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QUARRY'S POPULARITY SPURS NEED FOR GUIDES

So many people are coming to the Penn Dixie Quarry to find fossils that the Hamburg Natural History Society is looking for more people to serve as guides.

"It's going crazy. We need some help," said Jerold Bastedo, president of the society.

"Our weekends are starting to get booked."

About 20 school trips have been booked so far for this spring.

The society is conducting a docent training program at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the Frontier Central High School Library on Bayview Road, for those who wouldn't know a trilobite from a brachiopod.

The training will include about a one-hour class session on the history of the site and the fossils that may be found there, followed by a one-hour hands-on experience in the quarry observing and working with a small group of children.

The society took title to the Penn Dixie Quarry near Bayview Road in Hamburg last February.

The 32-acre site is filled with fossils dating back nearly 400 million years.

"If we don't save these sites for educational value, they're going to be gone," Bastedo said.

The frequency of groups visiting the quarry has grown in the last year as the quarry has become more well-known. There also have been visitors from West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Canada, Bastedo said.

Most groups are scheduled in advance, and there is one trip open to the public each month.

Some may enter the moon-like landscape skeptical of the number of fossils, but soon discover finding not just one but many fossils is virtually assured.

"They can actually bring it (a fossil) home. They can't believe it," Bastedo said.

Bastedo said about 10 people have already signed up for the docent training.

"We can always use extra help," he said.

In a message to its members included in the April newsletter, the society asks for help with the program: "If we cannot fulfill the needs of our educational program, we cannot meet the mission nor the promise of this educational center."

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