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!

Shumla staff and board members at the Rancher Stewards BBQ.

A Little Bit of History

Carolyn Boyd standing in White Shaman in 1989.

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.

Carolyn describing the rock art in Panther Cave in 2003.
The 2005 Pecos Experience participants in Halo Shelter.
Missy Harrington uses a PVC didgeridoo while Carolyn, Jack Harrington, and Elton Prewitt look on during the 2005 Pecos Experience.
Brenda Norman teaching children how to make fiber cordage during a 2005 kids program.
Children learning about prehistoric lifeways during a 2006 kids program.
Former Shumla Archaeologist Angel Moody teaches children paint making during a 2009 kids program.

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!

Carolyn creating a full panel rendering of Red Beene Shelter during the 2006 Field Methods in Rock Art field school.
The 2010 Field Methods in Rock Art field school documented Black Cave in Seminole Canyon State Park.
Archaeologists Christopher Goodmaster and Erin King Helton conducting LiDAR scanning of Panther Cave in 2011.
Carolyn using an extension ladder to access Red Linear figures in Fate Bell Shelter.
Carolyn and Audrey Lindsay using a Dino-Lite microscope in Rattlesnake Canyon.
The Shumla Research Team documenting a site during 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.

Shumla Research Team members gave a short presentation on the Alexandria Project.
Shumla staff and volunteers helping to serve the BBQ.
The Shumla Harrington Campus pavilion was at full capacity for this year's celebration.
Charles teaching how to use an atlatl spear-thrower.
National Park Service archaeologist Jack Johnson teaching how to throw a rabbit stick.
The rabbit stick and atlatl station were a huge success thanks to National Park Archaeologist Jack Johnson.

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.

The Hunt Family (Howard, Howard Jr., and Heather Gibbs) were awarded the 2018 Rancher Steward of the Year Award.
Jack and Missy Harrington were awarded the Shumla Lifetime Achievement Award.

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!

Carolyn and Jessica celebrate Shumla's 20th birthday at the 2018 Shumla Rancher Steward BBQ.

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