Northwest Volcanology

Field Volcanology and broader igneous geology in Oregon and SW Washington

Starting location: UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Eugene, Oregon (June 23rd)

Ending location: UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Eugene, Oregon  (July 5th) 


Head out for a two week trek into Oregon and SW Washington as we explore the volcanic geology of the Pacific Northwest! Students will work with professional volcanologists (volcano scientists) out in areas of active ongoing research in Oregon and SW Washington. This will include in-depth exploration of volcanic geology, tools used to conduct research, and how data is collected in field settings! Students will learn how volcanic geoscience is investigated in lab facilities in the University of Oregon Earth Sciences Department, including interacting with graduate students and faculty. A variety of field areas will be visited over the two week program, exploring numerous eruptive sites from massive lava floods to the cores of ancient long-dead volcanoes. We’ll also be making stops at world-famous volcanoes Crater Lake and Mount St. Helens! Join us as we explore igneous geoscience, and how it played a key role in shaping the landscape, fossil record, and modern ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest and beyond!

This program is unique in the whole of the US, being offered to high school students through two public research university museums.

The FHSU Sternberg Museum is thrilled to offer this program in cooperation with the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History!


Instructor: (TBD)
We are in the process of hiring a University of Oregon volcanology doctoral student for our instructional staff. Check back soon!

Camps Director, science educator, paleobiologist

Instructor: David Levering (Certified Wilderness First Responder)
David joined the Museum staff in 2013. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelors degree in geology in 2007. He also worked as a teaching assistant in the Zoology department at Oklahoma State University from 2010 to 2013, where he graduated with a Master’s of Science. Before coming to the Sternberg, David spent seven summers working in the youth science camp industry. He also worked three summers with the National Park Service at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in southern Idaho. There, he carried out paleontology field and lab work and worked with kids showing them geology and paleontology. He is a published researcher, collaborating with professional academics on work focusing on mammal paleobiology and mechanics. David manages the entire camps program, and oversees program logistics and curriculum design.




Geosciences student, camps alumnus

Teaching Assistant: Marjie Cone (Certified Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard)
Marjie is a student at University of Illinois, majoring in Geology with emphasis on paleontology. Marjie has had a lifelong love of fossils and minerals, leading her to pursue geoscience as a career path. During the summer, Marjie works as a camps program assistant in the field and in the office, working with students and managing logistics. During the school year, Marjie helps with the development and improvement of the camps program. In her own words: “I began my affiliation with the Sternberg Museum in 2015 when I was looking for some way to gain experience in the field, and found the Sternberg’s summer science camps. I participated in the paleontology field camp as a sophomore in high school and I loved it so much that I have been returning for the past two summers as a camp counselor/ teaching assistant. These camps are more than just a fun experience, but a unique educational opportunity that has enabled me to expand my horizons and give back to the scientific community.”

Project Summary

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Campus Lab Work

Students will work in UO Geosciences lab spaces to investigate the essentials of volcanology, and where is stands in the broader field of geology. Using special microscopes, students will learn to identify common mineral components of volcanic rocks, and what those minerals can teach us about the conditions of that volcano, and even particular eruptions! Identification of volcanic rock types in hand-sample will prepare students for the field components of the camp. 

While on campus, students will get to visit active igneous geoscience (a broad field of geology that includes volcanology) research labs to chat with faculty and graduate students about their work. This will give students a look at the kinds of questions being explored by researchers, and some of the more advanced equipment they use to investigate those questions. 

Mount St. Helens

Volcanics of Eastern Oregon

Cascade Range Volcanism

Program Cost

Tuition is $2,025 for museum members (Sternberg, or UO MNCH), and $2,250 per non-member.

Q: What if my student is not accepted into the camp they applied for? Do you refund tuition?

A: 100% of paid tuition is refunded to any students not accepted to a camp they applied for. We encourage students not accepted to a program to apply again the following year. Many of our programs are competitive, with more applicants than space available. Unfortunately, this means that some years we won’t be able to admit 100% of applicants to any particular program.

Q: What is your cancellation and refund policy? 

A: Our refund policy for cancellations is dependent on which kind of camp you are signed up for (domestic or international), and when the cancellation is received.

Refund policies Domestic Programs:
For programs taking place within the United States, cancellations must be  submitted in writing, via email or typed letter. Each camp registration is held  to a 20-percent cancellation fee. If you cancel 30 to 10 days prior to the  start of a program, half of the total fee is refundable. If you cancel 9 or fewer  days prior to the start of the program, no amount of the fee is refundable.  Registration fees are non-transferable between applicants.

International Programs:
Cancellations and withdrawals must be submitted in writing, via email or  typed letter. Up to the registration deadline of May 1st, 2018, the program fee is fully refundable. After May 1st, the registration fee is only 50% refundable, as we will have already provided payments for airfares, accommodations, and guide services.

For answers to more possible questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions page!


Additional Information and Logistics

Drop off is 8:00am on the first day at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History (UOP MNCH).
Pick up is by 5:00pm on the last day at the UO MNCH, unless other specific arrangements are made well in advance with Camps staff. 

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for information about attending the camps for out of state students.

You can follow along with our camp programs on Twitter and Instagram at @SternbergMuseum.

Contact Us

For questions about the Sternberg Science Camps programs, contact us at or 785-639-5249.

Application Requirements

– All application materials must turned in no later than May 14th, 2019.
– Student applicants must be ages 14 to 18 as of June 2019.
– 2 page (5-7 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant.
– Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
– Financial aid application paperwork (if applying for financial assistance).
– Complete online registration.

Knowing some basics of camping is essential to field work. Field paleontology is often done in remote or semi-remote locations, making camping skills necessary to being able to do field work at all!

Training includes:
– Putting up tents
– Camp cooking
– Setting up and breaking down camp
– Leave No Trace strategies
– Efficiently loading and unloading field vehicles
– Environmental injury and illness mitigation
– Building and safely managing a campfire

Smartphones and GPS units can lose their signals, and have batteries that die. It is important for students learning to do field work to understand how to read and orient a map. Students are trained in use of aerial photos and compasses to navigate field areas and locate established field sites using cardinal directions and landmarks.

In paleontology, fossils themselves are only part of the data we have to collect. Field notes that document the location of the fossil, the kind of rock it is in, and other details of the field work performed are required for the fossil to be scientifically useful. Without this information, a fossil is little more than an interesting rock. Students learn the essentials of keeping professional-quality notes during all of our field work, with checks and feedback from staff along the way to help them improve.

Taking initiative, staying organized, and effectively communicating are all important skills for working with a team in the field. Over the course of the program, students are coached on developing these areas. With guided opportunities to lead portions of field work, students are encouraged to develop their voices, organize team efforts, and build confidence in their abilities.

From staying hydrated to use of heavy tools to dealing with bad weather, students are introduced to the hazards of field work and how to effectively, safely deal with them. Staff provide lessons on safety through discussion, making sure students have a clear understanding of problems that can arise and how to effectively avoid them, or mitigate their effects afterwards.

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