Joint 52nd Northeastern Annual Section / 51st North-Central Annual Section Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 15-8
Presentation Time: 4:05 PM


MACFADDEN, Bruce J. and GARDNER, Eleanor E., Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, PO Box 117800, Gainesville, FL 32611,

The myFOSSIL community consists of a diverse set of activities and opportunities for amateur and professional paleontologists and other interested stakeholders to collaborate in blended learning, the practice of paleontology, and educational outreach. Started in 2014, this community has grown to encompass more than 3,000 Facebook Likers, 1,100 Twitter Followers, 400 members of the myFOSSIL Social Paleontology web portal, and 300 subscribers to our quarterly FOSSIL e-newsletter. Related myFOSSIL activities have included annual meetings, field trips, research talks at clubs and societies, a PaleoBlitz, and the recently-initiated myFOSSIL webinar series. This level of activity has been enabled by funding from the National Science Foundation to support FOSSIL (Fostering Opportunities for Synergistic STEM with Informal Learners), which, along with matching funds, will continue through 2018.

To sustain the community and at least some of its activities past 2018, planning for long-term viability is critical. Thus, we are seeking input from community members. Which myFOSSIL products (e.g., the web portal), activities, and initiatives are highly valued? Which aspects of the project are self-sustaining? Are there any established entities that could provide the platform and minimal resources necessary for continued collaboration? As we shift our thinking toward sustainability, we need to take steps to ensure that the activities which promote social paleontology, including Facebook, Twitter, the myFOSSIL web portal, and webinars, can become self-generating. Addressing the complexities of community sustainability and developing a collective vision for the future of FOSSIL can be accomplished only through broad and diverse involvement of community members.