School News
Fannin County makes ready for National Earth Science Week with opportunities for no kid to be left inside!
By Doug Franklin
Oct 14, 2017
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Fannin County -- A week of activities that allow folks to locate themselves in natural Fannin County will be the focus of  weeklong events October 10 through October 14 as locals, students, visiting scientists, fossil hunters and enthusiasts gather here during National Earth Science Week.  At the end of the four days of learning opportunities,  participants will  understand earthcacheing of locations around the county, see displays of rare and unusual fossils from the Cretaceous and Pleistocene Periods, and join in exploration for the same at North Sulphur River.

This year marks the seventh year for a local observance. In 2011, the local Bois d' Arc Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist teamed with the Dallas Paleontological Society, the Ladonia Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ladonia  to become sanctioned by the National Park Service  and become a sponsoring participant in National Fossil Day.  That day has morphed into National Earth Science Week led by the American Geosciences Institute.  Other organizations contributing to the 2017 observance include the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library, the Blackland Prairie Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist, and the Ladonia Volunteer Fire Department.

A TMN training adventure at Camp Timbercreek on Lake Bonham on October 10 begins the weeklong events. Local naturalist Ron Glaser will conduct training on using Cell phone apps and GPS to find outdoor locations, both natural and manmade.  The event beginning at 6pm is open to the public at no charge but attendees are reminded to bring a lawn chair.
On October 12 and 13, the Dallas Paleontological Society will take part at Honey Grove's Bertha Voyer Memorial Library in a series of fossil presentations and displays for school age audiences all about North Sulphur River fossils. Mick Tune and other volunteers from Dallas Paleontological Society will present special programs on fossils, followed by Q & A, again open to the public at no charge.

On Saturday, October 14, the focus moves to Fannindel High School Cafeteria, Ladonia, for a workshop starting at 9:30 am.  Registration begins an hour earlier with fossil identification table, local fossil displays, and special collectors tables.

The workshop will open with Kenny Karl, a Bois d' Arc Chapter Master Naturalist, giving the history of North Sulphur River (NSR) and how the park came to be among the best surface hunting locations in Texas.

Fossil collector PK Kirkpatrick, collector in NSR for more than 25 years will address safety issues for hunting at the Park and share information on what to look for and how to have a great hunt at the North Sulphur River Canyon, located a couple of miles north of Ladonia.

Special guest speaker for the workshop is Mick Tune, a member of Dallas Paleontological Society, an author of newly released “Wildering: Anyone’s Guide to Enjoying the American Wilderness” that includes exploration stories of the North Sulphur River Canyon fossil beds.  The North Sulphur River in southeast Fannin County is noted for Cretaceous Period marine megafossils such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs and for Ice Age fossils such as mammoths and mastodons.

Volunteers from Dallas Paleontological Society Bois d' Arc Chapter. Master Naturalist will be present to assist at the park.  Mick Tune of DPS will lead identifying finds and offering information about what is found. 

Special sales will be made of the DPS book, Fossil Collector’s Guidebook to the North Sulphur River. The book is  a reference guide to fossil identification for fossils from the NSR in Fannin, Delta, and Lamar Counties of Texas. Also, Mick Tune will be giving autographs of his new book, Wildering. Souvenir tee shirts cups, and patches will be on sale, and food concessions will be available from members at the Ladonia Volunteer Fire Department booth.

Chairperson of the Ladonia Fossil Park event, PK  Kirkpatrick tells participants, “While workshops and explorations of this caliber are usually with significant fee, these National Fossil Day events are free, thanks to a number of volunteers from our sponsoring organizations!”

In event of heavy rainfall, the river excursions will be postponed. PK Kirkpatrick said those going on the excursion need to pack water, wear close-toed shoes or mud boots or mud wading shoes if there has been rain within the past week.  Also, those with arthritic knees, ankles, backs, and mobility problems may want to stay topside at the park and not enter the river bed because of steepness and height of steps at the park.

Ladonia Fossil Park is located two miles north of Ladonia on Highway 34. Ladonia is located about 75 miles northeast of Dallas, midway between Greenville and Paris and is accessible by highway 34 and highway 50. 

For more information on the event or directions, call 903-456-2687.