The Mammoth Site has been awarded another large grant from the David B. Jones Foundation, which gives the foundation naming rights to Theater 1 in the Mammoth Site Learning Center, which will now be known as the David B. Jones Theatre.
The foundation donated $170,000 to the Hot Springs attraction for the naming rights. The facility added the two theaters to its campus several years ago with the addition of the learning center; the second theater is named after longtime board member Eddie and Clara Clay. Nearly every visitor to the Mammoth Site goes through one of the two theaters to watch an 11-minute informational video prior to taking their guided tour, said Presston Gabel, the site’s business manager.
The theaters also provide space for guest lectures and other educational presentations.
“Through the continued support of the David B. Jones Foundation and other like-minded Foundations, The Mammoth Site has been able to continue to grow and keep at the forefront of Science Education and Research as it relates to The Mammoth Site and the Black Hills as a whole during the last Ice Age,” said Gabel.
The David B. Jones Foundation, based out of Sioux Falls, has previously provided support for the Mammoth Site, according to Bethany Cook, the site’s public relations director. The foundation was established in 1998 by David B. Jones to promote educational, research and charitable activities in the area of paleontology across the United States. The most recent grant brings their total gifts to the Mammoth Site to $237,000.
Jones was raised in California before finishing high school and college in Minnesota, where he owned and operated a farm management business for 32 years. He discovered a passion for paleontology when he returned to college at the age of 37. He became an amateur paleontologist who specialized in Mid-Tertiary mammals and late Cretaceous marine fossils, according to his foundation’s website. Jones died in 2013 while on a dig in Wyoming, but before his death he conducted field research in Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota.
Gabel said the $170,000 gift will help the Mammoth Site reduce some debt load, as well as continue it’s primary goal of education and worldwide research projects.
The grant will help continue the work that has been ongoing since 1974, when fossils of Columbian and woolly mammoths were discovered during excavation for a housing development. The fossils were discovered in a sinkhole and are believed to have perished more than 26,000 years ago. The Mammoth Site has become a respected research center for Pleistocene studies and is the largest Columbian mammoth exhibit in the world.
According to the Mammoth Site’s website, 61 mammoths have been identified to date, and other animals, including a giant short-faced bear, camel, llama, prairie dog, wolf, fish and numerous plant and invertebrate fossils, have also been discovered in the sinkhole.
The site is currently preparing for its annual meeting, slated for Monday. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with the business meeting expected to convene at 7 p.m. Dr. Chris Jass will be the keynote speaker, discussing the extensive remodel of the Royal Alberta Museum. Gabel said the Mammoth Site has future plans to increase the educational component of the site across the campus and to update exhibits, so Jass’ presentation will provide insight and ideas for the future.