Our History, Our New Journey



Project Archaeology is a national archaeology education program founded by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for educators and their students. It was developed in the early 1990s for three purposes: to develop awareness of our nation’s diverse and fragile archaeological sites, to instill a sense of personal responsibility for stewardship of these sites, and to enhance science literacy and cultural understanding through the study of archaeology.  The program began in Utah in 1990 as a statewide project to combat the vandalism and looting of archaeological sites. 

by Courtney Agenten, Leadership Team Chair

“Seeds are a phenomenon to me. Tiny forms of life that, when watered and exposed to rays of light, reach up, break through the soil, and grasp onto life. In steady persistence, their roots spread and anchor as they grow into towering trees, strong enough to climb.” – Sarah Dubbeldam, Darling Founder

SAMANTHA KIRKLEY, Operations/Professional Development Director | JEANNE MOE, Curriculum Director | COURTNEY AGENTEN, Network Director

Project Archaeology can be compared to a towering oak tree—once a tiny seed planted in rich soil, watered, and lit by a network of visionary archaeology educators. The soil was prepared in the late 1980s by an interagency group of archaeologists who recognized that education was the best way to protect cultural heritage over the long-term; law enforcement simply wasn’t enough. Project Archaeology was born; nourished by the knowledge, experience, and drive of thousands of archaeologists, indigenous community members, formal and informal educators, historic preservationists, museum educators, and many others who worked together to deliver high-quality, award-winning educational materials and professional development to teachers. It has sustained the passion to pursue a world in which all people understand and appreciate their own culture and history, and that of others for more than 30 years.

It was hard to watch as Project Archaeology was uprooted from its 20+ year home at Montana State University (MSU) last year. Similarly, while the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the lead federal agency since 1992, is stepping away from managing and administering the program, the agency remains committed to supporting the program. Even though our MSU branch has broken off and BLMs role has changed, other partners have and will be grafted to continue transforming classrooms into communities of student archaeologists who connect culture to their own lives and desire to protect our past.

Rather than seeing years of successful work withered and abandoned, the Project Archaeology Leadership Team advised that the National Program be transplanted to two outstanding, new partners, Southern Utah University (SUU) and the Institute for Heritage Education (IHE), who can revitalize, rebuild, manage, and support the program and its distribution network. The Leadership Team, an advisory board comprised of archeologists, teachers, and indigenous members of our state programs, has expanded its role to direct the program in a proactive effort to maintain the vision, identity, and reputation of Project Archaeology.

Utah Project Archaeology Coordinator and previous Leadership Team member, Samantha Kirkley, enthusiastically

Meet the Staff

The Project Archaeology National Program consists of directors and staff, a leadership team, and a diverse network of archaeology educators that provide leadership, guidance, and support.


Samantha Kirkley, Professional Development Director, Utah Coordinator



Courtney Agenten, Network Director, Leadership Team Chair, Minnesota Coordinator

Four Key Components



Project Archaeology is Composed of Four Integral Components: High-quality grade-level and regionally appropriate curricular materials. Professional development for formal and informal educators. Continuing professional support. A national network of archaeology educators. We are a National Network Project Archaeology operates through a national network of state and regional programs. These programs offer local workshop and institutes for educators; experiences for school groups and family learners at archaeological sites, museums, and visitor centers; and continuing support for Project Archaeology teachers.

“The hands on activities and the knowledge of the subject matter. This was a great workshop and I feel that it can be modified for any grade. Awesome!” - Teacher

Project Archaeology is Composed of Four Integral Components:

  1. High-quality grade-level and regionally appropriate curricular materials.
  2. Professional development for formal and informal educators.
  3. Continuing professional support.
  4. A national network of archaeology educators.


Participation Opportunities



PROJECT ARCHAEOLOGY PARTICIPANTS DISCOVER THE SCIENCE OF ARCHAEOLOGY THROUGH: lesson plans that teach basic concepts and principles; the expertise of professional archaeologists; discussions of the need to preserve and protect sites and artifacts; and consideration of Native American and other cultural perspectives on archaeological preservation.


Guidance For Planning A New State, Local, Or Regional Project Archaeology Program

Guidance For Maintaining An Existing Project Archaeology Program.

Download Project Archaeology Guidelines (.pdf)

"My students came away from this unit with the feeling that they had made significant advances in their ability to reason
and the data and feedback that I recorded showed that they were correct."  - Teacher, Hot Springs, MT



Check Out What Others Think of Project Archaeology

Project Archaeology is a national leader in archaeology education and provides a way for federal agencies to fulfill Section 106 compliance goals. Project Archaeology develops and distributes high-quality education products in conjunction with Section 106 projects and delivers them to educators through professional development. The national reach of the program ensures wide-spread distribution of products. Because Project Archaeology is a permanent national program, new products will be distributed through the National Network of State and Regional Project Archaeology programs, through the Internet and direct sales to educators.

"When the Common Core was adopted, we were told that we were not expected to broaden the amount of material being taught, but we were to add more depth. Project Archaeology gives me all sorts of ways to deepen the curriculum for my students. It’s an added bonus that I’m positive they will really enjoy learning it."


"This is by far the best workshop I have attended in a very long time. Not only did I learn new lessons to teach, but I am so excited that I can integrate them right into reading, writing, and math."


"Project Archaeology helped me explore and process traditional Dine' teachings and taboos about death and "Ancient Ones" who left artifacts, and messages on rock walls. Instead of being afraid of archaeological sites, like I used to be, I have changed my perspective and try to compare and correlate these two world views. There are still things I avoid, because of my tribal teachings, but some I can work through."


"Wow, I already have plans for your curriculum! I love it! During our PIR days, our school had two main objectives – Incorporating Native American studies across the curriculum, and writing. Your work covers BOTH…Our theme for the month of September is a “persuasive” paper. I have been struggling to come up with a meaningful topic for sixth graders… until now. This is perfect and so meaningful and relevant to our study of ancient civilizations…my recent exposure to the Anzick site has touched me deeply and inspired me to learn more! I’m truly excited about what lies ahead, and am so grateful for your collection of work that you have shared with me and other educators."


“Project Archaeology is a perfect vehicle for fulfilling the public outreach obligation for Section 106 treatment plans. What better way to reach a wide audience than providing teachers with hands-on experience to take back to their students? Metcalf Archaeology’s engagement with Project Archaeology was one of the best decisions we have made. Not only has it been good for the teachers, it has forced us to think about our work in a manner that enables better communication with the public at large.”

-Michael D. Metcalf, Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc.

“I think that archaeologists understand the importance of public outreach but

Strategic Plan



We envision a world in which all people understand and appreciate their own culture and history and the culture and history of others.

We join UNESCO in the belief that the protection of cultural heritage (a broad term which includes archaeological sites), as an expression of living culture, contributes to the development of societies and the building of peace.

Project Archaeology uses archaeological inquiry to foster understanding of past and present cultures; improve social studies, science, and literacy education; and enhance citizenship education to help preserve our archaeological legacy.