AAPS, The Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences

AAPS, Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences

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Todd Hoelmer
September 10, 1962 - April 11, 2024

Todd Hoelmer

Todd grew up in Valley City South Dakota, and developed a love for paleontology at an early age. He then lived in various places across the country pursuing his love of paleontology until h finally settled in Lusk, Wyoming.

His mother describes him as someone who always loved nature, always digging and discovering, and most of all collecting everything he laid his eyes on. "He always loved rocks and fossils. He was a veteran and served in the Army National Guard, before landing a big contract to prepare, restore and build one of the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons known. This T-rex, which now lives in the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University, is commonly known as Peck's Rex because it was found in 1997 near Fort Peck Dam and Reservoir in Montana. Todd employed his skills to meticulously prepare the fossils and then sculpt the missing bones.

Todd's ability to prepare fossils for museums and collectors is known worldwide. Wally Van Sickle, a zoologist and founder of Idea Wild based in Fort Collins, CO, has many of Todd's fossils on display and used for educational programs. "Todd not only created masterpieces, he brought to life remnants of the distant past.

Todd joined the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences in 2016 and was well known for his wonderful and accurate fossil preparation and skeletal mounting skills.

His reputation in Niobrara County grew and in 2020 He was featured in "Dino Hunters," on The Discovery Channel, which featured ranchers uncovering dinosaur bones on their land. In 2021 Todd collaborated with a small group of people to create the Eastern Wyoming Nature Center as a founding board member. The mission of the nature center is clear and mirrors Todd's passion, "To discover, preserve and celebrate the natural resources of Eastern Wyoming." The plan Todd shared is simple, turn the building at 102 S. Main St. into a place for visitors passing through Lusk to stop by and begin to understand the rich natural history of Niobrara County, and especially for the local community and county to enjoy. It is with sadness in our hearts that on the morning of April 11, 2024, Todd passed away in Fort Collins.

His legacy will be honored in the future when the doors open to the Eastern Wyoming Nature Center. His vision will always be present.

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Last Updated: July 21, 2024
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