Mike Everhart’s days of digging in the dirt as a child grew into his lifelong passion of finding a certain kind of buried treasure —fossils.
"I had a teacher introduce me to rocks and minerals and fossils, then I learned that western Kansas is a great source of all kinds of marine fossils," he said.
Now a paleontologist, Everhart will bring his wealth of knowledge to McPherson for a presentation at 2 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the McPherson Museum, sponsored by the McPherson County Historical Society. The event is free and open to the public.
His talk, “When the Amber Waves Were Blue,” will cover topics such as overviews of fossils from particular time periods.
“I just hope to acquaint people with a little bit of history and paleontology here and also the fantastic animals that occurred in this part of the world,” he explained.
Everhart took a class on paleontology when he attended college at Wichita State University. From there, he worked as a team with his wife in the 1980s to collect fossils on good weather weekends.
Everhart and his wife learned more about their discoveries with the help of other paleontologists in the area, and his website Oceans of Kansas was born.
"I started sharing that information on my website because it simply wasn't out there, no one had done anything like that," he explained.
As the years went on, more and more people asked if he had a book on his information.
"I hadn't even thought of being an author at that time," he laughed. "So I made some inquires and Indian University Press was very interested in having a book on what we call the western interior sea that covered Kansas during that time. So I worked really hard on it and had to learn a lot of things to write the book."
The book was released in 2005 and was a huge success for Everhart, as it sold over 1,000 copies before it printed.
Everhart explained Kansas has a wealth of paleontology education hidden below the surface, which is why he stuck to this particular state.
"Nobody had studied Kansas in great detail," he said.
Everhart said he sticks to the marine life, strictly because he believes dinosaurs and land creatures get all the press.
"Primarily dinosaurs capture people's imagination. So things that lived in the ocean during the same time had been ignored, even though they were the first to be discovered in Europe in the 1700s," he said.
With much success, Everhart said his favorite thing about being a paleontologist is wiping the dirt off something no one else had ever seen before.
"Finding something nobody has ever seen for the first time in 85 million years, these bones have been exposed to sunlight and I'm the first person to see them. That's what keeps me interested and keeps me doing it, it's like your best Christmas present ever," he laughed.
For more information, contact the McPherson Museum at 620-241-8464 or visit their website at http://mcphersonmuseum.com or visit http://mcpcity.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=174.