EXPLORING THE PAST THROUGH THE FUTURE: GROOMING THE NEXT GENERATION OF PALEONTOLOGISTS
DPS saw a year of explosive growth in 2015, thanks in part to the supportive efforts of the Fossil Project. The paleontological world descended on the City of Dallas in October during the Fossil Project mini-conference and 75th Annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Conference. Opportunities to interact with a broader network of like-minded individuals and organizations have been a tremendous asset to the restructuring of the education committee in terms of outreach efforts.
The cornerstone of the DPS outreach effort has been our youth engagement program known as the PIT Crew (Paleontologists in Training). With a growing membership of at least sixty youth members between 7 and 15 years old, the program consists of a mix of classroom and field activities. Youth ambassador opportunities are periodically offered to foster leadership skills. As the PIT Crew enters its second year, the focus will expand to touch on diverse fields within paleontology such as paleoart and exhibit curation with the assistance of generous mentors within the field.
As a non-profit informal educational organization, DPS works to build capacity among K-12 educators. To further this goal, 2016 will see a greater initiative to assist teachers with the task of integrating paleontology into the TEKS or Texas Essential Knowledge Skills standards that govern Texas public school education. Other initiatives will improve outreach with scouting organizations, homeschool programs, as well as various community partners.