What do you get to do at a Community Day?
A Community Day consists of about 20 minutes of education about why we have ocean fossils in West Tennessee and why they are world-famous. We then go to the creek for about an hour and a half of digging fossils, followed by a session on cleaning and preserving what you find. The program usually lasts about 3 hours in total. Please call us at 731-646-1636; we will be glad to discuss it further and get you signed up if interested.
What do I need to wear?
The Coon Creek Science Center fossil site is outdoors, and it can be significant walking to and from the creek site. You will need to either wear or bring with you appropriate clothing for your visit. You need to plan your attire around: weather, being outdoors, getting wet in the creek, being protected from the elements and insects, etc. The creek walk will result in wet feet and the digging for fossils will result in muddy clothing at times. We suggest wearing old and/or loose-fitting clothing and long sleeves to avoid poison ivy, mosquitoes, and ticks. During the colder months, it is recommended that you wear boots and warm socks as the water can get quite cold. Water levels at Coon Creek are rarely more than a couple of inches, except for some pools, which can be up to two feet deep. Walls in the creek are steep and there is little bank to walk along in some places, so walking in the creek is unavoidable. Closed-toe shoes should be worn for hiking, digging, and the creek walk. A change of clothing is recommended for your drive home.
What do I need to bring?
Most digging and collecting supplies are available on-site; however, you may want to bring aluminum foil, zip-lock bags, some form of labels, and a small bucket or backpack to carry your fossils in if you wish. Tools to clean your fossils are available on-site. A camera is always encouraged (the fossils will pose for you without having to ask)! It is vital that you bring water to stay hydrated.
Can I keep my fossils?
Yes! You can keep any fossils that you collect. However, should you uncover a rare or scientifically significant fossil — there is also the option to leave it and be honored as the discoverer.
Please keep in mind we are a research facility so if you do discover something of scientific importance, we do ask that you consider donating it for our research. Your name and the date of your discovery will be associated with this find permanently.
What amenities do you have?
Coon Creek Science Center is rustic. There is electricity and access to a refrigerator should you need to bring things like required medication(s), etc. during your trip. The Mess Hall and Museum do have heating. Restrooms are available on-site but there are no facilities at the creek.
Can I bring a stroller?
Yes. However, most of the site is primitive with gravel walkways, creeks, and open fields. This can make pushing a stroller difficult due to the terrain. Strollers cannot be taken into the creek area. Small children should be carried when in the creek. Infants should remain near the Mess Hall area under parental care. Parents are expected to always supervise their children.
Are there handicap facilities available?
Yes. Handicap parking is available near the Mess Hall. If any assistance is needed getting around the site, Coon Creek Science Center Staff can assist in transporting from point-to-point via motorized Utility Vehicle(s). However, there are some areas of the site that are not suited for certain equipment that may assist visitors.
Is there parking close by?
Yes, but parking is limited, and car-pooling is encouraged when possible. Buses should load and unload at the top of the hill in the designated spot. If you need assistance getting down the hill to the site, you can contact Coon Creek Science Center Staff for shuttle service. It is also encouraged to let us know this in advance when making your reservation.
Are reservations required?
Yes. Coon Creek Science Center is open by appointment only. You can call The University of Tennessee at Martin Selmer Center at (731) 646-1636 to make your reservations.
Is there cell service at Coon Creek?
Due to the rural nature of the site, cell reception can be spotty and sometimes non-existent depending on your service provider, weather, etc.
Do I have to be a part of a group to visit Coon Creek?
No. We offer programming for the public on specified days each month. However, Community Days do have limited enrollment available, so you must make a reservation for your visit. No walk-in participants are accepted.
How do I pay for my trip?
Upon arrival, you will fill out an attendance form (when necessary) and we can invoice you. Coon Creek Science Center is unable to accept credit or debit cards as payment.