I was attending one of my courses today about Paleontology held at our museum.  This was the last class of this term.  The instructor is a local famous leader of paleontology.  Pat Trask actually has no formal education in this subject.  In his youth he left Ontario to look for jobs in Alberta and northern BC as a mechanic/handyman.  His brother happened to end up here in the valley and while hiking with his kids on the Trent river came across the most famous fossil of BC, the Elasmosaurus, on the river bank.

Pat quit his job as the maintenance guy at a mill in northern BC and moved here to help dig out the fossil.  No money in it, but he says it was more interesting than fixing equipment.

29 years later Pat is an established expert in marine fossils.  Again not a well paying position, but he loves it.

In the last class today he was talking about the British Columbia Paleontology Alliance (BCPA)  of which he was a founding member.  (Look up their site — not bad.)

This is a society of paleontologists, amateur and professional,  from around the province.  Like many of these groups, the members are getting older and membership is declining.  Down to 70 members across the province.

Pat was describing the problem they have in attracting younger people to join.  There is a huge gap between someone finding a fossil and wanting to learn more.  They may attend a meeting and show their find to people with 30 years experience, and are intimidated.  As Pat says, it is so easy for some young person to bring in some rock with a pattern and an old guy to trivialize the find.  So they quit.  Apparently paleontology does not breed people big on interpersonal skills.

This hit on a pet point with me.  I would love to have a group of model shipwrights on the Island to share my love of this hobby.  Unfortunately when I do meet someone who seems interested and invite them to my workshop, I go overboard and extol about the joy of making treenails or ship wheels or preparing frames from Pear wood.  No one comes back.

At least Pat Trask takes hundreds of young people on fossil hunts every summer.  What do I do?

Granted I have 3 grandsons visiting this Christmas.  And, two granddaughters.  Maybe there is hope………..