Volunteer opportunities

  • The Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute is seeking an adult volunteer to help with everything from record keeping to writing to research. Two or three mornings/afternoons a week would be great. Organizational and grant writing/researching skills a plus. The mission of MPRI is education, research and public participation in marine and paleobiological sciences; also working to preserve our world fossil heritage. The Directors and Officers are not compensated, and at this time the Institute has no staff. Please contact Fred Hotchkiss, director, email hotchkiss@MPRInstitute.org phone 508-693-3122

  • Support from donors is what makes accomplishments possible. Yet despite the life sustaining importance of fundraising, I have not managed to do the fundraising tasks in a timely manner. So this is an area where I could really use the help of a well organized and motivated volunteer to keep fundraising on track and on timelines.

  • It would be great to have help with our web pages. I would like to tell about our accomplishments, and to do this while it is still newsworthy. Likewise to put onto our bulletin board the talks and other events that are scheduled for future dates, and to have nicely created posters to elaborate on the events. Also there is so much more that we can do on our website to fulfill our mission of education, research and public participation in marine and paleobiological science.

  • Please step up and be a Citizen Science Volunteer to help count spawning horseshoe crabs on lunar high tides in May and June. Click here for 2011 TASHMOO TIMES AND TIDES. Click here for 2011 FELIX NECK TIMES AND TIDES. You can get onto our volunteer lists at any time of the year. The Martha's Vineyard surveys are organized and coordinated by Felix Neck. The data is used by the state fisheries biologists to monitor the health of the horseshoe crab population and the effectiveness of the fishery regulations. MPRI helped to initiate the Martha's Vineyard surveys, and we participate by signing up to do some of the counts. Volunteers experience enjoyable camaraderie, so please identify yourselves and join us.

  • Create educational displays of recently acquired fossils, both teaching material fossils and fossil heritage fossils. Ask the Oak Bluffs Library if we can install the displays on a temporary basis in the upstairs display case; also the Vineyard Haven Library has a display case [the display will need to be tailored to fit the different size/style of display cases in the two libraries; maybe there are other venues also?]. The idea is to get maximum public benefit from these fossil acquisitions. Some research, and photography, and photoshop, and similar effort is needed for each project.

  • Update the on-line bibliography on Paleozoic Asterozoa. A person with library skills might be interested in the project. It is a mix of catch-up word processing on already-found literature to add to the bibliography, and also an opportunity to find other new and old literature to make the bibliography more and more complete.

  • For volunteers who have arts and crafts inventiveness and skills: There are reasons to think that the body wall of a starfish behaves somewhat like an elastic membrane that is supported by a framework of skeleton within the starfish body wall: this leads to the idea of trying to model starfish structure using a wire frame and a soap film: create a frame; dip it into a soap solution; see what shape the soap film makes; try to discover a frame that supports a film that has key features of starfish body form. Like guy wires of a tent, some additional support such as bits of thread as flexible shape-forming members seem needed. It is also desired to figure out a way to make a film that will harden as a lasting structure (because soap films 'pop' and do not last). There is also a second project that constructs a starfish shape from paper strips; the model is flexible but wants to maintain a symmetrical equilibrium shape; starfish in nature are almost 'unnaturally' symmetrical, and it is perhaps because it requires muscular effort for a starfish to be not-symmetrical. The scientific objectives are to devise simple ways to understand certain features of starfish body form. The educational objective is to come up with an enjoyable activity that teaches about the role of the skeleton in supporting the shape of an animal.

sunflower sea star

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MPRI was not able to hold any events in 2020 but below is a summary of our past events.

2019 EVENTS:

In October, our annual National Fossil Day took place at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. See pictures from this event on the Oak Bluffs Library's Facebook page here.

In May, we took fossil programs for seniors to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and in June to The Anchors Senior Center in Edgartown in collaboration with the Martha's Vineyard Center for Living and in collaboration with the MV Museum.

In April, Susie Bowman
and Fred Hotchkiss presented
Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods,
a free lecture and slide show about lives and history of horseshoe crabs and opportunities to be involved in the Horseshoe Crab Citizen Science Survey Project -- at the West Tisbury, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs libraries

In March, we visited two 8th grade science classes of Mrs. Connie Alexander in Tisbury, bringing a range of fossils for study and discussion.

In March, we brought touchable fossils to preschoolers at the Island Children's School in West Tisbury.

In February, we visited the 7th grade science classes of Ms. Lea Dorr in Oak Bluffs as they studied geology and the history of beach pebbles found on the Vineyard.


Specimens purchased
with the help of our generous donors.

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