Education and advocacy to improve ethics, standards, and practices in paleontology
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AMMP is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization of persons interested in the field of paleontological collections care and methodology. This includes conservation, preparation, sampling, and collection of fossil animal remains. Members have the desire to maintain and further the profession through increased communication with peers, and encouraging others with the desire and capabilities to enter the profession. Members promote better understanding of the profession by the general public, those persons requiring such services, and increase the respect for the profession by maintaining and encouraging high standards of competence and ethics.
The Association for Materials and Methods in Paleontology was founded to standardize conservation methodology for fossil specimens and collections around the world. Over the last decade, the Association has made significant strides in honing and refining best practices based on the research and experience of its member base. The knowledge accrued is the fruit of hundreds of careers and countless hours of work - effort and experience unique to each of our members and their positions in their home institutions.
The health and quality of care for a collection is inextricably tied to the presence of experienced, knowledgeable staff. Paleontological collections are irreplaceable archives for the history of life on Earth and require rigorous monitoring and specialized care. No two collections, or even two fossils, are the same, and so the expertise of existing staff is likewise unique. Furthermore, the proper protection and maintenance of paleontological collections is an avowed obligation often enshrined within institutional mission statements.
In response to financial fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current wave of furloughs and layoffs in natural history museums is concerning for several reasons, namely:
In times of financial stress, collections professionals - including fossil preparators, collections assistants, collections managers - are often the first casualties of cutbacks, suggesting administrators view these positions as non-essential. They are essential.
Short term savings via layoffs and furloughs of collections staff will compound future expenses necessary to remediate damage to collections resulting from lapses in care.
Institutional prestige - based on research and discoveries - will be stunted by cutbacks of the staff who acquire, process and maintain the specimens upon which such research is based.
Dismissal of experienced collections staff shirks institutions’ responsibility as repositories of our scientific legacy in the public trust.
These difficult times have not dimmed the sense of mission felt by those entrusted with the care of natural history collections. We offer this statement of support for Association members, directed to administrators and board members of natural history institutions, legislators, public officials, and the general public.
AMMP strongly urges decision makers to ensure that the resources and personnel needed to meet professional and institutional obligations are given utmost priority and remain in place to the greatest extent viable.