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Upcoming National Fossil Day Events, Part 1

Howdy folks!

National Fossil Day is fast approaching (October 11, 2017), and with that annual celebration comes many events across the U.S. Dozens of museums are planning events and activities for individuals, families, and educational groups to learn about fossils and fossil resources in the United States.

Below is a list of several of the events that we know about so far, and will continue to build this list as we hear about additional events. If you or your museum/institution/group are planning events or activities for National Fossil Day and you don’t see it on this list, please contact John-Paul Hodnett, and we will include it in a part 2 of this list. (And a big thanks to John-Paul, who compiled this list!)

The events listed below are arranged by location. Not all of these events are happening on October 11, so be sure to check the date and institution’s individual websites for hours, admission, and location. Info for the events below will be updated as necessary. Find a local event near you and celebrate the United States’ fossil heritage with fun activities and volunteer opportunities!

Alabama

  • Anniston Museum of Natural History, October 11th, 3 pm–5 pm
    • Participate in National Fossil Day at Anniston Museum between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00pm (last admission sold at 4:30pm). Join us as we celebrate paleontology and the importance of fossils. Activities include identifying fossil types, creating your own fossil, and visiting with “living fossils”! This program is great fun for all ages. Crafts are first come, first served.
  • Alabama Museum of Natural History, October 11th, 4 pm–6 pm
    • Join us in a celebration of all things fossil during this National Parks Service established day of fossil appreciation and stewardship. 4:00-6:00 pm. Free and fun for all ages. Wednesday, Oct. 11th 4-6 pm Alabama Museum of Natural History, Smith Hall on campus at the University of Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

  • Museum of Northern Arizona, October 14th, 2 pm–4pm
    • Fossil Day at the Museum of Northern Arizona. Join MNA on the second Saturday of the month for exciting kids’ programs, hands-on activities, and creative crafts. Programs are included with admission and are scheduled from 2-4 p.m. Family and kids of all ages are welcome.

California

  • University of California Berkley Museum of Paleontology
    • More information soon
  • The Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center, October 14th, 10 am–3 pm
    • Prehistoric OC. The Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center will celebrate International Archaeology Day and National Fossil Day (which are only four days apart) on October 14, 2017 with a FREE educational family event, Prehistoric OC. The Prehistoric OC festival presents Orange County’s rich heritage of natural history, prehistoric animals and plants, and Native American culture to the community.
    • For more information please visit the event’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PrehistoricOc.
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, September 23rd and 24th, 9:30am–5:00pm (9:00am entrance for Members)
    • Join us on September 23rd and 24th for a two-day festival celebrating dinosaurs, their prehistoric past and the science that brings their world back to life!  Meet world-renowned paleontologists from the Museum and beyond as they discuss historic and ongoing fossil discoveries from around the world!  Visit exhibitors, catch a glimpse of rare specimens from the Museum’s collections, dig into hands-on activities, explore our world renowned Dino Hall with the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series.
  • The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, October 14th, 1 pm–4 pm
    • Join us for the annual National Fossil Day celebration! Come to the museum to learn about the amazing paleontology heritage of our country and discover the amazing fossils that have been found right in our own backyards!

Colorado

  • Colorado Canyon Association, October 11th, 4 pm–6 pm
    • National Fossil Day: Trail Stewards Interpretive Hike. Join Colorado Canyons Association’s Education Director, Rob Gay, and fellow CCA Trail Stewards on this paleontology-based outing for National Fossil Day! We’ll head out to Rabbit Valley and explore the Trail Through Time’s paleontological resources in the McInnis Canyons NCA. For questions, and to reserve your spot, contact Killian Rush via killian@canyonsassociation.org or 970-263-7902.
  • The Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center, October 7th, 7:45 am–3 pm
    • The Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center’s (RGRMHC) Junior Fossil Program is an introduction to the Royal Gorge area’s paleontology history for children ages 9-11.  The students will visit local fossil sites and learn about the people who discovered them. The program will include touring the local fossil sites and the fossil exhibit at the museum. The program is limited to 15 students.  Parents must register their by Friday, September 29th at 4pm. Parents can pick up a registration form at RGRMHC located at 612 Royal Gorge Blvd. on Wednesday, September 13th. The program is free and is sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office.  Students will be required to walk and stand for long periods of time. Sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather and the terrain are recommended. Please call the RGRMHC at (719) 269-9036 if you have any questions. The Royal Gorge Regional Museum History Center is open Wed. – Sat. from 10am – 4pm and is free and open to the public.

Delaware

  • Ashland Nature Center, October 14th and 15th, 8:30 am–4:30 pm
    • Family Fossil Weekend Delaware Nature Society Dig into Delaware’s past in the Visitor Center at Ashland Nature Center with FREE fun for the whole family! Sift for Delaware fossils and keep your favorites. Learn about Delaware’s prehistoric wildlife. Explore the grounds for modern treasures and make your own “fossil” to take home. Plus! Family Fossilizing Guided Trip to the C&D Canal for adults and children ages 7+ (pre-registration and fee required.) Contact Candy Farr (30) 239-2334 candy@delnature.org or Heather Siple heather@sipleart.com

Florida

  • Florida Museum of Natural History, November 4th, 10 am–3pm
    • Join us for a colossal fossil festival as we honor National Fossil Day in a big way! Meet the paleontologists and geologists who work every day to uncover the secrets these ancient remains reveal about past life on Earth. Explore fossil displays and the kids dig pit. Bring your fossils for identification and talk to members of fossil clubs throughout Florida to learn what fossils can be found around the state! Participating organizations include: Florida Paleontological Society, Florida Fossil Hunters, Southwest Florida Fossil Society, Florida Geological Survey, Florida Geological Foundation, Fossil Club of Lee County, FOSSIL Project, Tampa Bay Fossil Club, Manasota Fossil Club and others.
  • Archaeologists for Autism, October 21st, 9 am–3 pm
    • The Archaeologists for Autism mission is to unlock the potential of children and young adults with developmental disabilities. We aim to provide children with autism spectrum disorders and their families a chance to experience archaeology in a fun, low stress environment. At our Archeologists for Autism event, children and young adults on the autism spectrum and their families will be walking the grounds of an actual archaeological site and be able to enjoy a wide range of activities related to archaeology and paleontology, live music, face-painting, and much more. Participants will be able to use social skills and various functional skills, all while having fun! A list of some of our activities can be found on our website. Children on the autism spectrum ages 5 to 17 years and young adults on the spectrum ages 18 to 22 who are enrolled in public school or equivalent. (Free Event)

Idaho

  • Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, October 7th, 1 pm–4 pm
    • Hagerman Fossil Beds will celebrate National Fossil Day with the Hagerman Valley Foundation’s Fossil Daze on Saturday, October 7, 2017. It will begin with a parade through town followed by afternoon activities and booths in the Hagerman City Park. We will be featuring fossil ducks at our booth, with Park Paleontologist Dr. Kari Prassack presiding.

Illinois

Kansas

  • University of Kansas Natural History Museum, October 8th, 1–3 pm
    • Celebrate National Fossil Day with us on Oct. 8. We’ll have invertebrate, vertebrate and plant fossils for you to see, plus fossil activities such as casting fossils. Bring in your own fossils and ask our experts to identify them, too. This is a free family event.

Maryland

  • Maryland Science Center, September 23rd, 12 pm–4 pm
    • Dino Day. Roar with the dinosaurs when they take over MSC on Saturday, September 23 for Dino Day! Channel your inner paleontologist as you uncover fossils and learn about the dinosaurs who roamed the earth millions of years ago. Scour Dino Hall and use your reasoning skills to piece together clues to solve a dinosaur mystery.  You might even get a chance to meet a “real” dinosaur! All activities are free with paid admission and completely free for members.

Massachusetts

  • Boston Public Library’s Children’s Library, October 11th, 3:30 pm–4:30 pm
    • Beneath Our Feet: National Fossil Day. Celebrate National Fossil Day at the Boston Public Library! Learn how fossils form, make imprints of natural objects, and see real fossils from the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Contact: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, phone- 617-859-2387. E-mail- info@leventhalmap.org
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History, October 11th, 10 am–4 pm
    • National Fossil Day: Meet a Paleontologist- Celebrate National Fossil Day with ancient trilobites, sea scorpions, saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths, and more. Meet Harvard paleontologists, and learn about the amazing prehistoric animals on exhibit. Bring your curiosity and questions to this all-ages event! Contact: Arielle Moon arielleascrizzi@hmsc.harvard.edu.
  • Oak Bluffs Public Library and Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute, October 12th, 4 pm–7:45 pm
    • Celebrate National Fossil Day at the Oak Bluffs Library! The event is FREE to all, and everyone is invited. This event is for all ages. Students and families are especially welcome. This event is a partnership between MPRI, the Oak Bluffs Public Library and the National Park Service. It is made possible by our presenters and public interest and by grants from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council and from the Staples Educational Foundation. National Fossil Day is for citizenry to share their interest and excitement about fossils. Presenters include professional scientists [including from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, also MPRI], 7th and 9th grade budding scientists, and knowledgeable citizen scientists.
    • This is a drop-in and mingle event. Bring fossils to show to others or to ask about. Or just come and see what others bring. Share knowledge with presenters including the Martha’s Vineyard Museum;  paleontologist Jessica Cundiff, and herpetologists Joe Martinez and Scott Smyers of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology; Betsy Dripps and Jill Bouck of The Polly Hill Arboretum; Janet Holladay of Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary; along with prehistorian and artist Duncan Caldwell, students Jacob and Sam Gurney, artist and swimming instructor Michael Wooley; archaeologist, published author, and fossil collector Bill Moody; student Anne Culbert, marine ecologist Wendy Culbert, paleobiologist Fred Hotchkiss of MPRI, library participants, and others.
    • Last year our Public brought fossils of beauty, interest and variety, most of which were found on the island; others described things they had found but did not have in hand. The presenters showed the interested public, and especially to youngsters, special pieces from their private collections. They shared their knowledge and passion, and they mingled and conversed and listened and explained. National Fossil Day can attract students to future career paths in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, as well as avocational interests.

Mississippi

  • Dunn-Seiler Museum, October 11th, 5 pm–7:30 pm
    • This year, the National Fossil Day logo features an early fish of the Paleozoic Era. The Dunn-Seiler Museum’s Fossil Art & Story Contest also focuses upon the fish of ancient Mississippi—including the notorious Cretaceous “bulldog fish” and sharks! Our National Fossil Day contest invites you to sketch, draw, or create one of the ancient fish that swam in Mississippi’s waters over the last 400 million years. Our Mississippi’s Geologic Timeline can help you get started: http://www.geosciences.msstate.edu/dunn-seiler-museum/resources/
      • Fossil Art Contest (Categories: grades K-4th, 5th-6th, and 7th-12th)
        • Create a model or draw a picture recreating life with an ancient fish of Mississippi. Please remember to identify what your ancient fish is, and when it lived.
      • Fossil Story Contest (Categories: grades 4th-6th and 7th-12th)
        • Alternatively, if you would rather write an episode about a fish’s life in Mississippi, please submit a short story that is 1500 words or less. Be sure to identify when your ancient organism(s) lived!
      • Completed art work and stories are due by October 6, 2017. Submissions will be judged on creativity and accuracy. Winners in each grade category (in both art and story competitions) wil be awarded.
    • The Dunn-Seiler Museum hosts school groups for tours, and fossil collecting at our local Cretaceous outcrop. Please check our website for more information. Tours can be scheduled through the MSU Visitors Center, 662.325.5203.

Missouri

  • Bollinger County Museum of Natural History, October 14th, 12 pm–4 pm
    • Celebrate National Fossil Day at the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill, Missouri on Saturday, October 14 from 12:00 (noon) to 4:00 p.m.
    • Fossil ID and “Volcanoes in Missouri” presentation by geology professor Mike Fix at 1:00pm
    • Native American relics ID by Arrowhead Fred Bollinger and Native American tools display from 1:00PM to 3:00PM. Try your hand at different types of primitive skills while you explore the world of ancient cultures.
    • Museum Fossil Scavenger Hunt, children’s fossil dig and other fossil related activities.
    • Free Missouri fossil prizes for completing fossil scavenger hunt.
    • All activities and presentations are free with your paid museum admission.

Nevada        

  • Las Vegas Natural History Museum, October 14th, 10 am–3pm
    • Join the Protectors of Tule Springs and Las Vegas Natural History Museum as we celebrate fossil discovery in Southern Nevada. Student art contest and award ceremony, meet local paleontologists, fun fossil activities, critter connections and live shark feeding

New Jersey

  • The New Jersey State Museum
    • More information soon
  • Rutgers Geology Museum, October 4th, 4 pm–8 pm
    • Fossils and Dinosaurs Late Night at the Rutgers Geology Museum, Join the Rutgers Geology Museum in the Geology Hall on the 2nd Floor to partake in Dinosaur and fossil themed crafts and activities for visitors of all ages!

New York

  • American Museum of Natural History, October 18th, 10 am–12 am
    • Drop-In Event for School Groups.
    • Registration Information:  You must register as a regular school group. Please visit http://www.amnh.org/plan-your-visit/school-or-camp-group-visit for details.
    • Note: While you must pre-register your group in order to visit the museum, no reservations for the drop-in activities are accepted; all offerings are first-come, first serve.
    • Location: Grand Gallery, First Floor and 4th Floor Fossil Halls
    • In celebration of National Fossil Day, this special event will help students understand how studying fossils teaches us about the history of life, past climates, and ancient landscapes. Activities explore fossil formation, extinction theories, fossil diversity and much more.
    • Free admission for New York City school and camp groups to the American Museum of Natural History is generously supported by the Richard and Karen LeFrak Exhibition and Education Fund.
  • Museum of the Earth and the Paleontological Research Institution, October 14th, 10 am–1 pm
    • Fossil Mania- Three hour event that educates Museum visitors about Fossils- types, & formation with hands-on specimen-driven activities. We have Fossil World which is an area where families with young children can interact and play with fossil in a different and slightly carnival-like way. The fossil focus will be Paleozoic fish.

North Carolina

  • Aurora Fossil Museum, October 7th, 10 am–7 pm
    • Please join us at the Aurora Fossil Museum to celebrate National Fossil Day! Activities include fossil displays, fossil talks, games, prizes, and live music in the Fossil Park! A family fun day filled with community, fun, and FOSSILS!!
  • Imagination Station Science and History Museum, Multiple events on October 7th, October 10th, and October 11th
    • Saturday, October 7, 10:00 AM–4:00 PM
      • Educator Trek – Fossil Hunt
      • Event description: Follow Justin through the waters of Green Mill Run. This unsuspecting stream, which runs into East Carolina University’s main campus, is a gold mine for fossils from North Carolina’s Pliocene and Cretaceous periods.
      • Justin will lead you to the best spots for fossil and artifact finds. He’ll then guide you through the digging and screening process. Among the things you might uncover, and Justin will teach you to identify, are sharks teeth and bone fragments. You may even be lucky enough to find the coveted tooth of a modern Great White!
      • Location: Greensprings Park, Greenville, NC, Contact information: Justin White, jwhite@imaginescience.org
    • Tuesday, October 10, 4:00 PM
      • Science Lab Tuesday – Fantastic Fossils
      • Event description:  Discover prehistoric life as we dig through time. Students will learn how fossils are formed, the basics of identification and how to properly curate your collection. Our class we conclude with a fossil dig from various geologic time periods. Best of all, you can keep what you find!
      • Location: Imagination Station Science and History Museum, 224 Nash Street East, Wilson, NC 27893, Contact information: Justin White, jwhite@imaginescience.org
    • Wednesday, October 11, 3:00–5:00 PM
      • National Fossil Day
      • Event description:  Travel back in time with us as celebrate National Fossil Day. Come and see some of the exciting specimens from our fossil collection such as megalodon teeth and whale bones. Participants will even have the opportunity to hunt for their own fossils to take home! Best of all, this event is FREE!
      • Location: Imagination Station Science and History Museum, 224 Nash Street East, Wilson, NC 27893, Contact information: Justin White, jwhite@imaginescience.org

Oregon

  • University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, October 11th, 3 pm
    • Fossils as Guides to Conservation – National Fossil Day Talk. On this National Fossil Day, join MNCH paleobiologist Edward B. Davis and explore how the fossil record can help us better manage Earth’s ecosystems today and in the future. Included with regular museum admission; free for MNCH members and University of Oregon ID card holders. Talk will take place in the Galleria at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Pennsylvania

  • The State Museum of Pennsylvania, October 11th, 11 am–1 pm
    • Join us in celebrating National Fossil Day in the Paleontology Gallery. This year’s theme is “Who’s that Lurking in the Paleozoic?” This event is included with General Admission to the Museum.

Texas

  • Texas Memorial Museum, The University of Texas at Austin, October 11th, 9 am–5 pm
    • Free activities with paid admission to the museum
    • 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. Fossil Identifications. Meet a paleontologist to learn about your personal fossil finds and the fabulous fossil record of Texas. (1st floor, Paleo Lab)
    • 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Prehistoric Stories. Storytime for children aged 5 and younger. (2nd floor, The Niche)
    • 10:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. Fossil Dig Pit. Young paleontologists can make their own discoveries of Texas fossils.  (Outdoor classroom, weather permitting)
    • 2:30, 3:15, and 4:00 p.m. Gallery Talk: What’s the buzz about prehistoric whorl-toothed sharks? Meet a paleontologist and learn more about these freaky fish! (4th floor, Main Exhibit Gallery)

Utah

  • Canyonlands Natural History Association 50th Birthday Celebration, Moab Information Center, Corner of Main and Center, Moab, Utah, UT, September 13, 2017, 6:00–8:00 PM
    • Join us in celebrating the Canyonlands Natural History Association’s 50th birthday party! The Bureau of Land Management will have hands on local fossil displays from the Moab area, with fun fossil crafts and activities. This event is free and open to the public, with livemusic, cake and partner appreciation!
  • National Public Fossil Lands Day/ Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite, September 29, 2017, 8:30 AM–1:00 PM
    • The Bureau of Land Management-Moab Field Office is looking for volunteers to help complete a trail re-route at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite. This short trail work will involve re-routing the existing trail to a new gate and will require the use of shoves, rakes, and wheelbarrows. A guided tour of the Mill Canyon Dinosaur
    • Tracksite will be offered for interested participants. The work will take place at the Mill Canyon Tracksite Trail north of Moab. Participants are asked to meet at the trail head, and to bring gloves, a hat, water bottle and lunch. Water will be provided.
    • Contact: ReBecca Hunt-Foster, BLM District Paleontologist, 435-259-2179; rhuntfoster@blm.gov
  • Moab Festival of Science, Sun Court on Center Street, Moab, Utah, multiple dates and events
    • September 30, 2017, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
      • STEMonstrations, or hands-on science activities and demonstrations for students and families. BEACON, Utah State University, Canyon Country Discovery Center, Youth Garden Project, the Bureau of Land Management and more are partnering to bring these fun and free educational activities to the Moab community.
    • October 1, 2017, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM
      • The Bureau of Land Management – Moab has partnered with the Museum of Moab and Utah Friends of Paleontology to offer free, guided tours of the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite. Paleontologists will be on hand to tell you about this unique 112 million year old dinosaur tracksite, and about the 6 different kinds of dinosaurs who left their tracks here. Tours will be offered every half hour.

Wyoming

  • Tate Geological Museum, October 14th, 10 am–2 pm
    • The Tate Geological Museum at Casper College will be holding an open house where they will offer tours of the prep lab and the new Rex Annex, home of Lee Rex, crafts, face painting, their own Fossil Road Show to ID fossils, and they plan to feature their new 3D sandbox! Call the front desk for more information: 307-268-2447

Again, this is a growing list. If we’re missing your activity, let us know! 

Go to Part 2 of the list of events

Featured Image: Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite, near Moab, Utah. Image courtesy Bureau of Land Management, My Public Lands Tumblr.

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