Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Inspire a Future Paleontologist

I was sorting through some files today, and found this. Back when I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to devote my life to paleontology, and paleontology research would be even better. So, I started writing letters to researchers I had read about in books and magazines. Some didn't respond (everyone is busy, so I can't fault them too much), and some sent really nice replies. It's those replies that propelled me into a serious career as a paleontologist. Thank you, to those who wrote back.
Little did I know that I would be visiting those collections as a researcher, only 10 years later


Darrin Pagnac said...

I encounter future paleontologists on at least a weekly basis. I cannot tell you how many times one of them has come back as a student and told me my visit with them was instrumental in getting them started. We forget what these small gestures do for these young people.

Andy said...

Indeed! It makes me feel all the guiltier for those occasional times when I drop the ball on an email response. Even if they never become paleontologists, I like to think it sets them on the path to a career in science or engineering, or at the very least towards a better appreciation of scientists as human beings.

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

small gestures may mean quite a major deal sometimes!

Ciência Ao Natural said...

Hi Andy!

Just loved the response you got and this entire paleo-situation.
Some time ago I wrote a post regarding a boy that was visiting dinosaur tracks, visit that I was guiding.
He introduced himself “I am Vasco, I have six years and I want to be a palaeontologist like you!”
Well my response to him and his mother was a mixture of joking since I’ve tried to convince Vasco to choose a “decent” profession (it’s hard to be palaeontologist everywhere and more in Portugal…).
Well, after receiving a strange look from Vasco, his mother told me that when he was four (!) he severely corrected a nurse that was treating him at a hospital and which only mistake was confusing a palaeontologist with an archaeologist…
My reaction to Vasco’s past and my stupid reaction to his professional ambition was a long afternoon of shame and self punishment…
Well the story (in Portuguese) and a Vasco’s drawing are at my blog here:
Força, Força, companheiro Vasco

All the best

Luis Azevedo Rodrigues

A.W. said...

I remember being about three years old, and my mom bought me a video about Dale Russel's trip to Mongolia in 1987. After that, I knew that was what I wanted to be. Eventually, my parents informed that they wouldn't pay for me to go to school for that. I left for the military without a word to either of them, bitter and angry.
That was years ago, and now I live about an hour from Dinosaur Valley in Texas. Just about every Friday that I can, I go walk the footprints in the river. Some day soon, I hope I'm working towards my degree.
Inspiring a future paleontologist is important for parents to do. I'm living proof that even if you say no, your kid will just be mad at you and find their own way!

Unknown said...

I have an (almost) 8 year old son who has been an aspiring future paleontologist his entire life. Every time he meets someone he tells them, "I'm going to be a paleontologist". We homeschool and I have started a large collection of books for him to start self-teaching (I did the same as a child) but I would love to get him in touch with someone who is a paleontologist. Let him see that his dreams are reachable.

Andy said...

Send me an email! (andrew dot farke _at... gmail)