AARP Eye Center
"Help protect Arizona's irreplaceable cultural resources by becoming a Steward of the past. If you are interested in becoming a Site Steward click on the link near the bottom of the page to view the program's website and videos. If this is something you would like to do please click here (www.azsitesteward.org) to register and complete an application."
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being an Arizona Site Steward for the past 30 years. I’m now 75 and it keeps me hiking and learning… about history, culture, wildlife, the environment. It provides an opportunity to enjoy and photograph the wonders of Arizona nature year-round while at the same time helping to protect archeological, historic and cultural sites.
Jim Herrewig, Site Steward, Sierra Vista Region, 30 years in program
It is called the Arizona Site Steward Program (SSP) and in the 1980’s, in response to the continual and widespread looting of archaeological sites and Native American graves, the program was created by then Governor Bruce Babbitt, as part of a series of efforts to slow the damage and theft of sites and antiquities. For the SSP, land managers such as the U.S Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal, state, and local governments work with community members (Stewards), provide training and guidance on monitoring sites. Many participating archaeologists have commented since the late 1980’s, that no other program has been developed that best connects community volunteers, many of whom are seniors, in an effort to preserve historic and pre-historic archaeological sites throughout Arizona.
“Volunteering is a wonderful way for seniors to remain active and healthy. The AZ Site Steward Program enables us to connect with like-minded people and engage in healthy outdoor activity. When we hike in our beautiful desert, we feel better both physically and mentally uplifted. An added plus is the fact we go out with purpose: helping to preserve our cultural resources!”
Jenny Anderson, Site Steward Program, Lake Havasu, 20 years in program
While we do have a number of volunteers between the ages of 20-50, and our youngest member is 16, the majority of our members are over 60 and just over 200 are age 70 or higher. Many factors contribute to why this program draws so many seniors. There is no schedule -you can visit your assigned sites whenever you can. This is especially important to our seniors who spend part of their time in Arizona, the other part somewhere much cooler, and maintain a schedule of medical appointments.
For many, the love of hiking in nature is the draw -whether it is traversing the Sonoran desert or trudging through winter snows, surrounded by Ponderosa Pines in Coconino National Forrest. These individuals are staying active and healthy because of the program they love. Additionally, Stewards, develop new friends who become lifelong friends and even more importantly, Stewards are always rewarded with that wonderful feeling that you receive in knowing you are helping to preserve cultural resources that are always at risk from looters and others. All these activities and experiences are why so many people in the Site Steward Program stay for years and decades, including more than two-dozen members who have been in the program for 30+ years and are still very active.
To learn more about the Site Steward program please visit: https://azstateparks.com/arizona-site-stewards-volunteer-program