After I retired from a long career as a computer design engineer in the aerospace industry I found myself looking around for interesting volunteer opportunities. I have a lifelong interest in science, especially the physical sciences, which served me well in my career, but I had had little opportunity to spend time in the area of the natural sciences. One day I chanced to be in the neighborhood of the Natural History Museum, and stopped in to see what was there. I found room after room devoted to nature, minerals, animals, fossils, birds and fish. In addition, there were other fascinating exhibits on Native Americans, California history, and Mesoamerican pre-history. One thing led to another and I soon became a docent after completing their training program. This gave me the opportunity to share these interests with school children (again, since my own had by now grown up). Dinosaurs became a special interest and when I learned that our dinosaur curator, Luis Chiappe, had an opening for help involving his computer-related activities. I volunteered there though still continued the docent work. Twice I left the computers behind to go on field trips, once to Kansas (see photo) collecting fossil fish, and once to Wyoming for a Triceratops dinosaur. Back in the office, I continue to support Luis who is very active in his research and publications in whatever way I can.
A volunteer fossil preparator since 2000, I've been "into" paleontology since I was seven years old (back in that Cenozoic year of 1951). Although I pursued various professional careers in media and the arts (writing, film directing, music, etc.), I did go on to author numerous books on paleontological subjects, culminating with a continuing series of "dinosaur encyclopedias." Working in the lab has allowed me the luxury of discussing paleontology on an ongoing basis with such dinosaur experts as Dr. Luis Chiappe, while also giving me "hands on" experience with the remains of the animals I've been writing about. It's always a thrill to clean the matrix away from a fossil bone, knowing that mine are the first eyes to se that bone after so many millions of years. More recently, I've been more involved in non-preparatory duties, primarily working in the collections, thereby discovering the true wealth of original dinosaur material housed in our Museum.
I am married with two grown children and found myself with much more spare time than I’ve had in many years. I asked myself, “how should I utilize this precious commodity?” My husband and I are art collectors and have spent much of the last 20 years around people, museums and reference material that express our interests and passion in collecting. After much deliberation I concluded that the activity that excited me the most was the thought of being in this environment. While trying to decide how best to pursue this goal I came across a newspaper article that was essentially searching for volunteers to Docent at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. After several days of thinking about the possibilities of such a choice, I became more convinced that this might be the perfect fit for my quest. I set up an appointment to interview for the position and I must tell you that, after one afternoon of strolling around the different halls and exhibits, there was no doubt in my mind that this was for me. The pure delight and joy of looking at wonderful examples of now long extinct creatures, that roamed our planet many years ago, just left me breathless and awestruck. I have now been at the Museum for two years and have learned that the main attraction, almost without exception, to the student classes that I tour with is the Dinosaur Hall. By virtue of spending so much time focused on this subject it is not difficult to explain why this has become my favorite pursuit as well. As a result I decided to devote a few extra days a week to working with, and broadening my knowledge of, the ancient creatures in the Dinosaur Institute’s Lab. The thought of sitting in the lab and holding the bone of a once-living dinosaur, millions of years old, is truly mind boggling. In the process of cleaning and preparing these fossils it is possible to learn of their behavior, size and habits. By further expanding my knowledge of these animals I bring more excitement and enthusiasm to the students I interact with. I strongly recommend this wonderful and unique experience for anyone who is fascinated with, and wishes to know more about, these remarkable creatures that once roamed our Earth.