Robin Connors Retires as Park Archaeologist


Robin Connors officially retired as State Park Archaeologist at the Colorado Desert District on April 30 after more than five years of outstanding leadership.  The occasion was Robin Connors, State Park Archaeologistmarked by the presentation of a memory book that fellow archaeologist Hayley Elsken had compiled for her, and a festive drive-by parade the following afternoon at her home in Borrego Springs

Hayley writes about the presentation: “The Park had a small group of ten people cram into the BARC library to let Robin know how much every discipline appreciated working with her.  We all wore masks and maintained a 6-foot distance.  I presented Robin with the book that contained lovely photos and good wishes from her colleagues and friends at CDD and CDAS.”

Each attendee said one thing they were going to miss the most — and appreciated the most — about Robin.  A  strong theme was Robin’s team attitude.  She worked with the Natural, Paleo, Maintenance, Administration, Law Enforcement and Interpretation departments to make sure their projects could happen, as well as help other disciplines understand the importance of the cultural resources.  

Robin could always be counted on as a reliable person to assist with any project that came to the district. Throughout the day, other employees  who were not able to safely attend the gathering, stopped by one by one to offer their congratulations and thanks to Robin for the lasting positive effect she had on the CDD. Everyone agreed that Robin will be greatly missed at the park and the BARC will never be the same without her.

Robin Connors and Haley Eskalen at Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia in 2019.      Robin and Haley in Mongolia

Robin’s Accomplishments

by Chuck Bennett


  • Robin Connors worked diligently building and improving the Cultural Resource Management Program for the Colorado Desert District.  For years, she trained, mentored, and managed the archaeology volunteers and has been integral to the success of the archaeology program. 
  • Soon after arriving at CDD, Robin developed a far-reaching and comprehensive plan for CDD Cultural Resources.  Under her leadership, CDAS volunteers completely remodeled the Begole Library, providing a welcoming meeting area, artifact displays and a research library. 
  • She initiated an inventory of the artifact collection.  Noting the probable antiquity of a number of artifacts, Robin reached out to recognized lithic researchers who used relatively new testing methods to establish very early dates for these artifacts.   
  • Robin found the division between archaeology technicians and site stewards to be counterproductive and integrated the two groups into a single cohesive organization.    
  • She worked with the paleontology group to perform a joint excavation of a mammoth fossil.  This combined effort forged new ground and established a benchmark for future projects.       
  • Robin led several teams of CDAS volunteers to rehabilitate vandalized archaeological sites in Cuyamaca.  Today, after these efforts, no evidence of the vandalism can be detected.
  • In 2018, Robin was awarded the 2016 Frederick Law Olmsted Leadership and Vision Award by the California State Parks Director for her ability to motivate and inspire others to positive action.

She has consistently demonstrated long-term commitment to the ideals and values of our department and has been passionate about protecting the archaeological resources of our parks and preserving the cultural landscapes of the previous inhabitants.