(September 29, 2021)—It’s the end of September, and our Preservation Archaeology Field School students and staff have had plenty of time to settle back into our accustomed surroundings after an action-packed summer. Our energetic student alumni kept right on working when they returned home, some returning to their colleges and professional settings and some in new roles.
Some even found new jobs in archaeology immediately: London Booker, Lewis Dolmas, and Gabby Pfleger began working as professional archaeologists at Cultural Resource Management (CRM) firms this summer, and Taylor Cole started a new position with the National Park Service. Some of our staff got to see Gabby recently when we had the opportunity to visit a project she is now working on in the Phoenix area. Interactions with professional visitors and colleagues from CRM firms, government agencies, academic institutions, and other places this past summer are already helping these students make more informed choices about their career paths and their research interests.
Over the years, I’ve loved following along as many students kept working on topics they initially explored in their summer research projects for our Archaeology Fair or during other parts of the field school curriculum. Students have taken these interests in exciting directions I’d never have thought of, developing new ideas in conference posters, undergraduate theses, and even a Fulbright scholarship project. Our 2021 students did some great projects—you can see summaries of their work here. Once again, several are already starting to extend these projects into larger research studies now that they’ve returned home.
It strikes me how many of these student research projects and interests were inspired by visits and guest lectures by outside speakers, many of whom volunteer their time to drive long distances to interact with our field school. Past students have decided to pursue research and sometimes even graduate studies in fields like paleoethnobotany, historical archaeology, archaeometry, geoarchaeology, and applied anthropology after a pivotal visit with a guest speaker. I watched that happen again this summer as students’ eyes were opened to new specialties by guest speakers (in person and on Zoom this year) who shared their passion for their fields of expertise. We had to change some aspects of our usual visits with outside speakers a bit this year due to COVID, but I’m very happy we found ways to enable many meaningful interactions.
Thank you to our wonderful 2021 guest speakers Kenny Bowekaty (Zuni Visitor Center and Zuni Cultural Resource Enterprise), Tessa Branyan (Desert Archaeology Inc), Kim Pasqual Charlie (Pueblo of Acoma), Mike Diehl (Desert Archaeology, Inc.), Samuel Fayuant (Tohono O’odham Cultural Affairs), Jeff Ferguson (University of Missouri Research Reactor), Gary Huckleberry (University of Arizona), Mary Ownby (Desert Archaeology, Inc.), Paul Reed (Archaeology Southwest), Stacy Ryan (Archaeology Southwest), Homer Thiel (Desert Archaeology, Inc.), and Andy Ward (Andy Ward’s Ancient Pottery).
Thanks also to the many colleagues who made time for informal discussions with our students this summer, including Father Bill (Mission San Xavier del Bac); Leslie Aragon and Tyler Theriot (Desert Archaeology, Inc.); Diane Austin, Kelsey Hanson, and Barbara Mills (University of Arizona); Martha Cooper (the Nature Conservancy); Greg Conlin and Marilyn Markel (Grant County Archaeology Society); Cannon Daughtry (Pima County Cultural Resources and Preservation); Belinda Mollard, Chris Adams, Chris Euler, and Jared Renaud (Gila National Forest); and Stephen Uzzle (Statistical Research Inc.). Your visits may feel short, but they have truly lasting impacts.
Guest speaker interactions were made possible in part by our new field camp internet connection sponsored by a generous donor, and by Archaeology Southwest members and friends. Desert Archaeology, Inc., is especially supportive of its many staff members who make time to visit and connect with our students each year. Thank you!