Paleontology Explorers: Oregon

Paleontology Explorers OR

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

Ending location: UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History 
Eugene, Oregon (June 28th) 



  • Introduction

    Trek across the state of Oregon, through eons of evolution from ancient rainforests and prairies to the Pacific Ocean! Students will work with University of Oregon paleontologists as they explore 50 million years of fossil plants and animals at John Day National Monument, world-famous for its incredible record of ancient life. While there, students will get to meet National Park Service paleontologists, and visit fossil sites around the monument!

    Heading west, the group will move from rugged high-desert to mountain forests as they journey to the coast to explore marine fossils. Here, students will get to visit remarkable sites famous for whale and seal fossils, and countless fossil snails and clams. Students will get a chance to compare their paleontological observations from the field with modern marine organisms and ecosystems at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Here, the group will explore how marine life of the area has changed, what has stayed the same, and discuss evidence to support their hypotheses. Just like a professional paleontologist!

    This program is unique in the whole of the US, with instruction provided by UO Earth Science doctoral students and Sternberg Museum education staff.  

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

  • Staff

    Paleobiologist, doctoral researcher (University of Oregon)

    Instructor: Kellum Tate Jones
    After working as an ICU nurse for 4 and a half years, Kellum left the medical field to pursue her dream of becoming a vertebrate paleontologist. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in summer of 2017 and began her Ph.D. program at the University of Oregon that fall. Kellum studies marine mammals and the transition from terrestrial to aquatic environments, and is extremely passionate about sharing the wonder of the earth sciences with the public. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, rock hounding, fantasy fiction, and pestering her cat. This is Kellum’s second summer on our instructional staff. 






    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.”

  • Application Requirements

    • All application materials must turned in no later than May 14th, 2019. (But, the see the Admission Decision Schedule tab below for our four application and admission periods from February to May.) 
    • Student applicants must be ages 11 to 13 as of June 2019.
    • Complete online application.
      • To do this, you will need to set up an account with CampDocs. You can do this by clicking the link above. Once this is done, you’ll be able to log back in to your account as you complete the application process. 
      • The waiver can be found in the online application. 
      • The financial aid application can be found in the online application.
    • 2 page (5-7 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant. 
      • You can find suggestions for writing your letter of interest here
      • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system. 
    • Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
      • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system. 
      • You can find instructions for recommendation letter-writers here.
      • Returning students in good standing do not need to submit a recommendation letter. 
        • Standing is determined by staff. A student not in good standing will be expressly notified by the Camps Director.


    • Acceptance decision notifications begin in February for students who have completed their application packets. 
      • Subsequent rounds of acceptance decisions will occur each month. The final set of acceptance notifications will be sent out by the end of May. 
  • Admission Decision Schedule

    We run on a rolling admission schedule from February to May. Each month, we will evaluate students with complete application files to determine admission and scholarship award decisions. If your student is denied admission to a camp, you will be specifically notified. Below we have listed evaluation period cutoff dates, and notification periods. 

    Please contact us at if you have any questions about this process. 

    • Application period 1
      • Cutoff: February 23
      • Admission notifications: February 24th-28th
    • Application period 2
      • Cutoff: March 23rd
      • Admission notifications: March 24th-28th
    • Application period 3
      • Cutoff: April 20th
      • Admission notifications: April 21st-25th
    • Application period 4
      • Cutoff: May 14th
      • Admission notifications: May 19th-24th
  • Additional Information and Logistics

    Drop off is 8:00am on the first day. Pick up is by 5:00pm on the last day.

    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 @SternbergCamps.

  • Program Cost

    Tuition is $625 for museum members (Sternberg, or UO MNCH), and $700 for non-members.

    Q: What if my student is not accepted into the camp they applied for? Do you refund tuition?
    A: 100% of the deposit and any 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!


  • Contact Us

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

  • Fossil Hunting

    Gathering new data is essential to any field of science. In paleontology, this means collecting new, scientifically valuable fossil specimens in the field. Like any form of data collection, there are professional best practices that must be followed. Students are guided through these techniques and protocols, with lots of practice and feedback as we hunt for fossil clams, sharks, and giant ocean reptiles.

  • Geology

    Understanding how to read the layers of rock fossils are found in is essential for field paleontology. Students are introduced to the basics of sedimentology in the context of understanding the fossil record, including the different rock layers we work in, how they were formed, and why they look the way they do today. 

  • Camping

    Knowing some basics of camping is essential to field work. Scientific field work 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

  • Field Safety

    From staying hydrated 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.

  • Hiking

    A majority of our field lessons and fossil hunting will require 2-4 hour hikes through the rocky badlands, with a lot of heat and bright sun. In order to stay safe and healthy, students will receive instruction on properly packing their backpack, optimal attire, hydration, footwear, use of sunscreen, self-awareness and group safety. Weather is typically hot during the day, and cooler at night. Preparation is key, and we will make sure your student has the information to be prepared.

  • Leadership Skills

    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.


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