A Paleontology Internship Program Serving High-School Students from Montana's "Frontier" Communities
The Paleo Exploration Project’s (PEP) Summer Internship Program was part of a multi-dimensional, regional, education outreach program conducted by The University of Montana (authors) and funded by the National Science Foundation. The objective of the program was to provide high school students from underserved, “frontier” communities in north central and eastern Montana, with hands-on work experience in paleontology at a field station or museum setting along Montana’s “Dinosaur Trail” (http://mtdinotrail.org/). The primary goals of the program were to increase students’ understanding of what scientists do, increase their self-efficacy in science, and inspire them to consider STEM career pathways. The program was conducted over three summers from 2007 through 2009 and involved 12 students, aged 15 to 19. Here we describe the program and responses to it from participating interns and mentors. Challenges and pitfalls encountered are also presented with recommendations for program improvement.