I am one of those lucky people who always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I recently discovered my third grade journal in a box of old elementary school papers where I’d written “When I grow up, I would like to be an arkeoligist.” I never wavered from that goal despite plenty of admonitions that I’d never be able to make a living at it. It was only natural then, when I came to Calvin College, that I sought out Dr. Bert de Vries as a mentor. I majored in history, and was one of the first students to take advantage of the archaeology minor program at Calvin. I participated in the 1996 Umm el-Jimal field school and have been a professional archaeologist ever since.
In the years following graduation, I found work in the cultural resource management industry. I put in my time in the trenches, making a decent living as a “shovel bum” - traveling around the country going from archaeological project to archaeological project. I’d be excavating a 17th century English settlement on Chesapeake Bay one week, uncovering an 8,000-year-old lithic workshop along the Allegheny River the next, and slogging through southern Louisiana swamps to record sites along a proposed natural gas pipeline the week after that. It was great fun living on the road, seeing country I wouldn’t see otherwise, living in hotels with a whole field crew of archaeologists from all around the country, and getting paid to do archaeological fieldwork every day! In five years time, I managed to work in 13 states, Puerto Rico, and Jordan where I returned to once again for the 1998 field season at Umm el-Jimal.
By 2002, I’d decided to take the next step in my career and get my master’s degree in anthropology. I attended Iowa State University where I received my MA in 2004. Upon graduation, one of my former employers, Alexander Archaeological Consultants of Chattanooga, offered me a position as installation archaeologist at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The job was through a five year contract, but after three years, the Army offered me a permanent government position. Currently, I’m employed as the installation archaeologist at Redstone Arsenal reviewing Army projects for potential impacts to significant archaeological sites, overseeing excavations on sites that are scheduled to be impacted, surveying the base for unrecorded sites, and orchestrating public outreach to teach local school groups, clubs, and other interested public about local archaeology and the importance of preserving America’s cultural heritage.