Bold and Impactful: UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center

Category: Features

UT Martin and local officials cut the ribbon in front of a small slate gray building
A ribbon-cutting ceremony April 30 officially announced the newly acquired UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center in McNairy County.
Pictured are (l to r) Dr. Charley Deal, vice chancellor, UT Martin University Advancement; Erica Bell, director, Office of Regional Centers and Online
Programs; Larry Smith, mayor, McNairy County; Dr. Todd Winters, dean, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences; Alan Youngerman, director, UT Martin McNairy County Center/Selmer; Randy Boyd, president, the University of Tennessee; Dr. Michael Gibson, professor of geology and director, UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center; Dr. Keith Carver, chancellor, UT Martin; John Smith, mayor, Selmer; Rep. Ron Gant (R-94th District); and Kara Hill, city administrator, Adamsville.

Martin – The UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center, located in rural McNairy County, is UT Martin’s newest resource for hands-on education and opportunities for student and faculty research, as well as the latest example of UT Martin’s commitment to providing bold and impactful experiences for all.

The center’s 240 acres are located on land that was part of the Gulf of Mexico 72 million years ago, when earth’s sea level was the highest in its history. As a result, fossils of more than 700 species of invertebrates and shells have been preserved at the center, making Coon Creek one of the most important fossil sites in North America. Fossils can be viewed and excavated at the museum, which also features telescopes for astronomical observations, field labs and an on-site weather station. These resources allow visitors to build a wealth of knowledge in multiple subjects.

The center promotes learning for all ages, allowing anyone from children to teachers to paleontology experts to learn something new. The UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center has a variety of programs suitable for different ages and levels of experience, such as children’s summer camps, college courses with the UT Martin McNairy County Center/Selmer, and educator-training courses. A variety of options for student and faculty research are also offered, which can provide experiential learning and new discoveries.

Coon Creek also builds relationships with West Tennessee organizations. The center plans to collaborate with local 4-H programs and will host on-site summer camps by using the center’s bunk spaces and mess hall. The center has also been used as a venue for local class field trips, allowing participants to explore concepts they learn in class. Volunteer internships are also available.

By providing educational opportunities for visitors, the UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center helps participants build an interest in geology as well as a love of learning to last an entire lifetime.