If there were to be a poster family for ZiNj, it would be the Martinez family of Salt Lake City, a vibrant, close-knit group, all of whom place a premium on education. The parents, Neff and Ann, and their articulate children, Lydia, 13, Samuel, 11, and Jesse, 6, have been interested in ZiNj for over a year.

Because Jesse is not yet 7, he has not been as involved with ZiNj as the other children, but his day will come. Even now, he says he likes "fossils, insects, puppet dinosaurs and footprints."Neff, originally from Illinois, and Ann, from California, met at Brigham Young University. After graduation, Neff, who has always been interested in ancient history, worked in state government as a budget analyst.

His knowledge of the budgetary process and his experience on the hill made him a natural advocate for ZiNj. He knew key legislators and felt comfortable approaching them to lobby for "something that would not line my pockets."

Neff is now employed in computer networking at Fidelity Investments, and Ann is a full-time homemaker who energetically volunteers in schools and the community.

When the family heard about ZiNj, they were very excited.

About a year ago, Lydia's sixth-grade teacher asked her to pursue an archaeological project. Ann worried that they didn't know enough about the subject, but a friend suggested calling Kevin Jones. So Lydia called him and just chatted about her project.

"He said I sounded really smart and interested in it, and he asked if I wanted to get involved in ZiNj."

The conversation proved to Ann that "education is not just a classroom atmosphere - it is finding someone else interested in the subject - a mentor. And ZiNj responds easily to kids' phone calls."

At the time, recalls Neff, ZiNj was "just a baby. Kevin thought Lydia was a good candidate for the `real' advisory board. When they talked with Lydia, Samuel also expressed an interest, so we arranged for him to meet them, too."

Ann is impressed with the magazine "because it explores ancient history, and there is a richness of ancient history in this state." As a family, they've been able to go out in the field and investigate various topics and "learn together as a family. Last summer, we were at Mesa Verde and asking the rangers about what we found."

Samuel has warm memories of interviewing the rangers, who taught them "how the Indians made their things, how they keep it so it will be there longer. They excavate and then rebuild it the way it was when they found it. It's interesting how their waterways work. They were really smart, because they built things in the cliff. They could see someone through this little hole. They had a pretty good security system."

Neff and Ann talked with the children before they went on the trip about what they would ask. They came up with about 40 questions.

But Lydia remembers that they didn't write anything down. "We just talked about them. I liked it how our parents encouraged us to be independent. They wouldn't go with us when we interviewed the head ranger and the archaeologist. They encouraged Samuel and me to go by ourselves, so we would have to think for ourselves."

Neff and Ann are happy that the ZiNj staff really cares about children. Ann says, "I'm impressed that Lydia and Kevin understand children and don't make them talk in a voice that is not their own." Neff is convinced they help kids to "think in a scientific way."

Although she was surprised at how much work it was, Lydia still speaks with excitement about her trip to Anaheim to present a scientific paper at the meeting of archaeologists. She enjoyed getting to know two kids from Colorado and one from North Dakota, as well as those from Utah who traveled to the meeting.

Now she is certain she wants to be an archaeologist. "I'm the kind of person who wants to be in the dirt. I've also thought about teaching in a university or a high school about archaeology."

Samuel would like to be either an archaeologist or a journalist who writes about archaeology and paleontology. "I like writing."

Part of the reason for that, say both Lydia and Samuel, is that the ZiNj staff encourages them to go for whatever interests them. "Except it has to be what the magazine is about," adds Samuel.

Lydia did an article for ZiNj based on her interview with Ariana Richards and Joey Mazzello, two child actors from the movie "Jurassic Park." Lydia says the interview was "every interviewer's nightmare. Joey would just say `Yes,' and that was all! Ariana just talked and talked. She was great."

Finishing the project was satisfying for Lydia. "It's fun watching an article come together. It's a great feeling to finally see it published."

According to Samuel, doing the interviews and the research "inspires you to write better. Adults often don't have time for you. But if you can ask good questions, they will listen. You should use complicated words. The ZiNj people make you feel like an adult. It's nice to know other people around the nation are reading your work."

Lydia not only keeps in touch with other kids she has met through ZiNj, but she has adult friends, too - "and they talk to me as if I'm an adult."

Samuel is especially happy that "ZiNj people will not tell you that something is not a good idea. It feels really good inside."

Lydia said, "It helps us to talk to people we've never even met before. We're getting experiences talking in public. I talked to a legislative committee to help get funding for ZiNj. In Anaheim, I was spokes-person for the group, and so I got up first!"

Samuel said, "I used to be scared to talk to adults. Then I had this experience, and I thought, `This is not so bad - it's like talking to another kid!' "