Field School

With spring looming, we’re all dreaming of warm weather days, road trips, outdoor field trips, warmer survey weather, spring break, internships, summer jobs, graduation…among other things. One idea you should consider is participating in a field school this spring or summer.  Whether you’re in preservation or considering preservation, a field school can give you the perfect opportunity to do hands-on work and participate in group projects. While some field schools last weeks and months and cost thousands of dollars, there are often local workshops that you can attend and shorter field schools. If you’re employed, perhaps you have professional development funds or at least a few vacation days for a field school. Your best resource is to peruse the academic programs’ websites or PreserveNet postings. If you have the time and the money, the field lengthy field schools sound fantastic! See the University of Oregon, the University of Virginia, John Cabot University, and Old Salem Museums and Gardens, to name just a few – but there are many more. If anyone is interested in a longer list, leave a comment here or send an email.

I would recommend Poplar Forest Restoration Field Schoolas the best preservation field school, for many reasons. First, if you are consider the financial aspect, you cannot beat the price.  For two weeks, the $350 tuition covers materials, field trips, and everything else at the school. And, for lodging, all field school students stay in nearby Lynchburg College dorms for about $30/day.  Food and transportation to Poplar Forest are your responsibility.  Right around $700 with the known costs so far, that is so much cheaper than any other field school.  Now, for the content. The days are action packed, long days divided between lectures, field work, and site visits. Travis McDonald, the Director of Restoration at Poplar Forest, has been teaching the field school for almost two decades. He is wonderful. He’ll address documentation, conservation, restoration, investigation, curation, and so much more. On the website you can see a typical field school schedule. Two weeks was the perfect length for an intensive field school. I cannot say enough about Poplar Forest. I attended last year and wrote about it in these posts. (Or just read the posts from May-June 2008 and one is September 2008).  To apply, you have to write a cover letter and submit one letter of recommendation by April 29, 2009. If you love preservation or are interested in the field, you will not regret it.  There is also a month-long Poplar Forest Archaeology Field School and I can only imagine that it’s as good as the Restoration Field School.  Apply by April 8, 2009.

Enjoy the upcoming spring season and get outside! Field schools are an excellent chance to out of the office and out of the classroom.