Social Distance Dig

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented natural disaster. Since your health and safety is our highest priority, we have substantially modified our operations to reduce risk of infection. Your cooperation is essential to the safety of our staff and guests.

June 1 to June 14: Members Only

Advance booking required. The first tour is 9:15 am; subsequent tours held every 30 minutes. The final tour is 2:45 pm and the park closes at 4:30 pm. The first booking time is reserved for seniors (62+), families with seniors, and those with mobility impairments or health concerns. Contact karl@penndixie.org for access code. Book here.

Members may remain at the park all day. With advance permission, members may remain after park close — see our Member Guide for full details. Members must present their membership card at time of check-in. If you need to purchase/renew your membership, please do so at least one week in advance of your planned visit.

June 15 to June 28: Public & Members Welcome

Advance booking required. The first tour is 9:15 am; subsequent tours held every 30 minutes. The final tour is 2:45 pm and the park closes at 4:30 pm. The first booking time is reserved for seniors (62+), families with seniors, and those with mobility impairments or health concerns. Make reservations here.

During this phase our capacity is greatly reduced and tickets are extremely limited. Nonmembers are limited to three (3) hours in the park; members enjoy unlimited time. All guests will receive a safety briefing followed by an introductory tour. If you do not have a credit or debit card to complete your booking, please Contact Us

June 29 and Beyond: 

We hope the virus will not return to our community in great numbers. If it doesn’t, we will gradually increase the number of bookings available. Otherwise, we may return to a previous phase or close to the public altogether. Please remind your friends and family to help reduce the spread in our community by following health guidelines.

Adults Seniors 62+ Military Students Children 3-17 Members
$12 $11 $11 $11 $9 FREE

Purchase General Admission


Important New Measures

Before Your Tour

  • If you or anyone in your party has flu-like symptoms, please do not come to Penn Dixie. We will gladly reschedule your tour or refund your purchase. Any guest who experiences flu-like symptoms will be required to leave Penn Dixie.
  • Do not visit Penn Dixie if you recently experienced flu-like symptoms or were diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are ill, research suggests the virus may remain for 2-3 weeks beyond relief from symptoms. Please do not hurry in to see us — we’ll be here in the fall and next year, too!
  • Our operations will be disrupted if we learn that a visitor or employee has been infected. In this case, we may be forced to temporarily close on short notice. We will make our best effort to notify you as soon as possible if this is the case.

What To Wear

  • Face coverings are required for guests ages 3 and up. Except when drinking or eating, your face must be covered from the time you exit your vehicle in the parking lot to the time when you return to your vehicle after your visit is complete.
  • If you do not have a face covering, a mask will be provided for you at no charge. We also have masks available for children.
  • Face coverings should fully cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, and be made of breathable material.

When You Arrive

  • Our parking lot is redesigned to increase the space between vehicles. When you arrive, please park in one of the designated spaces.
  • If you arrive early, you may use the portable toilets located near the entrance. Toilets are sanitized daily. Otherwise, please remain in your vehicle until 10 minutes prior to your tour’s start time. Please do not allow members of your party to wander the parking lot or mingle with other guests.
  • Send one person to check-in at our green pavilion while the rest of your party waits in your vehicle. Once checked in, you will be given directions to meet in a staging area. Do not gather our green welcome pavilion.
  • At this time, we can only accept cashless payment options on site.
  • You agree to share your name and contact information for contact tracing purposes. This information will be shared only with the Erie County Department of Health.

During Your Visit

  • Social distancing of 6 feet (2 meters) or more is required at all times. You are welcome to walk/hike/dig at a closer distance with family members and those living in your immediate household, but we cannot allow group gatherings, parties, picnics, or meetings with multiple families. Please do not linger in the parking lot.
  • We are fortunate that our park has plenty of space. Remind your younger family members and guests that they may explore the grounds but should not get close to guests who are not part of your group.
  • Though running water is not available on site, hand sanitizer stations will be available in several locations. Portable toilets will also be available.
  • Please respect any areas, picnic tables, and benches which are closed.
  • You are welcome to bring your own tools for fossil hunting. We also offer complimentary garden trowels and buckets as well as professional tools to rent. Tools are sanitized after each use. Please see our Frequent Questions page for more information about fossil collecting.

Please Be Advised

  • These new measures will be strictly enforced by Penn Dixie staff. If you — or those in your party — do not agree to follow all of our safety measures then we ask that you visit Penn Dixie during another season.
  • For your safety, all guests will be monitored by Penn Dixie staff and wireless security cameras. Regrettably, guests who do not comply with these measures will be asked to leave the park. Refunds will not be available.
  • Since we do not want to ask you to leave, please review all of the measures with all members of your party ahead of time.
  • An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the CDC, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting Penn Dixie you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
  • Unfortunately, those at greatest risk from the virus include persons with chronic breathing issues such as COPD. If you have a chronic breathing issue or other medical condition which prevents you from wearing a mask, please make arrangements to visit Penn Dixie at another time.

Program Notes

Due to the above challenges we regrettably cancel these scheduled programs:

  • Fossil Hunting for Beginners (June 20; July 11; August 15)
  • Fossil Hunters Workshop (August 8)
  • Homeschool Days (June 16; September 22; October 5)
  • Rock-It (July 25)
  • Stargazing in Hamburg (June 27; July 13 @ Lake Shore Public Library; July 25; August 22; September 26; October 17)
  • Erie County Earth Science Day (October 3)

These programs are still planned, with some changes expected:

  • Fossil Fridays (Fridays in July)
  • Town of Hamburg Weekend (June 27 & 28)
  • Dig with the Experts (August 29 & 30)
  • Scouting Rocks (September 19)
  • Grandparents Day (September 13)

Penn Dixie has also added a number of virtual programs and presentations:

  • Virtual Astronomy Nights (various dates)
  • History of the Niagara Gorge by Catherine Konieczny (May 27)
  • Recent Discoveries in the Science of Paleontology by Dan Krisher (June 3)

Reopening Policies

Pursuant to state and local guidelines, we share our official healthy and safety policies for public access. Policies are subject to change

HNHS-Penn Dixie NYS Safe Business Reopening Plan

Expanded Penn Dixie Reopening Plan 5-15-20

Thank YOU!

Reopening is a team effort. We are grateful to the Arts Services Initiative of WNY for a $5,000 grant for protective equipment and cleaning products. The Town of Hamburg donated 1,000 disposable masks. Lois Schultz, mom of Director of Education Dr. Holly Schreiber, sewed 30 reusable masks for our employees in Penn Dixie colors. We also received a loan under the CARES Act to retain staffing during the shutdown. Finally, we acknowledge Erie County and the Town of Hamburg for their continued support.

 

Looking Up! Virtual Stargazing

Thursday May 21 – 8:30 pm

The Buffalo Astronomical Association, Explore & More, and Penn Dixie team up to bring you Looking Up!, a virtual stargazing experience. View planets and stars from the safety of your home and learn a few things from astronomy and astrophotography experts, too!

Kids: Want to participate? We’re inviting three science enthusiasts under age 18 to join our program. To participate, email your questions in advance to phil@penndixie.org. We’ll select three individuals to appear on the program and ask their question directly to our astronomers. A parent/guardian must be present at the time of the event and willing to provide consent for the child to appear on the program. You’ll need Zoom and access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet with camera and microphone.

Format: Join our Facebook livestream and pose questions in the comment section. Don’t have Facebook? Email phil@penndixie.org and we’ll share a link shortly before the start time.

Penn Dixie thanks Erie County, NY, Township of Hamburg, NY, & Southtowns Regional Chamber of Commerce for their support!

Sex in the Ordovician: Trilobite Reproduction

Monday May 18, 7:00 pm – Virtual Presentation

By Thomas Hegna, Assistant Professor, Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences, SUNY Fredonia

This talk focuses on the discovery of trilobites with in situ eggs from the Ordovician of New York State. It uses this discovery as a touchstone to discuss the evolution of trilobite and arthropod reproduction in general.

To participate you’ll need to Register Here and download Zoom. We’ll email a link to the talk shortly before 7 pm.

The History of the Niagara Gorge

Wednesday May 27, 7 pm – Virtual Presentation

By Catherine Konieczny, School Programs Manager, Buffalo Museum of Science

Niagara Falls is one of the most recognizable waterfalls in the world, it also happens to be in our backyard. Learn what makes this geological wonder so dynamic.

Explore the historical and cultural significance of the oldest state park in America and how it impacts us today. Journey down through time to discover how Niagara Falls got its shape, how it’s still changing today, and what secrets lay beneath.

Key topics:

-Historical significance: Native Americans and early development

-Geomorphology: The last ice age, weathering and erosion

-Geology: Stratigraphic column and fossils

-Human mitigation: Hydropower and Dewatering the Falls

To participate you’ll need to Register Here and download Zoom. We’ll email a link to the talk shortly before 7 pm.

Recent Discoveries in the Science of Paleontology

Wednesday June 3, 7 pm – Virtual Presentation

By Dan Krisher, Retired Fossil Hunter

The advancement of knowledge in many fields of study typically proceeds at a relatively slow and incremental pace. If you were to look back over the years in fields such as economics, engineering, the social sciences, and mathematics you would see a slow progression where one advancement builds upon another. The “hard” sciences such as physics, astronomy, biology, and geology tend to display a somewhat different pattern.

The slow accumulation of knowledge certainly takes place, but these sciences also have an inherent tendency toward rapid and dramatic discoveries and reinterpretations which can dramatically change a given field of study. This talk will touch on some of the recent discoveries and concept changes which have occurred in the field of paleontology over the past year.

Dan is a paleontologist who retired from Ward’s Natural Science a few years ago where he was the head of Geology and Paleontology. Since his retirement, he has had more time to pursue research which is focused primarily on the Silurian and Devonian coral faunas of NYS. He has also been very involved in public outreach in a wide variety of venues and settings including being a volunteer at Penn Dixie for 6 years (as of the 2020 season).

To participate you’ll need to Register Here and download Zoom. We’ll email a link to the talk shortly before 7 pm.

#AskAScientist

Teachers: Want to add something new to your virtual classroom?

Expert Dr. Holly Schreiber
Dr. Holly Schreiber is a paleontologist and one of our local science experts.

This spring Penn Dixie is pleased to offer your students a virtual lesson from a local science expert. Our #AskAScientist program is informative, interactive, and meets Next Generation Science Standards. And, thanks to the generous support of Erie County and the Town of Hamburg, there is no charge for this program.

Here’s the details:

  • #AskAScientist is 30-45 mins in length
  • Program features presentation using digital slides and fossils/rocks
  • Includes question and answer session
  • Must be scheduled at least a week in advance
  • Perfect for middle and high schoolers
  • Teacher must help to facilitate virtual class (use your program or send students a link to our Zoom platform)

Available programs:

  • WNY Fossils – Our most popular program! In this interactive lesson, students will learn the basics of fossils and fossilization. Students will become paleontologists and view fossils commonly found around WNY. Students will use deductive reasoning to understand extinct animals and infer prehistoric environments from the fossils.
  • Geology Rocks! – Rocks and the rock cycle are explored. Students will view rock samples to explore the rock cycle and three primary types of rocks, with a focus on sedimentary rocks. Educators will discuss local rock formations present in WNY and the importance of sedimentary rocks for paleontologists.
  • Geologic Time – Learn about the long history of geologic time. Find out where the rocks of WNY fit into our Earth’s history in relation to major events like the extinction of the dinosaurs.

We can work with you if you have a specific earth science topic they want us to discuss. We use Next Generation Science Standards while integrating in the Common Core Curriculum. Programs address: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity; The History of Planet Earth; Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions; and Earth Systems: Earth Materials and Systems. Penn Dixie is also willing to accommodate any program idea or topic that you are currently covering with your students which would allow us to further meet the specific needs of your classroom.

For more information, please email Dr. Holly Schreiber at holly@penndixie.org.

Support for this program is provided by Erie County and the Town of Hamburg.

Erie-County-Seal     Hamburg seal

Virtual Fossil ID

Dig up your unidentified fossil specimens and join us at 4 pm on Friday May 1 for Virtual Fossil ID. Through the magic of Zoom, Penn Dixie experts will identify your fossils and provide some background information about your geological treasures. There is no charge for this program and all ages are welcome to participate. Register below before May 1 to be included in the virtual program.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Computer with webcam, speakers, & microphone/headset; tablet; or smartphone
  • Fossils to identify
  • Any information you can provide about where the fossils were found
  • A ruler or tape measure to show scale
  • Notepad or paper to label specimens

Be sure that your equipment is up and running and that your space is well lit so we can see the specimens. Capacity is limited. We will do our best to make sure that everyone gets a chance to participate but cannot guarantee that we can look at your entire collection. Please note that we cannot appraise fossils — this program is for educational purposes only.

Support for this program is provided by Erie County and the Town of Hamburg.

Erie-County-Seal     Hamburg seal