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Renee M. Clary

US fossil park sites allow visitors to collect and retain a small number of fossils, and also provide informal education in the form of signage, brochures, and/or onsite mentors. In 2014, four Ohio, US sites were visited, assessed against the optimal fossil park model, and analyzed for their opportunities to improve public geoliteracy. Paleozoic fossils could sustainably be collected at all sites, but sites differed in their level of interpretation and accessibility. From the content analysis of signage and brochures, four major themes emerged: (1) geoscience concepts must be explicit and directly tied to the collecting site; (2) geologic time, fossilization, and evolution should be interpreted for improved visitor understanding; (3) fossil samples should be provided at the site through signage, brochures, or displays; and (4) explicit connections between the sites and modern issues can enhance the visitor understanding of the site’s broader context and relevance for sustainability.