Working from home in the age of Coronavirus

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and Tribal Historic Preservation Office are currently shut down so that we can do our part to #flattenthecurve through #socialdistancing. Those staff members who are able to, are currently working from home #WFH. So, what are they working on and how is it going?

Read below to find out!

Dave Scheidecker, THPO Research Coordinator

What are you working on at home?  I’m conducting historical research for the Ethnography project, meaning I’m doing a deep dive into research on pretty much all of Seminole history. I’m primarily concentrating on the pre-colonial and Spanish colonial periods at the moment, because that’s where we have the least material in our archives.

What are you enjoying about working from home?  Almost everything. Being in a t-shirt and shorts, no commute, being able to blast music while I work, and being able to freely cook for lunch.

What do you miss from the office?  Having people to talk to about work and research in person. I much prefer in person talk over online or phone.

What challenges are you facing?  Self-discipline. I’m working in my room, so every distraction I could want is freely available. Research can get very boring, and the urge to pick up a game controller “just for 5 minutes” is so very strong.

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Dave, when he found he would be working from home.

Victoria Menchaca, Compliance Review Specialist

What are you working on at home?  Fortunately, most of my work involves reviewing project reports and responding via email. So, I am pretty much doing the same things I would normally do just minus any in person meetings.

What are you enjoying about working from home?  Not having to wake up so early, not having to drive so much or so far, being able to cook my meals fresh at home, being able to exercise on my lunch break, being able to let my dogs out whenever they want, being able to dress however I want…lots of things!

What do you miss from the office?  I am more of an introvert, but I do miss some of the social interaction. I also miss my very nice stand up desk and my large monitors! Oh and I miss the boardwalk too!

What challenges are you facing?  Trying to keep my 6 month old cat off my keyboard! And, it is a little lonely =(

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Victoria’s furry friend “helping” her at work

Alyssa Boge, Education Coordinator

 What are you working on at home?  I’m focusing on social media and trying to deliver new opportunities highlighting our resources. I’m also working on projects I haven’t had time to get to.

What are you enjoying about working from home?  No shoes! Sleeping in later. Taking kitty breaks.

What do you miss from the office?  Dave making coffee in the morning… Taking walks on the boardwalk. Chatting with coworkers.

What challenges are you facing?  I’m used to managing groups and having a lot of things that need immediate action. Without the same type of urgency, focusing is a little harder.

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Alyssa’s co-worker asleep on the job

Ellen, Head of Security

What are you working on?  I am fortunate that I am on Campus 4 days a week so I feel somewhat “normal” then.

What are you enjoying about working from home?  I enjoy my time at home because I can get a lot of uninterrupted work done that I usually don’t have the opportunity to sit long enough to do.

What do you miss from the office?  I miss the comradery. I like bouncing ideas off my coworkers and appreciate their input.

What challenges are you facing?  I am able to still keep an eye on the campus through my cameras however it is not the same as being hands on.

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Ellen’s industrious co-worker

Internship with the Museum and THPO

By Kara DiComo, Intern

While studying anthropology in college I learned a lot about museums. From their overall history, their triumphs and failures, and how they grow and change with time. It was at this time that I first learned about the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum and how it served as a place for the Seminole Tribe to tell their history their way. During this time, I also learned about the Seminole Tribe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) and how they actively work to preserve, document, and promote Seminole history.

I found the Museum and the THPO to be inspirational as I continued on with my studies, and when I finished my undergraduate degree I decided to reach out about an internship. I started interning with the Seminole THPO in late November 2019. At first I mainly worked with the Tribal Archaeology Section (TAS) where I assisted a team of archaeology field technicians on a survey project on the Brighton reservation. This consisted of hours out in the field trekking through hammocks of various densities and sizes digging thousands of test pits. It was exhausting work, and I often returned home drained and sore; but all of the work felt more than worth it whenever we pulled fragmented remains of artifacts out of the earth that could lead to something bigger down the line. In December, I ended up moving from fieldwork to lab work, mainly due to a sprained ankle, and began interning with both Museum and THPO Collections. Most of my days spent with Museum Collections consisted of working with historic newspapers and photographs that concern the Seminole Tribe.

Kara DiComo
Kara working with photographs from the Museum’s collection

There truly is nothing like handling old and often fragile pieces of paper that serve as bits and pieces of a whole story, knowing that these papers that were never intended to last for long will continue to be preserved and will thus be accessible to the community for essentially forever. With THPO Collections, I spent a lot of time washing the dirt and grime off of objects that had recently arrived from the field, however I also got to spend some time learning about the housing process for objects such as glass bottles. I even got to put my carving and hot glue skills to the test while creating some custom housing for glass bottles that I had washed the previous week. In addition to Collections, in January I interned with the THPO Archaeometry section and got to learn more about how they use GIS technology to prepare for and assist with field research. This was particularly interesting since my baccalaureate thesis centered in the use of 3D photogrammetry in anthropology.

Overall the experiences I have had interning with the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s THPO and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum have been invaluable and hopefully the skills that I have learned will be put to good use in my future endeavors.

10 Reasons to Visit the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki in 2020

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We hope that a visit to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is on your list of things to do during 2020.  For those looking for a special place to enjoy with family and friends, take in history and culture, or experience the beauty of the Everglades, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki is the perfect destination.  There is so much to do and learn at the Museum and hope you will make your way to Big Cypress!

1) Experience Seminole history and culture
There is no better place to learn about and experience the history and culture of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  For 22 years, the Tribe has been sharing their history and stories with visitors from around the world.

2) Alligator Wrestling: Danger. Entertainment. Tradition
Our newest exhibit explores the deep roots of the Seminole’s relationship to alligators. Discover how alligator wrestling took hold and how it helps preserve culture and tradition today.  On exhibit through December 2020. AW Title

3) Great Florida Birding Trail
Did you know that the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s Boardwalk is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail?  65 species of birds have been identified within the cypress dome behind the Museum.  Let us know which birds you see on your next visit!

4) Unique merchandise
Our Museum Store offers unique and exclusive merchandise in every price range. We promote Seminole and Native American artisans and makers.  Stop by on your next visit or visit is online at https://seminole-store.com/

 5) Special Programs and Events
Be on the lookout for family friendly programming throughout the year. This winter, we will be continuing our popular Boardwalk After Hours tour and each November you can count on the fun-filled 2 day American Indian Arts Celebration event.  All upcoming programs and events can be found on our website or our social media

6) #BeautifulBoardwalk
Our mile long boardwalk takes you around a natural cypress dome. There is a chance you may be able to see some incredible Florida wildlife including bobcats, panthers, snakes, and alligators.  The dome transforms itself from season to season and you’ll no doubt enjoy experiencing this unique ecosystem firsthand.

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7) Research Opportunities
Interested in learning more about who the Seminole Tribe of Florida is? The Museum serves as a center of research for Seminole culture and Native American history in the Southeastern United States.  Take advantage of this resource by making an appointment today with our Research Coordinator by calling (877) 902-1113 x12252.

8) 2020 Lecture Series
We are looking forward to our 2020 Lecture Series.  Join us on February 21st at our community center To-Pee-Kee-Ke Yak-Ne (just down the street from the Museum) as we welcome our first lecturer of 2020, Tina Marie Osceola.  Ms. Osceola is an enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and an active participant in Native American politics.  Details will be available on our website.

9) Everglades Destination
Did you know that the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is just one of many attractions on the Big Cypress Reservation?  Check out Billie Swamp Safari and the Big Cypress RV Resort and Campground for more information on all Big Cypress has to offer!

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Airboat rides available at Billie Swamp Safari

10) The Perfect Escape from the Hustle and Bustle
Whether you are visiting from near or far, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum can be an escape from the hectic day-to-day.  An hour outside of Fort Lauderdale and Naples, the Museum offers a place to unwind and take in true Florida history, culture, and beauty. 

 

 We hope that your next visit out to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will be memorable.  If we can help you plan your visit, please contact us at 863-902-1113 and we’ll be happy to assist.

Sally in front pond

 

 

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Opens at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

By Florida Seminole Tourism

Recently, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum launched a green initiative to do their part in saving the planet. The museum removed the use of paper plates, plastic silverware, and straws, along with paper cups. At the same time, they eliminated toxic cleaning products and changed to LED lighting and automatic flush toilets. In addition, the staff only uses refillable water bottles for daily use.

In taking the next step in “green” pursuit, the museum announced an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station that opened in August in the museum parking lot. The station offers two stalls that provide “domestic charging” for Tesla EV’s. “While geared for overnight charging, it helps visitors who come a long way to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum”, according to Dr. Paul Backhouse, Senior Director and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.  Dr. Backhouse also commented “the charging stations are complimentary for all visitors and the reservation community.” It’s clear that the museum continues to make strides and helps do its part to make a better, brighter, more responsible community. Also, it provides an EV charging resource to neighboring communities and those traveling back and forth across South Florida through Alligator Alley. Dr. Backhouse also pointed out, “Everglades visitors can find the charging station on the Plugshare App.” The museum also plans to expand their location listing to be included the Chargepoint App soon.

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Electric Car Outlook

Over the next several decades, the U.S. vehicle fleet will have to changeover largely to zero-emission vehicles if global climate goals are to be met. Electric cars make up only a tiny portion of the automobiles sold worldwide, but that may change quickly, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. By 2040, electric cars could make up over 50% of all passenger car sales worldwide. At the same time, light commercial vehicle sales in the United States, Europe and China could see comparable results.

car charging

Since electric cars are coming close to matching gasoline powered cars in price and they already cost less to operate, electric cars may soon overtake gas powered cars as the more cost-effective choice for consumers. Over the next twenty years, global electric car sales will rise from 2 million last year to 56 million by 2040, BNEF predicts. Conversely, sales of traditional gasoline powered cars would drop in half over the same period.

If this happens, emissions will begin to reduce quickly in the years leading up to 2040, but that will get the planet back to 2018 levels, according to reports. This is the consequence of failing to act sooner. In the meantime, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will do its part to be a good green neighbor and inspire others in the community to do the same!

ABOUT FLORIDA SEMINOLE TOURISM (FST)

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a federally recognized Indian Tribe. FST is a top Florida Everglades adventure, learning and camping destination. We share the excitement and wonder of the Florida Everglades to visitors from around the globe. Our award-winning Everglades attractions include Billie Swamp Safari, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and Big Cypress RV Resort & Campground.

 

Saving History in the Digital Age

By Dave Scheidecker, THPO Research Coordinator

It all started with a lightning strike. One random act of nature on the island of Egmont Key started a chain reaction… and a wildfire. That wildfire cleared a large area of the island of dense overgrowth, revealing ground and ruins that hadn’t been seen in decades. This gave the archaeologists of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office a chance to survey the island where members of the Seminole Tribe had been held prisoner 160 years before. The survey led to a renewed interest in the Seminole History of the island that is now under threat, being washed away by erosion and climate change. These efforts led to new collaboration with the University of South Florida 3D Lab, a project to digitally preserve the Island before it is gone!

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The USF 3D Field School team plan their scanning strategy for the day.

In order to record the Island, we first had to receive permission from the state rangers and the park service. Then the USF professors and students took the Egmont Key Ferry Service to the island, riding with other visitors while bringing with them supplies, including multiple FARO 3D scanners and even a quad-copter drone! The team set to work, arranging the scanners to get the best possible angles to record structures like the Egmont Lighthouse and Battery Charles Mellon. The drone flew overhead of the lighthouse, the cemetery, and the old helipad built where historians believe the prison that held Seminole captives had been located. All of this information was then brought back to the 3D lab and sewn together by the students into lifelike computer models.

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The students of the USF Field School arrange FARO laser scanners to get the best possible overlapping views of the Egmont Lighthouse.

We try to preserve the history so that it isn’t lost to the sands of time, and in this case with the sands of the eroding shore. This has been done by recording and sharing the stories of what has happened, and what has gone before. But historians don’t need to be limited to historic methods, and new technologies give us incredible new ways to share these stories. When this projects is complete, people will be able to visit Egmont Key on their computers and even their phones. They’ll be able to walk through the lands like the Seminole ancestors did, and experience their stories in new ways. Long after the island may be gone, the story will be preserved online for the generations to come.

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The combined scans come together in the lab to replicate the buildings on Egmont Key. When finished, this will be a full color virtual explorable model!