Paper No. 3-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM
THE FOSSIL PROJECT: A COLLABORATIVE COMMUNITY OF AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONAL PALEONTOLOGISTS
The FOSSIL Project started in 2013 with the goal of networking amateur and professional paleontologists throughout the U.S. into a science-based and learning-oriented community of practice. Since that time, the community has grown to include more than 35 fossil clubs, as well as individual amateur paleontologists and interested professionals. During the early phases of FOSSIL, the primary emphasis has been on building the community of interested stakeholders, oftentimes via face-to-face communication. This has resulted in presentations at monthly fossil club meetings, participation in science fairs and fossil festivals, and representation at professional scientific meetings. We also publish a quarterly FOSSIL newsletter that showcases current professional and amateur activities. Additionally, we have developed a considerable following on social media, including more than 2200 Facebook likes and 625 Twitter followers. In October 2015 we launched the myFOSSIL community web site (community.myfossil.org) which is steadily increasing in participants. We hope that this web site will be the “go-to” place for fossil enthusiasts in both the professional and amateur realms; i.e., that it will integrate communications previously done independently. The myFOSSIL community site contains Member and Group lists, several active discussion Forums, a Fossil gallery where images and associated data can be uploaded, calendar of Events, and Resources sections. In addition to advancing the science of paleontology, the FOSSIL Project is intended to advance learning research on how to build a successful web-based learning community. As the project continues to mature, we are focusing on sustainable components of FOSSIL activities across the nation that will reach diverse stakeholders and enable our community of practice to continue into the future.