Montana State University

MSU-based Project Archaeology receives national conservation award

November 17, 2011

Project Archaeology students, such as these students in John Nielson's class at Emily Dickenson School in Bozeman, learn the fundamentals of archaeology and the importance of protecting archaeological sites through engaging, hands-on classroom activities. Project Archaeology won a U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Partners in Conservation award recognizing exemplary conservation partnerships. Photo courtesy of Project Archaeology.   High-Res Available

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A program based at Montana State University that promotes archaeology to students around the country has received a U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Partners in Conservation award recognizing exemplary conservation partnerships.

Project Archaeology, which develops archaeological-based curriculum for elementary students, was one of 17 organizations or projects to receive a Partner in Conservation award. Crystal Alegria, Montana Project Archaeology coordinator, and Jeannie Moe, national Project Archaeology lead for the Bureau of Land Management, received the award from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at ceremonies held this fall in Washington, D.C. Four of the winning projects, including Project Archaeology, are partnerships with the BLM.

"It was an honor to receive this award on behalf of the entire Project Archaeology program and all of our national partners," Alegria said. "This award recognizes all of the important work we are doing together."

Project Archaeology, which is based in the MSU Department of Sociology and Anthropology, promotes knowledge about protecting archaeological sites by working with teachers and developing archaeology curriculum as hands-on projects for students. It does so with a network of state and regional programs that has reached more than 10,000 teachers since 1990. The teachers, in turn, have reached an estimated 200,000 students annually. The organization works with programs in 29 states, including Montana.

The 20-year-old organization has been based at MSU since 2001. It was originally formed to educate the public as a way to prevent looting of archaeological sites on public lands.

"We have been working on archaeological conservation for more than 20 years -- that's what it takes in terms of time to make a difference," Moe said. While Moe is a BLM employee, she is also based at MSU.

Alegria said the award that recognized effective partnerships was particularly rewarding because "everything we do here involves partnerships."

Alegria said future plans for Project Archaeology include retaining and sustaining partnerships with states already in its network as well as developing new partnerships.

"We will look for new audiences, new learning situations," Alegria said.

To learn more about Project Archaeology, go to

Crystal Alegria (406) 994-6925,