Mount Abe High School’s visit to LCMM’s Conservation Lab

by Paul Gates

On April 11, students from Mount Abraham Union High School visited the Conservation Lab, eager to learn about the wonders of preservation.

Paul Gates talks about conservation techinques to students
Paul Gates talks about conservation techinques to students (photo: Tom Larsen)

As part of our mission here at LCMM we strive to educate the public about the importance of protecting our invaluable cultural resources. Lake Champlain is a non-salt water environment that is cold, dark, and has an anaerobic mud layer.  These qualities make it ideal for conserving all sorts of artifact material types, everything from wood, metals, glass, ceramics, and even organics.  Once these resources are removed they immediately start to degrade.  Valuable contextual information is inevitably lost when this happens.

Paul Gates demonstrating mechanical cleaning
Paul Gates demonstrating mechanical cleaning (photo: Tom Larsen)

In this dynamic world, cultural resources are in constant danger to being destroyed, lost, or stolen.  Archaeologists at LCMM serve as stewards for the protection and preservation of these amazing artifacts.  By examining, recovering, and conserving the artifacts contained within the lake we are effectively fulfilling our goals.  In doing this, we are able to present history in an exciting and awe-inspiring way.

It gives me a sense of honor, pride, and dare I say…makes me giddy to know that young adults like these have a vested interest in the archaeological world.  I cannot stress how important our collective history is.  I also want to highlight the need to spread awareness for it.  If you didn’t have the amount of enthusiasm that you showed me when you came here, then who knows what the fate of our past maybe.  So I tip my hat to you and wish you well, the world and our future needs more folks like yourselves!

Paul Gates
Paul grew up in Boise, ID and came to Vermont in 2003 for his undergrad degree in History and a minor in Archaeology with a focus on Medieval society and culture at UVM.  He started volunteering at LCMM in winter of 2008 as a Collections Management intern and then did intern work in the Conservation lab.  He joined the ranks of the paid staff in the winter of 2010.  He is currently the Assistant Chief for Charlotte Volunteer Rescue Squad and serves as a Board Member for the 1675 Foundation.

Parents’ Night at the Boatshop

Wednesday, March 23 was Parents’ Night at the LCMM Boat Shop.

Since January, students from the Diversified Occupations (D.O.) program at Middlebury’s Hannaford Career Center have been hard at work building a 32′ pilot gig at LCMM’s Boat Shop four days a week – it’s all part of LCMM’s Champlain Longboats program.

Nick Bassett explains about the pilot gig to a guest
Nick Bassett explains about the pilot gig to a guest (photo: Tom Larsen)

On Wednesday, after a hard day’s work, the Diversified Occupations (D.O.) students came back out to the boat shop once more, accompanied by their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends.  Everyone, guests and boat builders alike, were invited to enjoy pizza and soft drinks before the real fun began.

Matt Montgomery explains about wood choice in boatbuilding
Matt Montgomery explains about wood choice in boatbuilding (photo: Tom Larsen)

Standing up in front of over 75 family members and guests, each student proceeded to explain the different aspects of building a 32’ Pilot Gig, using the knowledge and skills they had learned from the building process thus far.

TJ Simmons explains the process of clench nailing
TJ Simpson explains the process of clench nailing (photo: Tom Larsen)

Each student had an area of expertise that they explained to the audience: parts of the boat and their names, which wood was used in the construction and why, clench nailing, making a scarf joint and its function, making a gain and its function, and rowing around Lake Champlain. In the final station, which involved all of the students and teachers, freshly steamed ribs were installed in the pilot gig – with narration so guests could understand what steps they were observing.

Students perform the final steps of installing a rib in front of their families
Students perform the final steps of installing a rib in front of their families (photo: Tom Larsen)

Following the presentations, guests were able to wander the boat shop, ask questions, and observe pictures of the D.O. students that had been taken during work days.  As the evening drew to a close, parents and students headed home and the boat shop grew quiet but only for the night, as the students returned the next morning for another day of work on the Pilot Gig.

“We showed everyone how to steam-bend a rib.  My family came to see me and the pilot gig.” –Hillary Stone

“I liked that my family came to see our pilot gig.  I was scared to do my presentation but I did a good job.”  –Seamus Flint

“At pizza night I talked about four different types of wood and how it is used on the pilot gig.  I told them about the wood lot where we went to learn about how old a tree is.  When I didn’t know the answer to a question I asked the other boat building students.” –Matt Montgomery.

“I enjoyed the pizza night.  I thought I did a great job with my rowing speech. I told how we are keeping track of rowing around the lake on the rowing machines.  I loved the pizza and cookies.” –Rachel Wollum

“It was fun to see everyone.  It was cool to do my speech on the gain.” –Dan Devoid

“I had a great time.  I met lots of people and there were people I knew there too.  I made a speech about the pilot gig.  It was about the ribs and vocabulary.” –Nick Bassett

“I enjoyed showing the boat off to my mother and I enjoyed meeting people.  When I did my presentation about clench nailing I was a little nervous at first but quickly overcame that nervousness.  Thanks to everyone that came out to the pizza night.” –TJ Simpson