2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


VOORHEES, David H.1, OLIVER, James S.2, CURRY, Brandon3 and SAUNDERS, Jeffrey J.2, (1)Earth Science & Geology, Waubonsee Community College, Rt 47 @ Waubonsee Dr, Sugar Grove, IL 60554, (2)Illinois State Museum Rsch and Collections Ctr, 1011 East Ash St, Springfield, IL 62703, (3)Illinois State Geological Survey, University of Illinois, 615 E. Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, dvoorhees@waubonsee.edu

During the Summer of 2004, Waubonsee Community College (WCC), the Illinois State Museum (ISM) , the City of Aurora (CofA), and the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) joined together to extract remains of Pleistocene animals from Mastodon Lake in Phillips Park, southeast of Aurora, IL. During the 11 week project many professional, educational, and public liaisons were developed.

The ISM provided paleontological and archeological expertise, WCC provided educational and outreach expertise, the CofA provided significant logistical expertise, and the ISGS provided geological expertise. Together, these 4 agencies were able to initiate and conduct a successful interdisciplinary research, educational and outreach project. Media attention at the beginning of the project attracted scientists from surrounding Universities and the Field Museum, donating their time and equipment to enhance and potentially extend the project.

A significant contribution to the work was from over 400 volunteers from the CofA and neighboring towns, many of whom spent many days at the dig, performing countless hours of mundane and physically difficult tasks. Other members of the field crew were students enrolled in credit classes offered through WCC. Many of these students expressed interest in the geosciences and archeology, thus providing a pivotal event in their educational and scientific careers. CPDU credits were offered through 2 sessions for K-12 teachers. Students and volunteers received training in many field techniques and geological concepts. Several programs for children too young to participate as volunteers, entitled ‘Paleontologists for a Day’, were offered through WCC, which included a tour of the project.

Daily visitors to the Phillips Park site afforded us the opportunity to explain the project to the public, to expose them to the scientific rationale of the dig, and to demonstrate the trials and tribulations of geologic research. Finally, a popular and successful public outreach technique was a comprehensive dig website (http://dig.waubonsee.edu/) accessible through the WCC homepage, where the visitor could read about the site, the scientists, keep track of progress by viewing the site director’s field log, and post their own impressions of the project.