THE PANAMA CANAL PROJECT: GEOLOGICAL INTERNSHIPS IN INTERNATIONAL SETTINGS
During the second year of the PCP PIRE project, an internship program was established to allow a mixture of undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate students to develop their fieldwork skills in an international setting. Initially, internships lasted 3 or 4 months for groups of up to four interns. During the last year of the project, the internship program became more focused, allowing two interns to stay in Panama for a 10 month duration. Forty-one field interns lived in Panama in total over the course of the project.
While the primary focus of the internship was to survey canal excavation sites for fossil identification and extraction, the interns had unique opportunities to utilize and hone extensive geoscience skills. The interns learned exploration and reconnaissance techniques used to discover new paleontological resources at various locations throughout the country of Panama. They also learned to recognize and appreciate the urgency for intensive sedimentology and stratigraphy projects to document newly excavated hillsides ahead of the rapid growth of tropical vegetation. Through educational outreach programs in the community, the interns were able to emphasize and demonstrate the importance of field experiences for learning about and appreciating the environment, and they were also able to participate as field leaders in a ten day workshop for earth science educators from the United States.