Augustana student Quintin Powers speaks at TEDYouth


Olivia Doak

On Wed., Jan. 16, sophomore Quintin Powers gave a youth TED talk at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, IA. During his TED talk he shared his passion for paleontology and challenged his audience to find their passion and follow it.

Susan Wolf is the curator and educational programs coordinator for the Fryxell Museum where Powers works. She talked about how his message is especially relevant at Augie: “I think that it is a great lesson for us at a liberal arts school, that it’s about finding your passion,” Wolf said. “It’s about doing something that you love that will make you happy in the end.”

Ever since he was a kid, Powers has had a love for paleontology. “I was the little kid who was obsessed with dinosaurs,” Powers said. “But instead of growing out of a dinosaur phase, my dinosaur phase grew.”

As he got older, Powers’ curiosity continued to grow. He described checking out books from the library, watching documentaries on TV, and trying to learn as much as he could about the subject.

His first experience with paleontology was when he went on a trip with the Illinois Geological Survey as a kid. On that trip, he found a fossil of a fern that sparked his passion and excitement for discovery.

Throughout high school, he continued to take science and geology courses. Then, when he came to Augustana, Powers knew he wanted to major in geology and was ready to immerse himself in it.

Last summer, Powers was one of two applicants selected nationwide to participate in an internship put on by the National Eagle Scout Association World Explorers Program, a five week program doing paleontology work for the Judith River Dino Institute in Montana.

After the internship, Powers was featured on KWQC news. The head of TEDYouth saw him on the news and reached out to him and requested he participate in giving a TED talk.

During his talk, Powers described his love for paleontology, what it can teach everyone and how important it is for everyone to follow their passion.

Sophomore Brady Fischer attended the event. “His big message was for people to find their passion and go for it fully and to help other people do so as well,” Fischer said.

Now, Powers is a teaching assistant for geology 112, a student proctor at the Fryxell Museum and a research assistant for Dr. Arkle, Assistant Professor of Geology at Augie.

“He has all the qualities you could hope for in someone who can cross over from being a scientist to someone who is an educator and that can share ideas with people,” Arkle said. “He’s charismatic and knowledgeable. He always wants to know more and is a really dynamic person.”

Going forward, Powers is on the lookout for more opportunities both while he is at school and over the summer. He is also looking to go to graduate school and pursue a career in paleontology.

“I want them to come away with a greater appreciation about the things we have learned about our earth and the things that lived before us and our perspective on the earth,” Powers said about what he wanted his TEDYouth audience to take away from his presentation. “I want them to help spread the word and inspire others with passion.”

To view Power’s TED talk see
Photo by Natalie McMillian.