MESA PRIETA PETROGLYPH PROJECT

A Project to Protect a Place

Velarde, NM   |  mesaprietapetroglyphs.org

Mission

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, including the promotion of heritage stewardship and the preservation of archaeological features and the environment and cultural landscape of the Mesa Prieta region of the northern Rio Grande Valley through documentation, education and outreach.

Notes from the nonprofit

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project is uniquely positioned to lead documentation and research on human history in the Mesa Prieta area over 10,000 years. It is also uniquely prepared and qualified to provide educational programming and heritage preservation leadership to the community related to this human history and culture.

Ruling year info

1999

Project Director

Jennifer Goyette

Board President

Mr. Alec Kersco

Main address

PO Box 407

Velarde, NM 87582 USA

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Formerly known as

Vecinos del Rio

EIN

85-0464041

NTEE code info

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

Education N.E.C. (B99)

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Harm reduction to the cultural landscape and education of others about local heritage and preservation.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Summer Youth Intern Program

MPPP's Summer Youth Intern Program, until 2012 a partnership with the BLM Taos Field Office, records petroglyphs and other features on Mesa Prieta that were made by Archaic, Ancestral Pueblo, Historic and Anglo-American peoples. The program has received two prestigious awards: the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Piñon Award in 2006 was a milestone. In 2011, it won the national Take Pride in American award for Public – Private Partnerships. Now in its 14th year, the program recruits local Pueblo, Hispano and other students ages 13-18 to be trained to record petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta for two weeks each June. At present, this program is supported financially in large part by the private landowner on whose land the interns record. Scientific methodology includes GPS mapping, digital photography, metric measurement, scientific drafting and Geographical Information System plotting, all marketable skills.

Each year, application forms are sent out and applicants write a short essay describing what they expect to learn from the program and why they should be chosen. Twelve are selected, along with four Team Leaders and one Lead Intern.

In partnership with the Heritage Center, one classroom day is given to interns and adult volunteer mentors, covering cultural history, geology and geomorphology, petroglyph classification according to NM Rock Art Council standards, photography, GPS use, recording protocols, teamwork and safety. An archaeologist from the NM Office of Archaeological Studies also participates. Interns then record on the mesa for eight mornings. On the last day, at Northern New Mexico College, interns are taught to enter their GPS data into a GIS database to view their recording data in its geographical context.

Interns record petroglyphs and other archaeological features such as structures and trails that may have been created and used by their own ancestors! Their experience is self-evaluated in pre- and post-assessments and narrative feedback. Adult volunteers and program staff also evaluate the program. Each intern receives a gift, a Certificate of Appreciation and a stipend for their work, and their photographs and recording sheets are preserved for future generations at the Archaeological Records Management Section of the NM State Heritage Preservation Office, Department of Cultural Affairs.

Population(s) Served

We believe that the most effective way to ensure the preservation of petroglyphs on the mesa is to educate local people about them and their importance. To this end, in 2009 the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project developed a STEM-based 4th grade curriculum, Discovering Mesa Prieta: The Petroglyphs of Northern New Mexico and the People Who Made Them. It is being taught in about 10 local Pueblo and other community schools, with new teachers being trained in its implementation every year. Some 200 school children, plus their parents, teachers, principals and bus drivers, benefit from this instruction each year. Not only do they learn about the importance of heritage stewardship for the state and the country, but they learn why it is important to themselves to make personal connections. The curriculum includes a visit to the Wells Petroglyph Preserve to walk the trails and apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom to the actual petroglyphs in their natural and cultural landscape. Many of these children have never hiked in their lives. We take First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiatives promoting children’s physical exercise to heart.

The 2009 edition focused mainly on Ancestral Pueblo history and culture, explored through the lens of the petroglyphs on the mesa. Since there are also many Historic Period glyphs present, and many historical Hispano villages in the area, we decided to expand the content to address that. The Project was successful in receiving a grant from the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs' Historic Preservation Division in 2014. This support has enabled the development of extensive new text and visual content for our curriculum which celebrates local Hispano history and culture. A new unit called La Entrada explores the arrival in 1598 of Juan de Oñate's crowd of European settlers and the effects, good and bad, of that historical event. A second large unit features a fictional Colonial village in northern New Mexico, the people who lived there and what they did. This allows a historical look at cultural activities that students are participating in today: casas y comidas, agriculture and acequias, villages and settlement patterns, sheep herding and weaving, curanderismo, childhood, fiestas, etc. The content is image-rich, interactive and is translated into Spanish. As well, it is available free on a new website accessible to all via the MPPP website. An annual teacher training is given to local teachers in its implementation and resource trunks and teacher support are provided.

The side-by-side and superimposed petroglyph images of many people over 7500 years on Mesa Prieta is a metaphor for the cultural incomings and interactions over those years that have made northern New Mexico the vibrant place it is today. We hope to expand the use of the curriculum into the Albuquerque area over the next year.

Population(s) Served

This program focuses on recognition of the importance of the largely undisturbed natural environment that northern New Mexico's Mesa Prieta embodies. In 2014, the Wells Petroglyph Preserve on Mesa Prieta was recognized by the Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C. as one of 11 at-risk and threatened art-in-the-landscape site in the United States. Program activities include monitoring and remediation of potential and actual erosion of the fragile base materials which underpin the basalt boulders of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve on Mesa Prieta, especially at road cuts and on tour trails. Further activities include the routine condition and security reporting of boulders and terrain during petroglyph recording on other private properties on the mesa.

The boulders are significant as they are the canvases on which thousands of petroglyphs have been created over 7500 years. Before there were highways and maps, there was the landscape, within which people of prehistoric and historic times traveled for subsistence and socio-cultural reasons. Cultural landscape is an essential component of cultural connection and identity and its preservation is critical to the understanding of the human use of Mesa Prieta over thousands of years.

While resources for erosion remediation are slim and depend on time available, The Archaeological Conservancy (the owner of the Wells Preserve) for materials and volunteers for labor, a preliminary understanding of areas of critical concern is being built.

The school curriculum and docent-led tours of the Wells Preserve address the geology and geomorphology of the mesa as well as the history and importance aboriginal use of plants and animals, early agriculture and animal husbandry. As well, the development of an inventory of the geological and biological assemblage is being considered, in order to integrate this information into recorder training to create a broader picture of conditions on the mesa. With the possibility of increased human traffic on the mesa, continuing drought and wildfire potential, a benchmark needs to be created.

Population(s) Served

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project trains volunteers in recording of petroglyphs and other archaeological features according to the protocols of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico's Rock Art Council. To date more than 45,000 individual petroglyphs have been recorded. As well, many Cultural Landscape features such as trails, structures and water management constructions have also been recorded. The mesa has been divided into about 20 landowner properties. Two large properties have been subdivided into 200 x 400 m. recording proveniences which are being surveyed by teams. Once each is completed, photos are processed and recording paperwork scanned. In 2015, digital data will be uploaded to three professionally staffed servers in three geographically separated cities across the United States for preservation. Data will also be entered into MPPP's GIS database which can be queried by researchers for interpretation and the creation of new knowledge about human activity in the area over 10,000 years. Reports will begin to be forwarded to NM's Archaeological Records Management Section in 2015.

Some 35 volunteer recorders on 11 teams record year-round on Mesa Prieta. Teams are provided with recording equipment: pack, box for paperwork, digital camera, GPS receiver, photo shade, metric measuring tape. At training, recorders commit to working in the field once a month for one year, weather permitting. Some have been with the project for more than 10 years. Ages range from late-twenties to 85! It is thought that there may be 75,000 images on the mesa in total: another 15 years is envisaged for completion of this program.

Population(s) Served

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project conducts tours of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve, the most concentrated area of petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta. With perhaps as many as 10,000 images, the Wells Preserve was registered as a State Cultural Property and a National Historic Place in 1999. Six tour trails on the Preserve are maintained by terrain preservation volunteers with materials provided by The Archaeological Conservancy, non-profit owner of the Preserve. About 15 trained volunteer docents give some 75 tours to about 600 adults and school children annually. Four public tours are presented each year: two in spring and two in autumn. As well, private tours are given to groups and individuals year round. Minimum age is 10 years. Those wishing to visit the Preserve can sign up online on our website. Tours are about two hours long. Visitors learn about the geology of the mesa, the cultural history of those who left their images on the basalt boulders over more than 5000 years and the importance of heritage and environmental preservation. Native Americans are especially encouraged to view the petroglyphs, free of charge: many of them may have been made by their own ancestors. Other visitors pay a fee to support project project programs.

Population(s) Served

From January to April each year, in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs' Historic Sites, the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project presents a public presentation series on the last Tuesday evening of each month. The venue is Historic Los Luceros on the northern Rio Grande, a popular heritage property that, importantly, features both an Ancestral Pueblo village and an early Spanish Colonial property. Presentations are given by experts on archaeology, geology and other topics, including a visually-rich PowerPoint given by our Recording Coordinator on MPPP recording and discoveries on Mesa Prieta during the previous field season. Coffee, tea and snacks are provided. MPPP branded merchandise is available for purchase.

Population(s) Served

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project maintains a small library at our office in Velarde, NM, which focuses on petroglyphs and pictographs around the world, Native American and Hispano history and culture in the Southwest, and the archaeology, history, arts, geography and biology of the northern Rio Grande Valley. Donations of books and other resource materials are solicited from volunteers and others and area available to teachers, students, volunteers and others. It is not open to the general public, but is intended to be a resource for our educational programming. A vertical file is also maintained related to local information. Oral histories of local residents are maintained here as well. One volunteer manages loans and accessions in a Filemaker database.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Tours of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Context Notes

Free cultural tours of the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project

Number of paid participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Tours of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Context Notes

Paid tours of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Maximum number of participants allowed on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Tours of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Context Notes

Limit of tour availability to prevent erosion and preserve visitor experience

Average price of field trip tickets

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Tours of the Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Total number of fields trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

School Curriculum Program

Context Notes

total number of school tours / field trips facilitated annually to the Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Number of children who have the ability to understand and comprehend communication

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Summer Youth Intern Program

Context Notes

Summer Youth Intern Program students

Number of students who demonstrate writing ability

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Summer Youth Intern Program

Context Notes

Nature journal writing activity within the Summer Youth Intern Program

Number of educators who have opportunities to attend programs offered by professional organizations

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

School Curriculum Program

Context Notes

Elementary education instructors attending annual professional development seminar

Number of students showing interest in topics related to STEM

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

School Curriculum Program

Context Notes

Number of youth reached through STEM based curriculum and field trips

Number of job skills training courses/workshops conducted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

School Curriculum Program

Context Notes

annual Professional Development Seminar for area teachers based on our curriculum guide, Discovering Mesa Prieta

Number of works on loan to others

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

School Curriculum Program

Context Notes

Activity trunks to local area school and in 2017 the STEM to Read program within the State Library

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Petroglyph Pláticas Public Presentations

Context Notes

Annual lecture series focused on local history and culture

Number of press articles published

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

MPPP Research Library

Context Notes

Notable important outreach for the organization; housed in our onsite library

Number of students demonstrating responsible behaviors and work habits

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Summer Youth Intern Program

Context Notes

Competitive program requiring self direction and responsible behavior in a field environment.

Number of students receiving personal instruction and feedback about their performance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Summer Youth Intern Program

Context Notes

Each student receives personal feedback through journal entries and youth leaders receive one on one guidance.

Area of land, in hectares, indirectly controlled by the organization and under sustainable cultivation or sustainable stewardship

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Environmental Stewardship

Context Notes

The Wells Petroglyph Preserve

Number of rallies/events/conferences/lectures held to further mission

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Petroglyph Pláticas Public Presentations

Context Notes

Annual lecture series on local history and culture

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Context Notes

Hours are inclusive of all areas of the project

Number of volunteer management professionals trained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Archaeological Recording Program

Context Notes

Independent Field Trainees to help run the Petroglyph Recording program

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project aims to preserve and protect the petroglyphs and other archaeological features of Mesa Prieta by promoting cultural connections in local communities and across the state. MPPP also aims to record all archaeological features on the mesa and to preserve the data created in perpetuity. A third goal is to understand the hydraulic processes at work on the mesa, to preserve the largely undisturbed terrain and bio/geographical environment and remediate severe erosion where possible.

Preservation happens through education. MPPP addresses youth disenfranchisement through our national award-winning Summer Youth Intern Program for Pueblo and Hispano high school students. Petroglyph recorder training provides education in cultural history and connections, attunes young people to their cultural landscape and teaches marketable skills in archaeology, science, anthropology and mapping technology. Field experience develops teamwork skills, provides close-up experience of the natural world and instills lifelong respect and heritage ethics. Our STEM-based school curriculum, "Discovering Mesa Prieta," and teacher training program celebrates Puebloan and Hispano history and culture in northern New Mexico through the lens of petroglyphs on the mesa, is appropriate for all levels from 4th grade to adult education and is available to all on our website. Heritage preservation is a major message of this program. Members of the community also receive this message during our Petroglyph Pláticas public presentation program at Historic Los Luceros.

The Environmental Stewardship program addresses the primary threat to archaeological features on Mesa Prieta: severe erosion of the fragile sandy base on which the basalt boulders lie. Petroglyphs have been created on these boulders and are at risk of destruction and displacement when erosion unseats them. Erosion also threatens structures, trails and other cultural landscape features. Tour trails and many other areas are monitored for damage and potential threats. Installation of protective straw wattles and bales and other strategies interrupt down cutting by water and the flow of eroded silt.

Our well-developed recording program comprises archaeological recording of petroglyphs and other features on Mesa Prieta and preserves the resulting data in perpetuity. About 30 trained volunteers are recording year round on 6500 acres of privately owned land.

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project is directed by a qualified professional who reports to the Board of Directors and coordinates project administration, activities, programs and 100 volunteers. She also writes successful grant proposals. The Board and the Fundraising Committee are responsible for other fund raising to support the project. The Summer Youth Intern Program is supported financially in large part by the landowner on which youth recording takes place. The Chief Archaeologist conducts the training of interns and adult volunteers, coordinates the implementation of the field work, processes all field data and creates reports. The School Curriculum Program is overseen by the Project Director and implemented by retired and active teachers in local schools. The teacher training workshop is conducted by our Education Coordinator with Española Public Schools. This program is supported by several grants and individual donors.

The Environmental Stewardship Program is an offshoot of the Tour and Recording programs, based originally on the need for trails maintenance caused by human and animal traffic and the effects of rainstorms during droughts. Volunteers monitor trails and the general terrain as part of the Site Steward program on the Wells Petroglyph Preserve. Volunteer terrain maintenance crews perform the physical remediation work with their own tools and the owner of the Preserve, The Archaeological Conservancy, reimburses the project for materials expenses. Individuals trained in trail design, construction and maintenance have advised the project on methods.

About one-third of volunteers are petroglyph recorders. They are trained mercilessly in best recording practices by our very capable Recording Coordinator and are closely monitored in the field. In 2013, recorders logged more than 4000 hours in the field, not including their travel time. Several recorders have been with the program for 10 years or more. Computer and software capacity at our office in Velarde is excellent for handling data processing and storage and locked fire-proof filing cabinets provide security for paperwork. Disc storage of digital data includes off-site storage and, in addition, digital data are stored on remote servers across the United States. Funds to support the purchase of recording equipment and supplies derives from small grants and individual donors. An excellent relationship with the landowner and his family allows us to plan for the future of this program. Expertise and support is available for data reporting and online form filling at the Archaeological Records Management Section .

The Summer Youth Intern Program proceeds and has weathered the transition from BLM partnership to private landowner support. It is now integrated with our regular recording program which allows planning for the future. More environmental education and leadership training is included in the program. Increased participation by Ohkay Owingeh and other pueblo youth is valuable. The program is newly partnered with Northern New Mexico College to provide dual credit for eligible students.

The addition of two new units in the 2014 edition of the school curriculum guide, Discovering Mesa Prieta, has expanded the program beyond its former emphasis on Ancestral Pueblo culture to include Hispano history and culture, an obvious lack in the previous edition. We have a new Education coordinator and have recently increased circulation of materials by providing materials to the STEM to Read program in the State Library System.

The Recording Program is very healthy and progressing well under the leadership of the Recording Coordinator. More than 55,000 or the estimated 100,000 petroglyphs have been recorded. Of course, this estimation keeps rising! Recorder retention is very high, especially in the last two years with more stringent training. Our relationships with landowners is growing. There are landowners on the mesa whom we have not yet contacted for permission to record. What has not been done is the completion of our GIS database and the entry of all data for some 55,000 images- and counting! Reporting to the Archaeological Records Management Section on our data is our next priority.

Financials

MESA PRIETA PETROGLYPH PROJECT
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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MESA PRIETA PETROGLYPH PROJECT

Board of directors
as of 4/29/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Alec Kersco


Board co-chair

Katherine Wells

Norman Doggett

Sue Johnston

Porter Swentzell

Institute of American Indian Arts

Matthew Martinez

Northern New Mexico College

Jan Martenson

Gretchen Yost

Alec Kercso

John Kincheloe

Susan McClintock

Joaquin Gallegos

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes