Meet another Utah BLMer who does outstanding work with youth!
The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Price Field Office in Utah, contains the densest concentration of Jurassic-aged dinosaur bones ever found. Over 12,000 bones belonging to at least 74 individual dinosaurs have been excavated at the Quarry to date.
But the Quarry is much more than just dinosaurs. The Quarry is also home to BLM Paleontologist Mike Leschin.
Since 1998, Leschin has operated an internship program at the Quarry in which students spend twelve weeks tackling challenging, hands-on research projects with field paleontologists and leading on-site interpretive tours. Over the years, Leschin and his interns have educated and engaged approximately 30,000 youth visitors, including school groups, scout troops, science camps and tourists. The hands-on research and public speaking have prepared the Quarry interns for rigorous academic work and dynamic public engagement.
Through the internship program, Leschin has mentored about 55 students, many of whom have gone on to earn advanced degrees and built careers as professional paleontologists.
"The internship was an invaluable experience in learning how to interact and engage the public. Mike is an excellent mentor, showing a deep care for both his interns and the quarry." said Stephen Hendricks, a former Quarry intern and current doctoral student in paleo-biology at Florida State University. Hendricks cited public engagement as the best part of his internship experience as scientists must effectively connect with the public.
Celina Suarez, assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, agrees that working with the public as a Quarry intern was a tremendously valuable experience. “Mike gave me a lot of confidence to talk in front of people…he kind of threw me into the deep end, but it was the best thing that happened, as it gave me a lot of confidence… Without the opportunity as an intern at Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, I can safely say I would not be where I am today.”
Her twin sister, Marina Suarez, is also a professional paleontologist who interned under Mike’s tutelage at the Quarry. The Suarez sisters made history when they discovered a new Utah dinosaur species, which is named after them: Geminiraptor suarezarum. The excavation site where the 125-million-year-old fossils were found is now called “The Suarez Sisters’ Quarry” on geological maps.
This is the stuff that childhood dreams are made of. And the Quarry internship program allows college students to live out those dreams, which is why each year Leschin receives numerous applications from qualified students for Quarry internships.
"Thanks to Mike Leschin, the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is a ‘gem’ learning opportunity for young people," said Don Kranendonk, associate field manager, BLM Price Field Office. "Mike is an outstanding mentor to the student interns who are hired every year to aid with the Quarry operation."
Leschin has inspired a new generation of scientists and turned the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry into a world-class internship opportunity.
For more information about the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, visit: http://on.doi.gov/IP7H7N
This is really neat.