Paper No. 239-1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM
THE FOSSIL PROJECT: ENGAGING AMATEUR FOSSIL CLUBS AND SOCIETIES AS DOWNSTREAM USERS OF DIGITIZED DATA
More than 60 amateur fossil clubs and societies are active throughout the U.S. today. In contrast to other science-interest groups like birdwatchers and stargazers, until recently fossil clubs and societies typically have been regionally focused with little communication on a national scale with other similar clubs and societies. Since 2013 the FOSSIL project has sought to unite amateur and professional paleontologists in the U.S. into a cyberenabled community of practice through meetings and related activities, newsletters, web communication and the rapidly expanding world of social media. Front-end evaluation of fossil clubs and societies indicates high interest in relevant science topics, the practice of collecting, and working with professionals. Thus, the development of fossil collections is a fundamental activity in common with these audiences. The FOSSIL project is working with fossil clubs and societies to educate about, as well as promote the benefits of, digitized images of fossil collections not just for research, but also for the education of downstream users. In addition, the use of 3D digitized images and replicas represents a newly expanding niche for K-12 outreach. Our overall goal for engaging members of fossil groups in digital paleontology is increased awareness and access to fossil resources and closer engagement of amateur and professional paleontologists in the U.S.