“GEO Explorers” are first Fossil Park campers

“GEO Explorers” are first Fossil Park campers

Ted Schmidt

About 120 area students are redefining the term “old school” this summer as they dig for fossils from the Cretaceous period – the heyday of the dinosaurs.

The students, campers in the first classes of GEO Explorers at the Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University, are literally breaking ground in two, one-week sessions that pair educational workshops with authentic geologic field experiences. 

Working with Rowan scientists and educational professionals, the campers are examining fossils discovered at the working research site, including 65-million year old crocodiles, sea turtles, sharks and mosasaurs – giant prehistoric reptiles that could grow as big as a bus. They also have two opportunities to excavate – and take home! – fossils with their own hands. 

The first morning program, for students ages 7-12, took place July 10-13; the second session will be held next Monday to Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Campers receive an authentic paleontologists’ field guide to log their experiences. They also take home their unearthed fossils, experience from a variety of science activities and t-shirts as souvenirs. 

Rowan purchased the former quarry, the last operating open marl pit on the East Coast, in 2016. The goal is to preserve the site – just four miles from Rowan's Glassboro campus in Mantua Township – as a working research site and center for “citizen science.” University benefactors Jean and Ric Edelman donated $25 million last year to develop the park, including the planned construction of a museum and visitors center. 

The Edelman Fossil Park is not yet open for daily tours and visits. With no buildings or facilities on site, staff hold limited fossil hunting opportunities, with the goal of expanding programming in anticipation of the museum opening. A Community Dig Day is slated for Saturday, Sept. 23, with four dig sessions. Tickets will be made available Monday, Aug. 24.

Anyone interested in joining the email list for information on this and other activities may complete the contact form at www.rowan.edu/fossils.

The Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University is located at 625 Woodbury-Glassboro Road, Sewell, N.J.