Rancher Steward BBQ – A Birthday Celebration!
By Amanda Castaneda and Jessica Lee
In early June Shumla hosted our annual Rancher Steward BBQ, an event we hold to honor and thank the many landowners, stewards, and partners that we work with throughout the year. This year marked our 8th BBQ and another very special occasion- Shumla’s 20th birthday!
A Little Bit of History
In the late 90’s Carolyn Boyd had recently finished her doctorate at Texas A&M University with a dissertation that examined rock art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands. She had fallen in love with the area and the impressive cultural resources and decided she had to a lot more work to do. She soon hatched the idea of starting a non-profit organization that focused on studying the rock art of the region and with the help of Missy and Jack Harrington and other Comstock community members, Shumla was established in 1998.
Carolyn ran Shumla from College Station for the first five years, with several trips back and forth to Comstock and Jack and Missy acting as instrumental helpers on the ground. In 2003, she and her husband, Phil, took a leap of faith and left their positions at Texas A&M and made the permanent move to Comstock. In the beginning, Shumla was focused on educational programs for both kids and adults, many of whom lived in Del Rio. These programs helped the participants understand the importance of the rock art that was just 20 miles west of their home town. Soon people from all around Texas, the United States, and the globe began coming to the Val Verde County for Shumla programs that would introduce them to what was now considered world-renown rock art.
In 2006 Shumla started running a Field Methods in Rock Art (FMRA) course for college students. These month-long field excursions put Shumla back on track to start doing detailed recordings of the pictographs, similar to the work that Carolyn did during her dissertation work. In 2008 we received our first large grant that was dedicated to recording the rock art of the region, which put us on the path that we are on today. For the past 10 years we have worked on several different projects and hundreds of different rock art sites, adjusting and improving our recording methods each year. Which brings us back to 2018, one year into one of our most ambitious projects yet – the Alexandria Project!
Shumla has achieved and accomplished so much in these past 20 years, so much so that it really cannot be adequately summarized by a blog post. But we do know one thing for certain – none of this would have been possible without the help and support of the landowners, stewards, partners, and our generous donors that have been behind us every step of the way.
Rancher Steward BBQ
The annual Rancher Steward BBQ event is one of our favorite days of the year. We invite the region’s ranchers, as well as the many agency stewards of the land to our Harrington campus west of Comstock. We give a short presentation, compete at some good ol’ fashioned atlatl spear throwing, nosh on great barbeque, and give away great door prizes at the end! It’s a time where landowners can come together and see old friends or hopefully make some new ones.
Rancher Steward of the Year Award
This year we decided to begin an annual tradition that we’re calling the Rancher Steward of the Year Award. With this award we intend to specifically recognize a community-member, landowner or steward who has gone above and beyond in their protection of the rock art and their support of Shumla’s efforts. This year’s award went to two people who have watched over arguably one of the most unique rock art sites in the Lower Pecos for almost all of their lives – the Lewis Canyon Petroglyph site. We recognized Howard and Marilyn Hunt, lifetime residents of Val Verde County. Howard and Marilyn have instilled a legacy of stewardship for the land and the rock art that their children carry on.
Shumla Lifetime Achievement Award
As it was our 20th birthday, we also felt inclined to give a very special award, the Shumla Lifetime Achievement Award. Twenty years ago when Carolyn came to Comstock she was met by Jack and Missy Harrington with open arms. Twenty years ago they believed in us, and they gave of themselves, their talents, and their resources to make our dream a reality. Shumla would have never been able to get off the ground if it weren’t for Missy and Jack Harrington and we thank them from the very bottom of our hearts.
We look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s event and for many more years to come. Cheers to another 20 years Shumla!