Joint 118th Annual Cordilleran/72nd Annual Rocky Mountain Section Meeting - 2022

Paper No. 19-1
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM-6:00 PM


PARRY, Lauren and EICHENBERG, Erin, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, National Park Service, 601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, NV 89005

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK) was established as a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) in 2014 to “...conserve, protect, enhance, and interpret late Pleistocene fossils, their geologic context, and other scientific values in the upper Las Vegas Wash through education, research, community collaboration, and appropriate public use.” The fossil and rock records of TUSK tell a detailed story of the local desert wetland response to global changes in climate from ~570,000-8,500 years ago, and capture the shift to today’s modern Mojave Desert ecosystem. Paleoecosystems, the history of science, and the paleo-to-modern hydrology of TUSK are all identified as important interpretive themes for public outreach and education. As a new NPS unit, TUSK strives to find creative solutions to improve accessibility in educational program development early in the park planning process.

In collaboration with staff from the Clark County School District Vision Services Department, visually impaired consultants, regional NPS staff, and the NPS Paleontology program, TUSK has developed a hands-on paleontology workshop for visually impaired high school students. This program was designed to simultaneously meet community-identified needs, NPS and park-specific missions, in addition to featuring an in-person fossil identification workshop and field trip to TUSK. The workshop features universal design including real fossils, fossil replicas, soundscapes, scents, and tactile objects to create an engaging and inclusive experience for both sighted and visually impaired students. The program also features a career-awareness component to expose students to natural resources and different professions in Earth sciences that they may have faced barriers pursuing. As this program develops, it can be adapted to other fossil parks and institutions in collaboration with local vision services programs, high schools, and/or universities to increase accessibility in geology and paleontology curricula and educational outreach.