Monday, February 10, 2014

Today is the official first day of operation for the newly combined Northeast and East Central region of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.  While we've known these changes were coming since the last board meeting in May, we have not gone into too many details with the public about how the change would be expressed going forward.  Mostly because we didn't know!  We have met to discuss our strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, and are going forward with a plan to maintain full coverage in both regions.

Meet the team!

Sarah Miller, Emily Jane Murray, Robbie Boggs, Kevin Gidusko, Ryan Harke, Toni Wallace.

As I've been traveling around the region introducing myself, there is already a standard list of FAQs I've received from the public.  Here are the top 7:

1.  Why is FPAN consolidating regions?

The easy answer is decreased operating funds, but it's more complicated than that.  Funding has been substantially reduced year to year, but the turnover of staff is also an ongoing strain to services. When Directors Rich Estabrook and Annette Snapp left, these positions remained vacant as FPAN paused to consider its options and began operating two centers under one host.  There are still 8 regions of FPAN, but only 4 hosting institutions (UWF, USF, FAU, and Flagler College).  For the official language behind the consolidation, please reference Executive Director Bill Lees blog post on the restructuring.

2.  What's happening to Kevin?

Kevin Gidusko will continue as Outreach Coordinator/Public Archaeologist for the East Central region.  His contact info has changed, new email and phone number available on FPAN staff page.  He is not alone- Emily Jane Murray will serve in a flex position between to the two regions to offer program support, develop her own outreach programs, and continue adding to her suite of Virtual Florida Fieldtrips.  Between them and myself, we will maintain full service to the East Central region.
3.  What happened to Rachel?

Dr. Rachel Wentz was hired as the Regional Director back when the center was hosted by Brevard Community College.  The center moved to be hosted at the Florida Historical Society in Cocoa.  If you read Dr. Lees post you know consolidation required ending the contract with FHS and ultimately Rachel's position.  Dr. Wentz is still giving lectures, still writing, and still serving the community.   If you'd like to stay in touch with her, become a regular reader of her fascinating Body Blog or follow her book page on Facebook.  I thank Rachel for her years of service and wish her nothing but the best. 

4.  Who are you?

I'm Sarah Miller and will serve as director of both the Northeast and East Central regions.  For those who have not met me, I was the first regional director hired for the original charter centers back in 2006.  My background is first in History and Secondary Education, then next came graduate training in Anthropology from ECU (go Pirates!) with a specialization in Historical Archaeology.  My brand of public archaeology depends on an engaged community, service to public schools and libraries, rigorous field and ethical standards, and a willingness to get involved with whatever the community sees as their priority. I want to make the world a better place, and I want to use archaeology to do it.

5.  Who's left then in the Northeast?

I will still serve as Director of the region, but am grateful to have Ryan Harke on board as Outreach Coordinator/Public Archaeologist for the Northeast center at Flagler College.  Emily Jane will also support programs in this region.  You may see Robbie Boggs out at events, but her priority is managing the office in St. Augustine.  Last but not least, Toni Wallace has agreed to stay on as head of our Site ID Team and will help cover both regions.

Toni and Ryan out on a recent site visit with FPAN NE Advisory Board Member JB Miller.

6.  What's the best part about consolidation?

Okay, no one asks this question, but I'd still like to answer it.  The increased travel and area to serve is overwhelming, but I'm enjoying getting to better know Florida.  I kept to my northeastern boundary for almost 8 years and am only now getting south to places I've read about but never seen.  Traveling down to Okeechobee, Orlando, Merritt Island, Sanford, Stuart, Fort Pierce...I could go on....has given me a wonderful opportunity to fill in a bigger picture of Florida archaeology and a broader understanding of the southeast.  I look forward to posting all the things I didn't know about the East Central region as future blog posts.

House of Refuge at Gilbert's Bar, Stuart.
Zora Neale Hurston final resting place, Ft. Pierce.

Lake Okeechobee.

7.  What to look for in coming months?

Continue checking Facebook (Northeast and East Central) and Twitter (Northeast and East Central) for news from the individual centers, and of course the website.  The blog will serve both regions and all staff will continue to contribute.  We are gearing up for Florida Archaeology Month with a goal to host or partner in an event in each of our counties...count 'em, FIFTEEN!  We also have Tumblr, Vine, and Pinterest accounts if you just can't get enough.  Over the next few weeks we'll start updating the webpage.  While those pages are under construction, do check out our programs list if you want to request a visit.  It seems early, but summer library programs and summer camps are currently being scheduled. 

This year's FAM poster, coming to an event near you soon!

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff
Images: FPAN staff except poster art by Curt Bowen.

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