Paleontology Trek

  • Age Range: 14-18 year olds
  • Min Group size: 8 - Max group size: 18
  • Gender: All Genders
  • Instructors 3
  • 21 days on trek
  • Cost: $4,995 – 4 credit hours from Mesalands Community College included
  •  Dates: June 22 - July 12, 2024

FOCUS: Learn applied paleontology skills in the field alongside professionals

Trek Details

People: Who We Are

Paleontology trek brings 14-18 year old future scientists, historians, archaeologists and of course, paleontologists into the field. For any trekker interested in dinosaurs, New Mexico and/or the Gulch community, this trek provides ample opportunities to investigate the earth’s crust and what lies beneath it.

Future Scientists: Paleo trekkers are guided by questions of applied science and collaboration, specifically in regards to paleontology. Paleo trek asks:

  • What is field paleontology?
  • What can I learn from my peers?
  • How do I share what I’ve learn with my peers, an with the scientific community?

Students in the field: Trekkers gain technical field skills, learning how to contribute to long-term research and working alongside professionals as well as having the opportunity to gain college credit through Mesalands Community College. This trek is driven by active learning in the field.

Places: Where We Go

Paleo spends 3 weeks exploring dig-sites throughout New Mexico, primarily focused in Tucumcari.

Basecamp: Paleo Trek spends ~ 1 week at our Basecamp, sleeping in cabins, learning about the history of Basecamp and the Zuni mountains, and sharing programming with other summer treks.

On the Road: Paleo Trek spends ~ 2 weeks on the road, honing in on camping skills, working alongside professionals on dig sites throughout Tucumcari, Abiqiui, San Ysidro and the Bisti Badlands.

Projects: What We Do

Paleontology trek invites youth into the very real world of science-driven dinosaur detection. The Southwest is teeming with opportunities to investigate fossils, work alongside a professional team of paleontologists and geologists to learn about our planet through the lens of paleo-history. This trek is a perfect first stepping stone for students interested in paleontology- there is no need to know the difference between an Ornithischiaand a Saurischian; only a need to have an open mind and willingness to get your hands a little dirty.

Technical Skills Development:

  • Research Skills: Trekkers will develop their skills in the field and in the lab; excavation work, fossil prospecting, and professional techniques for processing artifacts in museums and laboratories.
  • Frontcountry skills: Trekkers will master “details” both on the road and basecamp, participating as active members of their group.. They will grow comfortable sleeping in tents, setting up and breaking down camp, and challenging their comfort zone in the outdoors.

Collaborative Studies in the Field: 

  • Working with professionals: Paleo trekkers will work on projects alongside a professional paleontologist, Dr. Axel Hungerbüehler, and his research team. Students participate in a college-level field paleontology course taught by Dr. Axel and his team, and earn four transferable credits from Mesalands Community College.
  • Exploratory fossil hikes: Trekkers will hike throughout New Mexico, identifying fossils and learning about the geological history of the area.
  • Applied science in the field: Trekkers will work to collect data in the field, working with partners to collect water samples, soil samples and weather data.

Days and Nights at the Museum:

  • Mesalands Community College Dinosaur Museum: Trekkers will prepare fossils and spend the night at the museum, touring and learning about the processes required to study, preserve and display fossils.
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History: Trekkers will go behind the scenes at this museum in Albuquerque, touring and learning from professionals and experts in the field.