Dr. Rick Schmidt
Director of Educational Programming, Expedition Assistant
Dr. Rick Schmidt is an educator, outdoorsman, paleontologist and firefighter. He grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and first acquired his love for the outdoors through scouting. While there are no other scientists or educators in his family, Rick always showed an innate interest in science even at an early age and he never outgrew his childhood love of dinosaurs. During his undergraduate years as a dual degree student in both Earth Sciences and Secondary Education, Rick also connected strongly with the field of meteorology in addition to geology, a skill set he still uses each summer in the Bighorn Basin.
Rick has also been a firefighter and fire officer at a busy suburban fire company since 1988 having served up to the rank of Assistant Chief. He has an affinity towards special rescue operations and has served with several natural disaster response teams during his tenure.
Rick is currently acting as the Director of Educational Programming for the BBPI and is actively engaged in the ongoing work between the group and higher education institutions.
Rick’s research interests encompass paleontology and geoscience education. As an undergraduate, he authored Kings of the Mesozoic, a comprehensive guide to the geology, ecology, climate and dinosaur taxonomies during the Mesozoic Era for teachers with an interest in dinosaur paleontology. As his career progressed, he focused on the lack of connection between secondary education earth science and undergraduate geoscience programs. In 2011, he completed his doctoral dissertation Bridging the Geoscience Workforce Gap: Advanced High School Geoscience Programs as a means to connect the K-12 and higher education geoscience communities. His research on this topic and the ongoing impact of his advanced geosciences program continues to this day and he frequently speaks at national conferences and guest lectures on the topic.
During the summer months, he helps to develop and teach the geology portions of the BBPI program to participants with a special emphasis on the undergraduate students working towards college credit from their experience in the Bighorn Basin.
Rick has been a career geoscience educator since 1993 and has taught all grades from 7-12 but is best known for the creation and ongoing development of the Advanced Geosciences program for juniors and seniors at Upper Dublin High School (PA). First started in 2001, the two courses he designed were the first high school geoscience courses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be accredited by a four year university and have since acted as a template for at least two other districts in PA to emulate.
In His Own Words
Sometimes the most interesting things in a career happen entirely by accident and that is how I first became affiliated with the BBPI in 2012. Now, I can’t wait until the next season in the field. There is something rejuvenating about working outside that you just cannot feel by any other means. It’s not science, it’s just a deep seated feeling but I know it draws all of us associated with the BBPI back to Montana and Wyoming every year. From the first sunset you watch on the Beartooth Pass to the thrill of finding a brand new dinosaur bone never before seen by any other human on Earth, once you’ve experienced this with us, you’ll understand what brings us back year after year.