This is a community announcement from the Paleontological Research Institution. It was NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements, email

ITHACA, N.Y. — With the goal of raising funds to help improve science education in our community, the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) is hosting the first annual Diamond in the Rough Hike-a-thon on April 28, 2018. The hike on the Black Diamond Trail starts near Cass Park in Ithaca and finishes at the Cayuga Nature Center where there will be refreshments, live music, and live animal programs for all participants. Prizes will be given out to the top team and individual fundraisers.

A perfect way to celebrate Earth Week, all proceeds and donations from the hike will be used to promote science education in our community. The hike will help fund the programs in environmental and Earth science offered at the Cayuga Nature Center and Museum of the Earth, as well as the Paleontological Research Institution’s many other Earth science and climate change education outreach efforts.

The Hike-A-Thon will take place on the beautiful Black Diamond Trail. There are three distances to choose from–5.4 miles, 2.1 miles, and a “choose your distance” option. The hikes are appropriate for all ages and all hiking abilities. Hikers will end up at the Cayuga Nature Center, and will enjoy free admission, refreshments, live animal programs, live music with Rick Manning and friends, and more. The Cayuga Nature Center is located at 1420 Taughannock Blvd (Route 89) in Ithaca, New York. More information about the hike, and how to register, can be found at:

The Black Diamond Trail is a broad multiuse trail whose stone dust surface makes it a pleasure to traverse. Named after the Black Diamond Express, which once ran from Buffalo to New York City along the Lehigh Valley Railroad, the repurposed railway route has a modest to level grade the whole way, making it suitable for a wide range of hiking abilities. In addition, this picturesque forest path bridges over a wide variety of gorges, waterfalls, and small cascades along its route each making their own music in the Spring.

At 10:00 am on Saturday, the 28th, the full 5.4 mile hike begins at Alan Treman Marine Park, where parking for the event will be available. Shuttle buses will be running all during the event to take hikers back to their vehicles from the finish line of the hike at Nature Center. At 11 am, shuttle buses will depart from Treman Marine Park to take those who prefer to do the 2.1 mile option up to the starting point where the trail crosses Glenwood Heights Road. Hikers who wish to choose their own distance start right at the Nature Center, where they can hike along the Cayuga Nature Centers many trails.

Everyone is encouraged to register now and start building their sponsor list. Prizes for the most money raised will be awarded to both individual hikers and teams. The cost for registration online before the race day is $10 for youth under 18, $15 for PRI Members, and $20 for the non-members. Registration on the day of the Hike-A-Thon is also available on-site for $10 for youth under 18, $25 for PRI Members, and $30 for the non-members.

The webpage to register now for the Hike-A-Thon is That is also where you can sponsor a hiker, or just donate to help promote science education in our community.

The Paleontological Research Institution is a national leader in Earth systems science education research and programming dedicated to sharing knowledge and to understanding the science by which we gain that knowledge. They offer a diversity of programs and resources on Earth Science topics including evolution, geology, the environment, climate, energy, and the public understanding of science. They serve learners of all ages, provide professional development for educators, offer college- and graduate-level courses, and interact with audiences from local to national. PRI is separate from, but formally affiliated with Cornell University, and interacts closely with numerous University departments in research, teaching, and public outreach.

PRI’s facilities at the Museum of the Earth and the Cayuga Nature Center provide venues for hands-on education that emphasizes science as an inquiry-driven process of exploration and discovery. They offer programs at local schools, create classroom-friendly activities and content, and send specimens to learners across the globe. The Educational Outreach staff lead professional development that introduces educators of all backgrounds to innovative pedagogy and technology to serve their communities.

PRI also conducts research on science education and the public perception of science, and participates in both local and national initiatives to improve education practices and increase scientific literacy. Promoting sustainability and increasing science literacy are at the heart of PRI, as they work to help educate the public about the interconnectedness of the Earth and its life and encourage people to think critically about how humanity can strive to live in harmony with nature.

A sampling of the programs supported by proceeds from this event:

  • Climate Science Education–Through programs for school groups, exhibits, and public events, at the Cayuga Nature Center and the Museum of the Earth, they strive to teach about climate change, and help people to understand how it relates to issues such as coral reefs, energy production, and wildlife ecology.
  • Young Naturalist Access Program (YNAP)–Their Young Naturalist Access Program is supported with donations. In 2017, YNAP provided 91 children with a week of summer camp at Cayuga Nature Center, and over 160 children received a family membership to the Nature Center and the Museum of the Earth.
  • Biodiversity and the Web of Life–Through the nature center’s live animal ambassadors, they present programs focused on native wildlife and their roles in the local environment. These programs teach students about the native species that live in “their backyard”, helping them gain knowledge and appreciation for our local species and the importance of conservation.
  • Natural History of the Finger Lakes–Learning about how the landscape of the Finger Lakes was formed, why it looks the way it does, and what life was like here through geologic time – these ideas come to life at the Museum of the Earth. Their educators help students and the public gain an appreciation for the past, and in so doing, an awareness of our place as humans in that history.

You can help raise funds for the important work done by the Museum of the Earth, Cayuga Nature Center, and the Paleontological Research Institution, by registering now for the Hike-A-Thon. Even if you are not able to hike, you can still help by sponsoring a hiker or simply giving a donation. Visit the Diamond in the Rough Hike-A-Thon website: for more details.

Cayuga Medical Center is the program sponsor of the First Annual Diamond in the Rough Hike-A-Thon. Prizes and refreshments are being sponsored by: HOLT Architects, with additional community support from Colonial Veterinary Hospital, Ithaca Airline Limousine, and RP Solutions, Inc.

Diamond in the Rough Hike-A-Thon website:

Diamond in the Rough Hike-A-Thon Facebook events page: