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Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum exists to educate young and old about Florida’s amazing fossil record. In 1983, scientific history was changed when the world’s greatest deposit of Pleistocene fossils was uncovered at the Leisey Shell Pit in southern Hillsborough County. Volunteers worked with scientists to expose scores of fantastic creatures from prehistoric times, some of them unknown to science. The news of this discovery was heard around the world and many people came to see Leisey Shell Pit. Though the pit itself has long since closed, many of the fossils discovered there, as well as photographs and articles from its excavation years, are on display at the Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum. This awe-inspiring story of Ruskin’s significance in the fossil record is kept alive by volunteers.

In addition, other Floridian fossils and geological samples are kept at the Paleo Preserve, along with plenty of general information about paleontology to go along with the specific Florida history of significant finds. There are many examples of preserved shells and sea creatures, including the Florida state fossil (the echinoid) and the Florida state stone (agatized coral). While visiting, guests of the Paleo have the opportunity to learn about, view, and even touch some of the exhibits, and can purchase souvenirs and fossils from our gift shop. An additional experience is fossil hunting in the Paleo’s cleared sandpit, which is especially enjoyed by younger children and lets you take home whatever you find. These activities allow guests to gain hands-on experience and a closer connection to fossil excavation, just as the Leisey Shell Pit forerunners did.

The Paleo Preserve aims to bring the wonder of discovery to new and old generations of fossil hunters and provide the education to open a window into the past. Florida’s fossil record is unique, and its opportunities for new findings – as well as its past explorations – are worth learning about, and our volunteers strive to make that experience eye-opening and enjoyable. We want to make our collection and knowledge as accessible to as many people as we can, and for that there is a need for more volunteers who want to learn about Florida’s fossil history and share that information with others.


Museum Docent

For a person wanting to volunteer as a Museum Docent, there are 3 parts to the position: 1) host, 2) tour guide, and 3) collection caretaker. The parts may sound complicated but they aren’t!

As the host, you’ll open the buildings and greet visitors. As a tour guide, you’ll give a brief history of the museum and exhibits (Don’t worry, you don’t need prior fossil knowledge!). Collection caretaker is a bit of a catch-all. For this, you’ll need to record how many visitors, any sales, some cleaning, and set up the sandpit as needed for children’s fossil hunt activities.

Volunteers are needed on Saturday from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm. Volunteers normally work one Saturday per month but any help given is appreciated. As we get more volunteers we would like to open for additional days. Most volunteers bring their lunch to eat at the museum. A fridge and microwave are available.

Please consider joining Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum’s team. Our mission is to share the amazing history of Florida’s fossils, have fun, and learn more about fossils!

Next Step: Seniors in Service helps nonprofits throughout Tampa Bay find volunteers like you to help accomplish their mission. Fill out the form below and someone from Seniors in Service will contact you soon to walk you through the next steps to begin volunteering. In question 4, please include the words “Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum.”

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