THIS IS NOT A DRILL: FOSSIL PREPARATION AS A TOOL FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
The fossil preparation lab at Badlands National Park is one of the only publicly immersive fossil preparation labs in the National Park Service. This lab allows visitors of any age the unique opportunity to engage with working paleontologists throughout the fossil conservation process; something typically not accessible to the general public. Additionally, the lab promotes the park’s Visitor Site Report program, which advocates citizen science and public stewardship. This interactive program encourages guests to locate and document fossils seen throughout the park, allowing visitors to contribute to the scientific process while providing the park with valuable paleontological data.
Based on audience centered engagement, many visitors find the fossil preparation lab to be a unique, educational, and enjoyable experience. Implementation of publicly accessible scientific programs at other parks and institutions has potential to facilitate further public engagement, enthusiasm, and partnership in the scientific process.