Integrating Archaeology Into Natural Resource Education and Service Programs


The following examples demonstrate the collaboration between archaeologists and adult volunteers in the growing movement of natural resource and service programs.

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Master  naturalist, watershed steward, certified citizen naturalist volunteer, woodland steward, master conservationist.....


Naturalists and avocational archaeologists join together to conduct a posthole survey of a nature preserve in Illinois.
Photo by Alice Berkson.


These citizen science programs share the goal of developing a corps of well-informed volunteers  to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Many comunities rely upon such citizen volunteers for implementing education programs, operating parks, nature centers and natural areas, and for providing leadership in local natural resoruce conservation efforts.

While they have a strong interest in stewardship of nearby natural resources, participants are often unaware of the cultural resources that hold the history of human impact on the environment. 

Archaeologists are now working with nearby programs to offer class presentations, workshops, and site tours as part of the initial training or continuing education in Master Naturalist and similar programs. This fosters increased knowledge of cultural resources for those who are actively working on public lands in restoration and stewardship projects, and can lead into archaeology stewardship programs.

Natural resource education and service programs offer great potential for public archaeology because the participants are already passionate about stewardship of local natural resources. Archaeologists can capture that enthusiasm by demonstrating that cultural resources are an integral part of the landscape they seek to nurture.

For background information on integrating archaeology into natural resource programs, see Alice Berkon's article “Talking to Tree Huggers in the January 2009 issue of the SAA Archaeological Record

The Office of the State Archaeologist at the Univeristy of Iowa  has developed training for the Iowa Master Conservationists program  that includes information on Iowa archaeology and preservation options for landowners . Lynn Alex's PowerPoint provides an overview of the Iowa program

Alice Berkson's poster presentation includes examples of natural resource volunteer programs that include archaeology in  Arkansas, Indiana, Texas, and Illinois. It  also includes a map that identifies states with natural resource volunteer programs, and those that include archaeology.

To find a master naturalist or other natural resource education and service program near you, check the web site of The Alliance of  Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP), which acts as an information clearinghouse and conducts an annual national conference. Or enter the name of your state or locality along with “master naturalist” into an internet search engine.











updated 10-14-10   Content contributed by Alice Berkson and Lynn M. Alex