Samantha "Sam" Bomkamp recently started as the collections manager of the Blackwater Draw Museum and the Eastern New Mexico University Curation Facility. She received a bachelor's degree in anthropology in May 2016 and a master's degree in anthropology with certificates in museum studies and nonprofit management in May 2020, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Sam held internships at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Milwaukee Public Museum in Wisconsin, the Logan Museum of Anthropology in Beloit, Wisconsin, and the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Her private sector Cultural Resource Management (CRM) experience includes the Commonwealth Heritage Group, located in Milwaukee, and UW-Milwaukee CRM. Her nonprofit/academia work spans from the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado, to a UW-Milwaukee field survey in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
She discusses her role at ENMU and what drew her to Portales, New Mexico.
Tell us about your work as the collections manager.
I am tasked with caring for the artifacts held at the museum and curation facility. These artifacts are held for many reasons such as educational programming, exhibition, research and preservation for future generations. A large portion of this is related to research and fostering student access. Many ENMU students use the collections in a variety of ways through classes or individual research projects, such as master's theses. I also assist in running the Blackwater Draw Museum, including changing exhibits for our visitors and educational programs throughout the year.
What drew you to this position at ENMU?
The Blackwater Draw site is an important archaeological site that is well known in the archaeological community; the opportunity to work in such a place is an honor. I have been seeking a job in the Southwest region upon graduating, and I enjoyed visiting the museum and site in 2019 when I was in the area.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I enjoy learning, preserving, and sharing human history. When I can engage someone and get them interested in history, that is the best feeling. I am glad this position has a close relationship with ENMU students, but also will allow me to work with the public and school-age children. All of these groups offer such unique ways of learning.
What goals do you have for your position?
I look forward to fostering student engagement with the museum and collections. I am hoping to make the artifacts more accessible and relevant to the ENMU community and the broader region as well.
What is your favorite thing about Eastern?
Right away, I could tell that ENMU has a great sense of community. I was welcomed with open arms in such a genuine way. Students and other faculty and staff were excited to have me join their team and offered to go out of their way to help me with anything I needed.
Are you involved in any organizations or volunteer work?
I am a member of many professional groups, such as the Society of American Archaeology and the American Alliance of Museums. I try to attend as many conferences as I can (during a non-COVID year). I volunteered as a board member of the Rock County Historical Society in my hometown (Janesville, Wisconsin) and volunteered for the last two years for a great program called Letters to a Pre-Scientist, where scientists of all kind volunteer to be a pen pal to a student in areas with less exposure to the STEM field.
Tell us about your background.
My hometown is Janesville, Wisconsin. My family still lives in Wisconsin. I have one younger brother. They have all been very supportive of my career and education.
Who influences you? Who is your role model?
I had a mentor throughout undergraduate and graduate school that really encouraged me to try different things in a variety of ways. She often said that trying new things is how you find out what you like and what you don't. For me, this meant lots of internships! But also go for things that you might think you can't land, such as jobs or funding. You might be surprised in yourself, and regardless it is a learning experience.
What kinds of accomplishments and awards have you earned?
Throughout college, I was lucky enough to earn quite a bit of funding for professional development in the form of conference funding. I also received several scholarships and research awards for my master's thesis research.
What are your hobbies?
Hiking and exploring National or State Parks, knitting and painting.
Favorite place you have traveled?
Chihuahua, Mexico. I traveled in 2019 on an archaeological education trip with Crow Canyon Archaeological Center to visit archaeological sites throughout the Casas Grandes region. This culture was the topic of my master's thesis, and the trip added invaluable knowledge for my research.
Share an interesting fact about yourself.
I am scuba certified. If I had unlimited time and money, I'd love to pursue an education in underwater archaeology to complement my terrestrial archaeology experience.
Sam at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) Conference in Albuquerque in 2019 with fellow archaeologists.