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Born in Storm Lake Iowa, Robert Wolf has lived all but one year of his life in Iowa. He is an avid amateur fossil collector, specializing in Paleozoic and Cretaceous fossils from the Iowa area. He is self taught. Collecting for more than 45 years his numbered collection surpasses 18,000, and has many more specimens all labelled in the garage. "I've got more rocks in my basement and in my garage than some people have in their driveways."
"Fossil and rock collecting is like visiting an exotic world and bringing back souvenirs. You never know what you will find when you crack open a rock. No one else has ever seen what is inside." In 1983 he had his first book published, Fossils of Iowa, a Field Guide to Paleozoic Deposits by what was then the Iowa State University Press. After revewing the manuscript the first reader suggested several changes but noted the manuscript would never be suitable for a university publisher. He made the changes and resubmitted it and it was accepted. "Never give up" he tells aspiring authors. It was reprinted in 2006 by
In his travels around the state he frequently stopped at state parks, which lead to his second book Iowa's State Parks, 1991 also published by Iowa State University Press. It is out of print now. His attempts at novels have not gone so well. One of which received 75 rejections which he has made into a poster.
Today he lives in Fort Dodge, Iowa and is a correspondent for the Fort Dodge Messenger newspaper and writes freelance for Fort Dodge Today magazine.
In 2009 he met his soul mate Jo Rae Phillips, another fossil collector, and married in 2011. "Now we walk the rivers and travel the roads of Iowa collecting together." She is a published poet.
Robert gives programs on Iowa fossils to groups and schools, leads fieldtrips, sells a few specimens, and is always willing to share information. In recent years he has expanded his collecting to more distant areas of the country and is gathering information for a fossil guide covering a broader area. Be sure to check out my newsletter for collecting sites. Also if you already have a copy of Fossils of Iowa email me for a free CD update. Also ask me about information on additional sites.