Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM
PALEONTOLOGY OUTREACH AT FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT: USING DIGITAL MEDIA TO CONNECT MONUMENT VISITORS WITH PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES AND RESEARCH
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is completing a multiyear Recreation Fee Park Revenue project entitled “Digitize collections to provide visitor accessibility and understanding of park resources.” The monument’s primary resources are late Eocene fossils, yet visitors have limited access to most of these fossils. As visitor fees fund this project, there must be a direct connection to visitor understanding of the monument. One benefit of the project has been support for students through GSA’s GeoCorps America program to complete the work. The first GeoCorps America interns for this project began during the summer of 2012 and over two years approximately 6,000 of the monument’s 11,000 cataloged specimens have been photographed. This previous work provided much of the digital imagery for the paleontology outreach and multimedia exhibit aspects of this project, which started in May 2013 and are reported here. Work during the summer of 2013 focused on a complete overhaul and update of the paleontology content on the monument’s website. New features include interviews with active researchers to highlight their work in the “Meet the Scientists” section, writing content for “Eocene Florissant,” incorporating over 200 digital photographs of fossil specimens, and updating the website via a Content Management System. The photographs uploaded to the website also increase the accessibility of the monument’s collections to both researchers and visitors. In addition to the website, the project also created a video that follows a fossil from discovery to curation and research. Working closely with the monument’s staff, the content and detailed outline for the video were developed to feature discovery, excavation, preparation, cataloging, photography, and research. The video was filmed on site and featured the monument’s paleontologist, museum technician, and four GeoCorps America interns. This video is available on the monument’s website (http://www.nps.gov/flfo/naturescience/follow-a-fossil.htm), but it will also become part of an interactive display in the monument’s visitor center. Visitors are rarely granted access to the paleontology research area, and these two forms of digital media allow for a greater understanding of what goes on “behind the scenes” at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.