NICEVILLE — Northwest Florida State College students enrolled in paleontology got a unique hands-on experience during spring term when they traveled to central Florida to participate in a fossil research excavation sponsored by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida.

The trip, led by NWF State College Geology Professor Dr. Jon Bryan, was supported by the College’s Science Development Fund through the NWF State College Foundation.

“Participating in scientific research in the field is such a valuable experience for students,” Bryan said in a press release from the college.

 During the trip, eight students dug for a week at the University of Florida fossil site at Montbrook, helping to uncover an ancient mastodon, early alligators, turtles and other fossils. The students also visited the Florida Museum of Natural History, Devil’s Den and Rainbow Springs State Park.

“It was incredible, I got to learn so much about the field, and honestly it was one of the best educational experiences I have ever had,” said Alizabeth Turner-Ward, a NWF State College Collegiate High School student.