CHWA CESU Project Spotlight: Urban Archeology Corps

By: Katie Kline, CHWA CESU Database Manager

Front of grey stone house with green shutters and white trim.

The front of Springwood House, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birthplace and home.
“Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site P1160001” by Deror avi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Dr. Laurie Miroff from Binghamton University’s Public Archeology Facility (PAF) recently received funding through the Chesapeake Watershed (CHWA) CESU Research Network to lead a new project associated with the Urban Archeology Corps (UAC) program in the Hudson Valley region of New York state.  The UAC is a national program where archeology is used as a vehicle to expose young people to urban national parks and make them aware of the importance of responsible stewardship of cultural resources.  During the three-week paid program, UAC participants will learn about the cultural, historical, and natural resources that make these parks special and will also be exposed to potential career opportunities in public service and at national parks.  Program participants can help build bridges between the parks and their communities.  Funding for the project is being provided by the National Park Service through the CESU funding vehicle.

In addition to Miroff, the program is being organized by Dr. Claire Horn, PAF Project Director. Two graduate students currently in the process of earning their Master of Arts in Public Archeology (MAPA) at Binghamton University will provide critical support to the project.  They will develop the youth-centered archeology program and mentor the eight youth participants while they participate in the three-week UAC program.  The student participants were recruited in the spring of 2022 primarily from Poughkeepsie High School, which is an inner-city school with a high percentage of students from low-income households and a majority of students from underrepresented communities.  Two of this year’s participants have never previously been to a national park. When interviewed about the program, Dr. Miroff said, “We are very excited to be partnering with NPS to offer this program. One PAF mission is public outreach and this opportunity will not only benefit our MAPA students, but will encourage a new generation to be stewards of the past.”

Graduate student and archeologist standing in foreground of lawn with trees in background.

Graduate student intern from the Binghamton MAPA program, Kristin Clyne-Lehmann (left), with NPS archeologist, Dr. Amy Roache-Fedchenko, pictured onsite in June 2022 discussing plans for the upcoming summer program.

This summer, participants will get the opportunity to conduct archeological site monitoring, record current site conditions, and document potential threats to cultural resources at four national historic sites:  Home of Franklin Roosevelt National Historic Site (HOFR), Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (ELRO), Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (VAMA), and Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (MAVA).  The students will learn how to monitor and assess the condition of archeological sites and resources within the four national historic sites, document their observations, and provide recommendations to foster site preservation.  The youth participants will also be encouraged to share their experiences through the development of multimedia training materials that will be used for future public outreach.

In addition to the benefits provided to the students, this project is a quintessential example of the missions of both the National Park Service (NPS) and the Urban Archeology Corps: engage students and the next generation of park visitors in resource management and protection, if possible.  “The work these students complete, and the experience they will receive, will not only help them in their profession, but may also help them consider a future career with a federal land management agency,” said Dan Filer, Research Coordinator for the CHWA CESU Research Network.  “We work to complete research and technical assistance for our federal partners in the CESU, but interacting and educating the next generation of archaeologists through these students is also very important to the network.”

Dr. Miroff has an active profile in the CHWA CESU Experts Database.  If you have not already joined our Experts Database, please consider joining today to help connect you with federal partners who may be in need of your expertise.