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The Natural History Museum of Utah’s Inaugural Natural History Explorer Corps Concludes with Two Sweepstakes Winners – Both Utahns!

Explorer Corps encouraged Utahns and tourists to visit location markers in every county

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


SALT LAKE CITY – September 15, 2021 – The Natural History Museum of Utah has declared two winners of its Race to 19 Sweepstakes; each will receive a free weeklong rental of a state-of-the-art Winnebago from Kellville Vans to redeem during summer 2022. The sweepstakes worked to increase awareness of and participation in the Natural History Explorer Corps, NHMU’s natural history adventure through every county in Utah.

Sweepstakes winner Barbara Tagoa’i of Midvale, UT, said, “I am so surprised and delighted to have won the van trip! I never thought that when I picked up a passport at the Ruth Taylor Library in Midvale that I would find myself at the Washington County marker in Confluence Park later that week, and entering the sweepstakes. Explorer Corps is such a great idea, and I will be more motivated than ever to find more markers next summer in the Kellville Winnebago!

Sandra Smeeding of Salt Lake City, the other winner, added to the excitement by saying, “I saw a sign for Explorer Corps while at the Natural History Museum of Utah this spring. I was intrigued and enthused by the concept. I am a world explorer who loves nature, and my children were raised with weekend camping trips throughout Utah and the Intermountain West. I was so surprised and excited to learn I had won the Race to 29! After I travel next summer in the luxury of the Winnebago van, it might be very hard to go back to my vintage Volkswagen Westfalia. But the important thing is getting out in nature, exploring this beautiful state – and finding interesting markers.”  

Explorer Corps by the numbers

From May 28 to September 6, 2021:

·       2,152 entered the Race to 29, with participants from 32 states – from Florida to Alaska – other than Utah.

·       More than 1100 people entered our 14 weekly social media giveaways.

·       As of Labor Day 2021, we have found at least 12 participants that made it to all 29 markers.

“We are simply thrilled to see how many people participated in Explorer Corps’ first year,” said Jason Cryan, executive director of the Natural History Museum of Utah. “Our goal was to provide an exciting way to encourage Utahns and visitors to get out and explore the natural beauty our state has to offer, and I think we’ve successfully accomplished that. We plan to take what we’ve learned this summer and continue to develop and promote the program next summer and in all of the summers to come.”

Explorer Corps planning began back in 2019 as NHMU commemorated its 50th anniversary, with a goal of honoring this state that is home to fascinating fossil discoveries, beautiful landscapes and varied environments. With the help of cross-sector partners such as O.C. Tanner, Big-D Construction, Cotopaxi, KÜHL, the State of Utah, the Utah State Library Division, the Utah Association of Counties, and Utah Symphony – the program proved itself. And with the big-ticket sweepstakes item in the form of a weeklong vehicle rental from Kellville Vans, it closes the summer with gusto.

“We were honored to be asked to support the museum in the Natural History Explorer Corps—exploration is in the nature of our business,” said Teisa Linscott of Kellville Vans. “There are so many adventures waiting to be discovered throughout the mountain west, and we can’t wait to see what kind of journey our vans take these winners on next summer!”

In all, NHMU’s Natural History Explorer Corps program included:

·       29 commemorative markers—one in every county—celebrating Utah’s natural history

·       Books and learning materials for every public and tribal library and bookmobile in the state

·       Natural history-themed summer programming for all ages

·       The Race to 29! and Explorer Corps weekly giveaways offering marker adventurers great prizes

·       An official Explorer Corps mobile app to help participants track their marker visits and compete in the Race to 29!

·       A printed Explorer Corps passport offering the same benefit to anyone without a mobile device

·       Program tie-ins with the Utah Symphony’s Forever Mighty concert series

While the Race to 29! concluded on September 6, each county’s marker will remain in place indefinitely and the museum is encouraging adventurers to continue to explore all of Utah’s counties and visit each marker. Not only that, but stay tuned for next summer for an even bigger celebration of Utah’s natural history. For more information on the program and to find out how to get involved, visit