As high school students ponder which career to pursue, historic preservation might not come immediately to mind. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is working with its partners on ways to change that.

The fields of historic preservation and cultural resources management are currently experiencing shortages of skilled candidates to fill jobs necessary to support the national historic preservation program. This year, the ACHP embarked on a multi-faceted project to attract high school and college students to careers in historic preservation.

On December 6, 2022, ACHP Deputy General Counsel Kelly Fanizzo traveled to Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School, the grade 9-12 program of Cranbrook Schools. Cranbrook is a college preparatory day and boarding educational institution located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan that is nationally recognized for its academic excellence. Founded in 1904, Cranbrook’s 319-acre campus is a National Historic Landmark, including the Cranbrook and Saarinen Houses.

Fanizzo presented a lesson on historic preservation law to 10 junior and senior-level high school students in the History of American Architecture class, taught by teacher Pamela German.

German, who has a Bachelor of Arts in history from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University, has a deep interest in historic preservation. Since returning to the classroom after completing her Master’s, she had been brainstorming ways to include architecture and preservation in more of her classes. She was able to create a full semester-long course due to the internal support she has with the history department, chaired by Frank Wiswall. He put German in touch with the ACHP through his wife, Caroline Henry, who, as Federal Preservation Officer, represents the Department of the Interior on the ACHP.

Fanizzo gave students an overview of the federal, state, and local legal systems and talked about how historic preservation laws at each level impact real property. She reviewed the major national historic preservation laws and spent some time discussing why they are important, their purpose, and in some cases, to which historical events they responded.

Fanizzo also talked about the National Historic Preservation Act, which created the ACHP and the National Register of Historic Places, and explained the Section 106 review process, requiring federal agencies to consider historic preservation when undertaking a project of any type.

“The students engaged in learning more about the field of historic preservation, possible careers, and how the laws work,” Fanizzo said. “Many students do not realize that historic preservation exists as a profession, or that so many other fields, such as archaeology, architecture, anthropology, and the law, all play a part in historic preservation.”

German said students were especially interested in the section of Fanizzo’s presentation on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the laws and responsibilities that now require Native American remains to be cataloged and respectfully returned to their tribes for proper burial, which was new information for them. She said that by learning about historic preservation, she hopes her students will gain a better appreciation of the built environment of American history and an even greater appreciation for the places and stories that are preserved within them.

“I am hopeful that the students now have a better understanding of the work of preservation and that it is practiced across all government agencies and levels,” German said. “I’d love for our students to consider how they also can contribute to this important work as they move forward in their academic and professional futures.”

The ACHP and Cranbrook will continue working together when the ACHP hosts a Cranbrook senior in May for his senior project focusing on historic preservation.

Learn more about historic preservation-related careers, internships, and other opportunities by going to the ACHP’s Historic Preservation Workforce Development page.