Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In April, I shipped out to Washington, DC for the Society of American Archaeology's 83rd Annual Meeting. This week, Sarah and I sat down for a debrief on the experience.

Sarah: What did you expect in attending SAA 2018?
Emily Jane: I was excited to be talking about our work with HMS Florida at Shell Bluff Landing during a session on shell middens. I was also excited to take in some of Washington, DC, as I'd never been before.
My nerd-self found true happiness in seeing the original model of the USS Enterprise at the Air and Space Museum. Oh yes, I don't just geek out over artifacts.
S: What did you hope to get out of it?
EJ: I hoped to network with some old colleagues and friends, as well as share and brainstorm on some of our current projects, including site monitoring programs like HMS Florida.

S: What did you actually learn?
EJ: I learned about a really cool community engagement program in Nova Scotia, Canada called COASTAL (Community Observation, Assessment and Salvage of Threatened Archaeological Legacy). Archaeologists working with the Canadian Museum of History have partnered with local tribal communities and the public at large to record and monitor archaeological sites that are threatened by coastal erosion, looting and other impacts. It's great to hear about other programs around the world that are similar to HMS Florida. We can all learn from one another - what worked, what didn't and ways to improve all of the programs.

S:What was the hardest part of attending the conference?
EJ: Once again, I think the hardest part of SAA is always the size! I read through the sessions and paper titles and mapped out my weekend, only to realize I still missed some great sessions. With conferences like this, you just have to accept that you can't do and see it all.

S: What will you bring back from the conference to share with the public?
EJ: I was really inspired by a panel on archaeology advocacy, hearing stories from around the country of successes and failures. I have spent the past year trying to step up my advocacy game and speaking out for Florida's buried past at the state and local levels. I really hope to continue working on my advocacy skills and hopefully, inspire others to do the same.

S: What sessions and activities did you take part of?
EJ: Well, I attended the shell midden session I spoke in, as well as a few on public archaeology. As I mentioned, I also made it to a great panel discussion about archaeology advocacy. On Saturday afternoon, I went to the March for Science - a bit of an extra circular activity! There were several archaeologists from SAA who made it out to represent our field.

S: Do you have plan's for next year's conference?
EJ: Not really. I do love New Mexico! But I may sit it out and attend something a little smaller next year instead.

 Text and images by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff.

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