Major Membership Update

By Dr. Phil Stokes, Executive Director


A Big Change

After 24 years, we are renovating our membership program. These changes are the direct result of member feedback that identified areas of improvement.

Beginning today, all new memberships purchased will include benefits for a 12-month period. In other words, a membership purchased on July 15, 2019 will be good until July 15, 2020.

Previously, our memberships were valid for the calendar year. This system was necessary because we did not have the means to track individual membership expiration dates. The old system frequently caused confusion and occasionally drew concerns about memberships purchased late in the season.

Now, thanks to our investment in software, we can send you an email reminder when your membership is about to expire. With over 1,200 members, this is an invaluable resource to Penn Dixie.

New Membership Levels

We have also greatly reduced the numbers of membership levels available; there are now just three: Individual; Dual; and Family. Individual membership ($40) includes benefits for one (1) named adult age 18 and up; Dual membership ($50) includes benefits for two (2) named adults age 18 and up; and Family ($60) includes benefits for two (2) named adults age 18 and up plus up to four children/grandchildren under age 18. To make sure that we can expedite your check-in at Penn Dixie, please carry your membership card with you along with a photo ID that we can use to verify your name.

Special discounts ($5) are available for seniors (62+), military, students, and teachers with valid ID. These discounts do not stack and are not available for new members online. Current senior and student members should find the discount already applied to your account.

Guest Policy

For members who wish to bring a guest to Penn Dixie: we have you covered! At all three levels members may purchase a PLUS enhancement ($20) which will allow one (1) guest to visit each time the member visits. This may be a different guest each time.

In addition, guests are welcome to visit after hours if 1) they are accompanied by a card-carrying PLUS member; and 2) follow our rules and procedures. Members are accountable for guest behavior as well as the safety of our flora and fauna. We will be diligent about enforcing our rules. Per our updated policy, members who visit after hours must sign in at the gate prior to entering Penn Dixie.

Final Thoughts

Finally, I am pleased to report that there are no major changes for current members. While we will update the database with our new levels, your existing card is valid until the written expiration date. Afterwards, your membership will renew at a level based on the table below.

Any questions, comments, or concerns? Please do not hesitate to reach out ( I look forward to an improved membership experience! We’ve got some great things in store for the future and, on behalf of our entire organization; I thank you for your ongoing support.


Current Level             Updated Level

Individual                    Individual

Student                         Individual: Special Discount

Senior                           Individual: Special Discount

Family                          Family

Grandparents              Family: Special Discount

Associate                      Individual

Patron                          Individual

Sponsor                        Individual

LIFE                               LIFE (not available for sale)

Corporate                    Corporate (not available for sale)


Penn Dixie Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing!

Saturday July 27

Rocketry: 2 to 4 pm      Stargazing: 8:15 to 11:15 pm

Penn Dixie invites rocket enthusiasts and astronomy buffs out for a day of rocket launches followed by stargazing. Guests will learn about rockets and how they work, how different sized model rockets are launched, and learn about the history of space flight. Bring your own model rocket to launch! Explore our solar system with astronomy themed crafts and activities.


After an afternoon of rocket launches, join Penn Dixie astronomers for an evening of stargazing. Our astronomers will map the night sky — including stars, planets, constellations, and deep space objects — for you using a variety of telescopes and specialized equipment. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, warm clothing, blankets, and food/beverages. We’ll have plenty of telescopes, but you can bring yours along, too, if you’d like some expert advice.

Rocketry portion is included with admission and FREE for members. Stargazing is $4 per person and FREE for members and daytime guests. No registration needed. All ages welcome.

Search for the Golden Fossil

Saturday August 24

Did you make history as part of the World’s Largest Fossil Dig last summer at Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve? Don’t miss this summer’s historic Search for the Golden Fossil Scavenger Hunt!

On Saturday August 24th, teams will cross fossil pits, forests, and wetlands in the Search for the Golden Fossil at Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve. Hundreds of Western New Yorkers will discover local flora and fauna, past and present, while competing for exciting prizes.

We’ll offer two sessions: the Morning hunt (10 am to 12 pm) or the Afternoon hunt (2 pm to 4 pm). Sign in will begin one hour before hunt times. Participants must be signed in for kick off announcements fifteen minutes before their hunt begins.

Join Morning Hunt – Join Afternoon Hunt

A team of 5 signed up by a Penn Dixie Member – $40
A team of 5 signed up by a non-Penn Dixie Member – $45
Individual participants (ages 3 & up) – $10

Presented By:


Notes: We expect this event to sell out — please enroll by August 16 to guarantee your spot. All ages welcome. Children younger than age 3 may attend alongside participating family members. For guest safety, children must be accompanied at all times. Most of Penn Dixie is accessible for those with mobility impairments. Please contact us by August 19 if you have specific concerns about accessibility.

Want to help us make the Search for the Golden Fossil a success? We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers and local businesses to support science education and make a difference in our community.

Please email Elizabeth Schiavoni at to learn more about volunteering and sponsorship opportunities.

Prize sponsors of the highly visible Search for the Golden Fossil will enjoy access to family audiences and local media, recognition in event materials and announcements, and being a part of educational outdoor recreation in Western New York.

An Eyecatching Trilobite

By Dr. Phil Stokes, Executive Director

I’m always elated when a guest finds a really neat fossil and 2019 Dig With The Experts provided enough excitement to carry me forward for a long while! Many collectors uncovered large, excellently preserved specimens from the newly-excavated portion of Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve. Complete trilobites were on the menu, and the dig did not disappoint hundreds of enthusiastic diggers like Jimmy Cyrus from Kentucky.

Jimmy large phacops 1
The unprepared trilobite as found by Jimmy Cyrus at Dig With The Experts.
Jimmy large phacops 2
Preparation a little further along.

Jimmy submitted these photos of this beautifully-prepared Eldredgeops (Phacops) rana trilobite. As you can see, the carapace is entirely intact and all of the distinctive Eldredgeops features are visible. Malcolm Thornley — one of Penn Dixie’s amazing volunteer experts — did an incredible job preparing this specimen.

Finished 1
Ta-da! Great job, Malcolm!

My most favorite attribute of our trilobites is the eyes. Once prepared, you can — with a magnifier — count the dozens of eyelets on each compound eye. But, that’s not the weirdest thing. Did you know that the eyes were located on turret-like organs which could swivel? Trilobites could rotate their eyes in nearly 360 degrees!

Even the trilobite name — ‘Rana’ — refers to the eyes. In Latin, it means ‘frog’ due to the frog-like nature of the eyes! But, maybe there’s one more language connection to make. In Arabic, Rana is a somewhat common name. The meaning? Eyecatching. 

Monthly Stargazing

Join us for an out-of-this-world experience! Our astronomers will map the night sky — including stars, planets, constellations, and deep space objects — for you using a variety of telescopes and specialized equipment. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, warm clothing, blankets, and food/beverages. We’ll have plenty of telescopes, but you can bring yours along, too, if you’d like some expert advice.

2019 Schedule

Saturday April 27, 7:45 pm
Saturday May 25, 8:15 pm
Saturday June 8, 8:15 pm (reschedule from May)
Saturday June 29, 8:30 pm
Saturday July 27, 8:15 pm
Saturday August 31, 7:30 pm
Saturday September 28, 6:30 pm
Saturday October 19, 6 pm

Admission (cash or credit) is $4. There is no charge for Penn Dixie members. Registration not required. Due to the uncertainty of weather, we will not offer advance ticketing for these programs. Stay tuned to our social media for updates.

Programs run for 2-3 hours depending on viewing conditions.

A solar eclipse viewed through Penn Dixie telescopes.

Thinking about purchasing a telescope? This telescope guide offers some great suggestions from Penn Dixie astronomer Ernie Jacobs. You can also download our Astronomy Night guide — also prepared by Ernie Jacobs — to learn more about our programs.

Dig For Beginners

Saturday June 15, Saturday June 29, & Sunday August 11
10 am to 12 pm

New to fossil hunting?

Learn the tricks of the trade from Penn Dixie Paleontologist Dr. Holly Schreiber. Tour the site and learn all the best spots to hunt for fossils. Dr. Schreiber will teach you how to find, dig, and preserve all the fossil treasures you find.

No experience necessary. All ages welcome and no reservations needed — this program will run rain or shine.

Bring your own tools or borrow from our limited supply. Included with admission or FREE for Penn Dixie members.

Penn Dixie Seeks AmeriCorps ABLE Member

Penn Dixie seeks a part time, seasonal candidate to serve as AmeriCorps ABLE Member at Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve for summer 2019.

The candidate will guide groups through the history and science of the site’s resources and assist groups and campers in collecting fossils and rocks and making observations/connections about plants and wildlife. The candidate will additionally work with the Director of Education to develop accessible and inclusive programming and lessons that meet NYS Science standards. The candidate will be outside all day, walking most of the day, and lifting about 20 pounds of equipment.

Training/experience in STEM plus enthusiasm for science and nature in interactions with students is required. Start/end dates: 6/24-8/18 Mon-Fri 8:30 am-5 pm. For information about Americorps ABLE and to apply, visit: