Toby Austin at Crow Canyon, Cortez, Colorado
In 2007, while looking for a way to fill the summer, Toby Austin ’14, an anthropology major from Cedarburg, Wis., found Crow Canyon’s website and was attracted by what Crow Canyon had to offer — and he liked the idea of traveling to a different area of the country. He approached Crow Canyon's High School Field School as a way “to see what archaeology really was.”
“I really enjoyed High School Field School and the area. It was nice to have the mix of classroom and experiential activities,” he said. “It helped me decide that archaeology was what I really wanted to do.”
Not only did Austin end up enjoying High School Field School, he was impressed by Crow Canyon’s mission — the research as well as the education element. “I liked that sharing of knowledge,” he noted. “Lots of places do research; not many have that education component. That’s really special and really valuable in where I see my career going. I want to be doing something that engages the public.”
As a lab intern this year, Austin processed and analyzed a variety of artifacts, worked on flotation analysis (retrieving organic and inorganic materials from sediment samples using a water-separation technique), and instructed program participants in the lab.
He also helped out the PBS archaeology reality show, Time Team America, by researching different types of artifacts, such as projectile points and scrapers, that are present in Paleoindian archaeological assemblages. In 2014, Time Team America will air an episode filmed at Crow Canyon and the Dillard site. Austin said, as an intern, he had many opportunities to do more-detailed work than he did in High School Field School, and he was often able to work independently. And he noted that, with three years of college under his belt, he was able to build on what he had learned in school.
Austin’s internship lasted more than two months. During that time, he also tuned in to something that might have escaped a high school student: the reach of Crow Canyon’s influence. “Crow Canyon isn’t just about a single group,” he said. “Researchers come here from all over. They can do their work somewhere else, but they come here. That’s awesome.”
Austin began his senior year at Grinnell this fall. He is considering taking his education to a higher level in the future, but first he would like to join the workforce for a while, perhaps as an employee of the National Park Service. We know that any employer would be lucky to have him!