Over the course of two days, SEARCH archaeologist Matt Nowak and architectural historian Brittaney London hosted a “Learning Lab” supporting the Northwest Florida Construction Career Days program, which is presented by the Florida Department of Transportation. Initiated in 1999 as an educational outreach program for high school students, the Construction Career Days program introduces students to career opportunities in the construction industry via hands-on experiences.

SEARCH met with approximately 200 high school students from 15 local schools to introduce them to employment opportunities in cultural resource management (CRM). Students enjoyed a hands-on introduction to the tools of the trade—interacting with shovels, screens, and trowels. The high schoolers were visibly thrilled at learning about what archaeologists really do (even though it does not involve dinosaurs!) and about the possibilities of a fulfilling career in architectural history.

In addition to discussing educational requirements, career outlooks, and day-to-day responsibilities, Nowak and London made time to address students’ curiosity about archaeology, answering time and again the students’ favorite question: “What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever found?” SEARCH was honored to participate in Construction Career Days and looks forward to more rewarding opportunities to educate and encourage the next generation of CRM professionals.

Architectural historian Brittaney London leads a hands-on experience for high school students.