Summer 2023 was a great one for K-12 educator workshops across the country!

National program staff, network members, and state coordinators held workshops in Kansas, Nevada, Colorado, and Minnesota this year, where 41 educators and heritage education professionals left equipped to successfully lead Project Archaeology investigations and activities in their classrooms and informal learning environments. Read on to learn more about each of these workshops and get inspired to lead or attend a workshop of your own in 2024! 

Little House on the Prairie in Minnesota, July 2023

In July, eight educators from Minnesota, Texas, California, Michigan, and Florida traveled to the prairies of Minnesota for a two-day summer workshop led by Courtney Agenten and Samantha Kirkley. Teachers connected literature to the past through a Project Archaeology shelter investigation of the Tinsley Farmhouse in the historical setting of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series: Mankato and Walnut Grove, MN.

Educators visited the Blue Earth County History Center, where they learned about shelter and how archaeologists study the past, traveled to the Ingalls Dugout home site near Walnut Grove, and explored the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum – all while engaging in hands-on learning experiences that opened their eyes to the power of archaeological inquiry in engaging with the past. And, no workshop would be complete without a delicious cast iron meal of BBQ chicken, potatoes, and peach cobbler cooked over an open fire!

A hot topic of discussion at the workshop was the censorship of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books in some of the school districts. The workshop’s guest speaker, Dean Jean Boreen, PhD from Southern Utah University, shared some insight into how to approach the literary themes and challenges of Wilder’s books, noting that student’s feeling tension in a book is a good teachable moment. Boreen noted that “We don’t need to give up reading these wonderful books, but we do need to contextualize these stories within the events occurring during the time period; the charm of the books and Laura’s view of her world are important for our students to experience today.”

Thank you to the Institute for Heritage Education for helping fund the workshop.

Archaeology of Shelter and Migration in Kansas, June 2023

The Archaeology of Shelter and Migration in Kansas, hosted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Kansas Anthropological Association, took place on June 12-13, 2023 at the Historic Lake Scott State Park west of Scott City, Kansas. The workshop, led by Jann Rudkin, Virginia Wulfkuhle, and Gail Lundeen, introduced six informal educators to the Project Archaeology: Investigating a Pawnee Earthlodge curriculum, as well as the Investigating A Midwestern Wickiup, Great Basin Wickiup, and supplemental resources. Participants also had the opportunity to interact with the Kansas-specific migration unit, Migration of Pueblo People to El Cuartelejo.

Educators also had the unique opportunity to hear from guest speaker Mike Wallen, who shared a different perspective from that featured in the Migration of Pueblo People to El Cuartelejo, and tour both the archaeological site of El Cuartelejo and the Herbert and Eliza Steele House.

The workshop was a great success in helping provide informal educators with “different and better methods for presenting historical, especially Santa Fe Trail-related, content to adults and children.” Thank you to the Institute for Heritage Education for helping fund the workshop.

Investigating the Puzzle House Pueblo in Colorado, July 2023

From July 18-20, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument hosted 12 educators from across Southwestern Colorado to explore the Investigating Shelter and Puzzle House Curriculum. Teachers joined archaeologists in the field at Lowry Pueblo to learn more about Ancestral Puebloan communities across the landscape, met with tribal members to learn about cultural sensitivities, participated in hands-on classroom activities at the museum, and explored curated artifacts in curation as part of a 3 day educator workshop. Each year, Canyons of the Ancients National Visitor Center and Museum strives to provide workshops and resources to educators across the country.

To learn more about the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum, visit:

Investigating Shelter and Investigating a Great Basin Wickiup, Nevada, June 2023

In mid-June, fifteen educators gathered at the Bureau of Land Management’s California Trail Interpretive Center (CITC) outside Elko, Nevada, for a three-day Project Archaeology (PA) professional development workshop for teachers, organized and managed by the Institute for Heritage Education. Master Project Archaeology Teachers Samantha Kirkley, Virgil Johnson (a member of the Goshute Tribe), and Jeanne Moe modeled instruction for two PA curricula (Investigating Shelter and Investigating a Great Basin Wickiup), and Leah Brady, of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone, showed teachers the connections between the archaeological record and the contemporary lives of Indigenous peoples.

A site visit to the South Fork Rockshelter sites near Elko illustrated an important shelter type in the area, and the instructors demonstrated there how to conduct field learning with students. Mr. Johnson, who is knowledgeable about Indigenous subsistence practices, showed participants how the inhabitants of the rockshelters would have gathered food and raw materials from the surrounding landscape.

By the close of the workshop, the fifteen teachers were prepared to lead these investigations successfully in the classroom, fostering respect among their students for cultural resources on public lands and an understanding of the importance of protecting those resources.

A big thanks to the Institute for Heritage Education, the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Gold Mines, the Te-Moak Tribe, and the enthusiastic Elko-area teachers for a great workshop!

Ready to plan your own workshop? Get in touch with us. We can’t wait to hear from you.

A special thanks to Courtney Agenten, Virginia Wulfkuhle, Amala Posey-Monk, and Jeanne Moe for providing the content and images for this month’s blog post!