Field Vehicle - Ended

$1,587 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 29 people in 50 months
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I am no longer associated with MHP Paleo and am not directly accepting any donations for this project. If you would like to support this project please contact MHP Paleo directly:

Mission Heights Paleo
Mission Heights Preparatory High School

1376 E. Cottonwood Ln.
Casa Grande, AZ 85122

I am Robert Gay and I am proud to be the paleontologist at Mission Heights Preparatory High School. At Mission Heights we have the nation's only public high school paleontology program. My students and I have been engaged in research in southern Utah for the past several years, looking at how ecosystems recovered from the greatest mass extinction on Earth and the radiation of new life forms across the globe, including dinosaurs!

Exposure of the Chinle Formation in southeastern Utah.

This is really exciting work and the results so far are promising. We have identified at least ten types of vertebrates, including some never-before-found in Utah (and at least two of which are new species). Some of our discoveries have already been published, such as Gay and St. Aude (2015) - a new occurrence of Crosbysaurus. Others are availible to the public and are awaiting peer review such as Lopez et al. (2015) - an unusual new archosauromorph tooth. Still others are undergoing revisions and are headed towards publication, such as our new species.

The May 2014 crew at the San Juan River

At the heart of this program are my students. We are engaging students in real-world science by invovling them in all aspects of vertebrate paleontology including discovery, collection, preparation, curation, and scientific description of fossil specimens. Student authorship is important to me, which is why all of our publications from this project have student co-authors. I even had the chance to present a poster at SVP 2014 in Berlin, Germany describing our work in more detail to an international audience.

Crosbysaurus tooth found by MHP Paleo student.

Where do you come in? Our biggest single expense every year is renting vehicles. We are located in rural southern Arizona. Our field area is six hours away, longer in a bus. Our school has just finished its 4th year - we do not have small vehicles or an activity bus. When we take students to the field we have to rent vans - an expense of several hundred dollars per trip. This cost comes directly from the students, many of whom can barely afford the low activity fee the school assesses for this, and from teacher donations. Every year I travel to the Museum of Northern Arizona where the specimens we collect are housed permanently. I also travel to conferences to present on the research my students are doing. These travel expenses come directly out of my pocket and are miles on my vehicle.

The purpose of this GoFundMe is to raise funds to purchase a good, low-mileage late-model 4x4 SUV. This SUV would be used by myself to drive to conferences and museums as they relate to our work at MHP Paleo. It would also be used to transport staff and students to the field and transport fossils back to MHP. Fieldwork is conducted at least five times per year with two rented vehicles - having one vehicle that we can use for this fieldwork would save the students and school over $5,000 a year on rental costs. Having our own 4x4 vehicle would enable us to get to field areas where a rented minivan would be unable to go.

The goal of $8,000 is a reasonable estimate based on used vehicle prices matching our criteria in the area. Funds raised in excess of our goal would be used to cover maintanence and fuel for the vehicle. If we raise around double our goal we would purchase two vehicles, eliminating the need to rent any vehicles for the paleontology program.

Want more on-the-ground proof of what we do? Here are some videos created by us showing how the students work, have fun, and understand the past in the field. You can also see the rented/borrowed vehicles used to conduct our fieldwork in them.
March 2015

May 2015

No matter how much you give, every little bit helps us get into the field and understand how life on Earth has evolved. Strange new discoveries await my students. Will you help them get there?
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Small update:
It looks like MHP Paleo is getting a field vehicle donated to us by a generous friend of the program. The money raised so far will enable us to pick up the vehicle , register it, and have minor repairs done. Money left over from the amount so far will be used to further support the paleo program, including tools, supplies, and research casts. Additional money that comes in once we have our donated vehicle will be used to further support the paleo program. Expect another update on the campaign after SVP!
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Hi everybody! First of all, thank you so much for all the donations that have come in since my last update. I have been busy ramping up for the school year. Our students came back yesterday. It seems like the summer has flown by. Currently our Advanced Paleontology students are beginning to prepare the specimens we collected in May and June for eventual curation at the Museum of Northern Arizona. This is another reason to have a vehicle for MHP Paleo use. In October or November these specimens will need to be transferred to the museum. There are almost 200 specimens and lots of documentation in terms of field notes. If we have a field vehicle by then I can take students up to the Museum this transfer will go faster with more hands but will give my students a chance to experience what real-world collections and data repositories are like. While we have a small collection of fossils here at MHP the Museum of Northern Arizona has (from what I understand) the largest curated collection of fossils in the state of Arizona. This would be such a great experience for them! Of course, without a vehicle to transport them up there we would have to rent a van. This would raise the cost of the visit to the point where several students wouldn't be able to attend and make the work go slower for those who still could go.
Thank you again for your help and support. If you haven't already donated, please consider doing so today.
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Mission Heights needs your help. We are a small, rural school without much extra funding. We still manage to provide a top-notch education for our students but with just a little more help we could do much more. We rent sports fields for our teams from the city. We contract out our bus services. And we have been running our paleontology program, the only one at a public school in the country, with rented minivans and my personal truck. Something happened this past week that really exemplifies why this is path for us is unsustainable.
I was hired by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to help work a quarry in southern Utah, excavating a sauropod. I was very excited about this, having worked this quarry in 2013 as well. Work progressed fine in the quarry itself but on our day off, Friday, a problem developed. We took the scenic way into Moab, seeing beautiful forests, deep canyons, wildlife, and more fossils – some of which will be documented by my students later this year. Once in Moab, however, my truck began acting up. It sputtered, coughed, choked, and barely made it to a parking spot at the local repair shop. If I hadn’t had the rest of the awesome NHMLA crew there, I would have been stranded. If I hadn’t had my friends in Moab I would have been stranded. If this had happened in the backcountry I would have been well and truly up a creek – the roads we were on were very remote with no cell service.
Fortunately for me the fix was relatively easy. It was a frayed wiring harness on my oxygen sensor. I lost a day of quarry work but in the end things worked out.
Now imagine this scenario unfolding with students and no other capable vehicle around. My 2004 Explorer Sport Trac is a very reliable vehicle but it is also 11 years old and has 186,000 miles on it! A simple scenario like this on a trip that only lasts two days and has 10-12 students involved wouldn’t just be an inconvenience – it could be a genuine nightmare. MHP Paleo needs a solid, reliable 4x4 vehicle to take students, supplies, and fossils in and out of the field. The school does not have the budget for one and I cannot afford to buy a vehicle to donate to the school on my own. That is why I am asking for your help. We currently have $1,025 pledged from backers here. Our goal is $8,000 and I know we can do it! Please, if you have not yet already donated consider doing so. I know there are many good projects out there vying for money. Lots of scientists and schools are competing for your hard earned money because that is the funding environment these days. But how many of these projects combine hard science with high school education? I am asking you to help create the next generation of paleontologists and science-literate students. Won’t you join me?
Current 186k mile personal truck.
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Hi all! I wanted to post a brief update - I have been traveling quite a bit recently. I was just at the Museum of Northern Arizona last week, in fact, looking at specimens that my students collected in 2014. There are some amazing specimens there but even more amazing is how much more we have discovered this year. Over 100 individual teeth alone! I am heading back into the field pleased that we are now over $1,000. I look forward to seeing how much closer we are to getting our field vehicle when we get back. Thank you to all of you who have donated. If you haven't donated yet, please consider helping me get my high school students out into the field doing real paleontology work. Thank you!
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$1,587 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 29 people in 50 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created June 5, 2015
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CW
$50
Curt Welling
47 months ago
GI
$62
Georgia InCalifornia
47 months ago
RT
$100
Rochelle Theodore
47 months ago

I had a chance to participate in a paleontology dig with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and it was great! Too far along in my current career to become a paleontologist, but I hope the MHP Paleo students get their truck and do lots of field work, and become famous paleontologists.

AR
$50
Angela Romain
47 months ago

thot I would chip in a little.

JM
$25
Julia McHugh
48 months ago

Let's get you guys in the field!

$100
Anonymous
48 months ago
$50
Anonymous
48 months ago
KD
$25
Kathleen Dungy
48 months ago
SC
$50
Steve Clawson
48 months ago

Love what you do. Love where you're going. I started doing paleo in high school, and recognize the need to perpetuate programs like this. Cheers!

JB
$50
Jeanette Bonnell
48 months ago
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