Category Archives: Education

Handcrafted wooden strip kayak offered through silent auction

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is offering a handcrafted wooden kayak to the community through a silent auction. Created by volunteers in Heritage Boatworks, the kayak is made from strips of red cedar, mahogany and cypress coated with fiberglass.

Heritage Boatworks volunteers working on the strip kayak.

This unique design features the St. Augustine Lighthouse spelled out in in Morse code which runs along one side, made from mahogany and cypress. The kayak is on view in the Visitors Center area of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Gift Shop.

The Museum is auctioning this incredible wooden watercraft, along with two handmade and decorated paddles. Minimum bid starts at $2,000.00 through a sealed bid silent auction, available at http://www.staugustinelighthouse.org/visit/ and click on the link in the Heritage Boatworks section.

All sealed bids must be received by designated museum staff by 3 p.m. October 15, 2019.   

The completed strip kayak, made from red cedar, mahogany and cypress.

Volunteer boatbuilders work in the Museum Heritage Boatworks area from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Guests can watch them create wooden craft following boatbuilding traditions practiced in St. Augustine for more than 400 years. Boatbuilders work with Museum researchers to ensure authentic builds of historic, wooden, small craft.

This boat is a beautifully crafted wooden strip kayak that shows the dedication and skill of our volunteer boat builders,” said Brenda Swann, Interpretative Division Director at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

“As with all our volunteers, they help make the Museum a great asset to the community and a fun, educational place to visit. The proceeds from the auction will help support our educational programs such as Heritage Boatworks, and preserve the rich maritime history of the northeast Florida region for future generations.”

For more information, contact Brenda Swann at bswann@staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745 ext. 208.

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse and twitter.com/firstlighthouse

New Florida License Plate features artist rendering of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse – available Aug. 9

This new Florida license plate depicting the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse will be available starting Aug. 8, 2019 at VisitOurLights.org or your local tag office. Funds raised go to the Florida Lighthouse Association, which aids in preservation and restoration of Florida’s 29 remaining historic lighthouses.

Revenues assist in the saving and restoration of Florida’s beloved beacons

JUPITER, FL – Images of Jupiter’s beloved, iconic Light are everywhere, and now a very special one is coming to a Florida Tax Collector’s office near you.  On Aug. 9, the Department of Motor Vehicles will offer official ‘Visit Our Lights’ Florida Lighthouses’ specialty license plate with a redesigned look featuring an original artist rendering of Palm Beach County’s Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.

For nearly a decade, the plate has featured the Florida’s first light, the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA) board of directors, who created the original plate, decided in 2017 to change the artwork to feature another of the sunshine state’s sparkling lights. The vote fell to the Jupiter Light for its national significance and local popularity. The beautiful rendering was created by Master Artist Lise Yust who passed away in 2018. The artist said the sunset was inspired by one she had seen from her home in Englewood, Florida. Graphic designer Dan Spinella with Artworks Florida assisted in the completion of the project.

FLA is an all-volunteer based 501c3 charity whose mission is to safeguard Florida’s remaining lighthouses for future generations by supporting community-based restoration, preservation and education efforts. FLA from funds rose through the VisitOurLights.org specialty plate program and other efforts has given to-date $818,298 in grant money for the preservation and restoration of Florida’s 29 remaining historic lighthouses.

“We owe a lot to our historic beacons and their keepers who have saved countless lives over the last century and a half of their existence. By purchasing these specialty plates, you are not only helping to preserve a beautiful part of our history, you are honoring the lighthouses and their keepers who gave their lives to protect our local mariners during times of peace and war,” said Sharon McKenzie, Chair of the FLA Marketing Committee and Executive Director for both Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum and recently restored Gasparilla Island Lighthouse.

The Loxahatchee River Historical Society (LRHS) was recently awarded a grant through the FLA for its upcoming major repainting project, caring for the interior and exterior of the 1860 Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Through the license plate funds, LRHS was awarded $24,000 towards its fall ‘Paint the Light’ project.

“Nothing makes me happier than knowing that residents around the state will enjoy this beautiful artwork of the Jupiter Lighthouse while contributing to helping care for and save Florida’s coastal gems,” states Jamie Stuve, President & CEO of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society.

As an active aid-to-navigation and Palm Beach County’s oldest structure, the condition of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse tower is always a daily critical concern for the historical society on. The historical society has balanced providing more access to visitors each year with careful historic preservation so that future generations may experience the climb to the top and enjoy all that Lighthouse has to offer.

“While we adore the Florida license plate depicting the St. Augustine Lighthouse, we are thrilled that the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is featured on the new license plate,” said Kathy Fleming, Executive Director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

“With this new plate, we hope that awareness will increase about the importance of saving Florida lighthouses and we continue to share the stories of our maritime past.”

This Florida license plate depicting the St. Augustine Lighthouse is available through Aug. 7, 2019, and can be used for 10 years. The new Florida license plate depicting the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse will be available starting August 8, 2019.

To learn more about the Florida Lighthouse Association visit www.floridalighthouses.org

To learn more about the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum visit www.jupiterlighthouse.org

Visit staugustinelighthouse.org to learn more about the nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

Facts About Florida Lights:

Lighthouses played a critical role in Florida’s history; making it possible to explore, settle and develop Florida by using its 1350 miles of coastline (second only to Alaska in states with longest coastline).

Only 30 lighthouses remain today.

A 2002 study done by the State of Florida estimates that it will take almost $20 million dollars to preserve all of Florida’s historic towers.

Lighthouse Education Program thankful for summer camp community support

Summer camp students create towers out of pasta and marshmallows in a lesson about building a solid structure such as the 145-year-old St. Augustine Lighthouse.

For the past 8 years, 350 students have attended summer camp on scholarship

As another summer camp season wraps up, the nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum would like to thank the many individual community donors, business sponsors and nonprofit partners who have helped to provide these educational experiences over the years.

Camp support is provided by the Saint Augustine Sertoma Club, Blessings in a Backpack, the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, Inc., and many others who provide scholarship donations.

Partners would provided support during the 2019 summer camp field trips include the Schooner Freedom, the Castillo de San Marcos, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, Anastasia Watersports, Sea Love Charters, Ripple Effects Eco Tours, the Seafood Shoppe, Anastasia State Park (a Ranger-let program), Lightner Museum, and Genung’s Fish Camp, which offered a tour on the Matanzas Riverkeeper’s Litter Picker II.

Individuals who provided cultural heritage programs for summer camp include Mike Usina and Phil Castillo, teaching about Minorcan cast nets; Shayla Nelson, a student musician from the St. Johns County Center for the Arts (SJCCA) at St. Augustine High School; and Melinda Reed, a Museum volunteer who told the stories of four different people in British St. Augustine during the Revolutionary war period.

Students are shown on the observation deck of the St. Augustine Lighthouse after climbing the historic tower during the 2019 summer camp.

More than 1,014 children have benefitted from the summer camp over the past eight years, along with 350 in the St. Augustine community who have attended on scholarship. Over 2,500 meals and snacks were served, with additional food sent home with campers on scholarship through the Blessings in a Backpack program.

The nonprofit First Coast chapter of Blessings in a Backpack provides school-aged children with food on weekends during the school year, and partners with organizations such as the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to help provide food during the summer weeks. Find out more at firstcoastblessingsinabackpack.com

“It is always a joy to work with children or to see them stimulated by a good program,” said longtime Museum supporter and former board member Judy Burnett Albright. “To make a lasting difference in the life of an at-risk child can put them on the correct path for life. For those of you who helped make a difference, thank you for following your heart and giving these youngsters confidence and hope for their future.”

In addition to summer camps, the Education Program at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum shares the maritime stories of the region. Nation’s Oldest Port™ School Group and Day Camp programs introduce K-12 students to the science of light, archaeology of shipwrecks, 500 years of Florida maritime heritage, and the important role of lighthouses and lighthouse keeping to the economy and coastal defense. Programs for scouts and other groups also are available. Learn more at staugustinelighthouse.org/explore-learn/education/

For more details, contact Education & Program Manager Jill Titcomb at jtitcomb@staugustinelighthouse.org or 904-829-0745 ext. 223.

Summer Camp: If the Lighthouse Could Talk!

Registration open for 2019 summer camp at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

Oh the stories that St. Augustine Lighthouse would tell if only it could talk! Registration is open for 2019 summer camps held at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. See details below …

Register online at staugustinelighthouse.org/education/Summer_Camp

Completed K-4th grades

Oh the stories the St. Augustine Lighthouse would tell if only it could talk! From the first watch towers to today, weekly camp themes explore different episodes of St. Augustine and northeast Florida’s maritime past. Take a journey through time this summer at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum! See registration for details on weekly themes.

Completed 5th– 7th grades

Discover how people have lived and interacted with the marine  environment from the early 1500s to the present. Practice boatbuilding skills, fish from shore and on the water, row locally made wooden watercraft, visit modern shrimping and boating operations in St. Augustine, go on an eco-tour by kayak, and more!    *All activities weather permitting.*

 IF THE LIGHTHOUSE COULD TALK! 

Completed K-4th grades

Week 1:   1st Explorers      May 28-31

Learn how the first explorers navigated here, their life aboard ship, and how they fared when they arrived.  Make coquina, build a watchtower, try a ship’s biscuit, and take a look at the native plant resources that would have been available.  Campers can practice some of what they’ve learned on the water with a trip on the Schooner Freedom!

Week 2:   My How My Island has Grown!     June 3-7

Who was working the Lighthouse and developing our area? St. Augustine has a history diverse in its population, including the Lighthouse keepers.  Delve into some of those cultures through food, art, maps, and traditions.  Try your hand at net casting at Anastasia State Park or line fishing! Weather permitting

Week 3:   Pharology…what?     June 10-14

Discover the masterful engineering that makes me a Lighthouse.  Participate in activities related to technology changes in how the Lighthouse is lit.  Take a look at lighthouses all over the world and learn more about pharology.  Campers will visit the Lightner and complete a unique architectural scavenger hunt in down town St Augustine!

Week 4:   Keeping Watch     June 17-21

From the Spanish period to WWII, someone has always been looking out from our coastline to keep our maritime community safe.  Campers will take a deeper look into our coastal history through stories from the past, maps, and documents.  Take the tower challenge, design a modern sentinel, and create your own submarine. Finish the week with a trip to the fort to see the canons fire!

Week 5:   I’m Still Shining!     June 24-28

I’m still looking out at the maritime community of artists, tourists, archaeologists, sailors, and other folks. I’ve witnessed many changes in my 145 years (birthday this October).  Learn how Flagler’s train kick-starts St. Augustine’s growth to become the town she is today and experience some of the art and food that makes her unique. See how our archaeologists piece together the past and spend some time at the Fountain of Youth.

COASTAL COMMUNITY CAMP 

Completed 5th– 7th grades

July 8-12

This camp is designed to show students how St. Augustine’s people have been tied to the ocean for over 450 years. This will be accomplished by doing activities on and near the water and traveling to locations in the area to participate in varied maritime experiences. Campers will discover how people have lived and interacted with the marine environment from the early 1500s to the present. They will practice boatbuilding skills, fish from shore and on the water, visit an underwater archaeological investigation, see modern shrimping and boating operations in St. Augustine, go on an eco-tour by kayak, and more!  Daily activities are outlined below. All activities are weather permitting.

For additional information, visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org

Minorcan cast net maker, Michael Usina, to be presented Florida Folk Heritage Award in April

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Michael Usina, St. Augustine native and Minorcan descendent, has been recognized recently by the state as a recipient of a 2019 Florida Folk Heritage Award.

Michael Usina

Usina celebrates his Minorcan heritage by crafting hand-made cast nets using techniques passed down by his ancestors who settled St. Augustine in the 18th century.

Driven by a desire to promote Minorcan folk arts, Usina has shared this tradition in one-on-one apprenticeships, a documentary and at a variety of public events including the Florida Folk Festival.

For the past seven years, he has demonstrated his craft at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. He has provided Minorcan cast net making demonstrations on the grounds of the Museum for visitors and during summer camps with the Museum’s Education Program.

Tools used by Mike Usina for creating Minorcan cast nets.

“Thanks to Mike for so enthusiastically sharing his stories and skills with campers and visitors over the last 7-plus years,” said Brenda Swann, Director of the Interpretative Division at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. “Working with him is an honor and a privilege.”

The Folk Heritage Awards are given to outstanding folk artists and advocates who have made longstanding contributions to the folklife and cultural resources of Florida. In the category of Folklife Advocate, the award recipients are James Billie, former chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and Tina Bucuvalas, Curator of Arts & Historical Resources for the City of Tarpon Springs.

In the category of Folk Artist, the award recipients are Jane Wells Scott, fiddler in Tallahassee, and Michael Usina, Minorcan cast net maker in St. Augustine. Awards will be presented to the recipients in a ceremony at the Word of South Festival in Tallahassee on April 13, 2019.

“Folk artists and advocates help keep important traditions alive so they can be passed down and shared from generation to generation,” said Secretary Ertel. “The Department is honored to recognize these four individuals for their commitment to fostering Florida’s folk arts and cultural heritage.”

Usina has been making cast nets for more than 60 years using the same techniques as his Minorcan ancestors who settled North Florida more than 240 years ago. He learned the skills from his father Julian, who had learned them from his father.

Phil Castillo (left), friend of Mike Usina (center), and volunteer Tim Jackson
on the grounds of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum during
a Minorcan cast net making demonstration.

The Usinas owned a local filling station where they made nets in their spare time. By the time he was nine years old, Michael had knitted his first four foot Spanish mullet net. As a teen, he made and sold one per week and throughout adulthood, continued to make cast nets to provide for his family, eventually mastering both the Spanish and English varieties.

After retiring from a career as an airplane sheet metal mechanic for the Department of Defense, he focused his efforts on promoting his Minorcan folklife. Since 2012 he has shared net making, fishing and other aspects of maritime culture with youth at the annual summer camp hosted by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. He served as a Master Artist in the Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 2015, led independent apprenticeships, produced the documentary The Minorcan History of Hand Made Netmaking and regularly demonstrates at community events including annually at the Florida Folk Festival.

His efforts generated growing interest in folk arts in St. Augustine garnering notice from the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, who recommended he apply for funding. In partnership with the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, he secured enough funding to host a folk arts workshop series that included net making as well as Cuban and Greek foodways, palm frond weaving, ship modeling and Greek dancing.   

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, a private nonprofit, is open for guests  from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, with extended hours in the summer and on holidays. For ticket and tour details, go to staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse, and twitter.com/firstlighthouse