Apply to be an Eagle Scout paleontologist

The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has a rich history of placing worthy Eagles on expeditions. These unique experiences provide an entry into the world of exploration.​
Posing with the NESA explorer flag

Opportunity description

Through the BSA’s STEM Initiative, NESA selects Eagle Scouts to participate in field experiments in exotic places. The Paleontologist program represents a new addition to existing programs and will be offered this year to Eagles. This program is a 1 week internship. This will allow the Eagles to be immersed in paleontology and designed to provide field experience as a basis for undergraduate or graduate work in paleontology.

The Judith River Dinosaur Institute (JRDI), established in 1993, promotes the science of paleontology to the general public. JRDI provides the exploration, collection, preparation, and curation of fossils and represents the paleontological part of the Little Snowy Mountain Dinosaur Project. The Little Snowy Mountains Dinosaur Project is the educational and research component for specimens collected through the work of the JRDI. The JRDI is dedicated to the responsible preservation and curation of paleontological findings and works with museums, universities, and private and public land management agencies to identify, research, and protect those sites. The JRDI educational field programs offer a hands-on experience with the methods, techniques, and theories of modern paleontology.

The 2016 field excavation yielded the remains of the 7th stegosaur discovered on the site as well as bones of Montana’s largest dinosaur, a sauropod, and many more bones to be excavated. The 2017 expedition continued this excavation.

The Eagles will arrive in Billings, Montana, on or near the end of June to participate in field excavation and to work in the lab preserving the fossils. The 5 week internship will be split between excavation in the field in the approximately 7000 square foot Dino Lab where the fossils are studied and preserved. Departure from Billings will be on or about August 10. Notable findings by the JRDI teams include those of Stegosaurus and Brachylophosaurus.  Please see the website for more information.


To qualify as the 2019 Eagle Scout Paleontologist, candidates must:

  • Be an Eagle Scout
  • Be 18 years of age and not older than 27 years of age by June 1
  • Major or intend to major in a biological science in college or graduate school
  • Be prepared to blog, speak, write, and be interviewed on behalf of Scouting to report on the trip, what it means personally, and how Scouting prepared you for the experience
  • Have medical insurance, complete a BSA Medical form and purchase medical evacuation coverage (suggested policies will be provided)

How to apply

Eagle Scouts who are qualified and would like to be considered for this wonderful opportunity must complete an online application, which includes a 250-word essay. Finalists will be announced by the end of January and required to submit a 3 minute YouTube video expressing reasons to support their selection.

Applications must be submitted, no later than Midnight Central Standard Time, October 31. The persons selected to be the Eagle Scout Biologist will be notified by February 28.

Important notes

The Eagle will be responsible for $600 (not including medical evacuation coverage and flights for Eagle Scouts who live outside the United States) to defray some costs of the experience payable to the National Eagle Scout Association by May 31.

Logistics and payment for airfare, lodging, food (in some cases the Eagle will need to purchase on-site and be reimbursed), tuition, etc. will be paid for and coordinated by the National Eagle Scout Association.

Dates for this one week trip will be late June to approximately early August. Please see the website for more information.