Friday, August 26, 2011

The Value of Volunteers

Volunteers at Fort Hunter Mansion & Park

V is for village, Vinette, Venango, value and volunteer. Volunteers and value go together when you refer to the incredible crew of volunteers in the Section of Archaeology at The State Museum. Our dedicated crew ranges in age from sixteen to sixty plus and bring a wide array of skills with them. We currently have fifteen volunteers that assist us in the lab area of the Section and an additional twenty some volunteers for our field excavations and public programs.

Charlie helping with our public archaeology program at Fort Hunter

Volunteers contributed just less than nine-hundred and fifty hours to the Section for the period of January thru June 30th of this year. Put that in terms of a 7.5 hour day and you have 127 days of labor. We have a very small staff here and this contribution to our program is amazing. Volunteers help with recording site bags/tags, sorting artifacts, washing artifacts, labeling, data entry, mapping and the list goes on and on.
Clydene and Merikay, two of our expert labelers

They help us organize the file documentation for archaeological projects, scan slides and photographs into digital formats, rehouse collections into archivally stable materials, organize the many manuscripts and reports generated with archaeological investigations and generally help in whatever task we need. These are all projects that occur in the lab, we still have the volunteers that help us with programming and field work.

Lindsey in the lab carefully labeling artifacts

In the field our volunteers have shown us the merits of shop vac’s on cleaning up units for photographs, provided survey skills, taken photographs, skillfully drawn and recorded profiles and features. Our volunteers bring such enthusiasm to the shaker screens that we are assured that every artifact will be scoped out and recovered.

Some of our enthusiastic screeners
        Brad's smile says it all

They are careful and thorough at excavating archaeological sites and often offer a different perspective when we are attempting to identify artifacts. Their wide array of skill sets come from their diverse life experiences. We can count retired school teachers, engineering technicians, office managers, secretaries, and students in our circle of volunteers.
Charlie with a rehousing project

Andi lending a hand in the field
Sheila mapping our excavation at Fort Hunter in CAD

We often encounter folks that say they always wanted to be an archaeologist, but never had the opportunity. We encourage them to come visit us at our public excavation at Fort Hunter or come into our lab and spend some time with us. This is how many of our volunteers have come to us. Many folks that thought they would like archaeology found out that they didn’t like the tedious, less glamorous tasks that come with the profession. We have been fortunate to have a core group of dedicated volunteers that have seen us through a building move, multiple personnel changes, and several computer upgrades. Our newest volunteer has just been with us a few weeks and our longest term is sixteen years. Pretty impressive! Please join us this week in recognizing and celebrating the letter V and our Valuable Volunteers.

                            Thanks to all of our Volunteers!

                        The following is a partial list of our many dedicated volunteers

        Merikay             Lindsey            Dana            Barry                 Jake

         Andi                 Ande                Jerry              Joel                 Kathy

        Toni                  Sid                   Kim               Shellie              Taylor

        Clydene            Melanie            Parker            Becky            William

       Stephanie          Jeanne               Steve             Marlee             Dave

          Brad              Harmony           Addison         Mary Pat          Phil

         Charlie              Greg                   Aaron            Les                  Robert

        Sheila               Wes                   Michelle         Scott                Elizabeth

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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