Explorer Corps is a summer-long challenge encourages Utahns & tourists to discover natural history in every county
Ever wondered what is unique about each of Utah’s 29 counties? The Natural History Museum of Utah is helping spotlight natural and cultural history wonders in each of them with the Natural History Explorer Corps, launching Memorial Day weekend.
Custom markers, designed and fabricated by Utah’s own O.C. Tanner, have been placed in every county to celebrate an iconic natural or cultural history location in that area, showcasing Utah’s diversity and richness. All summer long, Utahns and visitors will be encouraged to seek out the markers to inspire their own exploration of what makes each county—and Utah—so special.
“We are beyond thrilled to roll out the Natural History Explorer Corps program. It’s been designed to encourage and support learning about our amazing state,” said Jason Cryan, executive director, Natural History Museum of Utah. “It’s also a great way to encourage our friends and neighbors in Utah to safely get back out there in the spirit of education, adventure, and friendly competition.”
From members of state and county leadership to public works employees, librarians, historians and museum directors, Explorer Corps is the product of enthusiastic collaboration across both state and local levels, including Emery County.
The Emery County marker features a dinosaur skeleton and is located outside of the Museum of the San Rafael at 70 N 100 E in Castle Dale. It highlights the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, which is about 30 miles northeast of the museum.
Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry contains the largest accumulation of Late Jurassic dinosaur fossils in the world–the remains of more than 48 Allosaurus have been found in this one place. While Allosaurus is the most common dinosaur found at the quarry, the long-necked Barosaurus, the spike-tailed Stegosaurus and more have been uncovered here. In fact, Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry has been the site of new dinosaur discoveries – the small and medium-sized predators Stokesosaurus and Marshosaurus were first found here as well.
Cleveland-Lloyd is one of 29 natural history wonders across the state. Explorer Corps planning began in late 2019 as a way to commemorate the Museum’s 50th anniversary and honor the state that is home to some of the most fascinating fossil discoveries, beautiful landscapes and varied environments in the world. Even with a year-long delay and some setbacks due to the pandemic, the vision for the program didn’t falter.
In fact, it expanded thanks to partnerships with O.C. Tanner and the State of Utah, plus additional support from Big-D Construction, Kellville Vans, KÜHL, the Utah State Library Division, the Utah Association of Counties and Utah Symphony.
Each Natural History Marker was designed and crafted by O.C. Tanner, the global employee recognition and engagement company founded in Utah in 1927. Once each marker was completed, Big-D Construction drove the state from top to bottom, roughly 6,000 miles, installing one marker in each county as they travelled.
“Our company has a long history of commemorating events in Utah and now we get to celebrate our home state, itself,” said Dave Peterson, chief operating officer at O.C. Tanner. “Our design for the state markers was inspired by elements like the Beehive state, the Museum’s 50th anniversary and the actual location and its unique qualities. We are excited to have locals start finding their county’s marker and look forward to continuing this partnership throughout the summer and beyond.”
In all, NHMU’s Explorer Corps program and its partners developed:
- 29 commemorative markers—one in every county—celebrating Utah’s natural history
- Books and learning materials for every public and tribal library and bookmobile in the state
- Natural history-themed summer programming for all ages
- The Race to 29! contest and Explorer Corps weekly giveaways offering marker hunters great prizes
- An official Explorer Corps mobile app to help participants track their marker visits and compete in the Race to 29!
- A printed Explorer Corps passport offering the same benefit to anyone without a mobile device
- Explorer Corps tie-ins with this summer’s Forever Mighty concert series by the Utah Symphony
The Race to 29! Contest and weekly Explorer Corps giveaways will offer participants the chance to win various prizes, including a weeklong adventure in a state-of-the-art Winnebago from Kellville Vans in the summer of 2022. Explorer Corps badges, KUHL clothing and other great prizes will also be available. The contest kicks off on Friday, May 28 and runs through Labor Day.
For updates on the program and to find out how locals can get involved, visit nhmu.utah.edu/explorer-corps