What to do? The question many young people find themselves asking after they enter college. I asked the same question after my first semester of my freshman year. I knew I loved history and being outside so I thought a career in archaeology would blend these interests. It certainly has. My career in archaeology started in 1995 at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. I started as a volunteer at the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (MVAC) processing float samples separating the heavy and light fractions while sitting on the curb near the Cartwright Center. MVAC provided a great opportunity for a young, eager undergraduate to gain invaluable field and lab experience working on various cultural resource management (CRM) projects in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I also got to experience excavations and survey of both prehistoric and historic sites. I had the privilege to take classes with several great professors including Dr. James (Jim) Theler and Dr. James Gallagher. After I graduated with a degree in Archaeological Studies in 1998, I took a year off working at several jobs including one at a wood working factory, a telemarketer head hunter, manager of a pizza restaurant and as a field technician at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. All of these experiences made me realize I missed archaeology! As Jim Theler told me once as I was asking for advice, “Jared, I’ve done everything else, I don’t want to do anything else.” With that thought in mind, I applied and was accepted into the Master of Arts (MA) in Anthropology program at Western Michigan University (WMU) in 1999. I was able to study under Professors William (Bill) Cremin, Allen Zagarell, and Michael Nassaney. Dr. Nassaney served as my thesis advisor and mentor while at WMU. With his help, I was able to focus on my Master’s thesis which centered on excavations I directed at the James and Ellen White house site in Battle Creek, Michigan. These excavations uncovered several cisterns and a privy so my thesis focused on the transition from privies and cisterns to city water and sewer. I graduated with a MA in Anthropology from WMU in June 2002, and went to work for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Cultural Resource Management (Formerly University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Historic Resource Management Services) first as a field technician in 2001 and then as a crew chief in 2002.
In October 2002, I was hired by Larry McKee at TRC Environmental Corporation (TRC) initially as a Field Director. I grew into this role and over the next 15 years my role expanded into a Project Manager and Principal Investigator. While at TRC, I supported archaeological and cultural resource efforts for a variety of projects that were subject to the Section 106 process under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These projects included transmission lines, substations, coal fired and nuclear power plants, solar and wind farms, pipe lines, roadways, cell towers, stream restorations, boat ramps, greenways, housing developments, urban redevelopment, water and sewer lines, Phase II testing excavations, and Phase III data recovery projects. I also offered archaeological support on projects that fell outside of the Section 106 process including historic research projects to relocate and define historic features and cemetery relocations and removals. While at TRC, I also obtained my GIS certificate from Penn State and enjoy the opportunities that GIS offers to enrich my surveys and projects.
Jared (center) pausing to take a photo of a lengthy test unit excavation in western Wisconsin during his days with MVAC.
Jared (left) taking notes while then student Matt DeLoof (right) works on cleaning up a test unit during the 2000 WMU field school in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Jared holding an intact iron kettle uncovered from under a house foundation (background in TU) during a Phase III data recovery at the J.J. Wilson Site (23JE787) carried out by TRC in Jefferson County, Missouri in 2003.
In October 2002, I was hired by Larry McKee at TRC Environmental Corporation (TRC) initially as a Field Director. I grew into this role and over the next 15 years my role expanded into a Project Manager and Principal Investigator. While at TRC, I supported archaeological efforts for a variety of projects that were subject to the Section 106 process under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). These projects included transmission lines, substations, coal fired and nuclear power plants, solar and wind farms, pipe lines, roadways, cell towers, stream restorations, boat ramps, greenways, housing developments, urban redevelopment, water and sewer lines, research projects to relocate and define historic features, cemetery relocations and removals, Phase II testing excavations, and Phase III data recovery projects. I also offered archaeological support on projects that fell outside of the Section 106 process including research projects to relocate and define historic features and cemetery relocations and removals. While at TRC, I also obtained my GIS certificate from Penn State and I enjoy the opportunities that GIS offers to enrich my surveys and projects.
While at TRC, I became a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) and have been a member since 2008. I also served as a board member and now currently serve as the President of the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology (TCPA). Since 2014, TCPA has been holding a 30 day archaeology blog fest during Tennessee Archaeology Awareness Month. I encourage you to go over and check out this year’s entries. While serving on the board of the TCPA, I also spearheaded efforts to make Sandy the official state artifact of Tennessee, make September Tennessee Archaeology Awareness Month, and worked with the TCPA Board to provide comments and lobby the Tennessee General Assembly regarding a bill designed to strengthen the reporting process for terminating a historic cemetery under Tennessee cemetery law.
In May 2018, I started a new chapter of my career as an archaeologist at the United States Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District office (Corps) in Louisville. The Louisville District includes most of Kentucky and Indiana, portions of Ohio and Illinois, and a small area of Tennessee. As an archeologist with the Corps, I’m tasked with assisting projects to ensure they are meeting Section 106 requirements under the NHPA and cultural resource requirements under NEPA. Under these existing laws, the Corps must take into account any effects Federal or federally-assisted projects have on historic and cultural resources. I also assist during the planning, study, and design phases of projects so cultural resources can be identified and avoided when possible. My work with the Corps also involves field survey from time to time, so I am able to get out and enjoy the beautiful countryside of Kentucky. Many people don’t realize that the federal government owns and manages archaeological sites and historic properties and I’m happy to help protect these important resources now that I work for the Corps. I have enjoyed my time so far in Louisville and my family and I have settled into our new home.
I owe a lot to archaeology and the people who have helped shaped my career along the way and I want to take a moment now to say thank you. My career to this point has allowed me to travel to many parts of the country and enjoy experiences most people dream about. I look forward to working for the Corps in Kentucky, working with and alongside the many archaeologist who call Kentucky home, and getting to know the many people who work every day to promote and protect Kentucky’s archaeological resources.
Jared during a recent survey of a gage station at Lock and Dam No. 4 along Green River near Woodbury, KY
Jared Barrett, MA, RPA
Louisville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers