About the Tate | Casper College, Wyoming

About the Tate


We are part of Casper College in Casper, Wyoming. The Casper College address is 125 College Drive, but that is the whole college. If you try to find us with Google Maps, you might end up a half mile away. We are actually on Lisco Drive, which is only a bit better.  Additionally, our entrance road from Casper Mountain Road is not even on Google Maps.

Follow these directions:

The following directions are based on the Google Maps version of "125 College Drive": From the base of Casper College, get onto Casper Mountain Road and go south (uphill). Go through the stoplight (wait for it to turn green), continue uphill (south), past the road to the right that leads into the college and then take the next road on the right. The Tate Museum is right in front of you, a bit to the right. Look for the life size T. rex statue in front of the museum.

The Tate Geological Museum


The Tate Geological Museum was founded in 1980 through a gift from Marion and Inez Tate. It was originally designated as the Tate Earth Science Center and Mineralogical Museum. Because ‘geological' encompasses earth science, mineralogy and paleontology, the name was changed to the Tate Geological Museum in 2001.

Located on the Casper College campus, the museum is a great resource to the community. Many local schools and groups come to the museum to add to their students learning experience.

One of a minute number of geology and paleontology museums in Wyoming, the Tate houses a collection of over 6000 fossil and mineral specimens. Museum staff are always on hand to answer questions, help identify items visitors bring in, and make your visit to the museum an enjoyable experience. The Tate is certainly a great addition to anyone's list of 'must see sites' when traveling through Wyoming.

Museum Staff

photo of five Tate Museum employees

Patti Wood Finkle
Director of Museums

Patti Wood Finkle is the Director of Museums at Casper College, overseeing the Tate Geological Museum and the Werner Wildlife Museum. She graduated from Texas Tech University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Museum Science, with a focus on exhibits and collections. Her undergraduate degree in Anthropology is from Texas A&M University where she focused on the curation of archaeological collections. Patti has helped the museums update old exhibits and install new ones, most notably the Pleistocene exhibit, featuring Dee the Mammoth and the Taxidermy exhibit at the Werner. While teaching Collections Management is one of the ways that she stays current in the museum field, she is also active with Mountain-Plains Museums Association. She is a past board member,  and is the current chair of the MPMA Scholarship Committee.

Russell Hawley
Education Specialist

Russell graduated from the University of Colorado in 1991 with a degree in fine art. His artwork has appeared in the America's Smithsonian anniversary traveling exhibition, in "Islands in the Cosmos: The Evolution of Life on Land" by Dr. Dale A. Russell, in "Oceans of Kansas" by Michael Everhart, and several issues of Prehistoric Times magazine. Aside from being the Tate Geological Museum's Educational Specialist, Russel also gives tours, writes articles for the museum newsletter, and produces illustrations for the museum displays.

J.P. Cavigelli
Field/Prep Coordinator

J.P. is the Field Operations Specialist, Collections Manager and Prep Lab Manager for the museum. JP came to Casper in 2004 from Laramie. Before coming to the Tate, he worked on and off in paleontology for 14 years, doing field work as well as a two year post as the collections manager for the University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics. He has had the good fortune of having been invited to join international paleontological expeditions to Mongolia, Niger (twice), Tanzania (twice), northern Alaska and North Dakota. In his spare time JP collects fossils, watches birds and plays hockey.

Vivian Coates
Gift Shop

Vivian has broad experience in non-profit administration, with a focus on museum front desk operations and gift shop management. Her work experience includes several years as Director of Museum Stores for the Colorado Historical Society, and also working at other regional museums in Wyoming and Colorado. She has an engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.

Nicholas Kovacs
Gift Shop


Nicholas Kovacs graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management.
He worked as a wildlife biologist for six years before moving to Casper in 2017. He also worked as a
laboratory technician caring for and treating bats with white-nose syndrome. Nicholas is an assistant at
the Tate Geological Museum and the Werner Wildlife Museum.

Dr. Kent Sundell
Tate Geological Museum Curator
Geology Instructor

Geology allows Dr. Sundell to be outdoors and apply a broad knowledge of science (chemistry, physics, biology, math) towards a better understanding of our Earth. From the historical and esoteric (paleontology, plate tectonics, paleomagnetism, climate change) to the practical application of finding a high paying job (oil, gas, and mineral exploration, geophysics, geochemistry, geohydrology, environmental geology), geology makes life fun and mentally stimulating.

Melissa Connely
Tate Geological Museum Curator
Earth Science Instructor and Klaenhammer Earth Science Chair

Melissa has been a student of Earth Science all her life. She joined the Tate Geological Museum crew in 1992 as a volunteer while going to school full time. She has worked her way up from being a volunteer, lab manager, geology instructor, and Director to Curator. Melissa loves to discover new things and promotes an appreciation for the natural world. She has a Master's Degree in Geology with an emphasis in stratigraphy and paleoecology. She has worked in the field for 16 years with various institutions. Although she has a special fondness for sauropods, she delights in the study of any rock or fossil and shares that enthusiasm with her students and colleagues.