Spotlight on…Volunteers

Archeology is work. There’s never a lack of things to do, never a slow day. You won’t find anyone here wasting the day away playing Angry Birds or Solitaire.

The NMSC archeology lab has a staff of 2 full-time and 2 part-time employees, and an endless amount of work. So you’re probably wondering –  how do we handle all the work? I’ll let you in on our secret.


With the ever dwindling funding in the museum world, volunteers are a necessity. Last fiscal year, our volunteers put in 746 hours. Since October 1, they have put in an additional 200+hours. Our volunteers make it possible for us to complete our projects. And we are extremely grateful for all of their hard work.

Today is one of our volunteer extraordinaire’s birthdays. We thought, why not acknowledge the work she’s done by highlighting her on our blog?

A short introduction

(NPS Photo)

Elissa P. has put in 330 hours and has been volunteering since January 2010. Since starting at NMSC, Elissa has graduated from UMass with a B.A. in history. She is currently looking into graduate programs for fall 2011.

And now for some Q&A

Q. Why did you decide to become a volunteer?

A. Although I hold a degree in history, I plan on pursuing my graduate work in archeology. My lack of scholastic qualifications led me to seek out a volunteer position related to archeology to increase my practical experience in the field and heighten my chances of being accepted into a graduate program in archeology.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Or what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. As a young girl, I aspired to be a cigarette smoker when I grew up, or Catwoman. Thankfully, I have since re-evaluated my priorities and now hope to be an archeologist when I grow up.

Q. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

A. Mending broken ceramics and china.

Q. What is your least favorite thing about volunteering?

A. Rehousing old animal teeth – it’s totally creepy!

Q. What have you learned from this opportunity?

A. That lab work is far more fun than field archeologists claim! More importantly, I have learned a lot about curatorial work and caring for collections of historical artifacts.

Q. If you could go back in time and do it over again, would you still give up your time to volunteer?

A. Absolutely

Q. As you know, NPS Volunteers who give 500 hours of their time receive a Volunteer Pass (i.e. free pass to all National Parks for a year). What park will you visit first?

A. The first park I will visit is the U.S.S. Constitution in Charlestown, MA. The first park I would like to visit is Yosemite.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

A. Volunteering rules!

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, check out the NPS volunteer page or the Government Volunteer portal to learn more. Also, check out our volunteer twitter feed @NMSC_Volunteers.


About Megan L.

Megan graduated from Boston University in 2008 with an M.A. in Historical Archaeology. While in graduate school, she wrote her master's thesis on 18th-century glass drinkingware excavated during the Big Dig and interned with NMSC for 2 years. Megan has been a full-time employee since February 2010.
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