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DESLA Camp: Bighorn Basin and Yellowstone

Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science

Drexel DESLA students cast fossil impressions at Yellowstone

DESLA students head out on a day-long hike to conduct field work in rock identification, geomorphology, and hydrology at Bighorn Basin in 2018.

At the Drexel Environmental Science Leadership Academy in Bighorn Basin, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, high school students gain hands-on field experience, learn about the history of the planet and discover the processes that shape the landscapes around us today. Students do not need to have any formal geology education to attend this Yellowstone National Park summer camp.

Drexel DESLA Camp students cast fossil impressions at Yellowstone

August 7-14, 2022 | $2,200

The Bighorn Basin and Yellowstone National Park summer camp is led by expert scientists from Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, in collaboration with the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association. ​If you're thinking of pursuing a degree in Geoscience this is the adventure for you!

Questions? Ask DESLA@drexel.edu.



Experience Bighorn Basin and Yellowstone

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Schedule: August 7-14, 2022

Students do not need to have any formal geology education to attend this Yellowstone National Park summer camp. Attendees will be introduced to a wide range of topics in the geosciences and experience what it’s like to work in the field — which is a major component of geoscience research. Students should be prepared to work outside every day, whatever the weather, to fully experience the life of a researcher at the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association (YRBA) field camp.

Program content and sequence may change due to weather, staff schedules or other circumstances.

Days 1-2

The first two days will be spent giving the students a basic introduction to the geosciences. On the first day students will learn how to identify rocks, take notes in their field books, and look for geologic features on a map. These skills will set them up for success in the rest of the course. The second day will be spent exploring the importance of water, from how it shapes the landscapes around us to investigating how communities in Montana access fresh drinking water.

Days 3-4

In the middle of the week, we’ll drive out to Yellowstone National Park and spend two days learning why geysers erupt, what forms the mud pots, and how often bison can cause traffic jams! This part of the trip will be led by Loӱc Vanderkluysen, PhD, a volcanologist from the Drexel BEES department who has an active volcanology research program in Yellowstone.

Days 5-6

In the third part of the trip, we will take the students out to a dig site to do research with the Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute. Here, students will get experience identifying rocks, finding fossils and learning about earth history. This part of the trip will be led by Jason Schein, director of the Institute and a specialist in dinosaur research!

Day 7

On the final day of the trip, students will go on a day-long capstone hike. The hike gives the students the opportunity to pull together all the information they’ve learnt over the previous 6 days including rock identification, geomorphology, and hydrology. The hike is also a great place for the students to showcase the teamwork and leadership skills they’ve developed through the program.


Travel and Lodging

Cabin at Yellowstone Research Institute

This DESLA program takes place with the Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute in Red Lodge, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Getting There

Students are responsible for getting themselves to the Billings Logan International Airport in Billings, Montana by 4 p.m. on August 7, 2022. There, students will be greeted by the DESLA staff, and the adventure will begin!

Students will be dropped off at the Billings Airport on August 14, 2022 and are responsible for getting themselves back home again. Please do not book a flight that leaves Billings before 12 p.m. on August 14th.  Note: DESLA tuition does not include the cost of airfare.

Field Camp Lodging

Students will stay at the Yellowstone - Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) field station, near Red Lodge, Montana, for all but one night during the camp. The other night, we will stay in a hotel outside of Yellowstone National Park. Students will stay in basic cabins. There is a communal bathroom block and a main dining room where we’ll eat along with other students staying at the camp. There is no Wi-Fi and the phone signal is limited at the YRBA field camp, but the views are absolutely spectacular!


Camp Director

Michelle Gannon

Michelle Gannon, PhD
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Patrick Center for Environmental Research, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Michelle is a Biogeochemist studying stable isotope systems ranging from single organism (mollusk shells) to large scale ecosystems. She became involved with the DESLA program as a first year PhD student and has added a geologic perspective to help build well-rounded graduates of the program.

Research Interests: Geochemistry, Stable Isotope Chemistry, Paleoclimatology, Sclerochronology, Malacology

Questions? Email DESLA@drexel.edu.