Museum Program Provides Youth with Hands-on Work Experience 

Arrupe student preparing a 65-million-year-old crocodile fossil. (Photo/ Rick Wicker)

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is dedicated to fostering the growth and development in our community. One important initiative that exemplifies this commitment is the Arrupe Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP), a program that brings students from the Arrupe Jesuit High School into our Museum to learn workplace skills while they support their education. 

Eric Shames, manager of volunteer engagement at the Museum, explains that the partnership with Arrupe first launched in 2016 when seven students joined seven different departments across the Museum. The students work one day per week and learn valuable on-the-job skills while they help pay for their education at Arrupe Jesuit High School. In the current year, the 12 Arrupe students have embarked on an expanded role, venturing into analytics, conservation, human resources and fossil preparation. 

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Arrupe student preparing a fossilized Sauropod sacrum. (Photo/ Rick Wicker)

A 17-year-old student and participant in the program* was excited to work in the fossil preparation lab, located by the exit of the Prehistoric Journey exhibition. When asked about the skills she would take from her experience, she said: “One skill specifically is patience. You have to be very patient with the fossils, making sure that you're doing everything right.” 

The Arrupe CWSP operates on the belief that real-world experiences are crucial for personal and professional growth, and it provides students from the Arrupe Jesuit High School with the chance to enhance their communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. 

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Arrupe student prepares a Sauropod fossil. (Photo/ Rick Wicker)

Another Arrupe student in the fossil lab has appreciated his opportunity to work on his communication skills: “I came in here shy, so it’s been important for me to work on my communication. I've found my voice here working in the Paleo Lab. All the conversations we’re having here are helping me to grow, allowing me to express myself and seek guidance when I need it.” 

The interaction between students and staff provides a valuable exchange of knowledge and experience. The staff working at the Museum offer insights into their respective fields, share practical advice and become mentors to the students who are exploring different career options and will soon take their first steps on their independent life paths. This collaborative spirit fosters an atmosphere of mutual learning, where both students and our staff contribute to each other's growth.  

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Arrupe student prepares a fossilized Sauropod caudal vertebrae. (Photo/ Rick Wicker)

Salvador Bastien, a fossil preparator at the Museum, has worked closely with the students over the year. He said that it has overall been a “good experience for the students and they sure have helped us get a lot of fossils prepared.” 

The Arrupe Corporate Work Study Program at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science not only propels students toward success but also strengthens the bonds within our community. As we continue to champion the spirit of collaboration and learning, we look forward to welcoming more students into the Museum and inspiring more young people with science and creativity. 

* The Museum is not using the names of the students in this article because they're minors.

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