Paper No. 1-4
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM
MULTIMEDIA APPROACHES FOR USING PALEONTOLOGY TO ENGAGE PUBLIC APPRECIATION OF GEOHERITAGE AND RESOURCE PRESERVATION AT FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was congressionally established from private lands in 1969 “to preserve and interpret ... the excellently preserved insect and leaf fossils and related geologic sites.” Public support for the effort to save the fossil beds from development played a crucial role in this designation. With an active paleontology program and more than fifty years of programmatic development, the monument’s experience in using paleontology to develop education and resource preservation was featured as the chapter exemplary of North America in the 2018 international award-winning textbook Geoheritage: Assessment, Protection, and Management. Recently, the monument has developed innovative media approaches for providing public outreach in understanding the importance of the monument’s paleontology and geology. These have included new trail and visitor center exhibits, a geologic trail map, a mobile application where visitors can choose from various levels of scientific content, a Florissant-specific site on the iDigPaleo website, a virtual tour of the paleontology lab, a new park film, and a paleontology summer camp for local school youth. One challenge is to captivate audiences with various levels of interest and educational backgrounds, including children, tourists, recreationists, students, and scientists. Outreach that stimulates multiple levels of public appreciation for the significance of paleontological sites helps prompt the ongoing public support and vigilance that is critical for protection of these sites from the threats of competing interests.