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Delta State University Receives Paleontological Society Outreach and Education Grant for K-12 Activities in the Mississippi Delta

Bison fossils from the Mississippi Delta.

Delta State University biologists Drs. Nina Baghai-Riding and Robert Kagumba received an Outreach and Education Grant from the international Paleontological Society for “Improving Scientific Education in the Mississippi Delta through Paleontology,” a series of free workshops and fieldtrips for K-12 students and teachers in the region.

“These grants are highly competitive. Only about six are awarded each year,” said Professor Baghai-Riding. “Northern and central Mississippi contain an abundance of paleontological resources, and the grant will allow us to lead explorations in fossilization, geological time, climate change, and paleoecology of past ecosystems.”

The opportunity also helps fulfill State of Mississippi learning objectives, added Assistant Professor Kagumba: “exploring sites of paleontological significance; becoming engaged in experiential learning; experiencing fossil collecting; understanding geological marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems; and recording scientific observations.”

One-day field trips throughout the fall 2019 semester will focus on vertebrates, invertebrates, and plant fossils in a specific part of Mississippi within a 150-mile radius of Delta State—for instance, at the Mississippi Petrified Forest in Flora and Mississippi Museum of Natural History in Jackson on Aug. 24 and at Nonconnah Creek along the Mississippi/ Tennessee border and the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis, Tenn., on Sept. 28. Another excursion is being finalized. There also will be a one-day paleontological workshop at Delta State on Nov. 2.

Collaborators include Bolivar County 4-H members, research paleontologists associated with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the University of Memphis, members of the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society, and DSU biological education and environmental science students.

There is room for 25 6th-12th grade Mississippi Delta students and five corresponding K-12 science teachers. The deadline to reserve a space is Aug. 20.

For more information, email Baghai-Riding at Also contact Barbara Knight, senior secretary of biological sciences, via email at, or phone (662) 846-4240.