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Mark Martin '82

Western's Field School Dig
Martin began his career with the Forest Service through a contact at Western's Field School. In the summer of 2003, the school conducted a dig on the Western campus , on the site of a Cherokee village and mound (right).

Degree:  B.A. in Anthropology

Profession: Archaeologist for the United States Forest Service (USFS) with the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest in western Virginia. Based in Roanoke, Virginia.

Work: I am a member of a team of five archaeologists (three of us are graduates from Western!). Our jobs are to locate, evaluate and protect archaeological and historic sites on the national forest.

Any proposed earth-disturbing activity on the forest must have an archaeological survey conducted prior to the project being approved. My job is to conduct these surveys, recover artifacts and record the data.

We rely a lot on GPS [Global Positioning Systems] while we are conducting our fieldwork. We also evaluate a number of sites to determine if they are eligible for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places. We work with other professionals both within our agency and throughout the state and region.

As a Forest Service employee, I also am a trained fire fighter. I travel around the nation during the summer to fight fires. Locally, I am consulted by fire managers to determine the placement of fire lines so as not to impact sites.

Why Western? I selected Western for a number of reasons: I wanted to attend an affordable, small school that was still large enough to have the programs I was interested in; I also am an avid outdoor recreationist, so the area was perfect for that aspect of my life.

Your Western experience: Western provided me with a great education as well as the opportunities to explore both the natural world and the cultural heritage of the area.

How did your studies contribute to your career choice? I chose to study Anthropology, specifically archaeology, at Western. If you showed even the slightest interest in the field, the professors were extremely enthusiastic and helpful.

My first year at Western I was not only studying the local archaeology, but also doing contract work for the Cherokee Indian Reservation with the professors at Western. What an excellent way to learn both the academic side of the field as well as the fieldwork aspect!

Within a year after graduation, I was contacted by a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist I had met while attending Western's Field School and was told a job was opening up. I applied for the position and have been working for the Forest Service ever since.

Advice for students:  Go into a field that you truly enjoy, as this may be your life work.

Into the future: My family is moving this summer [2004] and I may be working for a private contracting firm. We are all excited about [this] new phase [in] our lives.


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