DMNH is now part of an initiative to bring Junior Paleontologist Educational Kits to national parks across the United States as part of the Junior Ranger program. Paul Roth, a DMNH volunteer as well as president of the Florida Geological Foundation and past president of the Florida Paleontological Society, is working with Mollusk Collections Manager Alex Kittle on the project, initially created in Florida several years ago.
In October, kits were sent to Denali National Park in Alaska and Guadeloupe National Park /Carlsbad Caverns in Texas and New Mexico. Designed to be used with the National Park Service Junior Paleontologist Activity Booklet, the kits contain real fossils or replicas corresponding with activities and items found in the booklet. The core fossils in each kit represent the types of fossils in national parks. Some of the fossil material, mainly acquired through donations, have been a mammal jaw, coprolites, ferns, trace fossils (tracks), stromatolites, petrified wood, and many others, allowing the junior ranger to personally examine and hold real fossils. Replicas augment the fossils, especially in cases where cost or scarcity may be a factor. The kits include paleontological educational and reference books geared to appeal to different age groups and learning levels, encouraging in-depth exploration. In addition to the park service, a kit will be available soon at DMNH for programming and exploration.