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Awards & Honors

2007 USFS Award for Johnny Faulkner

Johnny Faulkner demonstates to students

In recognition of his contributions to Living Archaeology Weekend, in 2007 USFS Stanton District archaeologist Johnny Faulkner was awarded the Forest Service Interpreter/Conservation Educator of the Year Award for the Southern Region. Johnny has been involved in LAW each and every year of the event's existence. Johnny was one of the individuals who created the Living Archaeology Weekend event in 1989, and he served as the LAW coordinator for the Forest Service from 1989 to 2006. He represented the USFS on the interagency LAW Steering Committee from 2007 until his retirement in 2008. Since retiring, Johnny has shared his considerable expertise in primitive technologies, especially flintknapping, at the LAW event. His encyclopedic knowledge of Red River Gorge archaeology, extensive skills, and engaging nature make him one of the most popular demonstrators at the event. Congratulations, Johnny, and thanks for your lifetime of commitment to Living Archaeology Weekend!

2014 Preservation Kentucky Award

Preservation Kentucky Award

In 2014 Living Archaeology Weekend won Preservation Kentucky’s Edith S. Bingham Excellence in Preservation Education Award. The annual award recognizes preservation educators, projects, or programs that have demonstrated excellence in traditional or non-traditional educational arenas. The LAW Steering Committee accepted the lovely Louisville Stoneware plate on behalf of the many, many individuals and organizations that have planned, sponsored, and demonstrated and volunteered at the event over a quarter-century.


Many LAW activities focus on preservation and stewardship. At the event, demonstrators urge visitors to protect rock art sites, show the damaging impacts of looting, and model Leave No Trace methods. Essays, posters, lesson plans, and other educational materials created by the LAW Steering Committee cover topics like the National Register of Historic Places and ways the public can protect archaeological sites. LAW’s souvenir magnet features a preservation message.

Students from participating schools write essays in response to the question “Why is preserving cultural resources in the Red River Gorge important?” as part of an annual contest.


Formed in 1998, Preservation Kentucky is the Commonwealth’s statewide nonprofit historic preservation organization. It is a membership-based organization devoted to preserving buildings, structures, and sites in every region and every town in the state. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate in Preservation Kentucky.

2015 Ida Lee Willis Service to Preservation Award

2015 National Public Lands Day Signature Site

The Living Archaeology Weekend Steering Committee just won the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation’s 2015 Service to Preservation Award! The award recognizes groups whose contributions have had a positive effect on the preservation of historic or prehistoric resources. This and other annual statewide historic preservation awards are named for the late Ida Lee Willis, a former first lady appointed Kentucky’s first state historic preservation officer. The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation was chartered in 1979 to honor Mrs. Willis for her efforts in helping preserve Kentucky’s historic and archaeological resources.

Part of the LAW mission is to provide visitors with activities about preserving the traces of Kentucky's past peoples. LAW’s preservation-related activities include demonstrations and hands-on activities at the event, educational resources about archaeological site protection and stewardship, annual student essay contest about preserving cultural resources, and the “It’s Our Heritage! Protect Kentucky’s Cultural Resources” souvenir magnet.

Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Award

We could not have fulfilled our mission for over a quarter-century without the amazing commitment and support of our talented demonstrators, generous sponsors, and dedicated volunteers, and to all of them we give a heartfelt thanks. Below are comments from these folks, as well as the fifth-grade students and teachers, home school groups, scout troops, families, history buffs, primitive technology enthusiasts, and others who have been our guests over the last 26 years.

demonstrator Robin McBride Scott “I hope that during their visit to LAW, people take away a feeling of responsibility to help protect archaeological sites that are endangered.”

Andrew Rodriguez, fifth-grade student essay contest winner“Cultural resources are very valuable. The information they hold could be irreplaceable.”

fifth-grade teacher “The hands-on experiences allow students to see how people lived in the past. They understand once a site is destroyed it is gone forever.”

fifth-grade teacher “My students see that if we don't preserve the region and the cultural resources found, that it would be difficult to understand the past culture there.”

demonstrator Larry Beane “LAW really isn't so much about me, but about interesting people in history and archaeology enough so they will care about preserving it.”

visitor “We are only here for a short time and it is important to preserve these ancient technologies for future generations.”

The LAW Steering Committee includes representatives from the US Forest Service, Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists, Kentucky Archaeological Survey, and other groups. Past and present members are Wayna Adams, Darlene Applegate, Tressa Brown, Eric Dodd, Mark Engler, Johnny Faulkner, Michael French, Gwynn Henderson, Dick Jefferies, Chris Jenkins, Nick Laracuente, Larry Meadows, Susan Neumeyer, David Pollack, Jessica Santangelo, Eric Schlarb, Kay Shelnutt, Sandy Stevens, and Mary White. In 1989 Johnny Faulkner and Larry Meadows, with the support of Cecil Ison and other archaeologists from the USFS and members of the Red River Historical Society, created the LAW event as a way to promote public understanding of archaeology and the importance of protecting precious rockshelters and other sites in Red River Gorge and throughout Kentucky.

LAW Steering Committee Members accept award

LAW Steering Committee members Wayna Adams, Darlene Applegate, Tressa Brown, and Christy Pritchard attended the Ida Liee Willis Memorial Foundation awards ceremony at the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort on May 27. We accepted a beautiful plaque on behalf of all the people who have contributed to the event. The plaque reads:

“In recognition of all those who, for more than 25 years, have helped plan and present, this free, annual, two-day public outreach event, focusing on past technologies of Kentucky’s Native and pioneer peoples and encouraging preservation of these technologies and associated archaeological sites, and for educating 35,000+ fifth-graders and visitors about why this is important, this award is presented to The Living Archaeology Weekend Steering Committee.”


Living Archaeology is honored to be one of four nationwide signature sites for the USFS/ USDA National Public Lands Day. NPLD is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands and will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2015, although activities (like LAW) will also take place before and after that date. On NPLD more than 175,000 volunteers and park visitors will celebrate at more than 2,100 public land sites in all 50 states. Seven federal agencies including the US Forest Service, as well as nonprofit organizations and state, regional and local governments, participate in the annual day of caring for public lands. NPLD keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the "tree army" that worked from 1933-1942 to preserve and protect America's natural heritage. NPLD educates Americans about cultural and natural resources, and the need for shared stewardship of these valued, irreplaceable lands.

2015 Every Kind in a Park Signature Event

SAA Nominations

Living Archaeology Weekend is proud to be a signature event for the US Forest Service as part of the Every Kid in a Park program. EKiP is a new youth initiative to get children and their families and students and their teachers to experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history, and vibrant culture for free! Visitors can get free passes and apply for travel funds to visit our nation's special places. The program is presented by the White House, in collaboration with seven federal agencies and the National Park Foundation. The EKiP philosophy is "Our country is full of dazzling landscapes where you can play and learn. They protect our wildlife and resources. They let us look into the past and protect our history. Keeping them public supports a healthy planet." Living Archaeology Weekend fulfills this mission by showing the richness and intrigue of Kentucky's cultural resources from prehistory to the recent past.

Every Kid in a Park Logo
Society for American Archaeology Logo

In 2009, Living Archaeology Weekend was nominated for the Society for American Archaeology's Award for Excellence in Public Education. This award is designed to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions in the sharing of archaeological knowledge and issues with the public. The award rotates among three categories: curriculum, community, and media and information technology. In 2009 the award was in the community category, which recognizes outstanding programs or products that reflect collaborative initiatives that engage diverse communities. Though LAW was not selected, we were proud to be nominated and we congratulate the deserving winner, the Center for American Archaeology in Kampsville, Illinois.

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