Calling all archeology enthusiasts: Institute research station sets open house for March 19

On top of beautiful Petit Jean Mountain, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is home to one of the 10 research stations of the Arkansas Archeological Survey. The mission of the Arkansas Archeological Survey is to research and protect Arkansas’ archeological sites, preserve and manage information and collections from those sites, and share what we have learned with the citizens of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Archeological Survey, along with the Arkansas Archeological Society, participates in an annual outreach event called Arkansas Archeology Month. In celebration of Archeology Month, the WRI research station is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Although the research station welcomes visitors any time of the year, we are planning many fun and educational activities for our open house day.

 University of Central Arkansas Students trying out our atlatl.

University of Central Arkansas Students trying out our atlatl. (2015)

The research station at the Institute is located in what is called The Teaching Barn. This barn and the surrounding buildings in the “Heritage Farmstead,” as it is termed, are modeled after a real farmstead owned by the Westphal family on Petit Jean Mountain from about 1900 to 1953. The location of the orchard, vineyard, smokehouse and cellar house are all based on the real Westphal farmstead, which was located on the north edge of the mountain. In addition to the station “barn,” the smokehouse and cellar house will be open for touring.

We will have both prehistoric (before Europeans arrived in Arkansas) and historic artifacts on display. You are welcome to bring artifacts to be identified, but we do not do appraisals or allow buying or selling of artifacts at our events. You will have a chance to try your hand at spear throwing using an atlatl or play toli, a traditional Native American stickball game. There will be crafts including make-your-own petroglyph, a pictograph wall, making cordage and decorating pottery using prehistoric techniques.

University of Central Arkansas Students painting on our pictograph wall.

University of Central Arkansas Students painting on our pictograph wall. (2015)

We are going to have a couple of demonstrations as well. Ben Swadley, superintendent at the Parkin Archeological State Park, will demonstrate how Native Americans made their stone tools and arrow points by doing some flintknapping. For a historic perspective, Paul Glidewell is going to demonstrate some historic woodworking techniques.

The WRI station is developing a Native American garden at the station. Similar to the Plum Bayou garden designed by Dr. Elizabeth Horton at the Toltec Mounds research station, we will plant species that were used by Native Americans before the widespread use of corn around A.D. 1000. These ancient crops include sunflower, goosefoot, maygrass, little barley and a particular line of squash. At our open house you will be able to try out gardening in our garden with replica Native American gardening tools made out of stone, wood and antlers.

Ben Swadley flintknapping.

Ben Swadley flintknapping. (2015)

From noon to 2 p.m. ROOST (Revitalizing Ozark and Ouachita Seed Traditions) will host a seed swap at the open house. You can participate in the seed swap and help preserve Arkansas’ agricultural heritage by bringing your open pollinated seeds, their stories and other associated information to share with others.

I hope you will come join us for a day of history, exploration and hands-on learning for all ages!

For more information on the open house, contact Dr. Emily Beahm at (501) 727-6250 or


The Dirty Farmers Community Market—sharing and caring in Van Buren County

In Van Buren County, sustainability and farm-to-table are more than just buzzwords. They are reality. This is largely because of the efforts of The Dirty Farmers Community Market.

Opened in Clinton in May 2013 by Jackie and Sean Sikes, the market was an idea Jackie conceptualized while running for local office.

“I met several farmers who wanted help,” said Jackie, one of the participants in the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s Uncommon Communities program. “They needed the city to allow for a farmers market more than just one or two days a month. It took over a year to convince enough crafters and farmers to join me in starting a year-round market. It was the typical ‘if I build it, will you come?’ speech.”

She did, and they came.

Sean and Jackie Sikes

Sean and Jackie Sikes


The Dirty Farmers Community Market provides local farmers, artists and crafters with a year-round sales venue. Offerings include those typical of a farmers market: fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits, handmade goods, and other local wares.

It didn’t take long for it to grow into something more than your usual farmers market.

During the first season, volunteers would smell lunch as Jackie cooked for Sean each day. Eventually, she offered them some. They liked it and a lunch-only cafe was born. While not part of the original plan, The Greater Good Cafe has become a hit since it opened in November 2014.

The cafe operates on an “eat what you need; pay what you can” concept. Most patrons do give what they can, and they can directly see the impact of their donation.

“Our county is one of the poorest in the state,” Jackie said. “Coupled with Arkansas obesity statistics, we not only need to provide a reasonably priced meal but one that is nutritious. We see a lot of seniors on fixed income who really enjoy our meals.”

They also enjoy the cafe’s atmosphere.

“For our seniors it's not just about the meal, it's the fellowship and the feeling of belonging to the community that keeps them coming back,” she said.

The Greater Good Cafe

Doorway to The Greater Good Cafe 

This idea of fellowship can also be seen in the free, monthly workshops they offer. Past events have included learning to make bug spray, adult coloring, Easter egg hunting and pumpkin carving. Jackie sees them as a fun way to bring people of all ages to the market, especially those who might not come otherwise.

“The market has come to mean so much more than just a place to sell produce, arts and crafts. Even the cafe means so much more,” she said. “People benefit from the atmosphere surrounding the market and the people and volunteers who are there each day. It’s like one big community family.”

And that family will only continue to grow if the Sikeses have their way.

Future plans include making the cafe 90 percent farm-to-table in two years, expanding the program of feeding seniors and extending to form more community partnerships. Currently, the market works with Clinton High School’s agricultural classes to help grow plants for the program. They would like to extend their partnerships to include additional area schools and possibly Van Buren County Master Gardeners.

The Sikeses also hope to see their concept replicated in other communities.

“I can't even talk about what the market means to me without tearing up,” Jackie said. “There are different ways of sharing and caring in communities, and ours is the market.”

The Dirty Farmers Market is located at 364 Main St. in Clinton. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch in the cafe is served daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


You do a little research, you end up in Budapest

The list of things I know about Ludwig van Beethoven is a short one. I know that he was a great composer, that he was German, that he was deaf for much of his life and that he penned "Für Elise" and several other pieces that I would recognize by ear but couldn’t name.

But I’m always interested in a good story. So when I saw an article from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (UAFS) about an upcoming lecture on one of Beethoven’s works, "Opus 111," I was intrigued. I wasn’t intrigued by "Opus 111" (at least not at first). I had never heard the piece before. I was intrigued by the fact that Dr. Stephen Husarik, professor of humanities and music history at UAFS, had traveled to Budapest, Hungary, to play a piano that belonged to Beethoven himself.

Dr. Husarik will give a lecture about this experience and his research regarding "Opus 111" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the Breedlove Auditorium on the UAFS campus.

To understand the context of this story, you first have to understand a bit about Dr. Husarik. First off, he’s brilliant. He has literally written the book on humanities. Or a book, anyway. He showed me the humanities textbook he authored during my recent visit to his office in the UAFS Breedlove building.

Second, his thirst for learning and knowledge is furious. It’s evident within two minutes of conversation with him. His office, humbly tucked into a corner of Breedlove, is stuffed to the gills with books, papers, playback systems old and new … and a piano. I’m quite certain they must have built Breedlove around the piano, because I saw no other way of installing it.

His office layout and contents speak to his personality. As we talked, he glided back and forth from his desk to his piano to his collection of books and papers. If I asked a question about "Opus 111," his eyes would light up, and before the entirety of the question was out of my mouth, he had whisked past me to get to the piano to show me the answer to my question.

So how does this story wind its way to Budapest?

Husarik is a lifelong student of the works of Ludwig van Beethoven. He’s studied all of Beethoven’s works and has a ferocious enthusiasm for the composer.

As a young music student, Husarik was exposed to "Opus 111," the last of 32 piano sonatas written by Beethoven. Husarik learned to play the piece (which is no small feat) early in his academic career and has maintained an interest in it throughout his life.

It’s a complicated piece, full of nuance and mystery. Particularly curious are the piece’s variations, which take place in the sonata’s latter half. In the nearly 200 years since Beethoven’s death, scholars have debated about the nature of these variations. Husarik, through his years of studying the piece, had his own theory about Beethoven’s intentions for this section of "Opus 111," but he couldn’t prove it without going straight to the source.

“These small notes,” he said as he played a soft melody, “they just didn’t sound quite right to me when played on a modern piano.”

The story of how Beethoven acquired his original John Broadwood and Sons piano is interesting in and of itself, but to keep a long post from being extremely long, suffice it to say that it was special to him and was the first piano on which "Opus 111" was ever played.

Husarik met some resistance when he called the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, where the piano now resides. He simply wanted to play a few notes on the piano and record them for later analysis.

“I thought that if I could just hear a few notes, I’d be be able to get a better sense of how the piece is supposed to be played,” he said.

Negotiations for Husarik’s visit took eight months, and what finally swayed the museum’s curator was Husarik’s tale of being stranded by a Budapest tour bus during a previous visit to the city; Husarik made sure to communicate his pointed displeasure with this experience when speaking to the curator.

Once the curator finally relented, Husarik arrived at the museum and was surprised when they shut down an entire wing just for his visit. And instead of playing just a handful of notes, they allowed him to play a short section of "Opus 111."

At the end of the visit, which included lunch and coffee, the curator asked Husarik, “So now what do you think of Hungarian hospitality?”

Husarik said he had assumed they had granted him access because of the importance of his research.

“So I had to swallow my pride a little bit on that, but at least I got what I had come for,” he said.

And the discovery he made while examining the piano was critical to his theory. On the side of the piano was a switch that when activated would soften the sound of the piano, much like a una corda pedal. Husarik played me the recording of the notes he was allowed to play on Beethoven’s piano, which were notes from the variation portion of "Opus 111." Though it was subtle, there was certainly a difference in the sound from the recording and the sounds coming from Husarik’s own piano.

While that might not mean much to a musical Philistine like myself, to music historians it’s a significant piece of information. Modern performances of "Opus 111," while still conveying much of the majesty and mystery of the piece, fail to completely capture the notes as Beethoven first imagined them.

The entirety of "Opus 111" is fascinating, even for the untrained ear. The first movement is bombastic in the way that much of Beethoven’s music was. The second movement is much more muted and represents “a resurrection,” as Husarik put it. And somewhere in there is a segment that almost resembles jazz, though Husarik assured me “this is no boogie.” Apparently, Beethoven subdivided the notes in one section of the piece to point that it resembles a freestyle improvisation.

Husarik told me about some of his other research. He was able to examine some of Beethoven’s original sketchbooks in Paris, something he did with great reverence.

“I realized at one point that every time I turned a page, I was turning about $200,000,” he said. “No wonder the security guards were keeping a close eye on me.”

My meeting with Dr. Husarik has changed the way I listen to classical music, and it’s made me want to dig more into the history and genius of Beethoven. My guess is those who are able to attend Husarik’s lecture next week will come away with a similar excitement and curiosity.


Arkansas Artist Spotlight: Schmidt and House

Don House and Sabine Schmidt are both photographers based out of northwest Arkansas. While they each work on their own separate projects, they also come together on unique projects that combine their two contrasting styles. Both artists came to the state in different ways, but both have come to call Arkansas home. We had the chance to learn more about them in their own words, hear what makes Arkansas special to them and see what they would like for the future of arts in Arkansas.

Every person becomes an artist in a different way. How did you first become involved in the arts? How did you both come to collaborate on things like the Wichita Mountains Book Project?

Don House: My interest in photography dates to childhood, but the decision to pursue it seriously as a career came with my move to Arkansas some 30 years ago. I met Sabine Schmidt at the Fayetteville Underground studio/gallery complex four years ago when she regularly showed work at that venue. She is a photographer, but her biography does not read like those of many of my contemporaries (getting a Brownie camera as a child, setting up a darkroom in the bathroom and so on). She is a writer and translator who fell in love with Arkansas and picked up a camera late in the game as another tool to express what she was seeing, and that gives a perspective, a freshness, that is attractive and effective.

While I seek out people for my subjects, Sabine avoids them and concentrates on what they left behind, what they abandoned, so we can look at the same place at the same time and produce dramatically different images. We see the world in different ways, and because of that, when we work together, the finished images tell a more complete story than either of ours would alone.

The Visit, #4, silver gelatin print.

The Visit, #4, silver gelatin print

Sabine Schmidt: Although I’m now a photographer, I was originally a writer and translator. I still do translations for the German edition of National Geographic. I have a MFA (Master of Fine Arts), but it’s in literary translation, not in the visual arts. In fact, all of my adult life I’ve been moving back and forth between writing and art. My path to fine-art photography started with academic research into definitions of space and place, the role of walking in literature and psychogeography. I realized that I needed photography to express the insights I gained from my research.

Much of my work is the result of walking and hiking. To me, those are the best ways to experience places shaped by human actions, which is what I’m mainly interested in, whether it’s in a city or out in the Ozarks.

The Wichita project is different—it is built out of many road trips and lots of conversations about how Don House and I see landscape and people. We wanted to explore how two photographers with different styles interpret the same experience.

Sleeping In, Henryetta, Oklahoma (archival pigment print, 12x18

Sleeping In, Henryetta, Oklahoma (archival pigment print, 12 x 18")
“This image was in the 2015 Delta Exhibition. Its geometrical composition and use of color are meant to bring out the particular melancholy of a small-town weekday morning.” – Sabine Schmidt

What are some of your biggest influences/inspirations/muses?

DH: There were photographers that amazed me­­—Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Yousuf Karsh, Eugene Smith—but they came later, after I had learned the basics of technique, and they helped refine my approach. What informed my desire to photograph in the first place, determined at what I would first point my lens were writers—(John) Steinbeck, (J.D.) Salinger, E.E. cummings, (Kurt) Vonnegut. It is a love of people really. It determined that much of my work would be portraiture, and even in the most remote of wilderness settings—places that I seek out—it is the human trace that makes me set up my tripod and unpack my camera—rock walls, foundation traces, chimney falls and, perhaps most significant, cemeteries.

SS: Being from Germany and having lived in the South for most of my 20 years in the U.S., I am influenced by two different aesthetics that I am trying to blend in my own work. Within the late 20th-century/early 21st-century German approach to geometrical, almost abstract interpretations of space, photographers, such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth and Thomas Demand, have been important influences. The work of southern photographers William Eggleston and William Christenberry continues to shape how I look at my adopted home state. I spend a lot of time looking at other photographers’ work, both out of admiration and to learn from what I see. A few weeks ago, I happened to see an exhibition of work by several female Japanese photographers, including Ishiuchi Miyako. I was unfamiliar with all but one of them, but Ishiuchi’s black-and-white images in particular resonated with me.

Books and music are constant companions, but I share Paul Auster’s (a favorite author) appreciation of chance and its effects on one’s life. My paper house series was inspired by a YouTube link a friend posted. It went to a short stop-motion film of a Russian fairy tale and the set design made me think about miniatures. I was stuck at home for a few days because of snow, which gave me time to develop the idea.

Beulah Church (archival pigment print, 18 x 12

Beulah Church (archival pigment print, 18x12”)
“From the paper houses series. I discovered the empty yellow suitcase in a tiny Ozarks church and filled it with all the miniature houses I had made up to that point.” – Sabine Schmidt

What brought you to, or keeps you in, Arkansas? What makes Arkansas unique or different for artists?

DH: I've been here for 30 years, longer than I've lived in any one place, and it is perhaps the first that I would call home without any modifier attached, like for the time being or currently or for now. It is home, period. What I noticed immediately was the opportunity to live frugally, to be able to reduce expenses and concentrate on what I wanted to do as an artist. It was easier to make that happen here than elsewhere. And so many of the people I first met had made choices in their lives, had given up careers and vocations to pursue their loves, trading money for a lifestyle. There is a wonderful energy in Arkansas, from its people, its towns, its rivers that nourishes the arts and the lives of artists. The whole state acts as a muse to me, but the mountainous areas in particular. For a traditional black-and-white photographer, the textures and tonalities of the Ozarks are compelling—sandstone, limestone, lichen, moss, tree bark—and I often include the human figure as a kind of textural scale.

Randy, silver gelatin print, from the collaboration with Sabine Schmidt

Randy, silver gelatin print, from the collaboration with Sabine Schmidt - We’re Not Telling You Everything.

SS: I originally came to Arkansas from Hamburg, Germany, to attend the MFA program in creative writing and translation in Fayetteville, returned to Germany, lived in Memphis for a while and finally came back.

I’ve found Arkansas, and Fayetteville in particular, to be a friendly and encouraging place for an artist trying to start and maintain her career. People are interested in what I do, they answer my questions, review my work, are happy to collaborate, etc. Professionalization has been comparatively easy here because it’s a small community whose members often are quite approachable. The Arkansas Arts Council has been a tremendously useful resource and there are other organizations, such as the Arkansas State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, that have been helpful in building my career as an artist. We deal with the same problems artists in other states face, but overall Arkansas has a remarkable balance of very good art (and excellent galleries and museums where it can be seen) and a supportive community.


What do you hope to see in the future for the arts in Arkansas and our region?

DH: The Arkansas Arts Council has done amazing work in the 30 years I have been associated with them—the artist registry, small works on paper exhibitions, workshops, seminars, one-on-one counseling. Because they are a department of state government, there are restrictions on some activities (like lobbying), I have great hope for another organization that is just coming on the scene—Arkansans for the Arts—that will focus on bringing arts into the discussion at every level of state government and into economic development discussions. Every artist wishes for more venues to show art, more patrons of the arts, a greater chance of making a living and being able to follow the passion, and I think those two organizations will help increase the chances of success.

The Visit, #1, silver gelatin print

The Visit, #1, silver gelatin print

SS: The arts are a major force in the state’s economy, but artists seldom reap the rewards of their role at the center of this force. A radical idea: Pay artists a small monthly wage or grant that allows them to work on their art full-time, the way it’s done in some European countries. And cities, counties and the state can support artists by offering studio space, commissioning and buying their works, creating gallery spaces and organizing art festivals.

Put the arts in the schools. Make art an important part of children’s education for its own sake, not just as an add-on.

Let’s talk about the arts in more meaningful ways. The Oklahoma Arts Council has a program for training arts writers. I wish there were a similar opportunity for talented writers in Arkansas. We need more informed reviews and essays on the arts, plus outlets to publish them.

I’m a fan of places that bring first-rate art to towns and regions where one may not expect to find it, places that successfully involve their communities and become true centers of art. The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, and the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale are just a few examples.

Signal Tree House (archival pigment print, 12 x 18

Signal Tree House (archival pigment print, 12x18”)
“From the paper houses series. I used this house a lot. I made it from watercolor rag paper, which has a soft texture that catches light in interesting ways. For this image, I took advantage of the afternoon sun shining on the roots of a big cedar. It gave the scene a fairy-tale quality. The cedar is an old signal tree on War Eagle Creek.” – Sabine Schmidt

We want to thank Schmidt and House for taking the time out to answer our questions and share their thoughts and work with us. Be sure to look for their work in galleries and tours around the state, particularly in Northwest Arkansas. You can also check their respective websites (Don House and Sabine Schmidt) for more examples of their work and to keep track of their exhibitions.


This post is the first in a monthly series highlighting artists that call Arkansas home and make the arts community here one of the best in the South. Read on for a closer look at the people creating great art all across the Natural State.


As good luck would have it: Shakespeare’s First Folio coming to Arkansas

Sometimes chasing down the origins of a word or phrase can be a wild goose chase (“Romeo and Juliet”), taking forever and a day (“As You Like It”) to reach an end that’s as dead as a door nail (“Henry VI Part II”), which is why such research isn’t for the faint-hearted (“Henry VI Part I”) who don’t want to work the live long day (“Julius Caesar”) to avoid becoming a laughing stock (“The Merry Wives of Windsor”).

Luckily, many words and phrases we use today were either coined or first recorded by William Shakespeare in his plays, making them very easy for historians to pinpoint. While the actual number of words Shakespeare invented from whole cloth is a matter of scholarly debate, there’s no doubt that the Bard is one of the most important figures in all English literature and culture.

As much debate as there is around the words Shakespeare invented, scholars could be debating something even loftier—which versions of the plays are correct. After he passed away in 1616, there were several incorrect versions of Shakespeare’s plays being sold. Many of these took the form of “bad quartos,” small pamphlets containing what amounted to pirated versions of the Bard’s plays copied down from the audience or put together from actors’ recollections of the lines. These bad versions of the plays would likely still be mixed with the correct versions had it not been for what is known as the First Folio.

The First Folio, or “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies”, is a collection of 36 Shakespeare plays carefully collected and compiled by John Heminges and Henry Condell in 1623. Heminges and Condell were actors with The King’s Men, the acting troupe for which Shakespeare wrote. The duo set about producing the First Folio as a direct response to the bad quartos and to establish a definitive edition of Shakespeare’s plays. They worked not only from official quartos published while Shakespeare was alive, but also from Shakespeare’s personal writings and copies.

Of the estimated 750 copies printed, there are only 233 known copies that have survived. Of those, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, has 82 in their collection. Beyond preserving as many copies as possible, the different Folios each have unique typographical errors as they were edited and printed at the same time. This allows scholars to track the changes with each book and increase their understanding of the collected works.

In honor of the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death, the Folger has created a traveling exhibit for the First Folio that will tour all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico. The hosts for the Arkansas leg of the tour are the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (AST). The exhibit will be hosted from June 7–July 12, 2016, in the Baum Gallery on the UCA campus, which coincides perfectly with the start of AST’s 10th anniversary season. That means you’ll get the opportunity to see a piece of history up close and personal and then watch the work come to life on stage. This is a once-in-a-lifetime series of events that we can’t encourage you enough to take part in. That’s a foregone conclusion (“Othello”).


To explain this a little better ...

When Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched the Healthy Active Arkansas plan from the State Capitol on Oct. 14, I was in the back of the room. Behind all of the media. As various reporters asked their questions about the plan, which was designed to promote healthier lifestyles among all Arkansans, I tried to put myself in their shoes.

The Institute - along with other groups like the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health - has been actively involved in the creation and dissemination of the plan for several years now, so I’ve had a front-row seat to the development of each focus area, each recommendation, each statistic. But if I was being introduced to the plan with no prior context, how would I digest all of the information it holds?

The truth is, it’d be difficult to wrap my mind around it just by sitting and reading through the plan. The Arkansas Department of Health understands that. And they’re doing something about it.

From 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Feb. 4, ADH is hosting an orientation meeting designed to give fuller explanations of each of Healthy Active Arkansas’ nine focus areas. Those focus areas are:

  • Physical and built environment
  • Nutritional standards in government, institutions and the private sector
  • Nutritional standards in schools – early child care through college
  • Physical education and activity in schools – early child care through college
  • Healthy worksites
  • Access to healthy foods
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage reduction
  • Breastfeeding
  • Marketing program

The orientation meeting is open to all who are interested in learning more about the plan, especially those who are looking for ways to get involved in helping meet the plan’s two-, five- and 10-year goals.

To reserve a seat (it’s free), email Marisha DiCarlo, director of the Office of Health Communications for ADH, at The meeting will take place in the Health Department’s auditorium, located at their headquarters at 4815 W. Markham St. in Little Rock.

Since we launched the plan back in October, project leads have been identified for each of the nine focus areas. At the orientation meeting, these individuals (including me, talking about the marketing program) will each speak briefly about their specific area, their immediate goals and how others can get involved.

There’s a lot at stake here. It’s no secret that Arkansas ranks near the bottom when the states are assessed for health care outcomes. In 2014, we had the highest rate of adult obesity, and we don’t fare too well on things like diabetes and hypertension, either.

Healthy Active Arkansas is a blueprint for how we can start changing those trends. That means saving lives. It means adding quality of life to people who currently have no hope. It means kids performing better in schools and employees performing better at work (healthy people = better students and more productive workforce). It means making our state a better place to live, which in turn will attract more business here, creating more and better opportunities for Arkansans.

So I invite you to join me on Feb. 4 at the Health Department. I’d encourage you to brush up on the Healthy Active Arkansas plan before you come. You can download a free copy at


Lessons from a Nobel Laureate

Sir Harold Kroto, who received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, delivered the keynote address and a Q&A with students at the Sixth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference in December 2015. Great insights from a great man of science.


Sir Harold Kroto Keynote 12-2-15


Sir Harold Kroto Q&A at Sixth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference


A day in the life: Station archeologist Dr. Emily Beahm

When I was asked to write an article about Dr. Emily Beahm, who became the station archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s WRI research station in September 2015, I became more than a little excited. I’m serious when I say I’ve always had a fascination with archeology and geology and things going on beneath the Earth’s crust. I credit this interest to my Arkansas Delta upbringing.

In my corner of Northeast Arkansas, earthquake tremors are commonplace and arrowheads lay hidden just beneath cotton-field furrows. Plus, the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in Wilson is only a few miles away from our family farm. It houses an impressive exhibit of nationally renowned artifacts from the nearby 15-acre Nodena site. This collection of Late Mississippian Period Native American artifacts (dated A.D. 1400–1650) provided many a school-day field trip for my classmates and me.

Even with my interest in all things prehistoric, until I visited with Beahm, I was a bit clueless as to the day-to-day activities of an archeologist. You may be surprised to learn the archeological goings on not only at Petit Jean Mountain but also all around Arkansas.

Q:  Are you a native Arkansan?

A:  No, but I grew up not too far away in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I attended graduate school at the University of Georgia and did my dissertation research in Middle Tennessee ("Mississippian Polities in the Middle Cumberland Region of Tennessee"). 

Q:  How did you become interested in archeology?

A:  It seems like a lot of archeologists have cool stories about why they decided to go into the field, but I really don't. I like history and science, and I guess archeology is a way to both pursue scientific inquiry with data and learn about the past.  

Q:  So how did you end up in Arkansas and, more specifically, at WRI? 

A:  Originally, I moved to Russellville because my (then future) husband got a job at Arkansas Tech. He’s an anthropology professor. I joined the survey as an assistant at the WRI research station in September 2013. A few months ago when Dr. Stewart-Abernathy retired, I became station archeologist.

Q:  Congratulations on your new position. You couldn’t work in a more beautiful setting than Petit Jean Mountain. I suppose I’ve always romanticized archeology and imagined massive digs in exotic locales. I’m sure there’s more to it, regular “duties”. What’s a typical day like for you

A:  There’s a fair amount of variety in what I do from day to day. The Arkansas Archeological Survey's mission is to research, preserve, protect and educate the public about Arkansas' archeological resources. I often work on records management at the office—filing archeological site information and organizing our artifact collections. 

Q:  I did a bit of research on the Arkansas Archeological Survey website. I’m fascinated by the projects going on across the state, particularly the Plum Bayou Gardens at Toltec Mounds and Historic Cane Hill. What research do you have planned specific to the WRI station and surrounding area?

A:  There are several. One project that I’m working on is putting together a comparative collection at the WRI station—of artifacts ranging from historic pottery to prehistoric projectile points and chert types. I anticipate this will be a useful tool not only for those of us here at the station, but also for other local archeologists. Non-professional visitors to the station should also find this interesting. Also, I’ve begun researching the Mississippian (late prehistoric) occupation in the Arkansas River Valley. The first step in this has been to look closely at some artifacts we currently have in our collections that have not yet been analyzed. Another project that I’m excited about is the Native American garden I’m planning next to the station at WRI. It will have native cultigens—domesticated and cultivated plants used by Native Americans in the area prior to the introduction of corn. And I’m involved in the Project Dig program. This outreach program involves working with several local elementary schools.

Q:  I love that the WRI research station is working with schoolchildren. I think that’s so important.

A:  I agree. I love teaching children about the elements of culture and basic archeological methods. It’s a lot of fun and rewarding at the same time.

Q:  Do you need volunteers to help with your projects?

A:  I would be happy to have volunteers. We usually have volunteer days the third Saturday of the month. Volunteers would be especially useful this spring when I start working on the garden. If someone is interested in devoting a few hours, email me at

Thank you, Dr. Beahm! Don’t be surprised if I show up one Saturday to volunteer.

The station located at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is one of 10 Arkansas Archeological Survey research stations located throughout the state. To learn more about sites and ongoing research, visit

Read more from Talya Boerner at Grace, Grits, & Gardening.       


Arkansas Grown: Connecting Arkansas consumers with Arkansas producers

The holidays are upon us and as we look at the winter season ahead, we may be missing the fun colors and activities of fall. You may have picked your own pumpkin, then your own Christmas tree. You probably enjoyed a hayride and some hot chocolate at a nearby farm. Most people seem to be able to find these types of adventures during the fall season. But what if you want to buy local produce all year, or you are interested in activities that may be available at a local farm during the winter and spring months? The Arkansas Agriculture Department has developed a great website and program called Arkansas Grown ( to connect Arkansas consumers like you with Arkansas producers and their business information.

The Arkansas Grown website allows any producer in the state to list their marketing information at no charge. Consumers are then able to search those producers by location, type of produce or homemade product and point-of-sale options. So if you live in Conway County and want to know what type of pick-your-own operations are nearby, you can apply those filters on the Arkansas Grown website and find the farm nearest you with a description of their operation from the producer. I had a great time searching through the hundreds of farms listed on the website, and I now have several weekends booked with plans to visit the nearby farmers’ markets and pick-your-own farms in my area.

In addition to the website, Arkansas Grown has a branding program that promotes Arkansas agricultural products. The “Arkansas Grown” mark is a registered trademark of the Arkansas Agriculture Department, so if you see that logo in stores, you can be assured that you are buying a product that was grown locally. The program also has trademarks for “Arkansas Made” and “Homegrown by Heroes” to help potential buyers locate products produced by Arkansans or produce grown by Arkansas veterans. With the recent push to buy local, this program helps consumers easily spot the produce and products in stores.

So if the cold, rainy weather of winter has you missing the fun of fall, just remember to check the Arkansas Grown website to plan ahead for your next visit to a local farm or farmers’ market!


Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp: Looking back and looking forward

In July of this year we had a great training weekend for aspiring social entrepreneurs here on the mountain with the first Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. Together with our partners, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the Clinton School of Public Service and the Office of Entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas, we brought 12 teams of entrepreneurs to Petit Jean and paired them with instructors and mentors for an intense weekend of business development and training. Participants learned firsthand from experts like Permjot Valia, business mentor, angel investor and founder of Mentorcamp; Trish Flanagan, founder of Picasolar and Show Me Solar Power  and co-founder of Noble Impact; and Phyl and Jeff Amerine of Startup Junkie Consulting.

From the very first day participants were given learning opportunities through a keynote interview with notable Arkansas entrepreneur Steve Clark, founder of Propak Logistics and co-founder of Rockfish and Noble Impact, hosted by Talk Business and Politics’ Roby Brock. The next day saw workshops and one-on-one instruction from the mentors. Topics included everything from daily operations with a representative from Westrock Coffee to benefit corporations and certified B Corps with John Montgomery, author of "Great from the Start".

Some of the most intense work was done on the teams’ lean canvas business models (a one-page model that breaks down larger business concepts into nine concise segments) and three-minute elevator pitches. Those two tools helped the teams and mentors work through and refine each business’s goals, purpose and social benefit. All of the teams made amazing progress, with all going home with new goals and work to pursue and some even going on to open brick-and-mortar stores after finding investors.

We look forward to following up with our participants in the coming months and sharing some of their successes. More than that, however, we look forward to carrying on the energy and hard work from this year with a new batch of teams for the second Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp in July 2016. Keep an eye out for updates on our website. We’ll be sharing the application instructions after the New Year and will begin accepting lean canvas drafts and elevator pitch videos in February to start the selection process for the next group of aspiring social entrepreneurs.