Paper No. 19-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM
KEEPING YOUTH ENGAGED IN FOSSIL CLUBS
Many fossil clubs and societies around the country have seen their membership numbers drop in recent years, particularly with regard to youth membership. Keeping kids and teens excited about participating in fossil clubs is crucial to the long-term viability of these organizations, as well as to the field of paleontology (and other areas of science). Children and teenagers exposed to paleontology from a young age are much more likely to pursue science- or medical-related career paths. As a member of three different fossil clubs in southern Florida, I have participated in a variety of methods for engaging youth. Certain kinds of outreach activities, such as interactive display tables and talks in k-12 classrooms, are useful for initially drawing youth (and their parents) into clubs. However, relatively few attend meetings or field trips. Given the time commitments of sports, music lessons, homework, and the digital world, it is getting harder and harder to keep kids and teens involved in fossil clubs. We must improve our efforts to engage the next generation: we can partner with youth organizations such as 4-H, Scouts, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; we can enhance our social media and website content; and we can facilitate youth oriented field trips to both fossil-collecting sites and natural history museums. The future is in our hands and we must act now!