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Insights from International Archaeology Day 2023

International Archaeology Day (IAD) is a celebration of the fascinating world of archaeology, where researchers, professionals, and enthusiasts from around the globe come together to share their discoveries, insights, and passion for uncovering the secrets of our past.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

First let's begin with a little bit of history! Held every October, this global event is organized by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and numerous archaeological associations. It presents a captivating array of archaeological programs and activities designed to engage people of all ages and interests. From family-friendly archaeology fairs to immersive site tours, simulated digs, and enlightening presentations by archaeologists, IAD offers an interactive, hands-on opportunity to unearth the past and savor the thrill of discovery.

This marks Community Connections' first year as the organizer and host of International Archaeology Day (IAD) in collaboration with Colorado Preservation Inc. For the past decade, a dedicated team of volunteers from Roxborough State Park, under the leadership of Betsy Healey and Angel Tobin, have been the driving force behind this initiative. They poured their passion and dedication into nurturing the event, which has since flourished and evolved into the remarkable celebration it is today.


To provide you with a unique perspective on this event, we conducted interviews with several distinguished participants, each bringing their own expertise and experiences to the table. Our initial interviews feature Betsy Healey and Angel Tobin, who have been instrumental in shaping IAD for years. Additionally, we had the privilege of speaking with Amy Gillaspie, a dedicated committee member representing the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Bonnie Gibson, representing one of our exhibitors, Statistical Research Inc.

 

The following questions were asked to Betsy Healey and Angel Tobin. They will be listed below in an expandable list for your reference.


Question 1: As a committee member and former organizer for International Archaeology Day 2023, can you provide some insights into the behind-the-scenes planning process and the key elements that make this event unique compared to previous years?


Question 2: This year's IAD is supported by generous sponsors and community fundraising efforts. Could you share how these partnerships and contributions have influenced the event's scale and the addition of new features for attendees?


Question 3: With over thirty exhibitors from diverse organizations participating, what challenges and exciting opportunities have you encountered in curating this wide range of archaeological exhibits, and how do they align with the event's goals?


Question 4: The event seems to blend history, archaeology, and community engagement seamlessly. How do you see events like IAD contributing to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Colorado's vibrant history and archaeology within the local community?


 

Betsy Healey is a retired IT Project Manager, Knowledge Management Consultant, and Technical Writer with 30 years of multinational IT project management experience, including work with ExxonMobil Corporation. She has played a pivotal role as the project co-lead for the past decade, focusing on the organization of International Archaeology Day (IAD) events. Betsy holds certification as a Master of Project Management from George Washington University and is a certified Diversity and Inclusion Advocate. Her contributions extend to technical writing, including the development of the Roxborough State Park Archaeology Training Manual. As a trained facilitator, she specializes in helping multi-discipline working groups achieve complex results. Betsy is an enthusiastic volunteer for archaeology, managing Roxborough's artifact collection, leading tours and programs there, and serving as a volunteer docent at Lamb Spring, where she educates visitors to promote stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

Angel Tobin (left) and Betsy Healey (right) with State Archaeologist and Hart award from History Colorado.

Angel Tobin is a seasoned professional with a background as a Contractor and retired Volunteer and Interpretive Services Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. In her project roles, she has served as a sub-contractor, specializing in stakeholder communications, publicity, and expo logistics, as well as administration. Angel brings an array of qualifications to the table, having served as a project co-lead for the past decade, with a primary focus on volunteer management, stakeholder communication and relations, and procurement. She has a track record of successfully securing sponsors for previous International Archaeology Day (IAD) events, a feat made more remarkable by the fact that all labor was provided by volunteers. In partnership with OSAC, she played a key role in developing the Roxborough State Park archaeology exhibit. Angel is also a recipient of the 2016 State Archaeologist award, demonstrating her prowess as an event planner, facilitator, and volunteer recruiter.


Let's dig in!

Question 1:

As a committee member and former organizer for International Archaeology Day 2023, can you provide some insights into the behind-the-scenes planning process and the key elements that make this event unique compared to previous years?

Question 2:

Healey answered questions 1 and 2 in the same response: "The IAD event has grown exponentially. Twelve years ago, I organized Roxborough State Park to show off its artifacts on the patio. It grew into a fair and in only a few years we exceeded the park's capacity. There is a big appetite for public archaeology. The model changed into an IAD Expo with the park and a few other satellite sites doing tours and activities. It was run on a shoestring budget until last year's sponsorship by the State Historic Fund and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.


Now with expanded sponsorship from them and others, you [IAD] are up to thirty five exhibitors and an awesome Red Rocks venue! I am proud to have been the initiator of this event and amazed at the work you [Community Connections] have done to pull off. You [Community Connections] have made it look easy doing the behind-the-scenes work: grant writing, licensing, contracts with so many providers, recruiting a huge crew of volunteers and exhibitors ... this event has hit the big time."


Tobin:

Question 1: "The planning for this event almost starts the year before the date of the event. You try to get organizations involved by networking at the previous year's event. People want to be part of this international event once they see the impact on the local community, how many organizations participate, the strength of volunteer involvement, and public interest. This year is unique because Roxborough State Park, its volunteers, and myself are not taking the lead. With Community Connections LLC taking the lead, I believe that this event will pick up momentum in the coming years because Jessica and Jasmine are practicing archaeologists and are up front in the field and in the local community. Their vision aligns perfectly with the mission of IAD. They are able to reach out to higher education professionals who can promote the event and support it by referring students to volunteer. It is a win/win situation because students get hands-on experience, credit, and can use it on their resume. While we get the help we need for the event, The volunteers have always been the lifeblood of this event."


Question 2: "This year, Community Connections was able to secure the largest grant awarded for this event which opened many opportunities for us. Having Red Rocks as the venue shows importance and recognition, which helps with fundraising and sponsors. The food trucks and beer garden support the local community while attracting people who may not have noticed or shown interest because now it seems like a fun outing for all. It has a fair-like vibe that is educational and fun for the entire family!"

Question 3:

With over thirty exhibitors from diverse organizations participating, what challenges and exciting opportunities have you encountered in curating this wide range of archaeological exhibits, and how do they align with the event's goals?

Healy: "Each exhibitor has unique intentions and requirements. It's not just a matter of logistics. Which exhibit goes where? What kind of infrastructure do they need? Do we want to group exhibits by theme or keep it random? Do they need back-up staffing?


What is more important is the networking. We have had many exhibitors participate from the very first event because of the value they see both with public interactions and with casual conversations among the participants. We bring together professionals, archaeology companies, public institutions, societies, and volunteers in a unique, outdoor situation. Designing this networking into the planning is critical. It's a one of a kind event."


Tobin: "The biggest challenge for me is making sure we have enough volunteers to cover the increased participants and expected visitors as well as all the logistics involved to make sure we have the proper amenities for visitors and accurate information and supplies for the volunteers. Getting information out to the public and getting people excited about the event is also very important for the success of this event. Communication in all areas is very crucial."

Question 4:

The event seems to blend history, archaeology, and community engagement seamlessly. How do you see events like IAD contributing to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Colorado's vibrant history and archaeology within the local community?

Healy: "Archaeology blends into history which blends into today's news. It's true everywhere, [b]ut Colorado's cultural resources are unique with our diverse and amazing mountain and plains geography, social influences from all corners of the continent, and a public eager to know more. I have a personal goal of raising the priority and funding of cultural resource management in the Colorado State Parks. Not only would I like to see all the parks celebrate IAD, I would like to see Parks and Wildlife give more visibility to our historical and archaeological wonders. We should have a state-wide approach to not just preserving but also sharing the pre-contact and historical stories of our state parks. We need more indigenous content in park public-facing programs. And we need a consistent and streamlined approach to collections across all the parks. Closer partnerships with History Colorado will be critical for this goal. Taking advantage of the recent dramatic increase of visitors to the state parks, that would contribute to a deeper understanding of Colorado's story. Since this will be my last year helping organize IAD, I see myself spending the next year of two promoting this idea within CPW and with state representatives."


Tobin:

"Educating the public in Colorado's history and archaeology is important because it helps to make it relevant, preserve our resources, and excite the next generation to carry on. IAD is a fun event that has a huge impact on our future and for the local community."


 

As we conclude this journey with our wonderful interviewees on International Archaeology Day, we're immensely grateful for the overwhelming response we've received. Your enthusiasm has been truly inspiring!


To our interviewees, Betsy Healey and Angel Tobin we extend our deepest appreciation for sharing your invaluable insights, experiences, and dedication to archaeology. You've enriched our understanding of the past and ignited our passion for its preservation.

Jasmine (left) and Jess (right).

To our readers, thank you for joining us on this fascinating journey. We were thrilled by the overwhelming response to our interviews, and as a special bonus, we've decided to extend our coverage into a two-part blog series! Join us next week for the second installment featuring interviews with Amy Gillaspie and Bonnie Gibson. Don't miss out—subscribe now to stay updated!


See you soon!


Jasmine & Jess (J&J) 🌳


Find us on IG and FB

@CommunityConnectionsLLC


➡️ Don't miss the upcoming interviews with Amy and Bonnie next week!

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