The Nease High paleo club has been elbows deep in dinosaur fossils of late, as they are learning the proper cleaning and preservation process while working with dinosaur fossils found by previous Nease students.
According to teacher Kevin Lay, who oversees the club, the difference with the current group compared to previous ones is in the approach they are taking to learn about these processes before they take a trip to Montana in July to dig for dinosaur bones in the Badlands area.
“It’s not just a field trip,” Kevin Lay said. “For five days we are out in the field and hopefully preparing these kids to get better and better each day at paleontology.”
In the past the students would have learned about the procedures once they arrived on site but having that knowledge prior to the trip should allow the current group to dive right into their search instead of taking the first couple of days to get caught up.
“This is the start of something really special, because these students have a really unique perspective where they have had the experience of being able to handle, prepare and see what fossils look like before they actually go out into the field,” Kevin Lay said. “If you’ve never seen a fossil before, you don’t really know what you’re looking for. These ladies will be more prepared than any group I’ve taken out before.”
Of the 10-member club, Kendra Lay is the only one that has been on the trip before, and although she is doing her best to prepare her fellow students for what they experience will be like, she also understands that there is nothing like seeing it for their own eyes.
Even those who have not been fully understand that real world paleontology is not as neat and tidy as the Jurassic Park movies make it out to be.
What makes the club even more unique is that all of its members are girls.
“This is a legacy that they want to leave, and they are a very determined group,” Kevin Lay said. “They are going to be making history and be the first to lay eyes on something that no one in the world will have ever seen before.”
Helping to preserve that legacy is the fact that many of the fossils the students are working on will continue to be stored at Nease and there are discussions to put them on display at the school.
Paleo club in general is not something that is common at high schools and according to Kevin Lay, Nease is the only one that he knows of that participates as a high school in this type of program at least in the state of Florida.
“I really like the Jurassic movies and I just always grew up loving fossils and dinosaurs and all that stuff, so I was really excited when I got to Nease and found out that there was a paleontology club,” sophomore Katherine Fasula said.
As a foreign exchange student at the school, junior Loane Moureau was excited when she first heard about paleo club, because she thought it would be just another memorable experience to add to her time spent at Nease and in the United States.
“It is crazy because these are things that we could never learn in class, but here we can,” Moreau said.
One of the things sophomores Gioconda Tefel and Iva Koytchev were tasked with was helping glue together parts of a dinosaur’s rib bone.
“I really like how you can see it all come together right in front of your eyes,” Koytchev said.
The trip is put on by a program called Paleo X and the Montana-Dakotas Bureau of Land Management is the organization that signs off on all of the permits that make such a trip possible.
“I wanted to thank them, because they know how special it is to be able to bring in students for something like this,” Kevin Lay said. “None of it would be possible if not for them making sure we have this opportunity.”
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