Utah Project Archaeology Program at SUU

Published: December 05, 2018 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 2 minutes

Group of SUU faculty, SUU students, and elementary studentsSouthern Utah University is the home to the Utah Project Archaeology program. Project Archaeology works to create relevant curriculums for elementary and secondary level teachers that teach “scientific and historical inquiry, cultural understanding, and the importance of protecting our nation’s rich cultural resources.” Since its founding, Project Archaeology has reached over 17,500 educators and an estimated 350,000 learners.

“There is a magic about this work that I cannot describe, but that is real and powerful,” said Samantha Kirkley, Utah state coordinator for Project Archaeology. “Throughout the year, I see perspectives change and true brotherhood kindled between people who may never have even known each other.”

Each state is home to an active or developing program for Project Archaeology. SUU is the base for Utah Project Archaeology due to its excellent location and has been home to Utah’s chapter since 2015. Cedar City is in the middle of a variety of national parks and archaeological sites and monuments, as well as areas that have undergone excavations, which is a topic that the Project Archaeology curriculums explore. “I think archaeology is unique in its ability to open conversation about how cultures of today are relevant to our understanding those of the past, and also in its ability to help us value our own culture and the culture of others,” Kirkley continued.

Kirkley got involved with the program in 2013. Her duties include providing professional development, collaboration and correspondence, developing curriculum, giving presentations around the country, offering workshops, writing grants, as well as coordinating outreach events, 4-H camps, and Project Archaeology Girl Scout Camp, in addition to many others.

“Ms. Kirkley’s workshops give teachers and students an exciting opportunity to learn about the culture and history of our region,” said Dr. Jean Boreen, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at SUU. “She has inspired a number of students to explore careers in archaeology [and] realize the power of education is to unify people as we work together to preserve our shared heritage.”

Project Archaeology began in Utah in 1990 as a solution to the problem of continual vandalism and theft from archaeological sites. Through a combined effort, it was agreed that the best solution would be emphasis on the importance of archaeological preservation in the elementary and secondary level curriculums. In 1992 the project spread nationwide, and is now headquartered at Montana State University and jointly sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management. Today there are thirty-nine active locations, eight developing locations, and two contact only locations.

Project Archaeology’s plethora of curriculums all meet Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. In addition to use in the classroom, these program guides are also used by museum docents, youth group leaders, heritage site interpreters, and other entities.

Learn more about Project Archaeology at SUU or contact Samantha Kirkley at samanthakirkley@suu.edu for more information.

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