We’re back this month with another team member of the OCHS feature! Last month we shared about Margaret Wallis, our Development Director. Today we’re highlighting Kimber Davis, the Osceola County Historical Society Program Coordinator.
Kimber is a homegrown, Osceola County girl. She grew up in St. Cloud on the shores of Alligator Lake, where she developed a love of the water at a young age. From boating and jet skiing to SCUBA diving and competitive swimming, Kimber has always taken advantage of the year-round Florida sunshine. She was part of the second graduating class of Harmony High School (Go Longhorns!) and then left Osceola County to attend the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
After working at St. Cloud High School, Kimber started her career with the Osceola County Historical Society as a summer camp teacher in 2012. Shortly after that, she was offered a full time position as the Program Coordinator and snagged it up. If you know Kimber, you’ve probably heard her say that she has the most fun job at the Historical Society. In the last two years, attendance in every category has risen at the Osceola County Historical Society, and it’s in part to what Kimber has done for us.
One of the areas she is in charge of is educational field trips. When customizing a field trip, teachers have a variety of options to choose from, including a tour of the Pioneer Village, a pioneer food tasting, a guided hike of Shingle Creek Regional Park, and a tour of the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. Kimber is also working with the Paddling Center at Shingle Creek to offer kayaking, canoeing and even electric boat tours to groups. With all of these great options, it is no surprise that group attendance has doubled in the past two years. With the opening of the new Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek (coming November!), the Osceola County Historical Society is expecting another record breaking year for field trips.
In conjunction with overseeing field trips, there is the Traveling Trunks program that Kimber has been a huge part of as well. This program allows teachers to bring history into their classrooms! Each trunk contains many high-quality reproductions of historical artifacts, photographs, lesson plans, posters, CDs and more for students to have a personal experience with the past. This is a great way for students to learn historical thinking skills, practice asking questions about the past, study history from multiple-perspectives and share their knowledge through creative activities. The Seminole Indian trunk was available at the time Kimber came on board, but she has created two more trunks based around the history of the Florida Cowman since then. It is through these types of hands-on activities that history really comes to life for students. Best of all, the trunks are available to loan free of charge.
Kimber’s real passion, however, is the summer camp program. Each week of the summer camp has a different theme. For Kimber, this means that each week has unique opportunities for engaging subjects and lesson plans. Past activities have included an archaeological dig, a battle reenactment, building shelters, solar cooking, treasure hunts, big foot expeditions and more. Kimber works closely with many community organizations to bring experts to the museum, including the Florida Public Archaeology Network, Swamp Girl Adventures, University of Florida Extension Services, and GhostStop. Some new additions to the camp include a camp van, free lunch, and a classroom at the Welcome Center which includes a SmartBoard. After two years, the summer camp has gone from 60% attendance in 2012 to 93% attendance this past year. The best part? Half of the campers get to come to camp for free on scholarships.
Kimber has also developed new programs, including a Black History Month Celebration, and a Florida Public Archaeology Month Celebration. One of the events she is most proud of was the first annual “Night at the Museum”. At this event, the families of Kissimmee Elementary School were invited out for a free night of fun and history. The night included museum tours, historic reenactors, story time at the fireplace, educational displays from community partners, face painting, bounce houses, and lots of games and activities. It is because of great partnerships with organizations like the St. Cloud Library, TOHO Water Authority, and Wild Florida that this event was such a success. Kimber plans on expanding this program to other schools in the coming years.
Outside of youth programming, Kimber oversees the Young Friends of the Osceola County Historical Society—a group targeted towards enthusiastic individuals between the ages of 21 and 30-something who have a vested interest in the history of Osceola County or would like to explore the past while making history. The Young Friends also raise money each year, through their various events, to award a local student with a scholarship for college. Kimber’s favorite event? The Downtown Kissimmee Pub Crawl. This event, held every November, makes stops at all of the best downtown Kissimmee hot spots. Kimber is in charge of the trivia, so brush up on your local history knowledge before you attend this year!
Outside of work, Kimber likes to spend time with her family and friends. She admits to being a bit of an adrenaline junkie in her spare time. Some of her past adventures include parasailing, sky diving, paddle boarding, SCUBA diving, hiking and camping. Currently, she’s trying her hand at fishing…off kayaks (wowza!). She also has plans to go hang gliding in the next month, so pray for better weather soon!
With so many exciting things going on at the Osceola County Historical Society, Kimber is ready to kick off 2015 with even more exciting programs and we can’t wait to see her in action!