New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies


OAS' volunteers at work


  • Maggie Alexander
  • Barbara Chatterjee
  • Ted Angus
  • Linda McGee
  • Joyce Blalock
  • Mary Ann Sanborn
  • Sarah Valway
  • Al Weissman

The Office of Archaeological Studies is a not-for-profit enterprise within state government, and more than 90 percent of the annual budget comes as reimbursements from client-supported projects. Any work other than that required by clients must be funded through grants, donations, or special appropriations. In order to accomplish the most with the least and to make the most of research opportunities, OAS depends on volunteer and financial support from the community. That support can take some surprising forms—yet another exciting dimension of archaeology.

Many of our projects make use of a dedicated corps of volunteers. Occasionally, project directors need extra help in the field during archaeological excavations. The pressures of deadlines and hazardous working conditions can prevent volunteers from working on some field projects, but in other cases opportunities abound and can provide rewarding experiences for everyone involved. Volunteers also process and analyze artifacts recovered from those excavations, working side-by-side with OAS staff in both general and specialized roles. General roles include artifact cleaning and processing, and preparing artifacts and samples for analysis and long-term storage. Specialized roles include archaeomagnetic field sampling, statistical advising, and artifact analysis and photography. To inquire about volunteer work, please contact John Taylor-Montoya at or Shelby Jones by email at


Current volunteer opportunities

Volunteer Opportunity: Friends of Archaeology (FOA) Board Membership.

Description: FOA is looking for dedicated board members to help guide Friends of Archaeology activities and support the mission of the Office of Archaeological Studies which includes archaeological research, education and community outreach.

Timing: Meetings are held every other month at Center for New Mexico Archaeology.

Please e-mail Melissa Martinez at if you are interested.


Volunteer Opportunity: Friends of Archaeology (FOA) Activities Committee.

Description: FOA needs help to plan and implement archaeological field trips and lectures. Volunteers who participate join a group interested in exploring New Mexico’s past and the places, and research, that make our history and prehistory come alive. They have the opportunity to visit locations, and are exposed to subject matter, they would not otherwise have experienced.

Timing: Volunteer time commitments vary and can be as simple as supporting the FOA reservations hotline, or as involved as trip planning, coordination and support.

Please e-mail Melissa Martinez at if you are interested.


Volunteer Opportunity: Preparation of yucca fiber for education replica projects.

Supervisor: Shelby Jones,

Description: Yucca fiber textiles figure into a number of OAS education outreach programs. We need a supply of prepared yucca fiber (cleaned to the point of being ready to spin into thread-string-rope). The cooked (then frozen) yucca leaves are held in the OAS freezer, ready for extraction. The extraction kits are portable, so that the work can be done at CNMA (Monday through Friday, 8:00 until 5:00) or can be taken home if that is more convenient for the volunteer. Although this is “unskilled labor,” cleaning must be meticulous despite the tedious nature of the task. The cleaned yucca fiber is kept dry until needed for spinning projects, and as long as the cooked leaves are kept frozen between extraction efforts it is not “stinky”.

Timing: The need is now, and several people can get involved either independently or as a group.

Duration: The need for this activity will be ongoing and sporadic, depending on the types of replica projects that we or volunteers undertake. Since the task can be tedious, we ask only that the volunteer commit to a full 20 hours of work before they decide to reevaluate whether they want to continue. The same person who prepares the fiber can also become involved in the spinning projects if they wish, so this is a chance to learn thigh spinning techniques if you are a textile artist.