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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Paleobiology

If you are interested in a behind-the-scenes experience, with the potential of becoming a Museum volunteer among the world’s largest collections of fossils, please fill out the registration form here. This is not a distance-learning program. You must be able to attend classes at the National Museum of Natural History in order to participate.

The Paleontological Training Program (PTP) is designed to give interested members of the public a 10-lecture introduction to geology, evolution, fossils, and the history of life. Graduates of the PTP are strongly encouraged to volunteer for the Department of Paleobiology, and those who do will gain more specialized knowledge relating to research, collections management, specimen conservation or other departmental activities.

Classes will be held once a week on Thursday afternoon from 2:00 - 4:00 pm starting March 13, 2014. There is a $150 fee to attend this program and each student will earn a certificate of completion.

Class size is limited to 20 students. If you wish to participate, please contact Thomas Jorstad

Volunteering - Students who complete the core courses will receive special consideration when volunteer opportunities arise in research, collections and field work. These opportunities include preliminary identification and housing of specimens, curation, fossil sorting, preparation of fossils in the laboratory, unpacking and labeling specimens from the field, cataloguing, as well as web development and computer graphics. Some of our administrative work is also supported by volunteers. For more about volunteering opportunities go to our volunteer page, or see Join Paleo page.