An internationally known company with a local fossil laboratory is teaching the fascinating craft of fossil preparation via internship and volunteer programs.
Seldom, if ever, do students have the chance to handle such impressive, diverse and aesthetically stunning discoveries as those seen at GeoDecor, Inc., whose 5,000-square-foot Tucson fossil laboratory is brimming with countless North American dinosaur fossils, gorgeous 50-million-year-old fossilized fishes and palm fronds, as well as varied pieces such as bones from a dire wolf of the famed La Brea Tarpits of California. (Examples of GeoDecor’s impressive collection can be viewed at www.GeoDecor.com.)
For University of Arizona and Pima Community College students, Fossil Lab Internships offer course credits as well as training in a professional setting. For some, it is a potential career path, for others, a step on the road toward a geoscience degree. “I’m having a great time and, with this on my resume, I’ll stand out when I apply to UCLA,” declares college student Carol Genovese.
GeoDecor excavates, prepares and offers fossils to museums, collectors and interior designers. “My own interest in fossils began when I was a student, so it’s natural to reach out to young people who may also discover a lifelong passion,” says GeoDecor President, Thomas E. Lindgren. Lindgren has also culled volunteers, such as retirees and earth science enthusiasts, from non-academic environments.
“Before a fossil can be fully seen and appreciated, it must be freed of matrix,” explains Lindgren. Embedded in limestone, 50-million-year-old fossils fish, palms, stingrays and the more rare turtles and crocodiles are revealed from their stone “tombs” with the use of hand-held pneumatic tools. Dinosaur bones, carefully preserved in plaster jackets, are laboriously recovered from the crumbly rock in which they were found, then pieced together like a puzzle.
The Fossil Lab Internship Program is offered through UA Geoscience Department and PCC Geology Department. “Some people are ‘naturals.’ They just love the process of exploration involved in uncovering these amazing natural wonders,” says Lindgren. Such students will be offered training in more advanced preparation and restoration techniques.
Interns and volunteers are closely supervised by GeoDecor’s Laboratory Manager, first observing the fossil preparation process, then learning “rough prep.” Individuals showing exceptional talent may apply for work with GeoDecor as Fossil Preparation Technicians.
Internships are available directly after winter break, in the Spring, 2013 semester. Interested University of Arizona students should contact the UA Geosciences Department (520) 621-6000. Pima Community College students should contact the PCC Geology Department (520) 206-6763.
Volunteers may contact GeoDecor directly by emailing Christine@GeoDecor.com and including a letter of interest and resume.