San Felipe de Austin Heritage Learning Project Receives Special Award

The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site’s Heritage Learning Project received the E. Mott Davis award for excellence in public outreach in archeology today from the Council of Texas Archeologists.

Working in conjunction with the THC, Coastal Environments, Inc. (CEI) helped assess the proposed construction site for a new visitors center at San Felipe de Austin. As part of this project, CEI teamed with the THC to form the San Felipe de Austin Heritage Learning Project. CEI archeologist Dr. Jon Lohse reached out to Carol Salva, a special education teacher from the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston, to involve students in authentic, problem-oriented learning opportunities.

The San Felipe de Austin Heritage Learning project is an ongoing initiative that uses archeology at the birthplace of Texas independence to create excitement about learning. “The fact that the subject matter involves this important historical site means that students concurrently learn about archeology and Texas history,” said Bryan McAuley, site manager at San Felipe de Austin.

Content created during the course of this project is posted and archived in an accessible manner to allow participants to receive updates about new topics, postings, and project developments. This included posts to social media outlets that were easily accessible for the students.

“It has been deeply rewarding to see students across wide grade levels and various educational disciplines connect with our site and take an interest in it,” McAuley added. “Jon Lohse and Carol Salva brought dynamic vision to the process of using public archeology in inspiring and engaging ways. This award is a fitting honor for their efforts.”

San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, one of 22 historic sites managed by the THC, honors Stephen F. Austin and his early settlers to Mexican Texas and the events leading to Texas independence. Located on the Brazos River, the site is near the heart of the original township of San Felipe de Austin, founded by Austin in 1823 as the headquarters of his colony. The site includes a bronze statue of Stephen F. Austin, a replica log cabin, and the Josey Store Visitors Center. Plans are currently underway to build a new visitors center at San Felipe de Austin which is scheduled to open to the public in spring 2018.