We have heard the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. Stated another way, it takes collaboration to raise a child. Taking it one step farther, it takes collaboration to raise a child’s archaeological literacy! The Project Archaeology program in Missouri is a little like an orphan – no home, no parents, no means of support. It takes a lot of collaboration in order to provide workshops for educators.
As one of the state coordinators, I am always looking for organizations that will provide the location and the infrastructure to host a workshop. Since participants would be wary about writing a check to an unknown person for the workshop fee, I needed to find an entity that could manage the registration process and fee collection. This search first led me to the Jackson County, Missouri Parks + Rec. The county archaeologist, John Peterson, took a Project Archaeology workshop, and he was willing to make arrangements with the county to hold workshops at the Fort Osage National Historic Landmark. I have been very fortunate to have the support of John and his supervisors in hosting many workshops and handling the registrations.
Last year, we expanded our collaboration to include the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum and the National Park Service’s Harry S Truman National Historic Site. The shelter investigation we used in the workshop was the Tinsley Farmhouse. We broadened the study to include the farmhouse where Harry grew up in Grandview, MO. The Library provided presenters, the meeting room and lunches. The National Park Service provided presenters and tours of Harry’s home in Independence and the farmhouse in Grandview. The teachers loved the additional ways to incorporate Project Archaeology into the study of state and national history.
The Missouri Archaeological Society has collaborated with Project Archaeology by holding half-day workshops for society members and friends. Many archaeology contacts are made in informal settings, such as the Archaeology Day at parks, talks to Scout groups, career day talks, and Missouri Archaeology Month presentations. People who are not trained archaeologists or teachers are often hesitant to speak to children. Using Project Archaeology materials, over 35 people so far have received instruction in ways to engage children in archaeology.
Recently, in an example of bi-state collaboration, Virginia Wulfkuhle (Kansas state coordinator) and I met with the director and the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Museum of Prairiefire. This is a brand new museum that is currently being constructed on the Kansas side of the state line. Virginia and I were hoping to learn about their vision and mission to see if archaeology is included. To our delight, they seemed very receptive to incorporating archaeology into their Discovery Room activities as well as their teacher resources. They assured us that as the museum nears completion, they will contact us to make plans for Project Archaeology to be a part of the programming.
As I reflect on all the collaborations that have been made over the past seven years I have been involved in Project Archaeology, I am pleased and encouraged. Many people have volunteered their time to be guest speakers and provide resources to the workshop participants. Alumni of prior workshops have distributed registration forms and given the program great endorsements. Every year the “village” grows to include more people and organizations. Each one enriches the whole. A huge THANK YOU goes out to everyone involved in Project Archaeology in Missouri. You are helping to make this a strong, vibrant state program.
I would love to hear how others collaborate in their states. Comment below and share ideas that have been successful in your area?
by Gail Lundeen, Project Archaeology Missouri Coordinator