Mary Connors

Sector: Government

Field: Science

Occupation: Science Communicator

What do saber-tooth tigers, sheep ranches, sagebrush, and supervolcanoes have in common? They’re all in eastern Oregon! Former “Geoscientist-in-the-Park”  and current AGU Talent Pool Intern writes about her time as an interpretive intern at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument this past summer.

The John Day Basin is dry, remote, and starkly beautiful. Over 50 million years of geology is recorded in the rugged mountains of the region, providing a glimpse into the tumultuous history of ancient North America. Entombed within these brightly colored rocks is an incredibly diverse assemblage of fossils that paint a detailed picture of climate change and evolution in the Cenozoic. No place on the planet has such a biodiverse, continuous, and radiometrically datable fossil record as the John Day Fossil Beds.

It’s a neat place for a geologist to poke around.

It also gets hot enough to melt your shoes sometimes, but I digress.

This past May I graduated with a geology degree from Lafayette College, a small liberal arts college in eastern Pennsylvania. While many of my fellow graduates traveled to new jobs in cities like New York City or Philadelphia, my first move was to pack up my belongings and drive cross country to spend a summer in a town of 150 people in the desert. I was a participant in the “Geoscientists-in-the-Parks” (GIP) program, an internship supported by the National Park Service, GSA, and AmeriCorps that provides science undergraduates and graduates 18-35 years old the opportunity of a lifetime: to live and work in a National Park. As an AmeriCorps Program, participants also earn an education award upon completion of their service. Read more.