Pure dino-mite: Program gives youths an education on dinosaurs

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

HAGAMAN -- On Wednesday, local youths enrolled in the Amsterdam Family YMCA's summer program learned there weren't dinosaurs in upstate New York when the creatures roamed the earth.

That's because this area was covered in a tropical sea much like the Caribbean, 4-H Resource Educator Bonnie Peck told them.

Peck led Wednesday's program on fossils. She brought actual fossils she's recovered from the area for the students to inspect.

"The fossils are from water-based animals because there was a lot of sea life," Peck said. "It was much like the Bahamas -- it sand covered in shallow water that was warm."

The state's fossil is a trilobite, an extinct marine arthropod, Peck said.

"I've never actually found one though," she said. "One of my 4-H'ers found one while we were in Cherry Valley, and they gave it to me."

The fossil program is just one of many offered by the Y during the 10 week program, said School-Aged Child Care Director Megan Dugas.

"Each week we have a theme," she said. "We go to the pool every Monday and Friday, and we schedule a lot of field trips and activities."

"We try to pick educational field trips," Executive Director and CEO Nancy Carr said. "A lot of them are funded through donations, and the donor will restrict them to educational activities."

For example, students will travel to Old Fort Johnson, the Museum of Science and Technology, and Albany Pinebush.

"It's things they might not do with mom and dad," Carr added.

Cornell Cooperative Extension offers its programs for free.

"They'll end up here twice before the end of summer," Carr said.

Sixty children are currently enrolled in the program, though Carr said they'll accept new registrants through the end of the program. The last day of camp is Aug. 30.

"We get to do a lot of fun stuff," said 12-year-old Miranda Rivera.

"Yeah, we do activities, and we hang out with friends," chimed in nine-year-old Leah Moorman.

Rivera said she loves the part of the day in which they have free time and the arts and crafts, while nine-year-old Eliana Montano said she prefers volleyball and freeze tag.

For more information on the summer program, visit the Amsterdam Family YMCA's website at www.amsterdamymca.com, or its Facebook page.