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Florida Museum of Natural History volunteer opportunities

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tmaier

Count me in, and I think I've got some people from Stetson U. College of Science who are interested, too. A lot of the students could car pool over.

 

 

 

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digit

I think the students would enjoy the experience. It's nearly a 5 hour trip up from South Florida so I usually plan to go for a block of days (3-4) and stay nearby in Ocala (good Indian restaurant in town too, yum). If you are over in the Deland area (Stetson U) then you are only a little over an hour or so from the location so you could easily do it as a day trip. You could probably go multiple days and still return home to save on hotels and eating out for dinner.

 

Working clothes that you can get a bit dirty. Sun protection--we always wear long sleeves and a hat with a cape in the back to keep from red-necking and sunscreen are advisable as it is out in the open with little to no shade. Drinks and snacks (bring a lunch too) are advisable. All the tools are provided (but bring a boat or other cushion as you'll be sitting on the ground all day). And, when you get to be a silverback (gray-topped) like me--a bottle of ibuprofen for the end of the day.

 

If you haven't volunteered for a FLMNH dig before, you'll find an application at the second link in my first post of this topic. Fill it out and either snail mail it to FLMNH or scan it and email it to them (what I did). There is a schedule of dates that they will be out at the dig site and you can select a day (or block of days) and let them know when to expect you. They like to know ahead of time so they can schedule volunteer effort. Occasionally, they will have another group or some students and they try to balance the volunteers so they don't have days when people are tripping over each other with a flash mob of volunteers.

 

You'll learn a lot about the fossils you are uncovering and gain some experience in methodically excavating a site. You also get to see some really cool fossils that you would likely never see screening for fossils in the creeks or rivers here in Florida. I really enjoyed the experience and the knowledge transfer each time I volunteer with FLMNH. If I lived much closer I'd likely be there nearly every day.

 

Here is my link to my post when I was at Montbrook last March.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

P.S.: Interesting new format (below) when the forum realizes that you've posted an internal link to another topic within the forum. Kinda cool.

 

 

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digit

Wanted to refresh this topic a bit with the field season at the new Montbrook site opening tomorrow (October 1). Local member Kara (Khyssa) sent me a PM to inquire whether I'd be going up to volunteer soon. Indeed, assuming Hurricane Matthew doesn't impinge upon our fun we're planning on driving up to Ocala next Wednesday and digging Thursday through Sunday (October 6-9).

 

The actual dig site is near Williston which is not too far from Gainesville or Ocala (we'll be staying in Ocala for the duration). If any TFF members are not busy next weekend, it would be great fun to meet-up at the dig site. It's a totally different style of fossil hunting than you are probably used to. The fun part is that the place is loaded with fossils and all you have to do is plop yourself down on the ground (we bring boat cushions), grab your flat-blade screw driver and plastic specimen bag (provided) and slowly and steadily remove the sandy matrix till you encounter fossils (which go in the bag if they are small). Larger articulated specimens get cleared around till they are on a pedestal and then are plaster jacketed for later prepping back at the museum.

 

Usually, Dr. Hulbert is out during these digs as well as some knowledgeable volunteers so you get to learn a lot while digging and finding various fossils. You don't get to keep any of the fossil material but you can take lots of photos at the site and your finds go into the museum's collection with you listed as the collector in their database.

 

We really enjoy being able to dig in a fossil-rich site and experiencing the fun of seeing what interesting treasures our 1-meter grid squares might be hiding. We are planning on getting back up there several times this dig season as it is a great opportunity that should not be missed.

 

Hope to maybe see you there this weekend (weather permitting). Anybody thinking about attending should fill out the Montbrook volunteer application form and email it to the new field coordinator, Rachel Narducci. All the info you'll need can be found at this link:

 

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/vertpaleo/volunteering/field/

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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tmaier

It's still too hot for me! I'm going to wait until closer to Turkey-time, when the temperature and humidity will be something easier for a person my age. I don't want to add my old bones to the site.

There sure are a lot od days available. I will pick some consecutive days that are in the middle of the week, to avoid the crowds.


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digit

The site is rarely crowded unless they are bringing a college class out to do fieldwork. They usually block off those days anyway so there is not an issue. Agreed that the temps will soon be falling to a much nicer range. I'll be out of town (and country) for most of October and November (and possibly December) so I wanted to get in a quick trip to Montbrook to whet my appetite before I get busy with other things. They will run pretty much continuously till late December when they will take a holiday break. They'll be picking it up again in 2017 and probably digging till the summer rainy season forces them to button things up again for the summer.

 

The site is on private property but the land owner is quite pleased that the FLMNH is finding so much scientifically valuable fossils from the site and seems willing to put up with the field work. As this could change at any time the museum naturally wishes to devote as much effort to digging there as they can. They still have no idea of the extent of the site but they know that the fossil layer is at least 2 meters thick and at least 300 square meters but it may be just the tip of the iceberg and it could be substantially larger. It is an important view into the late Hemphillian land mammal age (~5 mya) and is providing some wonderful specimens for the museum.

 

I would encourage any Florida residents who enjoy fossil hunting (and why would you be reading this forum if you didn't?) to pick a time and sign-up to dig at Montbrook (and the short window at the Thomas Farm site as well--usually in spring). For those TFF members outside of Florida who might be planning a trip to Florida in the next several months, consider spending a few days of your vacation volunteering for the museum and getting the opportunity to dig at a great fossil locality.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Kdeus

I'm in Orange Park (Jacksonville) and want to make at least one, hopefully several, of the dates. I have never done this, but have always wanted to. What a great opportunity.


Thanks for sharing this!

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digit

I encourage you to give it a try. You'll enjoy the experience and likely learn a bit too. If you do go, take plenty of photos and post a trip report here so others can share in the experience--and maybe plan a trip of their own.

 

I missed my chance a couple weeks back as a rather nasty hurricane named Matthew threw a spanner into the works for the days I had planned on being up there in October. I'll remember not to make non-refundable hotel reservations too far in the future next time. :(

 

Hoping to make it up at least one time before the year is out and then a longer trip sometime in 2017.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Kdeus

Thanks, Ken! I will share an update if I go. I think it would be a great opportunity.

When I was little and dreaming about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had wanted to be an archaeologist. I had that dream for years as a child, but whenever I mentioned it, my grandmother would always discourage me because "they don't make any money." Sometimes, it's just the wonder of what exists out there and finding and touching something that human hands hadn't before.  While I went a different route with my education, the interest has always been there. :)

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