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Cultivating Connections at CCPA

One of the very first CCPAs that Jess and Jasmine attended.

In 2018, I found myself at a crossroads, a graduate student on the brink of entering the professional world of archaeology. The Colorado Council of Professional Archaeologists (CCPA) annual meeting beckoned from Longmont, Colorado—an opportunity both thrilling and daunting. Despite my uncertainties, spurred on by my professor's encouragement, I took the plunge.


Walking into the conference hall, I felt like a flake in a lithic scatter. With only a handful of familiar faces in a landscape of strangers, the prospect of networking seemed kind of like surveying 1000s of acres in a hot desert (tedious at best). But beneath the nervous flutter lay an undeniable excitement—a yearning to connect with fellow archaeologists, to delve into their projects, and to get a glimpse into our shared passion of archaeology.


One of the first pictures Jess (left) and Jasmine (right) took together in 2019

It was amidst this mix of trepidation and anticipation that I first encountered Jess. Introduced by a mutual friend (thank you, Shay!), we found ourselves lost in conversation for hours, our shared passion for public engagement and community archaeology igniting a spark of friendship. Little did we know that this chance meeting would be the very beginning of our future endeavors.


As the months unfolded, Jess and I nurtured our growing friendship, our conversations full of dreams to launch a business centered on public archaeology. And so, in April 2019, Community Connections LLC was born—a testament to the transformative power of a single conference.


Fast forward to the present, and the CCPA's annual gathering in Sterling, Colorado, serves as a poignant reminder of how far we've come. What was once a daunting sea of unfamiliar faces has blossomed into a vibrant community, complete with cherished friendships and invaluable support. Stepping into the welcoming embrace of the conference, I felt not like a stranger, but like a returning friend—like coming to a long-awaited high school reunion with a shared passion for archaeology as our common thread.

Amidst the laughter and camaraderie, profound discussions were carried through the halls, each conversation a testament to the enduring spirit of our community-driven work. Forging connections, sharing insights, and rallying around a shared vision of sustainable archaeology, we walked away feeling revitalized—a reminder that in unity lies strength, and in community, boundless potential.

Winning Trivia Teams at the CCPA Triva Bowl with MCs Jasmine in a narwhal onesie and Jess as a green-headed sea witch.


Reflecting on the conference's highlights, from the snow-dusted landscapes to the uproarious Trivia Bowl, I'm struck by the profound impact of our collective efforts. Together, Jess and I had the privilege of MCing the event, infusing the proceedings with a dash of whimsy and a heaping dose of fun. Through everyone’s shared enthusiasm, we not only raised $2,100 for the CCPA scholarship fund but also fostered a sense of togetherness that reverberated throughout the conference (see the packed house in the video below!).

Equally memorable was our presentation on International Archaeology Day—a testament to the transformative power of community support. With record attendance and an outpouring of enthusiasm, we showcased the tangible results of our collective dedication, underscoring the vital role each individual plays in shaping the future of archaeology.

 As I reflect on these experiences, one truth remains steadfast: the importance of community in sustaining our passion and driving our endeavors forward. In a field often fraught with challenges and uncertainties, it's easy to lose sight of our purpose—to succumb to burnout, disillusionment, and doubt. Yet, it is in moments like these, surrounded by kindred spirits and fueled by shared purpose, that our resolve is renewed.


Jasmine (left) and Jess (right) at the 2024 CCPAs.

So, here's to the conferences that change lives, the friendships that endure, and the collective journey that defines us. May we continue to build bridges, foster connections, and pave the way for a future where archaeology thrives—a testament to the power of community, in all its myriad forms.


And to my fellow archaeologists, past, present, and future: thank you for your unwavering support, your boundless enthusiasm, and your tireless dedication. Together, we are the architects of our shared legacy, the stewards of our collective heritage—a responsibility that unites us in purpose and propels us toward a future filled with promise.


Jasmine (left) and Jess (right).

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Jasmine & Jess (J&J) 🌳

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