Archaeology Close to Home

About two weeks after returning from British Columbia, my mom walked into my room with news that I had been voluntold (meaning told that I am volunteering) into giving a presentation on my trip to a group of middle school kids in two days.  So I threw together a Powerpoint and suited up in my SNAP 2015 t-shirt.  The kids were surprisingly attentive and asked good questions.
My hour-long commitment soon became three days of involvement with the week-long program run by the Newaygo County Museum.  Luanne Nelson, the program’s director, invited me to visit site the next day.  The group of approximately ten children was excavating at the site of a torn-down homestead near Hesperia with the help of Laura, a Forest Service archaeologist, and other adult volunteers.  When I arrived late Thursday morning, four units were in-progress scattered across the lot.  I helped one unit excavate out a piece of crumpled metal, as well as checked screens for several buckets of dirt.  Talking to the adults and from my own observation, the kids had not quite grasped the slow digging techniques needed – they would rather just dig dig dig, taking out rocks and artifacts as soon as they found them instead of carefully uncovering and documenting them.  However, while nowhere near as clean and precise as our units and paperwork were at SNAP, the kids definitely seemed to get a good intro to archaeology.  At least they knew that they weren’t digging for dinosaurs! A bit before noon, we began to close down the dig: taking pictures, drawing rudimentary profiles, and backfilling.  After packing up, the kids went to the library for research and discussion, while I headed home for lunch and a nap!
Friday was dedicated to presentation of the findings.  I arrived at the library in the afternoon to see the posters that the children had worked on during the morning.  Poster topics ranged from speculation on the function of artifacts to the difference between archaeologists and “treasure hunters.”  All of the artifacts were laid out for us to see.  It was interesting for me to see the difference between a historic site like theirs and a prehistoric site like SNAP.  They had many more artifacts, from chicken bones to square nails, from glazed ceramic fragments to door hinges.  Overall, I was very impressed with the children and excited to be part of such a wonderful program.  I hope to be able to volunteer again next year.

The Ocean County Press’s article with a few pictures from the final presentation:

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