Inspiration Awards

Celebrity Winner

John R. Horner

Jack Horner

John "Jack" Horner is living his childhood dream. At the age of eight, not only did Jack live, eat, and breathe dinosaurs, he actually discovered his first dinosaur fossil. Today, Dr. Horner is a world-renowned paleontologist, curator at Montana's Museum of the Rockies, discoverer of the world's largest Tyrannosaurus rex to date and technical advisor to Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park series.

The path to success was an obstacle course for Horner. He was not a top student during his school years in Shelby, Montana. His high school grade point average loomed in the D range. He didn't fail at science projects, though. Horner was an ace in science classes, which he attributes to his unique ability to "hunt, poke, and dig-around." A senior high school project he conducted caught the eye of a geology professor at Montana State University. He decided to go there the following year. Several attempts at college found him failing – again. Somehow he had the perseverance to take all the geology and zoology courses needed to embark on a career as a paleontologist. His first job was at Princeton University's Natural History Museum as a paleontologist. At Princeton, he came across a sign in large print that asked the question that plagued him his entire life: Is reading difficult? He rushed to the office on campus that offered screening for people who found reading difficult and discovered the answer he had been looking for. It was dyslexia.

Jack Horner

Following a seven-year stint at Princeton, Horner moved back home to Montana to become Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. He has made some amazing dinosaur discoveries, including finding a new dinosaur he and a colleague named Maiasaura, which means good mother lizard. Horner has also written extensively on dinosaur behavior, physiology, ecology and evolution and has been featured in numerous magazines and on television. Horner's latest book, Dinosaurs Under the Big Sky, is an essential read for all who are curious about the life of dinosaurs that roamed Montana.

Even after years of struggling in school, Horner was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, known as the "genius" grant. He also earned honorary doctorates from the University of Montana and Pennsylvania State University. His hard work and dedication are a true inspiration for other children and adults who are dyslexic, but know in their hearts that they, too, can be a success and live their dreams. Horner attributes his success to "my mother in particular, and some teachers [who] were very supportive and made paths for me while others created barriers that I had to learn to get over and around. Both were equally important."

To learn more on Dr. Jack Horner, his dinosaur discoveries, and research, go to museumoftherockies.org.

Articles by Jack Horner


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