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Hands-On Paleontology: Excavating and Preserving Mammoths in the Black Hills

Program Number: 8925RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/21/2014 - 9/27/2014; 4/26/2015 - 5/2/2015; 9/20/2015 - 9/26/2015;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Price starting at: $1,139.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Service Learning Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Experience a rare window into the past discovering some of the most well-preserved, undisturbed mammoth fossils the world has ever known — femurs and fibulas, skulls and tusks, backbones and pelvises — at the renowned Mammoth Site in the southern Black Hills. The late paleontologist Dr. Larry Agenbroad, who studied the site for four decades, said, "The Mammoth Site is truly a gift from nature, our inheritance held in trust for over 26,000 years." Scientists estimate that more than 100 mammoths wandered into this ancient Ice Age sinkhole, and now you can study them for yourself, based in the friendly hamlet of Hot Springs.




Highlights

• Learn how to excavate, record and preserve fossil material with the help of expert bone-bed and laboratory curators, geologists and paleontologists.
• Travel back in time as you explore the world-renowned Mammoth Site and experience the hands-on thrill of working on an active paleontological dig site.
• Visit three of America’s iconic wonders: Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and Custer State Park.



Activity Particulars

Must be able to stand, bend, kneel and handle a small container of sediment while excavating in the bone bed (indoors) and participating in lab work (indoors). If you have physical limitations, the staff will help you find a location within the bone bed and lab that will work for you.



Participants will be required to sign a waiver before beginning work at The Mammoth Site bone bed and lab.




Date Specific Information

9-21-2014

This date includes the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup on Friday, September 26, 2014.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



4-26-2015

This program includes a one day excursion to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.



9-20-2015

This program includes a one day excursion to the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument.



Coordinated by South Dakota and Regional Traveling Studies.




Hot Springs (South Dakota)

Hot Springs, known as the southern gateway to the Black Hills, was founded as a frontier health spa on the Fall River, and visitors continue to enjoy the region’s warm mineral waters and thermal pools. Located near the fascinating Mammoth Site archaeological dig, Hot Springs offers unique sandstone architecture and historic districts.



Accommodations
Comfortable hotel within walking distance of the site.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
William Wilkins

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, William Justin Wilkins attended the University of Cincinnati, majoring in geology and biology. He presently is the In-Situ Bonebed Curator at The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, S.D. Justin is also a cartographer and the secondary educator at The Mammoth Site. He works under the leadership of the Site Director Dr. Larry Agenbroad.
 
Marilyn Hovland

Marilyn Hovland is the director of South Dakota/Regional Traveling Studies, a not-for-profit educational organization based in Rapid City, South Dakota. Previously, she served as the senior project coordinator for Harvard University and South Dakota Cancer Research Project, and taught business and hospitality classes at National American University. Marilyn has planned, coordinated and instructed Road Scholar programs since 1999, and enjoys sharing her storytelling talents with participants.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   USA Stay Hotel & Suites
  Hot Springs, SD 6 nights
 USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: Property opened in 2004. Outdoor area with benches for relaxing and viewing the scenery and is within walking distance of Mammoth Site.
  Contact info: 1401 Highway 18 Bypass
Hot Springs, SD 57747 USA
phone: 605-745-4411
web: www.stayusahotel.com
  Room amenities: Coffee-maker, hair dryer, iron, Internet access, & TV.
  Facility amenities: Expanded breakfast menu, hot tub, business center with Internet access, fitness room and elevator.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for current prices. You must call the hotel directly for reservations @ 605-745-4411. Tell them you will be with South Dakota/Regional Traveling Studies group and ask if the Road Scholar rates are available for your dates.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for current prices. You must call the hotel directly for reservations @ 605-745-4411. Tell them you will be with South Dakota/Regional Traveling Studies group and ask if the Road Scholar rates are available for your dates.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check-in is at 3 p.m. Road Scholar registration is at 3:45 PM in the hotel hospitality room. You will be staying at USA Stay Hotel & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends with continental breakfast available at hotel prior to independent departures. Check out by noon. You will be staying at USA Stay Hotel & Suites the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking available at no cost at the hotel the entire week. Rental cars available at Rapid City Regional Airport.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Hot Springs, SD
  Nearest city or town:  Rapid City, SD
  Nearest highway: US Highway 79 and US Highway 18
  Nearest airport:  Rapid City Regional Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Hot Springs, SD
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

To Hot Springs USA Stay Hotel & Suites

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport Express Shuttle
phone: 800-357-9998
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Current rates not available at this time. Contact airport shuttle for price information.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour 15 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

55 miles

   

Reservations are not required from the airport to the hotel but it would be a good idea to call the shuttle and make an advanced reservation since it is 55 miles from Rapid City Regional Airport to the USA Stay Hotel and Suites, Hot Springs, SD. Reservations are required from the hotel back to the airport. If you prefer to rent a car, most major car rental do have a desk at Rapid City Regional Airport. Contact your favorite car rental agency for prices and availability.

 
Driving Directions
  South of Rapid City, SD or north from Chadron, NE Travel Highway SD 79 from Rapid City, SD (south) to Hot Springs and Highway 18 truck route, within the city limits of Hot Springs, SD. Travel Highway SD 79 to Hot Springs (north) from Chadron, NE and take the same truck route. Coming from Edgemont, SD (west), you are on Highway US 18 already.
Elevation Note: Most activities at elevation of 3,100-3,500 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival / Exploration of Mammoth Site / Orientation
(Sunday, September 21)

Note: For this afternoon's exploration of the Mammoth Site, you can walk the 6-7 blocks to the site or a ride will be provided.



   
 Afternoon: Hotel check-in: Available from 3 p.m. Program Registration: After getting your room assignment, please go to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to register, pick up your Arrival Packet, which will have the latest updated schedule, and find out the time of the day’s Orientation. The group will meet at 3:45 p.m. in the hotel hospitality room to either walk or ride to the Mammoth Site for the introduction tour.
 Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill across the street from hotel.
 Evening: Orientation: Enjoy a warm welcome and introductions to staff and your fellow participants. We will review the schedule and discuss responsibilities, schedule changes, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, contact numbers for key staff and answer all your questions.
   
Accommodations: USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
(Monday, September 22)

Note: On each day of this program, you must be able to stand, bend, kneel and handle a small container of sediment while excavating in the bone bed (indoors) and participating in lab work (indoors). If you have physical limitations, the staff will help you find a location within the bone bed and lab that will work for you.



   
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Work begins daily at the Mammoth Site at 8 a.m. Participants will split into two or three groups for the excavation and lab work.

When his schedule allows, world-renowned Dr. Larry Agenbroad, principal investigator of the site, and/or Justin Wilkins, In-situ bone bed curator and secondary educator, will provide excavation instruction and an overview of the bone bed before each group begins working, as well as continuing supervision and instruction during the week.

Lab director and collections curator Olga Potapova oversees all aspects of the lab work. All groups will have equal time to work in the lab, the bone bed excavation site, molding and casting, and an exhibits walk/talk along with a mapping demonstration. The lab group will rotate its work in three major areas: bone preparation, molding and casting, and screen-picking bone bed sediments for small fauna, etc.

In addition, Olga Potapova and her assistants will take you on a behind-the-scenes exploration of the lab-specimen storage area. With our experts, you will practice excavation techniques as you piece together life in the Ice Age. Fossil finds may be actual portions of the animal, such as bones, teeth, and shells; imprints of tracks and trails; or maybe replaced by minerals such as silica, iron and manganese. Excavation continues in the previously opened areas of the site both in lateral and vertical dimensions.
 Lunch: At the Mammoth Site, where you will meet staff members working behind the scenes.
 Afternoon: Work continues with the excavation and lab work led by our experts. Work ends at the Mammoth Site at 4 p.m.
 Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill across the street from the hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.
 Evening: Justin Wilkins presents a 6:30 p.m. lecture, “Geology of the Black Hills and Surrounding Areas.”
   
Accommodations: USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
(Tuesday, September 23)
   
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Work continues at 8 a.m. with the excavation and lab work led by our experts.
 Lunch: At the Mammoth Site, along with a short presentation about the history of the site.
 Afternoon: Participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Again, there will be a rotation in three major areas: bone preparation, molding and casting, and screen-picking bone bed sediments for small fauna, etc. Work ends at the site at 4 p.m.
 Dinner: Group dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the hotel.
 Evening: In the hotel, Dr. Larry Agenbroad enlightens the group with personal experiences, stories and slides relating to his trips to Siberia and the Jarkov Mammoth Project.
   
Accommodations: USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
(Wednesday, September 24)
   
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Work continues at 8 a.m. with the excavation and lab work led by our experts.
 Lunch: Enjoy your lunch during a noon presentation at the Mammoth Site. You will be working with Justin on a tooth molding-and-casting project.
 Afternoon: Participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Again, there will be a rotation in three major areas: bone preparation, molding and casting, and screen-picking bone bed sediments for small fauna, etc. Work ends at the site at 4 p.m.
 Dinner: Wooly’s Western Grill across the street from hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.
 Evening: Enjoy a 6:30 p.m. lecture by Justin Wilkins, "Mammal Teeth and Mesozoic Mammals."
   
Accommodations: USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
(Thursday, September 25)
   
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Beginning at 8 a.m., participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Also interact with other experienced workers and volunteers. Practice your excavation techniques as you help piece together life in the Ice Age. Fossil finds may be actual portions of the animal, such as bones, teeth, and shells; imprints of tracks and trails; or maybe replaced by minerals such as silica, iron and manganese.
 Lunch: During lunch at the Mammoth Site, finish your tooth identification project with Justin.
 Afternoon: Participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Work ends at the Mammoth Site at 4 p.m.
 Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill across the street from hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.
 Evening: At 6:30 p.m. in the hotel hospitality room, hear a final lecture by Justin Wilkins relating to current research of the "Arctodus Simus Skull" from the Mammoth Site, focusing on the Giant Short-faced Bear and potential implications for Pleistocene ecology. Enjoy a social time after the media lecture to say goodbye to new friends and fellow "Mammoth" workers.
   
Accommodations: USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Excursion to Custer State Park for the Buffalo Roundup / Mount Rushmore / Crazy Horse Monument.
(Friday, September 26)

Note: Will be walking across grassy areas at the Buffalo Roundup, flat sidewalk surfaces at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, optional walking trail with steps at Mount Rushmore.



   
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Depart the hotel very early in the morning to attend the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.

Enjoy a drive through Custer State Park’s 73,000 acres, one of the largest state parks in the nation. While driving the park’s Wildlife Loop, watch for mule and whitetail deer, antelope, “begging” burros, coyotes, wild turkeys, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and Golden Eagles. The State Game Lodge, located within the park, is a gracious stone-and-wood lodge built in 1920 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It served as the "Summer White House" for President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and was visited by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953.

During the Buffalo Roundup, you will be sitting and standing on grassy areas. Your instructor will find the best observation place as park personnel and cowhands do their best to drive the buffalo into corrals in this first step to preparing part of the herd for the November Buffalo Auction. The annual roundup is conducted to keep the bison population in check with the available grassland forage. The revenues from the sale (about 450 animals) help support day-to-day operations of the park.

Bison facts: It is the largest land mammal in North America, can stand 6 feet at the shoulders, weigh over 2,000 pounds, clock speeds of 50 mph and easily push a one-ton opponent backwards. Buffalo paw the ground and raise their tail as a warning when angry. During a storm, buffalo face straight into the storm, whereas domestic livestock face away.
 Lunch: Enjoy a BBQ lunch at the Buffalo Roundup Corral Tent.
 Afternoon:
 Afternoon: At 1 p.m., park staff begins branding the calves and checking the general health of all the bison, determining which will be sold and which kept. You can watch all this from a catwalk above the pens.

Travel to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

The majestic, 60-foot faces of four U.S. presidents gaze out over South Dakota’s Black Hills. From the Grandview Terrace, the views are spectacular of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Discover why the four presidents were selected, see how the mountain was carved and learn about sculptor Gutzon Borglum and workers who brought Mount Rushmore to life. Visit the interpretive center that explains how the mountain was carved, watch a short introduction film, find your state flag, and just enjoy the beauty of the area. If you can walk stairs, you may want to take a half-mile walk on the Presidential Trail.

Later, 15 miles from Mount Rushmore, see a fifth granite face that has emerged in the Black Hills. Crazy Horse is the largest sculptural undertaking ever, on a scale with the Egyptian pyramids. In 1939, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve an Indian memorial in the Black Hills. Though Korczak died in 1982, the sculptor’s family continues the non-profit project. It will be the largest mountain carving in the world when completed.
 Dinner: Enjoy a Farewell Dinner and you say goodbye to fellow participants and share stories of your weeklong adventure in the Black Hills.
   
Accommodations: USA Stay Hotel & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Independent Departures
(Saturday, September 27)
   
 Depart From:
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast in the hotel. The program concludes after breakfast. Hotel checkout by noon. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Hot Springs, SD Hot Springs
The following are a few of the unique locations and sites in the Hot Springs, SD area: The Mammoth Site; hot mineral water bath houses in city of Hot Springs; Evans Plunge-World's largest natural warm water indoor swimming pool; Wind Cave National Park is within a 15 minute drive north and the Wild Horse Sanctuary is located a few miles south of Hot Springs. Browse in the Antique Stores and Art Galleries in the downtown area or take the challenge of golfing on one of the area's finest 18 hole golf courses also located in Hot Springs. Call Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce for more information at 1-800-325-6991. For additional information, visit www.hotsprings-sd.com
  State Park
Drive through Custer State Park and watch for herds of Bison, pronghorn antelope, deer, Bighorn Sheep and wild turkeys. Stop and take a look at the Game Lodge where President Coolidge and Grace stayed during the summer of 1927. For additional information, visit www.custerstatepark.com
  Black Hills and Badlands Visitor's Site
Visitor's center located on the Eastern edge of Rapid City. Displays of the area and printed information is available (maps and brochures). For additional information, visit www.blackhillsbadlands.com
  South Dakota Tourism Department
Phone: 605-773-3301 for general information about the entire state of South Dakota. A free South Dakota Vacation Guide can be mailed to you upon request. For additional information, visit www.travelsd.com
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


The Hot Springs Mammoth Site


Author: 1994 ISBN#0-9624750-6-8


Description: The Hot Springs Mammoth Site Edited by: Larry D. Agenbroad and Jim I. Mead Results of excavation and field and laboratory research for the first 10 field seasons at the Hot Springs, South Dakota Mammoth Site. Part 1: Introduction, History and Natural Setting; Part 2: Paleoecology and Paleontology; Part 3: Site Significance, Development and Future. Softcover, 457 pages, 46 blk/white photos, and 83 figures. 1994 ISBN#0-9624750-6-8



Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Sea Age


Author: C. Bardoe


Description: Mammoths and mastodons roamed the earth for more than a million years, and then suddenly went extinct. What was everyday life like for these colossal cousins of the modern elephant? What did they eat? How did they fit into their Ice Age landscape? Why did they disappear? These questions and more are answered in this fascinating book that presents the latest research, drawing on the recent discovery of a fully frozen baby mammoth—which has allowed scientists to learn more than they ever could have known just from studying bones and fossils. Profusely illustrated, Mammoths and Mastodons features photographs of archaeological digs, scientists at work in the field and in labs, and archival relics. Specially commissioned artwork also brings the story of mammoths and mastodons to life. The book includes a bibliography, a glossary, and an index.



Mammoths: Ice Age Giants


Author: L. Agenbroad and L. Nelson


Description: The book covers several topics, including global distribution, physiology, fossil and mummified finds, and theories on mammoth extinction. The primary information relates to subjects as human Ice Age hunters, mammoth mummies, and sinkhole history, along with geologic time lines.





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