On Tuesday, the Natural History Museum of Utah announced their Natural History Explorer Corps to highlight natural and cultural history across Utah’s 29 counties which will launch on Memorial Day weekend.

The Natural History Museum of Utah was established in 1963 and is one of the leading scientific research and cultural institutions in the country. The museum’s collections showcase 1.6 million objects and programming for thousands of residents and visitors annually, with an expected attendance of 300,000 visitors per year.

O.C. Tanner, an employee recognition and engagement company founded in Utah in 1927, has created custom markers for each county to celebrate Utah’s unique history. After each marker was created, Big-D Construction traversed the state — driving nearly 6,000 miles — to place each county’s marker. Utahns and tourists are encouraged to seek out the markers and thus explore the diversity and richness of each county, and ultimately the state as a whole.

“Our company has a long history of commemorating events in Utah and now we get to celebrate our home state, itself,” said Dave Peterson, the chief operating officer at O.C. Tanner, in a statement. “Our design for the state markers was inspired by elements like the Beehive state, the Museum’s 50th anniversary and the actual location and its unique qualities. We are excited to have locals start finding their county’s marker and look forward to continuing this partnership throughout the summer and beyond.”

The Explorer Corps is the result of collaboration across state and county leadership as well as librarians, historians and museum staff. “County commissioners, councilmembers, tourism directors and our staff know all too well the role that tourism plays in our local economies — and how the last 18 months or so have hit us hard,” said Jared Andersen, the county commissioner for Morgan County. “I believe [the] Explorer Corps can be another tool in our toolkit to make sure our county and our local communities are strong, and encourage everyone to get back out there this summer.”

The Natural History Museum of Utah has been planning this program since 2019, when the museum celebrated its 50th anniversary. Given Utah’s myriad and diverse features — dinosaur fossils, pioneer settlements, Native American history, desert landscapes and mountain passes — much planning and thought went into each county’s unique marker. Despite setbacks due to the pandemic, the museum was able to foster additional partnerships to bring the program to life.

“We are beyond thrilled to roll out the Natural History Explorer Corps program, which has been designed to encourage and support learning about and visiting 29 off-the-beaten-path wonders in Utah,” said Jason Cryan, the Natural History Museum of Utah’s executive director. “It’s also a great way to encourage our friends and neighbors in Utah to safely get back out there in the spirit of education, adventure, and friendly competition.”

The Natural History Explorer Corps program also features books for libraries across the state, natural history-themed summer programming, the “Race to 29!” contest, an Explorer Corps mobile app to help participants track their visits and an Explorer Corps passport. Those participating in the “Race to 29!” and weekly Explorer Corps giveaways can win various prizes throughout the summer. The challenge began on Tuesday, May 25 and will continue until Labor Day.