Interning at Edwards Pitman Environmental, Inc. was an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to work and interact with archaeologists from different backgrounds and with years of experience, but I also had the pleasure of experiencing the field that I have been studying from a totally new perspective. The lessons that I learned from my time interning at Edwards Pitman were vital to my development as a student of anthropology and archaeology. Cultural resource management plays an important part of Edwards Pitman’s main mission. However, with the knowledge that I have gained from this internship, I am more confident and better equipped to become successful in whatever profession my education leads me to.
Cultural resource management includes associated lab work. The processes of cleaning, identifying, organizing and cataloging are just as vital to the overall mission as the field work is. Much of it is tedious work that requires an attention to detail and patience. A typical day in the lab may start out with washing artifacts that were collected in the field. Some days it may be a few artifacts, and other days it may be a few hundred. From there, each artifact needs to be bagged, labeled and organized in a way to make it easy to find. This step seems to take up the most time. I found the most rewarding part of the lab to be identification. Identifying artifacts, whether they be historic or prehistoric, requires investigation, research and occasionally an informed judgment call. Sometimes there is consensus on the identification of an artifact and other times there is disagreement. Each person brings unique insight and experience when attempting to identify some artifacts. On a few occasions, I was able to identify objects that other archaeologists were unable to identify. This brought to my attention the importance of a variety of viewpoints and opinions when it comes to archaeology as well as other fields in anthropology.
I spent a large amount of my time at the internship in the field, assisting field technicians find and assess archaeological sites through survey and shovel tests. Field work isn’t for everyone because much of the work associated with CRM takes place on roadsides, in deep woods and along river banks. Hazards we typically saw on a random day included snakes, spider webs in the face, impassible ravines and cliffs, and more briars and thorny vines than any person should every have to deal with in a lifetime. The work can be grueling and during much of my time in the field, I worked in temperatures above 90 degrees. That being said, my time in the field with Edwards Pitman was among the most beneficial experiences I have had since I began studying anthropology. There are some things that cannot be learned in the classroom; things that can only be learned by experiencing it firsthand and CRM is one of those things.
My internship at Project Chimps changed my entire perspective on what I could pursue with a career in anthropology. I am highly interested in biological anthropology and fully intend to obtain my Masters in biological anthropology, but when it came to choosing an internship, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. Fortunately for me, working as a chimpanzee caregiver at Project Chimps was the once in a lifetime internship that I was lucky enough to experience. As an intern, I was assigned to an experienced chimpanzee caregiver, who was my mentor and taught me everything I needed to know in terms of chimp behavior and safety. Each day, I would arrive at the sanctuary at 8 a.m. and the chimps would be waiting in the ‘villa’ (housing area for the chimps) for us to begin our daily routine of feeding them and cleaning their bedroom area and porches, which required extensive scrubbing daily.
Spending time with the chimps in the afternoon after the day’s final rush truly kept me on my toes because their interactions, from an anthropological perspective, are very similar to our human interactions. Meal time, in particular, allowed my interpretive mind to see the complex social interactions at play and understand chimpanzee social hierarchy. I began to see that some chimps never had their food stolen but other chimps, always had their food stolen because they were little.
Apart from beginning to understand the complexity of chimp social relationships and actions, I found myself beginning to see the characters of each chimp come through the more time I spent with them. Within three days of working at the sanctuary, I knew the names and faces of all 11 chimps that were housed in my ‘villa’. A couple of weeks in, I began to fall in love and truly know each chimp on a personal level. Before I knew it, I found myself remembering that this one absolutely loves peaches or that another one would soon steal my heart and always want me to blow bubbles for him (as can be seen in the photo). Ultimately, the internship required hard work, lots of sweat and dedication, but mostly it required love and the desire to make a change. Helping better the lives of these retired medical research chimpanzees was the first and foremost reason I chose the sanctuary as my internship, but the chimps ultimately ended up giving me so much more than I ever could have offered them. I truly do not believe I could have picked a more wonderful facility and group of people to intern with because they gave me more than I had ever expected. It took no time at all for me to realize that anthropology has so many more doors to open than I knew that it could, and I am excited for a lifetime of being able to pursue so many wonderful career paths thanks to anthropology. Who knows… the next time you see me I might just be the next Jane Goodall.
During my last summer at KSU, I spent seven weeks working as a Curatorial Intern at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. I chose to do my internship there in part because I have always dreamed of working in a museum. Although the exhibits at the Tellus mostly focus on geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and transportation, and not necessarily anthropology, I understood the value of gaining general curatorial experience.
I spent many days at the Tellus working with the study collection, which was created to allow students and professors the opportunity to learn about objects up close. One of my projects required a review of objects to be deaccessioned, or removed from the study collection. I was the perfect fit for this project because my anthropology training provided a unique perspective compared to the other museum employees. In order to come to deaccessioning decisions, I performed lots of research on the objects including a general overview of geology and mineralogy. With my newly acquired knowledge, I prepared reports on what type of material I believed would make a good fit for the collection and why.
Through my internship, I was able to learn about many different aspects of working in a museum that I would have otherwise not been able to experience. I learned how to properly care for the collections in a way that ensured their preservation for the future. I had the opportunity to work with many different people who make the museum an interesting an engaging place to learn. I performed research on a subject which I knew very little about and gained a greater appreciation for the collection. Most importantly, thanks to my time at the Tellus and KSU’s field and lab archaeology courses I can now say that I have been involved in every step that an artifact takes as it goes from field to a museum. I’ve pulled an object from the ground, analyzed it in the lab, learned the process by which a museum may acquire the item, entered that item into the museum’s database, and learned how to properly preserve and display that item.
Interning at the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology taught me a skill set that will help me be successful in the future. The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is primarily a research facility which means that they emphasize conserving and studying objects. I worked in the Archaeological Ceramic Digitization Program which aims to create a database of ceramic sherds found during excavation. We processed images of ceramic sherds found in archaeological books or scholarly articles using GIMP, GNU Image Manipulation Program. First, I cut the images of the sherds to scale, and then I made them greyscale instead of color, to reduce the file size. After manipulating the images, I looked through the articles and copied the text pertaining to the ceramic. In Microsoft Access I entered a code so that the text and the image appear in the main form of the database. Then, I typed the information about the ceramic into the actual database itself. I also worked on a side project from my internship coordinator to create maps of archaeological sites in Turkey using Google Earth Pro. I copied maps from a journal, overlaid the images onto the satellite image of the region, and then marked the location of archaeological sites.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday the internship program provided a tour and a class at the Museum. We toured the various Museum departments and usually went into the collection storage area. The collection storage area has many objects that have not been displayed for the general public; some like the Oceanic Section, don’t even have a public exhibit at all. The classes were led by the various keepers and curators of the Museum. They discuss various topics relating to museum work to how they got into their field. The tours and classes were very informative and gave me an idea what I may need to do to get a career in the museum field.
For my summer internship, I worked at the Funk Heritage Center in Waleska, Georgia. The Center is associated with and located on the campus of Reinhardt University. It showcases the early history of Northern Georgia, including southeast Native Americans and early Native American settlers.
Currently, the staff of the Funk Heritage Center are creating a new exhibit about the transformation of Cherokee culture during the 1800s before the Trail of Tears. For my internship, I researched content for this new exhibit using a combination of the internet, books, and old census records. It was an interesting experience. As a student, I had gotten used to using the internet, online databases, and online journals to find information. However, in my internship, some of the information I needed was too specific to Cherokee County to be easily found through these resources. Fortunately, a new director joined the Funk Heritage Center in July, and he had many useful books. I also used genealogy sites to find information of the descendants of early Cherokee County settlers.
My other duties beyond research included clerical work such as copying and shredding papers. I also shadowed a few tours for children and adults and conducted surveys on visitor experiences because my supervisor was interested in what people, especially children, thought of the Museum and how they had heard of the Museum. I learned quite a lot about how museums are run and how new exhibits are planned at the Funk Heritage Center. I hope that I will be able to use the skills I’ve learned there in the future.