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NPS Archeology Guide > Archeology Outreach > 4. Volunteers


Providing opportunities for volunteers is an important form of public outreach. Volunteers can be powerful allies and participate in a variety of ways, from site discovery to analysis to site monitoring and protection. No volunteer program should be implemented without the supervision of a professional archeologist as defined in Appendix E of DO28. Volunteers must not conduct any activity -- be it treatment, monitoring, or research -- without supervision from a professional archeologist familiar with NPS policies and federal law.

Avocational or amateur archeologists are people who do archeology as a hobby and not as a profession. As might be expected, such archeologists vary greatly in skill level and commitment, from the volunteer who helps out occasionally to a recipient of the Society for American Archaeology's Crabtree Award for excellence by an avocational archeologist who has made significant contributions to American archeology. Avocational archeologists, however, should not supervise volunteers, even if they are park staff.

Parks may recruit volunteers in a variety of ways. The NPS Get Involved web page includes sources of information for volunteers, including a search engine to identify parks and youth programs. Parks may announce volunteer activities on their homepages, through local papers, or by more informal means such as bulletin boards and flyers. Cast a wide net that ensures a broad, diverse group of volunteers.

Parks should be aware of the critical issues concerning volunteers. Among them:

Avocational archeologists share the desire to record and preserve information for their own personal satisfaction as well as to make a meaningful contribution to knowledge. Critical issues for working with avocational archeologists include: