CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 12, 2014 — Donna Jean Rausch, administrator of the Felix Valle State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., recently was honored with the Arthur H. Mattingly Award in Historic Preservation.
The historic preservation program at Southeast Missouri State University, in conjunction with the student organization, the Historic Preservation Association, presented the annual alumni award April 26.
The award is presented to a graduate of Southeast’s historic preservation program who holds either a Bachelor of Science in historic preservation or a Master of Arts in history with an option in historic preservation. The recipient must be employed in a professional position in the historic preservation field, have five years of professional experience and have demonstrated distinguished professional work that brings credit to Southeast’s historic preservation program and the profession.
Rausch earned a Bachelor of Science in historic preservation from Southeast in 2000, with minors in anthropology and archeology. She went on to receive a master’s degree in anthropology/archeology from the University of Mississippi.
As a graduate student, she was part of the National Park Service’s Southeastern Archeological Center’s Shiloh Mounds Archeological Project at Shiloh National Military Park. In 2002, when one of the largest temple mounds in south-central Tennessee was threatened with destruction from erosion by the Tennessee River, the Southeastern Archeological Center began the largest archeological dig ever planned by the National Park Service.
For her master’s thesis, she completed a study of European Glass Trade Beads that had been excavated from several sites around Tupelo, Miss., in the late 1930s. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, this project held special meaning for Rausch.
“She has spent her entire career trying to develop these kinds of ‘eye-opening experiences,’ to help other people realize that same kind of connection between their lives today and the history that surrounds them,” said Dr. Steven Hoffman, Southeast professor of history and coordinator of the historic preservation program.
Rausch previously was employed as an education outreach specialist with the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum at Southeast Missouri State University’s regional history museum. In that position, she drove the Southeast Explorer, a 38-foot-long mobile teaching and learning center–through the back roads and byways of southeast Missouri.
She also served as an interpreter at Parkin Archeological Site in Parkin, Ark., and has her National Park Service certification in interpretation. She has spent the last five years as an interpreter at Felix Valle State Historic Site, where she is currently the site administrator. She co-teaches Southeast Missouri State University’s annual summer field school with Hoffman in Ste. Genevieve and continues to give back to Southeast’s historic preservation program, returning to campus to teach Hoffman’s HP100 students about heritage education, and supervising students completing internships and special projects.
“She has no end of patience, and I can tell you she is an excellent instructor,” Hoffman said.
In 2012, the Missouri Parks Association honored Rausch with their “Employee of the Year” award for her “outstanding leadership in coordinating the State Park Youth Corps program,” he said.