Jaye Smith, Team Lead, Robinson Collection Project, Archaeology Southwest
(April 18, 2023) Volunteerism—My first blog on this subject was written for Archaeology Southwest in 2016 as I was finishing up my first stint working with Preservation Archaeologist Aaron Wright on the Lower Gila River Ethnographic and Archaeological Project. In that blog, I talked about the intrinsic benefits of volunteerism and the privileges of working with a great team.
This is also true for the Robinson Collection Project, launched in 2018 and celebrating its 5th year. Our team assists the Arizona State Museum (ASM) repository by undertaking inventory and documentation of and preliminary research on the collection. As of this writing, the Robinson Project Team has inventoried and documented over 139 curation boxes filled with various artifact types, as well as all funerary and perishable objects stored at the ASM, comprising tens of thousands of individual objects. More than 30 volunteers have contributed their valuable time and knowledge to the Project.
With this being National Volunteer Appreciation week, I thought it would be interesting to enumerate the actual “value” of the Robinson Project Team during 2022. As a full-time “working” (non-paid) avocational for the Society for American Archaeology and Archaeology Southwest, my bias on this subject is obvious: I believe all volunteers/avocationals within the science, and especially those who assist experienced archaeologists with their research endeavors, “make the world go ‘round.” Without the dedicated volunteers who assist with site monitoring and protection, and those who work tirelessly contributing to the activities necessary for operating successful non-profit state archaeological societies, the academy’s efforts to preserve, protect, and engage would be greatly limited.
In their annual report entitled “Value of Volunteer Time,” Independent Sector, a national membership organization that “brings together a diverse community of changemakers, nonprofits, foundations, and corporations,” estimated that each hour of volunteer time has an estimated national value of $29.95 per hour. Independent Sector then estimates a state hourly value based on the average earnings of private sector workers in that particular state, excluding those who work on farms or in managerial occupations. For Arizona, that value is $28.00 per hour expended.
During the 2022 Project season, the Robinson Team expended 1877.5 hours sorting and washing sherds, conducting preliminary documentation and research, and updating newly created data for transfer to ASM’s collection data base. In addition, Lance K. Trask logged 682 hours photographing Robinson Collection objects and editing these photos for public presentation and archival storage. Therefore, we can calculate that the “value” of the Robinson Project team to ASM and Archaeology Southwest during the 2022 lab sessions is $71,666.00 (2559.5 hours x $28.00 per hour.)
Not too shabby! But of course, in my opinion, our Team is priceless…