of land Mgnt, Denver, CO 80225

Dinosaurs excite the public's imagination and heighten their interest in science creating fertile ground for paleontological collaborations between educators and the public. The UW Geological Museum has hosted scores of successful volunteer participation programs over the years, which emphasize hands-on, inquiry-based approaches to research partnerships. Eager enthusiasts are given well-thought-out assignments that utilize a variety of tasks suitable for various skill levels. Volunteers and students bring a diversity of backgrounds, talents, capabilities, and personalities to a research project requiring a well-orchestrated approach. Preplanning and training are essential, as all assistants are not created equal, and steps must be taken to avoid potential pitfalls.

An excellent example of such a collaborative venture took place at the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite. This rare North American dinosaur fossil site is located on land managed by the BLM and is readily accessible to the public. Its size and complexity present an opportunity for assistants of all ages to practice their data gathering skills in observation, description, critical thinking, and "footprint sleuthing." A variety of both classical and state-of-the-art documentation methodologies were tested making this one of the most intensively documented dinosaur tracksites in the world. This, at times, was a challenge as the locality has been open to the public since its discovery. Through a partnership with the BLM, the needs of students, public, and media were accommodated without negatively impacting scientific research, despite the often dramatically different objectives of these groups. The quantity, consistency, and quality of participant data was carefully scrutinized for it's value to the project goals, as the scientific integrity of the research can not be sacrificed for the potential educational and recreational benefits of field assistants. The success of this geoscience research partnership was assessed through outcome analyses from individual instructors and field crews. The UW Geological Museum continues to foster paleontological research partnerships, as effective means of data gathering, increasing understanding of fossil resources and the value of resource preservation and protection.

GSA Annual Meeting, November 5-8, 2001
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 13
Partnerships in Paleontology: Involving the Public in Collaborative Research
Hynes Convention Center: 102
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Monday, November 5, 2001
 

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