By Erika Franz
April is Maryland Archaeology Month and there is no better time for parents to get their children thinking about the past, digging in the dirt and working in local labs, cleaning and classifying artifacts.
Local archeologist Jessie Grow might prove the perfect example of how to get modern children interested in history and their heritage.
When she was still a tween, Grow received a children’s magazine devoted to King Tut.
“I was so into mummies and I wanted to be an Egyptologist,” she recalls. But Egypt was too far away, so her father took her to a Dig Day run by the Lost Towns Project at London Town and Gardens in Edgewater. While she was there, she helped excavate the tavern and after that, she was hooked.
“I went to every single Dig Day they held,” she says. “After a few years, my dad stopped coming and just dropped me off—everyone knew me.”
In high school, Grow interned with the Lost Towns Project, which is a team of archeologists and historians that works with Anne Arundel County to uncover the county’s heritage. From there she went on to get a graduate degree in public archaeology, and today she is a professional archaeologist and the volunteer coordinator for the Lost Towns Project.
Ed Chaney, an archaeologist and deputy director of the MAC Lab at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, the state museum of archeology, has seen two kinds of kids in his 15 years of working with families. The first is more likely to be a future archaeologist.
“They like holding something that old. Love finding things at the screen [where layered dirt from excavations is sifted],” he says. But, “there is another group of kids who love the physical process of digging. They will literally fight over it!”
In Maryland, there are many volunteer opportunities in archeology for families. Check out the possibilities below and get digging.