Award Details


Excellence in Public Archaeology Programming Award

Nomination/Submission Deadline: 20 Dec 2023

Award Description

The Excellence in Public Archaeology Programming Award continues the tradition begun by the Award for Excellence in Public Education (1997–2020) of recognizing exemplary public engagement efforts but refocuses on larger long-term or ongoing programs. This award recognizes best practices in archaeology outreach and education by bestowing recognition on major programming such as multifaceted ongoing outreach programs or annual events. Groups should only submit a nomination for either the Excellence in Public Archaeology Programming Award or the Outstanding Public Archaeology Initiative Award in a given year. Potential applicants and nominees who feel their work is eligible are encouraged to contact the committee chair by early November to solicit guidance. 

Who Is Eligible to Submit Nominations or Apply for the Award

Any member of SAA may submit a nomination file, although awardees are not required to be members of the SAA. 

Nomination/Submission Materials Required

Nominators will assemble a nomination packet that includes the following: 1) the Award Nomination Form; 2) a letter of nomination that identifies the outstanding program or product being nominated and summarizes its accomplishments; 3) supporting evidence of accomplishments; and 4) endorsements (no more than three). The nomination letter and narrative should address the following topics:

  • Overview: Describe the program being nominated, including its goals and how it is made available to the public.
  • Creativity: Discuss the innovative aspects of the program.
  • Leadership: Explain how the program serves as an exemplary model of public education related to archaeology.
  • Public Impact: Document the impact of the program on relevant publics beyond the discipline of archaeology (general public, special interest groups, pre-collegiate or nontraditional students, others).
  • Ethics: Mention ways in which the program promotes an understanding of ethical archaeology, such as appropriate presentation of archaeological methods, encouragement of site stewardship, connection and consultation with descendants, and other public involvement.

The nomination file should include details (including photos or samples, if possible) of the specific program and supporting materials that document results of the program. This material should clearly demonstrate the case being made in the nomination narrative. For example, supporting materials might document the impact of a specific program in terms of the number of members of the public involved, personnel qualification, the frequency or longevity of programs offered, formal evaluation results, and/or feedback from the audience. Endorsements from secondary nominators are welcomed (please, no more than three). Prior nomination does not exclude consideration of a nominee in subsequent years. Program designers may nominate their own work. Nominations may include programs conducted or created within the last five years. Previous winners that reapply must be able to demonstrate considerable growth in offerings and/or audience or a major shift in focus. Electronic submissions are encouraged and all parts should be submitted as a single pdf.

Other Special Requirements

Prior to any award recommendation being finalized and publicly announced, anyone recommended for an award, scholarship, or grant will be required to certify the following:

(a)  I am not and have not ever been the subject of a discrimination or harassment lawsuit or related administrative complaint that resulted in an adverse finding; and

(b)  I do not have and have not had a current or pending disciplinary action such as suspension or termination of registration, resulting from a Register of Professional Archaeologists’ grievance investigation.

Nature of Award (e.g. monetary, medal, symposium)

The awardee is recognized by the SAA through a plaque presented during the business meeting held at the Annual Meeting, a citation in The SAA Archaeological Record, and acknowledgment on the awards page of the SAA Website. 

Current Committee Charge

The Awards for Excellence in Public Education Committee solicits nominations and selects recipients for the following three awards: the Distinguished Achievement in Public Archaeology Award to be given to an individual; the Outstanding Public Archaeology Initiative Award to be awarded to a discrete project/initiative with definite start and end dates; and the Excellence in Public Archaeology Programming Award to be given to an ongoing program. These awards are designed to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements by individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions in the sharing of archaeological knowledge and issues with the public.

Committee Composition

Committee is composed of a chair and at least four members.

Term Length

Term length is three years. Individuals ending their terms cycle off the committee at the close of the Business Meeting held during the SAA Annual Meeting, and new appointees begin their terms at this time.

Award Cycle


Committee Chair and End of Term

Sara E. Ayers-Rigsby [2027] 

Committee Chair Contact Information

Committee Members and Ends of Terms

Selection or Evaluation Criteria

Nominations are reviewed individually by members of the Awards for Excellence in Public Education Committee, who select a recipient based on the following criteria: public impact, creativity in programming, leadership, and promotion of archaeological ethics. The selection process is heavily guided by the evaluation rubric well as a consideration of the holistic impact of each program. The committee reserves the right not to make an award in any given year if the nomination pool does not merit doing so.

Committee Deliberation Process (e.g. dates, venue)

After reviewing all nominations individually, committee members meet electronically and/or via telephone conference after the submission deadline has passed to select the winner.  

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