CNCC paleontology experiences to get off the ground with summer classes

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RANGELY I Since it is situated adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument and surrounded by the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, the fact that the area around Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) is proving rich in fossils should come as no surprise.

CNCC will be offering paleontology field experiences beginning this summer as one part of a two-part paleontology experience. Each field experience session will be two weeks long and can be taken for college credit.
During this time, students will stay on the Rangely campus and travel daily to the dig site, where they will work alongside professional paleontologists from around the country to excavate dinosaur remains.
Molecular paleontologist and CNCC science instructor Liz Johnson describes the vision of the project.
“We are right in the middle of dinosaur country, and it’s mostly unexplored in our area,” Johnson said.
The fieldwork sessions are scheduled from June 8 to June 19 and from June 22 to July 3. Students will work excavating a dinosaur found by CNCC faculty Ellis Thompson-Ellis and her husband, Josh Ellis
Thompson-Ellis says, “This is a really exciting opportunity for our students and our communities to experience and learn about the richness of our local lands. It’s also an opportunity to be a part of a unique scientific expedition—and no experience is necessary!”
At the conclusion of the field experience, the fossils will be transported to the new federal fossil repository at the CNCC Craig Campus.
There, fossils will be curated and prepared in the 2015-2016 academic year by students enrolled in the paleontology lab techniques course as the second piece of CNCC’s unique paleontology experience.
“This is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience as few institutions nationwide offer paleontology field and lab work,” Johnson said. “Our students will get to see their work come full circle. Students will excavate and prepare local fossils that will be kept in our communities for present and future generations to enjoy and learn from.”
Summer field experience courses have limited availability and fill quickly. Scholarships may be available. For more information on how to apply, contact the program coordinator at or visit
Disclaimer: Remember, fossils are a resource for the entire public and private collection of vertebrate fossils from public lands is strictly prohibited. Only trained paleontologists working under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permits can excavate fossils.