Victoria Bowler, University of New Mexico
Since graduating with an Anthropology degree three years ago, I have been putting off graduate school and roaming to and from National Park Service sites in the Southwest. My seasonal nomadic employment has supplied me with so many friends and networks and a glimpse into a possible lifetime career in cultural resource protection and preservation. I have spent the past year working at Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, and Fort Bowie National Historic Site as an Archeological Technician, studying and monitoring prehistoric and historic sites. My interest in archaeology has only grown as I learn more about artifacts and cultures in the Southwest.
In January, I was accepted in the Public Archaeology graduate program at the University of New Mexico. Realizing I would soon be leaving my adventurous (almost terrifying and unpredictable) way of life, I chose to attend the University of Arizona/ Archaeology Southwest Preservation Archaeology Field School as a way to transition myself back into academia. This field school has found a way to provide students with a curriculum that balances academic interests in archaeology and practical applications in career choices themed on preservation and public outreach and education.
Although I have only been at Mule Creek for four weeks, my knowledge of pottery and flaked stone has increased tremendously, and I am much more confident about starting graduate school this fall. I really enjoyed our group visits to Acoma and Zuni Pueblos, as well as Chaco Culture National Historic Park, El Morro National Monument, and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. One of my very first volunteer experiences with the National Park Service was at Gila Cliff Dwellings, and it was incredible to revisit the site with a new basis of knowledge about the people who lived there.
Before the Preservation Archaeology Field School, my mind was made up on a career in the National Park Service, protecting and interpreting archeological sites for the public. Our class visit to Chaco included a day-long tour by Paul Reed, a Preservation Archaeologist at Archaeology Southwest. Reed provided so much information that wasn’t available in the NPS interpretation for park visitors, and I couldn’t believe how much insight he had. My interests had been really focused on preserving sites for the past few years, but I never considered a career in archeological research, and the opportunity to possibly contribute to the field. I feel as if I have been bitten by a research bug! I cannot wait to return to school and find my place in archaeology, as a park ranger or a contract archaeologist.