Jim and Sylvia Konecny of Prescott, Arizona, got interested in fossils after taking a class in rock and mineral identification at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. They joined the Earth Sciences Club of Northern Illinois in 1960, and their first field trip not long afterward was to the strip coal mines of the Mazon Creek area in northern Illinois. For more than 40 years, they have been regular visitors to the mines, amassing an enormous personal collection, focused especially on Mazon Creek fossils.

In addition to their spectacular collections, Jim and Sylvia are especially proud of their work in educating the public about fossils. They give regular presentations to community organizations, scout troops, and school classes. They also regularly host school field trips to their house to see their impressive “mini-museum.” They have had displays of their fossils at local libraries and schools, and have also donated specimens to area schools.

The Konecnys have over the years generously donated hundreds of specimens to the Field Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, Princeton University, Eastern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University, UCLA, the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Geological Survey of the Czech Republic, the Auckland Museum in New Zealand, and the Paleontological Research Institution.

The Konecny’s enthusiasm for paleontology is obvious and infectious. Their generosity in sharing his discoveries with professionals and non-professionals alike is a model for others.

It is with great pleasure that the Paleontological Research Institution presents its 2002 Katherine Palmer Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the science by a non-professional to Jim and Sylvia Konecny.