Meet Kimber Davis: OCHS’s Program Coordinator

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Posted in Osceola County

 

The Hospitality Industry takes center stage at the OCHS

Another successful event can be added to the history books, well, The Osceola County Historical Society’s history books that is.

We hosted our first Hospitality Industry Party on Wednesday, September 10, 2014! During the event, Industry Employees were able to enjoy food, drinks and raffle prizes while experiencing the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. For most of our guests they were doing it for their first time!

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As the guests made their way through the award winning nature and history exhibits, they were able to interact with several hospitality industry partners including A&W All American Food, Dave and Busters, Medieval Times, The Orlando Magic, The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek, Texas Road House, Florida Hospitality Industry Association, Old Town USA, and Casino Party Planners.

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All Photo Credit: Mary McIntee Photography

This was the first of many events we plan to partake in with the Hospitality Industry as we have officially launched our new Referral Program…more to come on that later! After the successful evening we had a few weeks ago, we are looking forward to building relationships with these partners. Our main goal at the OCHS is to work together to make visiting Osceola County and the surrounding areas that much more fun and exciting for our visitors and even the residents who call this area home.

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Posted in Osceola County

 

Duck Hunt: Just another name for the OCHS Shotgun Shuffle.

The Osceola County Historical Society Shotgun Shuffle is right around the corner and we realized, for those of you who aren’t really sure what this whole thing is all about, that two little words might paint the picture for you.

Duck Hunt.

Who didn’t love a good game of Duck Hunt on the classic Nintendo?! Or for those of you who want to get really technical, the Nintendo Entertainment System (aka, the NES!). Maybe you’re familiar with the game from playing it as a kid or maybe from playing it against your own kids when they were growing up. Either way, Duck Hunt has got to be considered an all time favorite and our Shotgun Shuffle is like Duck Hunt in real life!

 

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Here’s seven reasons why you won’t want to miss the OCHS Duck Hunt Shotgun Shuffle:

 

  • You can come up with a fun team name. Want to call yourselves “Team Clay Slayers” and pull in a big win from this big name?! Go for it! We’ve even seen a little friendly banter going on over on our Shotgun Shuffle event page when it comes to the perfect (winning) team name.
  • You get to visit the Tenoroc Shooting Center in Lakeland, Florida. This site has everything you need to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned sport shooting in a safely-operated facility.
  • Your shotgun rental and ammo are included with your registration. This means all materials are provided for those newbies out there. If you’ve ever thought about learning to shoot a gun, but have maybe never had the opportunity to do so (especially in a safe and structured environment) this event is for you. But, for those of you who are experienced shooters, don’t stop let us stop you from bringing your own gun. Because that’s perfectly okay, too.
  • You get to chow down because lunch is provided. If you are anything like us, food always makes things better and you’d be surprised at the appetite you can drum up from shooting at orange clay disks all morning long.
  • You might even win something. You heard right. Not only are awards being given to those star shooters, but a raffle will be drawn, too. So even the most inexperienced shooter could walk away with something.
  • You can hone your shooting skills (or Duck Hunt shooting skills, take your pick!). While some of you might be out to have a good time, others might take it a little more seriously. Either way, if you just happen to have an old NES laying around and pulled it out after the Shotgun Shuffle, we are quite certain you’d come out the reigning champ against those “quack quack quack”ing ducks and that annoying teasing dog!
  • You are helping to preserve Osceola County’s rich history. Who would have thought a day spent at the gun range (having fun!) could make a difference like that, but it does. All proceeds form this event benefit the Osceola County Historical Society and our mission to preserve and share the history of our great county.

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Posted in Osceola County

 

History on the move in Osceola County!

We’ve shared a lot this summer about our beloved Pioneer Village. It’s a laundry list of history and information that has flooded the blog about the various historic structures from how they came to be (including the history of the pioneer families that once inhabited them) to so much more. If you missed out on any of it, here’s a little of what we have to offer:

We’ve done all of this because of the relocation of our old Pioneer Village to it’s new home at Babb Landing on Shingle Creek (Oh! We’ve filled you in on what is happening to the old Pioneer Village location, too!). It has been a crazy summer for the Osceola County Historical Society with taking apart structures, moving buildings and getting everything put back together, but in the end, we know it’s going to be well worth it.

The new location of the Pioneer Village was needed for a variety of reasons. It has given us the much needed space to expand (we are currently on phase 2 and will be adding even more structures in phase 3), has allowed us to double our artifact storage space that is still housed at the old Pioneer Village location and we can now offer our visitors better access to Shingle Creek and the beauty this site has to offer! 

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With all this moving going on, we thought you might be interested in where some these buildings originally made the move from in Osceola County before finally calling the Pioneer Village home.

  • Coming in at the farthest structure to have relocated from its original location, the Tyson House made its way 19.4 miles from Tyson Road in Saint Cloud (just off Narcoossee Road). The Tyson house also holds the award (along with the Cadman Complex) for being one of the oldest structures, both of which were built around the late 1800s. 
  • Next up, the Cadman Complex, which includes the Cadman bungalow and kitchen, bachelor’s quarters and citrus packing house, traveled 18.2 miles from just past Chisholm Park off Narcoossee Road.
  • The Partin House, the youngest of these historic structures being built around 1932, made a nine mile journey from Henry Partin Road in Kissimmee to the new location.
  • Finally, coming in at the structure with the least amount of travel, a mere 8.7 miles, is the Lanier House. Its original location was off Ham Brown Road according to the 1906 property tax records.

With moving these old historic structures from their original locations to their current location at the new Pioneer Village, they collectively moved over 55 miles across Osceola County. That’s a lot of moving for these ol’ buildings. Through the process, we were lucky to have worked with Youngblood & Sons Building Movers to move these buildings and Restoration Concepts to restore and preserve the history they each hold! 

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Posted in Osceola County

 

Farewell Kate, a goodbye to our favorite volunteer-turned-team-member of the OCHS!

We’ve talked a lot lately about becoming a volunteer for the OCHS, heck, we’re even hosting an event on Friday that will help you learn what your niche in volunteering with us could be if you are interested in doing so. We thought it might be fun to not only pay honor to one of our favorite team members (that is now leaving us for retirement! Lucky her!), but show you how her job started at the OCHS thanks to volunteering.

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Kate Doyle Brown has been involved in the Historical Society since 2007 when she was asked by Donnita, who had recently been hired as the new Executive Director, to come on as a part time employee after working well together in organizing the office. She gave a simple, “Sure!” and the rest was history (pun intended!). Kate says, “It’s unbelievable that time has flown by so fast and that I am now retiring. It is with bitter sweetness that I leave here because I will always have nothing but good thoughts for the OCHS and all it has accomplished during my years of service.” And with that, we give you some of Kate’s favorite memories of the Historical Society…

One of my favorite moments at the OCHS was the first Dine with the Departed event. We had a lot of negativity surrounding the event, such as local citizens who thought that we would be disrespecting the deceased. Quite to the contrary, we were honoring them, by telling their story to those in attendance. How delighted we were to see folks lined up to get in, even before the doors opened. We have since put on this fundraiser three more times, making it one of the biggest successes of the OCHS to date. 

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Another favorite moment of mine is when the Welcome Center was being built. I never came over to have a look. Cars and trucks were here for months and I never drove in.  The day that I first walked through the door, I cried. To see such a beautiful building with fantastic exhibits, showing off our artifacts was beyond belief to me. Osceola County truly stepped up to the plate when they gave residents and visitors alike such a wonderful place to come and see so that they could learn about the county and it’s rich history.

Finally, the reality of moving the village from its original location at Bass Road to Babb Landing is something I’m amazed by. It’s hard to imagine that I would see such a thing come to fruition, but indeed it has happened. When it is finished, I hope that everyone who comes will appreciate what an extraordinary attraction the new Pioneer Village is and how much the community can benefit from it. 

So, if I could leave with one thing, I’m just going to say, “OCHS, I’m gonna keep my eye on you!” because you are going places.


We’d like to thank Kate for all of her hard work and dedication to the Osceola County Historical Society and leave her with one thing, “Enjoy retirement but visit often! We’ll have plenty to fill you in on when you come!”

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History is Happening!