Seminoles of Florida


Lecture Series Continues

“The Friends of the Mound House are excited to continue our 2019-20 Lecture Series,” related Penny Jarrett, the Mound House Education Program Coordinator. “The Lectures are the second Tuesday of each month through May, with Social Time at 5:30 p.m. and Lectures at 6. In addition to the fascinating and educational presentations, we offer lovely refreshments that includes fruit and gourmet cheese, and you can even enjoy a glass or two of wine! We request, however, that you make advance reservations at 239-765-0865, as the Mound House can accommodate just 45 people, so reserve your spot today! Admission is $5 for Mound House members and $10 for non-members that we will collect at the door, and cash only please.”

Seminoles of Florida Feb. 11

The next program in the Lecture Series is Tuesday, February 11, with David Scheidecker, who is the Research Coordinator for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, with “Seminoles of Florida.” Scheidecker, who is an archaeologist, is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors in History and Texas Tech University with a Masters in Anthropology. He worked on historic and prehistoric archaeological sites in Texas, Ecuador and Zimbabwe before returning to Florida to work with the Seminole Tribe for the past four years. In the “Seminoles of Florida” lecture, Scheidecker will explore the tribe’s history and their connection to the State.

The March 10 speaker will be Stephen Brown, the UF/IFAS Horticulture Agent for Lee County, with “Landscaping with Florida Native Plants.” Brown is an expert on most local landscaping issues, including native plants, flowering trees, plant identification and insect and disease problems.

Dr. Michael Parsons, Professor of Marine Science for Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and The Water School, Director of the Vester Marine & Environmental Science Research Station, and a member of Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Blue-Green Algae Task Force,” will present, “Red Tide, Blue-Green Algae, & Water Quality” on April 14. Dr. Parsons established a successful research career, receiving over $20 million of extramural funding to study ciguatera fish poisoning, harmful algae blooms, coral reef ecology and phytoplankton ecology, including the recently-funded Greater Caribbean Center for Ciguatera Research through the Centers for Oceans and Human Health Program by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health. He collaborates as well in three Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Consortia studying the impacts of the Macondo oil spill in coastal ecosystems in multiyear projects at over $30 million. At FGCU, Dr. Parsons teaches courses on Marine Ecology and Data Collection & Analysis.

Dr. April Watson, a Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University Professor in Natural & Applied Sciences and Secretary of the Florida Archaeological Council, will conclude the Lecture Series on May 12 with “Sifting for Sustainability: An Archaeological Case Study from Boca Raton, Florida” that will highlight sea level rise.

Dr. Watson completed her undergraduate and master’s degree in Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology. She concentrated her undergraduate work on Florida prehistoric mound sites, particularly looking at the use of ceramics and shell tools. Her Masters studies were on the coast of Cuba, to create a predictive model of prehistoric archaeological sites that involved extensive use of geographic system tools, as well as conducting research on artifacts recovered from the Guantanamo Bay area, including pottery shards and lithic artifacts. Dr. Watson earned her Ph.D. in Geosciences from Florida Atlantic University. After graduating, she worked throughout the Southeastern United States in cultural resources management as a Staff Archaeologist for an environmental engineering firm and currently serves as the Secretary for the Florida Archaeological Council, in conjunction with federal agencies for archaeological and historical preservation.

On May 12, when Dr. Watson presents her lecture, she will discuss South Inlet Park, a beach-adjacent recreational area in Palm Beach County, near the Boca Raton Inlet that contains historic material and large shell middens. In 2018, Lynn University conducted a Phase I and Phase II Survey on the property and identified a previously unknown subsurface midden layer that is particularly at risk over climate related impacts, as it is within 25 meters of the water, with less than 10 meters of elevation. It became the first excavated site under the Regional Climate Action Plan that includes prevention, mitigation and monitoring of climate change impacts to natural and cultural resources, with results indicating the need for immediate action to ensure the best chance at recording and preserving these sites into the future.

Penny explained that part of the funding for the Friends of the Mound House Lecture Series came from the “What’s In The Water” Project sponsored by the Mound House, FGCU and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Planet Stewardship Education Program. “NOAA provided $2,500 for educational outreach, to share with people the value and benefits of using Florida native plants in landscaping, so that is why I selected several of the speakers.” “What’s In The Water” volunteers to date have conducted two Fort Myers Beach-wide water sampling days, with Dr. Parsons and his students doing the necessary testing to discover what is in our local waters and the actions necessary to improve our water quality. If you would like to volunteer for the next sampling day that will most likely be on a Saturday in March or April, before the start of the rainy season; contact Penny directly at

Free “Troubled Waters” Screening

In a related program, the Mound House on Friday, February 21, will host a free screening of “Troubled Waters,” the new 40-minute documentary produced by the Calusa Waterkeeper organization that explores the human health impacts and emerging medical science of Harmful Algae Blooms such as Blue-Green Algae and Red Tide. The film showcases many expert doctors and scientists from around the nation who weigh in on Southwest Florida’s water quality issues and their potential health impacts. The free showing of “Troubled Waters” begins at 7 p.m.

The Mound House, at 451 Connecticut Street, is the oldest standing structure on Estero Island. The Town of Fort Myers Beach operates the Mound House as a museum complex that offers numerous educational programs each month, including guided tours to explore the 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian Shell Mound, beach walks, and kayak eco-tours. Admission is $10 for ages 13 & up, $8 for students with IDs, $5 ages 6 to 12, and 5 & under free, with Town residents receiving a 50% discount. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 30; then Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Saturdays for the balance of the year, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Overflow parking is available at 216 Connecticut. For information & programs, call 239-765-0865 or see

“I have been organizing educational lectures since 1992,” concluded Penny, “and in my opinion, this series is one of the best! Hear first-hand about pioneering work done by archaeologists, naturalists, wildlife researchers, marine scientists and other leading authorities. These are unique experiences where experts come right into our community, and it is nothing like what you might see on television, so take advantage of these great opportunities. Events like these are exactly why the Mound House happily continues to expand its programming!”