Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


State and federal agencies increasingly rely on site stewardship programs to protect archaeological resources, and site stewardship programs rely on volunteers to do this work. Given the importance of volunteers to site stewardship programs, especially in the wake of budget cuts and “sequesters,” this paper asks: how do managers and volunteers define site stewardship program priorities and how do differences in their opinions impact program success? In this paper, I briefly review the literature on site stewardship programs and volunteerism and present the results of my exploratory ethnographic research on this question. I close with a discussion about how differing volunteer and manager priorities affect volunteer retention and offer some thoughts on future directions for research.

The terms “volunteer” and “steward” are used interchangeably in this paper because both refer to a person who gives his or her time without remuneration to monitor archaeological sites in order to protect and preserve cultural resources and heritage. The term manager is used to describe agency archaeologists, heritage coordinators, and other staff members who oversee aspects of an archaeological site stewardship program. A site stewardship coordinator or a program coordinator is defined, for purposes of this paper, as a person who interacts directly with volunteers. Among the coordinator’s responsibilities are tasks such as keeping track of the program budget, organizing training, writing program status reports, and responding to volunteer questions and concerns.

Researching the ways in which different priorities impact volunteer satisfaction and subsequent program success or failure gives archaeologists and land managers more tools to address volunteer needs so that site stewardship programs can remain viable. Additionally, my research expands the literature on site stewardship programs to include a more volunteer-centric view of these programs. This is useful because volunteers are crucial to the operation of site stewardship programs and listening to their needs and concerns will improve volunteer motivation and retention.