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COCA Spotlight: Harvesting History

By: Amanda Sieradzki, COCA | October 08, 2018

History is alive for Trampas Alderman, the Museum of Florida History’s curator and supervisor for education and public engagement. He didn’t fall in love with the stories of the southeastern United States at a museum exhibit or from a book. As a child he recalls visiting his relative’s farm in Georgia and witnessing firsthand agricultural techniques that dated back to the early 20th century.

“My uncle and aunt had cords of firewood outside because that’s how they cooked and heated their house,” says Alderman. “It was like stepping back in time almost one hundred years.”

While a personal connection to history piqued his interest as a child, it continues to inform his work as an interpreter at the museum. Alderman describes an interpreter as being the person who connects visitors to important natural, cultural and historical resources by forging emotional and intellectual connections between the audience and the stories.

He most enjoys seeing this kind of facilitation in action at the museum’s Second Saturday Family Program, which will focus on food for harvest this October.

The program explores Native American culture and how they harvested the “three sisters”—crops of beans, squash and maize—for nutrition. Alderman says another emphasis will be on sustenance and will encourage children and parents to think about what sustains them. For Alderman, the answer is family. He lovestraveling and sharing his passion for history with his wife, two sons and two daughters.

“When my sons were little they got taken to just about every mound site in the southeast, to the point that my youngest son said, ‘Dad, no more piles of dirt,’” laughs Alderman. “My daughters were born when I was in the park service, so their world was historic sites. They all have grown up appreciating history and the legacy that the past leaves us.”

Alderman spent 10 years in the South Carolina park service before stepping into his current role at the Museum of Florida History. During his time in South Carolina at a civil war battlefield, he learned that his six-time great-grandfather, a preacher, had traveled the road that cut across the park in order to get to his church and that his wife’s two-time great-grandfather fought on the battlefield itself. Alderman appreciates uncovering these connections between places, the past and the present.Prior to his time in parks, he worked at Mission San Luis. Alderman still remainsintrigued by the often-overlooked time period when southeastern native cultures and Spanish borderlands cultures shared the same land. He is fascinated at how they managed to coexist, and yet remained rivals in many aspects.

Last February he returned to the Museum of Florida History where he develops programming for Second Saturdays, History at High Noon lectures and evening events. He’s grateful for his creative team who brainstorms and implements many aspects of these programs, and most appreciates the diverse array of history that the museum explores.

“One of the great things about working at the museum is that you’re not stuck in a time period,” explains Alderman. “Florida has everything from pirate attacks to space shuttle launches to natural history and mermaids, and we try to tell all that history here.”

Read the rest of the story by visiting the Tallahassee Democrat

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