A new volunteer's ARPP experience
By Jim Wynn, Jr.
Being a lifelong avocational archaeologist, I had always dreamed of some day participating in an archaeological research expedition! When I first met Dr Webb at the Florida Museum of Natural History, I had no idea that he could make those dreams come true. I was elated when he invited me to the Aucilla River Prehistory Projectís open house, thinking I would at least come close to my dream. But that was just the beginning.
Thanks to encouragement from Dr. Webb, Jim Dunbar, Jack Simpson, and Joe Latvis, I submitted the ARPP Volunteer Application Form for the projectís upcoming (Spring í97) field season. I assumed that, if accepted, I would be assigned some menial task away from the actual site so as not to interrupt the experts. Instead, after an instructive orientation program by veteran team members, I was put right into the middle of things. I had also assumed that I would have to be on my best behavior and not ask too many questions, interrupting these great minds as they unraveled the mysteries of the past. Wrong again! I was encouraged to ask questions, and even asked for my opinions on some of the developments! I was shocked!
Later I found myself to be wrong yet again in assuming that the dig was the major focus of the projectís work. I found out that it was probably less than 20%. Andy Hemmings, Mark Muniz, and Matt Mihlbachler encouraged me to participate in some of the lab work back at the museum. I soon realized that an overwhelming amount of painstaking work goes on for years after a few scant weeks of digging. I hope to be a part of the whole process, following those bits of bone, rock, and vegetation that I separated on the screen deck (with the help of Alyssa McManus, Jo Ann Suggs, and Dawn Pinder) all the way to their final destination as documented components of Floridaís archaeological heritage, conserved in perpetuity at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Once again, thanks to each of you on the Aucilla River Prehistory Project. Staff and volunteers all made me feel like a part of the ARPP family, and it has been a rich and fulfilling experience that I hope to continue for a long time to come.