Terry Thomason, a dispatcher for Washington Elementary School District in Phoenix, volunteers at North Dakota’s Marmarth Research Foundation in the summer with her mother and siblings. They work on digging out large dinosaur bones, and then clean and assemble them for display.
Every summer, Terry Thomason, a dispatcher for Washington Elementary School District in Phoenix, travels to Minneapolis, where she meets her mother and siblings, and the group then drives to Marmarth, N.D. Their quest? They’re in search of dinosaur fossils.
“It began with a dream that my mother had to be able to be a part of a dinosaur dig,” Thomason explains. “After much research, we found the Marmarth Research Foundation. For the past five years, my mother, brother, three sisters and I head out to the land of the dinosaurs.”
Thomason and her family work for 10 action-packed days, heading out to a dig location at 6 a.m. She says they work on digging out large bones, or they work on areas close to where large bones were found to try to uncover other pieces of the dinosaur.
“We also get time to explore the territory in the hopes of discovering a new site or an undiscovered new species,” Thomason adds. “After a day in the field, we spend the evening in the lab. There, we can work on bones that have been brought in from the field — we clean them and work on putting pieces of the bones together.”
Thomason says she enjoys doing the prep work and jacketing on some of the large triceratops bones in the field. She adds that she feels blessed to be able to meet people from around the world who also volunteer for the Marmarth Research Foundation.
Thomason says she also feels blessed to have her job in pupil transportation. She has been with Washington Elementary School District since 1998 — she started as a school bus driver. Thomason says she enjoyed getting to know the students she transported and their parents, and now as a dispatcher, she has an opportunity to interact with many staff members.
“Together, we make a spectacular team,” she says.