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Speakers Bureau

Bring the history of Southwest Florida to you with the Collier County Museums Speakers Bureau! The Collier County Museums are home to a passionate group of museum professionals who possess extensive knowledge on a variety of topics about our region’s history and culture. We look forward to sharing our love and knowledge of Collier County with you.

Collier County Museums Speakers Bureau lectures are perfect for your organization, community, club, or class. Lectures are typically 45 minutes to 1 hour in length. They are available for free, although donations via check made out to the Collier County Museums are gratefully accepted. A minimum of 1 month notice before your preferred lecture date is required. While we cannot guarantee that your preferred date can be accommodated, we are happy to work with you to find alternatives.

Learn about our speakers and the topics they offer below or by downloading the Collier County Museums Speakers Bureau catalog here.

Amanda Townsend, Collier County Museums Director

Bio

  • And Then There Were Five: A History of the Collier County Museum System
  • For Oddity to Commodity: Representations of Florida in Postcards
  • Snowbirds!
  • Eleven Definitive Days in Collier County’s Cultural Identity

Elaina Gyure, Curator of Education

Bio

Topics

Curator of Education Elaina Gyure gesturing to a Power Point

Stephanie Long, Collier Museum at Government Center Manager

Stephanie Long is the Museum Manager at the Collier Museum at Government Center in Naples, Florida.  She has over twenty years of experience working with museums in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Georgia. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Duke University and a Master of Arts in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program at the State University of New York.

  • Hercules in a Box: Dynamite, Du Pont, and the Building of the Tamiami Trail
    • Stephanie does a deep dive into the history of one of the objects in our collection, a wooden crate from the Hercules Powder Company. The complex story of this simple object covers black powder, the wealthy Du Pont family, the slaying of a California giant, corporate takeovers, anti-trust lawsuits, and, of course, the Tamiami Trail. Come find out more about one of Collier County Museum’s treasures.
  • A Journey Down Historic Route 41
    • Take a road trip with Stephanie as she explores the history of Route 41. U.S. 41 has a long history as a bridge between the Midwest and Florida. The highway crosses eight states and runs from Michigan to Miami. Although it has been bypassed by interstates today, it once was a major north/south route that brought tourists south to Florida from places like Milwaukee, Chicago, Nashville, and Atlanta. Business leaders along the route boosted it as “The Boulevard of America” or “the Main Street of Wisconsin.” Here in Collier County, we came to know it as the Tamiami Trail. We’ll discuss the origins of automobile highways, the creation of U.S. 41, and the mid-century road trip experience.
  • Swamp Angels: A History of Mosquitoes and Mosquito Control
    • Join Stephanie for an exploration of our long battle to understand and control mosquitoes. There are over forty species of mosquitoes in Collier County. Nicknamed “Swamp Angels” by early settlers, mosquitoes have long been a nuisance and threat to the health of everyone living in Southwest Florida.  Over the years, humans have developed different methods of controlling the insects, and mosquito control remains an important factor in making Collier County comfortable and safe for residents and visitors.
  • Barron Collier’s Luna Park
    • Did you know that Barron Collier owned one of the iconic amusement parks on Coney Island? Stephanie will discuss the development of one of Coney Island’s historic landmarks, Luna Park. Barron Collier and his associates purchased the attraction in 1912, the year after his first trip to Florida. Opened in 1903, the park was an extravagant wonderland, known for its rides, parades, shows, and elaborate lights.
  • The History of Greeting Cards
    • Stephanie will discuss the festive history of greeting cards. Growing out of the tradition of sending romantic verses at Valentine’s Day, greeting cards spread throughout our calendar and became a major industry in the 20th century. Explore how these modest goodwill messages got their start.

Thomas Lockyear, Museum of the Everglades Manager

Thomas Lockyear has been a museum professional for 17 years, having served as curator of the Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum and at Historic Pigeon Key, as well as Executive Director of the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada before accepting his current position as Manager of Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (BS Art), Mr. Lockyear also holds a master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University (MA Ed).

  • A Brief History of Everglades City
    • an overview of the town from the Calusa Indians to present day
  • Barron Collier’s International Vision
    • overview of how Collier’s world travel influenced the development of Everglades City
  • Dredges, Dynamite & Determination – the Building of the Tamiami Trail
  • The Everglades Art of Bob Fink
    • illustrator of Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ “Everglades: River of Grass”
  • South Florida Folk Artists
    • includes Stanley Papio, Mario Sanchez, the Highwaymen, Rob Storter, & more
  • Art in the Everglades
    • an overview of artists in and around Everglades City
  • The Life and Art of Robert Lee Storter
    • an overview of the stories and folk art of a lifelong fishing guide from Everglades’ founding family
  • Florida Pirates – Facts & Fiction
  • The Trailblazers
    • the story of 7 model T’s that drove across the Everglades before there was a road
  • A Brief History of Plume Hunting
    • a study of the illegal trade that almost wiped out South Florida’s birds
  • Deaconess Harriet Bedell
    • Episcopal Missionary who ministered to the Seminole in & around Everglades
  • Guides of the Glades
    • a brief history of how sportfishing became the foundation of EC’s economy
  • Just Across the Gulf
    • Historic Connections between Everglades City & the Florida Keys
  • All About the Boats
    • origins of nautical culture & commerce in Collier County
  • Trading Posts of South Florida
    • includes Everglades area, Immokalee, Okeechobee, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.
  • Illegal Trades in the Everglades
    • a brief history from Plume Hunting to Pot Hauling
  • Bandits & Bankrobbers of the Everglades
    • includes the Ashley Gang, the Rice Gang, Edgar Watson, etc.
  • A Criminal History of the Everglades
    • combines & condenses “Illegal Trades” & “Bandits & Bankrobbers”
  • Hermits of the 10,000 Islands
    • includes Juan Gomez, self-described “phony hermit” Al Seely, and more
  • The Train, the Trail, and the Origins of Florida Tourism
    • influence of Flagler’s train & Collier’s highway
  • Legends & Lore of the Everglades
    • swamp spirits, pirates, the Skunk Ape, Al Capone’s speakeasy, etc.
  • The Making of “Wind Across the Everglades”
    • a history of the 1957 classic filmed in and around EC
  • The History of Deep Lake
    • the story of how Barron Collier’s grapefruit grove changed SW Florida
  • Bank of Everglades: an investment in the future
    • history of Collier County’s first bank
  • The Other Side of Progress – the Tamiami Trail’s Dark Legacy (an Earth Day presentation
  • Growing in the Glades
    • an Agricultural History of Everglades City
  • Evolution of the Airboat
    • a history of the iconic watercraft of the Everglades
  • Swamp Life – Gladesmen Past, Present, and Future
  • See You Later, Alligator: Poachers, Promoters, & Protectors of the Everglades’ Keystone Species
  • Totch Brown
    • Teller of Tales in the Everglades
  • The Pirate of Panther Key & the Legend of Gasparilla
    • the strange sago of Everglades hermit and fabulist Juan Gomez
  • Everglades Americana – the Art of Dick Jay
    • exploring the work of the late local folk artist
  • Engines in the Everglades: How Men Modified Machines to Tame the Swamp
Museum Manager Helen Midney

Helen Midney, Immokalee Pioneer Museum Manager

Helen Midney is the museum manager for the Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch. Helen received her Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in Maine. After working as an educator, college access counselor and environmental interpreter, she went on to earn her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Education from Florida Gulf Coast University. Helen is a resident of Immokalee and loves sharing her community and its history with locals and visitors alike.  

  • A Brief History of Immokalee
    • From what we know from the archaeological record, to its first European settlers to now. Discussion will include what drew people to the area, the role that it has played in broader agriculture, and the faces of agriculture, then and now
  • Cattle Ranching and Florida
    • A brief history from the Spanish to modern ranching, with particular focus on the Roberts family and their Red Cattle Company.
  • Immokalee as a Model for Community Organizing and Social Justice
    • From Father Sanders to the CIW, why has Immokalee been the epicenter for campaigns for increased rights for farmworkers?   
  • Lake Trafford Past and Present
    • Calusa settlement to Seminole, how the lake has been used and changed since the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and what the future holds for the largest lake south of Okeechobee.
  • Gardening and Agriculture in Southwest Florida, from the Pioneer Days to the Present
    • What was grown in Southwest Florida before the modern agricultural revolution? How and why did this change? What is grown now and what does the future of agriculture look like?

Lisa Marciano, Naples Depot Museum Manager

Lisa Marciano has grown up frequenting museums and historic sites throughout her adolescence. Her love of history and historic structures eventually transformed into a career and for the last 13 years she has worked with Collier County Museums in many capacities such as volunteer, Museum Assistant and Museum Manager. Lisa is currently the Museum Manager at the Naples Depot Museum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Sociology/Anthropology and a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Lisa is also a long-term resident of Collier County and appreciates our local history.

  • Railroading’s Finest Hour: The History of the Naples Depot
    • Take a step back in time to railroading’s finest hour where you will be immersed in the heyday of glamorous rail travel, with a glimpse of the hard work and ingenuity it took to make it that way. Learn how the arrival of the train to Naples and the technology that followed suit transformed our glittering Gulf coast into a bustling destination.
  • End of the Line: The Budd Tavern Journey
    • Since its arrival to the historic Naples Depot property in 1978, the Budd Tavern Observation Car has fascinated both locals and visitors who travel to Southwest Florida every year. Originally built for the Seaboard Airline Railroad (SAL) in 1947, by the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co., this observation car #6601 was one of six built for SAL that year. Through its long service history in the SAL to its final journeys on Amtrak, this symbol of American ingenuity has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles across the United States. After its retirement it began a new life as an attraction to the newly opened Naples Depot Cultural Center in 1978. Join us as we examine the history and journey of the Budd Tavern Observation Car #6601, the origins of the Budd Manufacturing Company and its innovative stainless-steel design, the rise of the streamliners, and the exacting standards used to bring this railroading icon back to life. Now seen in its original glory, Observation Car #6601 will continue telling the story of the railroad and its history, here, at the End of the Line.
  • Depots of SW Florida
  • Cemeteries of Collier County
    • Cemeteries are often thought of as a place of mourning, where one goes to remember those that have passed on. In reality however, cemeteries are also an important historical record that tell the story of those that came before us. Join us as we examine the role cemeteries play not only in memorializing those that have passed, but as a fascinating historical record of our early pioneers and their final resting place. Burial sites with their symbols and markings can give us a unique perspective on the religious and cultural heritage of our communities.  Cemeteries not only tell the story of those long buried there; they help tell the story of ourselves and the places we live.
  • Sites & Scenes: Collier County’s Historic Places
    • Collier County, with its sandy beaches and warm winter weather, is known mainly as a vacation destination. Yet, if one takes the time to truly explore our County, they will find a treasure trove of history. 19th century homes, railroad depots from the roaring 1920s, and an engineering marvel are just some of the sites and properties that have survived the passage of time and the inevitable allure of progress. While not every important site and structure has been preserved, this exhibition will highlight some of our County’s most important historical landmarks, and the stories behind them.
  • Motors & Mud: Swamp Buggy Culture
    • Collier County’s signature past time has celebrated over 70+ years! The first Swamp Buggy race was officially held on November 12, 1949 and quickly became a popular attraction for the region. In Motors & Mud: Swamp Buggy Culture learn how these uniquely Naples’ vehicles were modified and designed to conquer the complex swampy terrain of the Everglades and enjoy memories of Swamp Buggy Races and Parades past.
  • Rising Above the Rails: The African American Experience
    • The African American railroad experience is one of hard work and little recognition. From forced labor and harsh conditions while tracklaying in the southeastern United States to the degrading treatment while traveling on the rails as porters and maintenance workers, African American history is intimately tied to the history of railroading in the United States. In Rising Above the Rails, we highlight the oft-ignored stories, both local and national, of African Americans who used their experience to improve the lives of themselves, the African American community, and the railroading community overall.
  • Fabulous Fins & Fenders
    • Take a drive down memory lane with the Fabulous Fins & Fenders! This photo series highlights images from the museum collection featuring the classic cars of yesteryear that could be seen driving around our region. From the earliest Tin Lizzies to the mid-century cruisers, come along for a ride to a simpler time in southwest Florida.
  • Naples-on-the-Golf
    • Naples and golf have become synonymous, with people around the world flocking to the area to enjoy the plethora of beautifully manicured courses we have to offer. Since the first golf course was built in Naples in the early 1900s., the number of golf courses has grown at an incredible rate. Today, Naples boasts over 90 golf courses, which means we have the most holes of golf per capita of any city in the United States.  Join us to learn how the game of golf has become our paradise’s favorite pastime.
Museum Manager Lisa Marciano giving a lecture in the Silver Train Car

Rebecca Mazeroski, Marco Island Historical Museum Manager

Rebecca Mazeroski is the Museum Manager for the Marco Island Historical Museum since 2020. She has an MBA in Museum Exhibition Planning from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She has previously worked with the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Interpret Green Design Studio, The Clay Studio, and The Yager Museum.

  • Camera Girl: Saloma Olds’ Marco Island
    • Saloma was the middle daughter of Olds family, a pioneer family consisting of Doctors Charles and Mary Olds, and Saloma’s sisters Orida and Rosalie. For her 14th birthday in 1913, Saloma received a set of journals which sets off a lifelong dedication to documenting her life. Along with a brownie camera, Saloma captures life on the Florida frontier.
  • Tommie Barfield: Queen of Marco
    • There are two little known facts about Tommie Barfield. She’s a woman and she played a pivotal role in the creation of Collier County. Her nickname, Queen of Marco, reflects how central she was to the improvement of the villages of Marco, Caxambas, and Goodland and the people living there.