All posts by Jordan Roberson

Situational Awareness

Day two started bright and early with breakfast at our hotel. We then accompanied Deputy Don White to the southern part of the county to conduct a search. Dr. Latham skillfully maneuvered our rental minivan Sandy off-road. There were times when we weren’t completely sure Sandy would make it, but she did! Don was provided the name and age of a missing person and the coordinates where they were last seen, so we parked as close as we could and walked to that location. Many migrants pass through the ranches following the pipelines that run north. These areas are easy to follow in one direction and are typically cleared of brush for safety and access for employees.

We performed line searches at the location of coordinates and searched the surrounding area since there are many reasons why individuals would not be found at the exact coordinate location. We ended up walking several miles searching. We found some evidence of migrant activity, such as a backpack and a couple of water bottles. However, these items did not seem like they had been left there recently. Items such as these can be important because they could indicate the presence of someone who may have passed through recently or could be in distress nearby.

Olivia and Dr. Latham on one side of our line

Izzy and Austin on the other

We saw some snakes (to Olivia’s dismay), lizards, and plenty of bugs. It was hotter today than yesterday, with a temperature feel of 102 degrees. Although we had yesterday to adjust a bit, it was still quite draining. We are getting into a good groove as a team, even though it’s been such a short time. As a team, we set goals yesterday for things to improve upon for today and we did really well! We took lots of breaks and made sure we were all drinking a lot of water and staying safe.

Austin, Olivia, Don, Dr. Latham, and Izzy on one of our breaks

Today was enlightening in many ways. There were a few times when we easily got off track from our decided course or got caught up in groupings of mesquite trees, oak trees and scrubbrush. It is an extremely difficult environment to move through and be in for long periods of time. I cannot even fathom traveling for so long, through this terrain, with limited supplies. Throughout the day there were many circumstances where situational awareness was necessary. This pertains to things like snakes and lizards, trucks, Don and his ability to blend into the environment, and the environment itself.

After our search, we went back to the hotel to eat and clean up. Some of us went to the pool to cool off. Afterward, we had our debriefing meeting and headed out to H-E-B for some more supplies. For dinner, we had Laredo Tacos, and it was delicious. Then we relaxed and rehydrated in our room. Olivia made friends with Dusty the stray cat outside the hotel while we did some laundry.

Olivia and Dusty

Where’s Don?

Izzy showing me her flower



Preparing For Texas

Preparing for the trip to the Texas/Mexico border has been exciting, it’s getting very close to time to go! The opportunity to attend this trip will cause many great changes, not only to me as a person but to the way I will strive to practice forensic anthropology in the future. The mission of this trip is important to me not only because I will be learning new techniques and applying those I already know to a different environment. But also because I feel strongly about the humanitarian crisis that we are able to lend some assistance to while in Texas. I feel like the ability to combine both forensic anthropology and humanitarian work in practice is very important for those in the field to experience and getting to do so as a student is invaluable.

I expect to face not only emotional challenges but physical ones as well. I am a bit nervous, as I have yet to experience anything like this before. I know that through the preparations I have done like speaking with those who have been on the trip before and reading many different materials related to the trip there is only so much I can gather. Experiencing it first-hand will be different but I believe that I have done what I can to be as prepared as possible. I believe the biggest physical challenge I will face will be the temperature. I am not often in environments where the temperature is as high as it is predicted to be in Falfurrias while we are there (high of 104!). This will be a challenge but I believe I am well prepared to face it.

 I am excited to work with the current team for this trip! I have had the ability to work with each person in class or while doing casework on campus but I am interested to see how we grow and work together in this new situation. It may be a bit of a challenge at first to adjust to the new situation but I think that we will all work well together and accomplish what we have set out to do. I have heard many amazing things about Eddie and Don who will be showing us the ropes while in Texas and I am very excited to meet and work with them as well!

Although there may be challenges I will face while in Texas it is nothing compared to what the migrants are being forced to face. I am happy to face them if it means I am able to help in any way. The experiences I will have and the memories I will make will stay with me forever and I am very grateful for that.