Students share their experience on the Honors Paleontology Peccary Trip


Elaine Tang (‘24)

The campsite is deserted except for a van parked near the Webb students’ tent. While the sun slowly rises, students wake to continue the trip, forgetting their exhaustion from the long hikes the day before. The students are excited and ready to go on the last part of the trip before coming back to school.

Unlike the peccary trip for freshmen that focuses on introducing students to the paleontology program, this peccary trip aims for the Honor Paleontology students to practice the knowledge they gained from class and conduct correct field investigations.

“One of the most exciting things was that Connor Keeney (‘24) found a peccary tooth,” said Dr. Andy Farke, Director of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. “Even though all our trips are called peccary trips, we do not find many peccary fossils.”

On Saturday, October 30th, while the school was preparing for the excitement of Halloween, a group of 13 students, along

with Carissa Deranek, mathematics faculty, Dr. “Doc” Don Lofgren, Director Emeritus of Raymond M. Alf Museum & Paleontology, and Dr. Farke headed on a two-day peccary trip.

Fossil collection is an important part of any peccary trip, but this trip was particularly exciting because the students were sophomores who had missed their freshmen peccary trip. This meant that it was their first peccary trip, and their first time finding fossils.

Along with the fossil-finding hikes, students took pleasure in continuously interacting with nature and their fellow classmates in the beautiful scenery of the campsite.

“The terrain really provided a sense of adventure as we were searching for fossil fragments on steep slopes: we would ascend up one step a time scrutinizing and then slide down from the top,” Stanley Jian (‘23) said.

Staying outdoors allowed students to enjoy the beautiful views. The absence of buildings breaking up the skyline offers students a new sight, different from what they see at school.

“I love seeing the stars at night,” Dr. Farke said. “Even though we had a little cloud in the early night, in the middle of the night, the sky was amazing. There was the moon and the milky way and constellations.”

As the night approached, students had to start preparing their dinner. The outdoor experience offered a unique opportunity for students to cook with limited ingredients.

“I think [cooking] is really fun because cooking is easy, but [the food] turns out to be delicious,” Chloe Wang (‘24) said. “Dr. Farke told us that Raymond Alf used the pans himself.”

The trip gave students a chance to escape the mundane classroom and get some hands-on experience. Even though students went back to campus and focused on grades to finish out quarter one, the peccary trip gave them lifelong lessons and memories to guide them through the rest of the year.