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Bev

I am putting this here because over the last couple of years TFF members have wholeheartedly supported me trying to bring the joy of fossil hunting to children and families. Lots of your ideas have come to fruition! Since teaching, kids and fossil hunting are recurring themes on TFF, which is an international forum, I thought this might help someone else, somewhere. :-) This post has lots of pictures (blogs come and go but TFF doesn't so this makes sense to me and it is looking like I'm going to have to resize every picture), so just please be patient - I will put "continued" at the bottom when going to a reply. No patience? Just jump over to my fossil adventure blog and read the whole thing without having to go to multiple replies. :-)

Family Fun Fossil Hunt – River Roots Skills School

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Parking in the horse pasture. [i had to create infrastructure for parking. That meant pulling a post and RR tie and buying a new gate. Before a tour I have to mow the pasture and drag it to break up manure.]

This tour was organized through the Eagle Bluff Environmental Center’s River Roots Skills School (http://www.riverrootsschool.org/) as part of their ecotourism initiative. We got together on August 8th, 2015. People came early and stayed late. The class was scheduled for 1-5 p.m. and the last people left around 7 p.m. It was a WONDERFUL class! I wish people could have stayed and we would have had a campfire and talked fossils into the evening! But I am hoping that several come back and we can hunt together again.

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Fossil Barn

Every tour I give is personalized to the people who come – I don’t do canned tours. I had prepared more of a university level fossil information and hunt. This was a family tour! I would say at least half were kids under 14 years old. RRSS had not informed me that there would be children, but any good guide accommodates and they all got to choose dinosaur bones that Old Dead Things had brought me from Montana and Wyoming, Eocene shark and ray teeth donated by another Fossil Forum member, and one little guy got his fluorescent shark’s tooth wrapped in copper wire to wear around his neck. And, of course, there was the fossil sandbox, but these kids weren’t too interested in that as they knew we were going to go hunt fossils “on the rocks”.

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Fossilized dinosaur bone on “Dino Island”.

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Fossil sandbox. Sand from the St. Peter Formation, Ordovician fossils and a mineral section.

We started out with introductions, so I could determine the experience level of the individuals. And of course where the facilities were:

Continued...

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Bev

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Outhouse over a septic system. [This outhouse has been with me for 30+ years and has had many incarnations. The last incarnation was as a chicken coup. Back to an outhouse we go! I have a two stage uphill pump septic system with each having a 30" hole. I place the outhouse over one of them, cut a hole in the bottom, repainted and it is nicer and cleaner than any pit toilet you will encounter at a state park. FYI you can create an outhouse with this basic structure and a 5 gallon bucket with sawdust to make a composting toilet if you don't have a pit.]

I gave them all a laminated copy of my ID sheet and a map of seven fossil sites within 10 miles of Spring Valley (I normally sell these for $5 apiece but at the price they paid for this tour I threw them in), a sheet showing the local formations, formation map of this area and legend, an FYI sheet of the most important things they needed to know to jump start them into fossil hunting (it took me 2 years to figure out some of this) and a class evaluation sheet from RRSS.

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ID sheet and map.

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FYI, Bedrock Formation Map, Legend for map and photo showing the Formations.

I introduced them to my fossil barn.

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And things to do with their fossils, like fossil jewelry, fairy gardens, walking sticks, as sculptural art, etc.

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Fossil Jewelry

Then we went on a tour of Ordovician fossils I had collected, along with the “Bev Formation”. I feel that an absolutely critical part of leading a group to fossil hunt is getting them familiar with what the fossils look and feel like. This part of the tour is not only listening and visual learning, but also tactile as I encourage people to pick the fossils up and look at them more closely, feel them and compare them to the ID sheet. I also point out the fossils exposed in my retaining wall – which got me interested in fossils in the first place. None of the fossils on display are prepped. They are exactly as I found them in the wild. I feel this is important because when I started hunting fossils I was looking for ones that looked like the pictures I was seeing on the internet that were already prepped fossils! Being able to recognize a portion of fossil sticking out of the rock is a critical skill.

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Cephalopod Lair – Ordovician Cephalopods.

Continued...

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Bev

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Coral Reef – Ordovician corals.

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Moss Creature Mosy – Ordovician Bryozoans.

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Brachiopod Bay – Ordovician Brachiopods.

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Sea Lily Bed – Ordovician Crinoids.

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Fossil Foolery – Dendrites, concretions, odd rocks.

Continued...

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Bev

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Fisherite Float – Ordovician Receptaculitids.

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Time Tracks

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Trilobite Lagoon – Ordovician Trilobites and Molts.

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Snail Trail – Ordovician Gastropods. Maclurites are an index fossil for the Ordovician.

Continued...

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Bev

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The “Snail Trail” is actually better than 75 feet long and contains over 200 fossilized Ordovician gastropods.

Over 200 fossilized Ordovician gastropods.

What we do and where we go is decided in a fairly democratic manner. I, personally, feel more comfortable trying to make the majority happy than imposing my will on people. But I do understand that this part can get confusing. We jumped in our vehicles and I took them on a site tour that started at Masonic Park and our first hunt was actually a site not on the map – excellent one for the kids as pretty much every other rock is fossilized.

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Great fossils were found including a wonderful, very articulated, cephalopod (that I didn’t get a picture of) and this quartz filled Fusispera sp. that I would be proud to put in my own collection!

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Fusispera sp. Ordovician gastropod fossil infilled with quartz.

We had chatted a bit about the likely finds at different sites and several people made the decision to hunt other sites, so we decided to meet back at Whispering Winds at 4:30 p.m. for an ID and prepping time.

This is Site 5 and it gave up some very nice fossils!

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Continued...

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Bev

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Flexicalymene Trilobite enrolled.

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Flexyclymene Trilobite http://drydredgers.org/fragflx1.htm

I thought this one may be a sponge and that may be true yet, but most of the TFF members are weighing in on this being a Bryozoa sp.

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http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/56614-sponge-or-bryozoan/

When I first looked at this chert, I thought it may be a small cephalopod that fossilized into quartz, but when I put it on the Fossil ID forum the guys came back with Vug. A beautiful Vug in drusy quartz.

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Drusy Quartz Vug in chert.

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/56618-fossil-or-fissure-in-chert/

And there were beautiful, death bed hash plates chipped away from boulders that I would be proud to display on my mantel!

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The photo I missed was of a stunning 3D crinoid coming right out of the rock! Oh, was I jealous of that find! To heck with trilobites! I love crinoids!

I just couldn’t ID this fossil and TFF members saw it as a squashed Ordovician gastropod.

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Mashed Ordovician Gastropod

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/56617-hmmm-dont-have-a-clue/

Continued...

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Bev

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These kids had a blast with the magnifying visor and checking things out including the “Glow in the Dark” fossils!

Prep time came when we got back to the fossil barn and then the interest in the engraver, rotary tool, and yes, my acid bath, was sparked.

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Engraver for preparing fossils.

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Rotary Tool for preparing fossils.

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Muriatic Acid bath area for washing rock to see the fossils better – NOT for bryozoa or crinoids!

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This little gal found an AWESOME hash plate that we cleaned up and wrapped up for her to take back home in the car. Proud fossil hunter with a Great hash plate!

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And this fossil… Crinoid or Bryozoan? The answer is still out on that… But at almost 2 inches wide it would be one of the larger crinoids I have seen come out of this area.

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/56619-crinoid-or-bryozoan/

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And what looked to me like a trilobite pygidium, the TFF guys said was cracked and jumbled brachiopod shell.

New member of TFF: DUST N BONES – what a cool handle!

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Joe – aspiring Paleontologist! :-D

Joe with his prizes for the day!

The last people went home just before 7 p.m. driving all the way back to St. Paul, and they even got to see my prized crinoid plate. The evaluations were great and it was all around a fulfilling day of fossil hunting!

DONE!!! :-D

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jpc

Wow... good work, Bev.

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ZiggieCie

What a wonderful thing you are doing for people, and fossiling.

What a great presentation, and great photos. :goodjob:

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donnyjoe

Outstanding!. You are changing lives.

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Bev

Thanks Guys! :-D

By putting it here I am hoping to inspire others and also give them one possible model that they can work from. :-)

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Pagurus

Many of these people are going to remember your tour for the rest of their lives. All your hard work is well worth the effort.

Mike

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minnbuckeye

post-12553-0-42219500-1439314306_thumb.jpgBev, I see you are still out educating the youth of today. Way to go! Awhile ago, I posted a display of "Fossils Collected Within the City Limits of Rochester in 2014" with the intent to donate it to Quarry Hill Nature Center. Unfortunately they are out of room until expansion takes place. So if you could use this display, it is yours. I can always do a second one if they ever finish their dreams.

Edited by minnbuckeye

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Bev

attachicon.gifDSC_0145.JPGBev, I see you are still out educating the youth of today. Way to go! Awhile ago, I posted a display of "Fossils Collected Within the City Limits of Rochester in 2014" with the intent to donate it to Quarry Hill Nature Center. Unfortunately they are out of room until expansion takes place. So if you could use this display, it is yours. I can always do a second one if they ever finish their dreams.

That is stunning Minnesota Buckeye! I would be honored to have your work in my collection and it would be front and center for everyone to see! Just let me know when I can come and pick it up! :-D

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Malcolmt

That is so cool!!!!!!! Two massive thumbs up :thumbsu: :thumbsu:

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minnbuckeye

Bev, I may be your way on Sunday. Will let u know.

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Bev

Bev, I may be your way on Sunday. Will let u know.

Planning on being home. :-D Maybe if you're over this way we can go hunting?! :-D

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Mike Pocock

Absolutely fantastic, what a brilliant idea very well presented.

Thanks for sharing

Regards

Mike

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Auspex

Sowing the sense of wonder! Good on ya'!

All Johnny Appleseed did was plant trees...you plant lifetimes of curiosity :)

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Bev

Oh my, you guys almost made this old woman blush! :blush::D

TFF being an international forum with many native languages, I thought the inclusion of a lot of pictures (show & tell) would be good. :)

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Nandomas

Everytime I see this kind of things, I am pleased to be on this Forum :) thanks for sharing your field experience here

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Ramo

You are truly an inspiration Bev.

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Bev

Thanks Guys, but this post really ISN'T about me. All over the world today there is talk about sustainable tourism and ecotourism and wherever there are fossils that are accessible to the public there is opportunity to teach and share. And people are getting crammed into cities more and more and wanting to get out in nature and learn. Then there are all the parents who want to encourage and support their children in the sciences. Rural areas are always struggling to bring in money, but where do you start?

My hope is that this post will possibly inspire others to share their fossil hunting knowledge and areas and that this post acts as one example of how it could be done. Wouldn't it be wonderful to go to a fossiliferous area and find someone to give you the basics, show you what to look for in fossils and then take you to fossil hunting grounds where you can find your own at a reasonable price? Hey, I charge $10 an hour per person and TFF friends I take out for free!

We see it all the time on TFF... I'm in X location. Where can I go hunting fossils and what will I find? I'm going on vacation to X location - same questions. In Montana and Wyoming people pay big bucks to go on a dino dig and the Green River fish quarry charges you to pound rock, but what about the other areas to hunt and what are the laws in those areas?

Alniff, Morocco is setting up a sustainable ecotourism initiative by building a museum and hiring locals to guide people fossil hunting, etc. But what if you are just a person or family in a fossiliferous area in say Chile or the Ukraine? Even if you don't read English the pictures on this post might help you by showing a model that works.

And the reason I added MinnBuckeye's link on the Ordovician Sea Bottom displays is to show that even if you don't have a yard and a lot of fossils to do show and tell with, a model like his is attractive, educational, compact, lightweight and very inexpensive to create if you just use the foam and wood glue. Put that display out in a bazaar marketplace and hand out your brochures or whatever and you have something that would catch a tourist's eye for buying fossils or going fossil hunting.

TFF is a highly respected, international forum. Anyone interested in ecotourism could just send a link to their local tourism agency and say, "Hey, here's an idea for you." Who knows where it will go from there?! I truly think that TFF is all about sharing and that is all I am doing here. :-D

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