Events

Attend our events to learn about or help us plan the Florida Panhandle National Heritage area.


Future Events

April 17, 2019

As a part of our FPNHA initiative and our motto of "Act as a National Heritage Area before Becoming One," we are organizing a series of training courses and workshops, open and free to our FPNHA partners.

The first workshop in the series is “Hitting the Mark” where we can learn how to better connect with modern museum audiences.

The workshop will be held on April 17, at Heritage Park & Cultural Center, 139 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548.

Workshop Flyer

April 30, 2019

Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area - Ninth Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study

Join the Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies (AIMS) and the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) for the ninth meeting of the series of meetings regarding the possibility of designating the Florida Panhandle as a Maritime National Heritage Area and conducting a feasibility study. The meeting aims to engage everyone to discuss the area boundaries, significant cultural-natural resources and the area's theme.

Ninth Meeting Flyer


Past Events

presenters and partners standing in front of the nerr sign

March 6, 2019

The Eighth Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study of Florida Panhandle Maritime Heritage Area was a success. More than 30 people attended from different organizations such as chamber of commerce, historical societies, Florida department of Environment-Recreation and Parks, Florida State Parks, Civic Clubs, nonprofits, individuals and so forth. Many thanks to Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve for hosting the meeting.

dr khakzad presenting at nerr

As a part of our FPNHA initiative and our motto of "Act as a National Heritage Area before Becoming One," we are organizing a series of training courses and workshops, open and free to our FPNHA partners. In the meeting, we announced that the first workshop will be in April. Check our Future Events section for more information.

In addition to the meeting, we had a chance to visit a few more sites such as Apalachicola Maritime Museum and St. George Island Lighthouse. We are looking forward to future collaboration with all these entities.


After presenation at Bagdad Waterfront Partnership Meeting

February 2019

February has proven to be an exciting and productive month. Multiple interviews, broadcasts, and meetings took place, both with local area organizations and in Washington D.C. with our state representatives. For more information, please see WUWF's coverage of our efforts.

Historical Commission Presentation

Although we were unable to hold a public meeting, we presented to groups such as the Florida Historical Commission on February 8, Explore Northwest Florida on February 21, the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida on February 22 and the Okaloosa Tourist Development Council February 26. The final meeting for the month of February was held at the Bagdad Waterfront Partnership Meeting on February 29. The meetings highlighted that we all have common goals regarding preservation, protection and use of our cultural, historical and natural resources, and a National Heritage Area designation can enhance collaborations among public and private entities that pave the way to achieve our goals more effectively.

Dr Sorna Khakzad and Martha Raymond

The NHA initiative was well received across the board, resulting in multiple letters of support and a motion to recommend the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources to support the project as well.

The D.C. trip to attend the meeting of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas also proved fruitful. We were able to inform Congressional and Senate representatives and leaders about the dedicated efforts involved in designating Northwest Florida as a National Heritage Area. Additionally, meeting with the National Coordinator of Heritage Areas clarified the designation process and provided supplemental guidelines that will help improve our efforts to produce a well- defined Feasibility Study.


fort walton beach chamber of commerce meeting

Jan. 24, 2019

We had the pleasure to present about Florida Panhandle Maritime National Heritage Area initiative at the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. The audience included different groups of people such as Destin Commons, Gulf Power, County Commissioner and local businesses. We had a positive interaction with the attendees.


planning meeting committee posing in front of the panhandle pioneer settlement

Jan. 23, 2019

The seventh Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study, the first meeting of 2019, was held at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown, FL on Jan. 23, 2019. Speakers Dr. Sorna Khakzad, Mike Thomin, and Barbara Albrecht gave an updated presentation on the current designated themes for the Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. In addition, Jeffrey Shanks from the National Parks Service provided an overview about National Heritage Areas as well as further insight into the designation process.

The effects of hurricane Michael are still present in many areas. Mr. Willard Smith, the Director of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, explained the current situation at the site and the need for continued support. Along with research on the impact of Hurricane Michael, examination of the continually resilient nature of such historically diverse communities in Northwest Florida offers a broader understanding of the regions impact on the development of the nation. Attendees from other museums and historical societies in the Northwest Florida region raised significant questions concerning the representation and inclusion of minority groups in the areas under consideration and how they will fit within the project themes. These inputs reveal how crucial support for the designation is in providing a more diverse and accurate historical narrative.


presenters standing outside the Walton County Heritage Museum

Dec. 10, 2018

The sixth Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study, the last meeting of the year 2018, was held at Walton County Heritage Museum in DeFuniak Springs, on Dec. 10, 1018. Participants from Florida Panhandle historical societies, Florida State Parks, WUF and interested citizens from around the Florida Panhandle area attended this meeting. Dr. Sorna Khakzad and Michael Thomin presented about the project progress, and Jeffrey Shanks (National Park Service) gave a presentation on National Heritage Areas in the US and the designating process.

In this meeting, participants introduced themselves and talked about what they think about the project. Some attendees, who have been participating in the series of meetings, talked about their activities within their communities and cities regarding promoting this project and securing letters of support from different organizations. However, everyone agreed that we need more effort to get more support from different entities.

As a result of these meetings and other academic panel discussions, the project themes are becoming more meaningful and cohesive, and the Area boundary is getting closer to being finalized.


Nov. 15, 2018

A panel was organized at the annual Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) on Nov. 15, 2018 to discuss the potential of designating the Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area. The panel organizers Sorna Khakzad (UWF), Mike Thomin (UWF), and Jeffrey Shanks (NPS) presented about the project and its goals. Archaeologists, university professors and experts, including Julie Duggins, Joshua Goodwin, Jessi Halligan, Tristan Harrenstein, Richard Kanaski, William Lees, Rochelle Marrinan, and Nancy White were among the panelists. The main topic that was discussed was the themes and story that this potential National Heritage Area can reflect. Some of the major themes and concepts that were highlighted and encouraged to be expanded on are economy, military, industry and human resilience.

A video record of the panel will be uploaded on our website soon.


meeting at imogene theatre

Nov. 13, 2018

The fifth Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study was held at Imogene Theater in Milton, on Nov. 13, with attendees from different sectors, such as academia, the tourism industry, local authorities, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, museums and historical societies. The presentations given by Dr. Sorna Khakzad, Michael Thomin and Barbara Albrecht provided the audience with an introduction and updates regarding Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. In addition, the implications of preservation and restoration of some sites affected by Hurricane Michael were discussed. Mr. Willard Smith, the Director of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, gave an update about the state of their site. We created a list of volunteers and technical supports that can be provided to the hurricane affected sites. For more information and to connect with these volunteers, please get in touch with Sorna Khakzad, skhakzad@uwf.edu.


participants listening watching a presentation

Oct. 22, 2018

The fourth Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study was held at Florida Public Archaeology Network in Pensacola, on Oct 22, with attendees from different sectors, such as academia, tourism industry, local authorities, chamber of commerce, Gulf Island National Seashore, and historical societies. The meeting started by a welcoming note from Dr. William Lees, FPAN Director, and an introduction to AIMS, by Dr. Wade Jeffrey. Speakers including Dr. Sorna Khakzad, Michael Thomin and Barbara Albrecht presented about the progress of Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. In this meeting, our guest speaker, Jeffrey Shanks, from National Park Service, provided an insightful presentation about National Heritage Areas and the designation process.

participants watching a presentation

We received some information about the natural-cultural resources and statements about the significant of the Area from some of the attendees in our previous meetings. In general, everyone showed a great amount of support for this project.

Considering the impact of hurricane Michael on our area, we believe that designating Florida panhandle as a National Heritage Area at this moment is more crucial than ever. The designation will provide opportunities for more collaborative effort to revive the area and for socioeconomic development.  


dr. sorna khakzad presenting at the third meeting

Sept. 25, 2018

The third Planning Meeting and Feasibility Study brought different stakeholders in the area together, including guests from the chambers of commerce, tourism industry, land development, wild life and forestry, National Park Service, Tyndall, Gulf Coast State College, historical societies, interested citizens, and so on. The meeting was held on Sept. 25, 2018, hosted by the Panama City Publishing Museum. Following a brief introduction to FPAN and AIMS, Dr. Sorna Khakzad, Barbara Albrecht and Mike Thomin highlighted the values of cultural and natural resources in Florida Panhandle Area, and presented the concept of National Heritage Area and the progress in the Feasibility Study. The presence of National Park Service representative was a great opportunity to respond to some of the questions and concerns about the NHAs and designation process. We received constructive comments from the attendees that ‘alone, we cannot do much, but as a part of a National Heritage Area, we will be able to attract more attention to our area and perform better together.’ After the meeting, we organized a 30-minutes working group session, where attendees got together and responded to a few questions regarding the significance of different resources in the area. The collected information will be added to the Feasibility Study, which highlights stakeholders' viewpoints.


fpnha committee giving a presentation

Sept. 5, 2018

The second meeting to bring different stakeholders from across the Panhandle Area and discuss the possibility of designating a Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area was held on Sept. 5, 2018, hosted by the Heritage Park and Cultural Center in Ft. Walton Beach. Following a brief introduction to FPAN and AIMS, Dr. Sorna Khakzad, Barbara Albrecht and Mike Thomin highlighted the values of cultural and natural resources in Florida Panhandle Area, and presented the concept of National Heritage Area and the progress in the Feasibility Study. Participants from tourism industry, Florida Forest Service, historical societies, Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Base, libraries, and many more got engaged in a lively discussion about the Panhandle significant places, area boundaries and theme. The meeting and discussion helped the project to get closer to defining the boundaries of Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area. The project is calling for input from different stakeholders.


dr. sorna khakzad presenting at the governor martin house

July 23, 2018

The first meeting to bring different stakeholders from across the Panhandle Area and discuss the possibility of designating a Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area was held on July 23, 2018 at the Governor Martin House in Tallahassee. The meeting started with welcoming and presenting about the roles and missions of Florida Public Archaeology Network, by Barbara Clark, and Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies by Dr. Wade Jeffrey.

stakeholders listening to presentation in governor martin house

Speakers, including Dr. Sorna Khakzad, Barbara Albrecht, and Mike Thomin presented about the significance of cultural, natural and historical resources in the Florida Panhandle Area, the concept of National Heritage Area, and the feasibility and benefits of having a Florida Panhandle National Heritage Area. Participants from federal and state government, chambers of commerce, economic development groups, natural resources and wildlife organizations, museums and tourism industries attended the meeting. We had a vibrant and fruitful discussion that helps us to move forward with the Feasibility Study.


July 2, 2018

An information meeting took place at the Pace Community Center on July 2, 2018. The proposal for designating a Panhandle National Heritage Area was presented to the Santa Rosa Creek Tribe community and their tribal grounds’ Board of Director. After the presentation, the tribe members asked many questions about the advantages and disadvantages of joining this initiative. As the result of the meeting we received a letter of support from this group.


Profiting from Preserving the Past panel standing together

April 27, 2018

The first initiative to inform the public and stakeholders about this project was conducting a panel entitled “Profiting from Preserving the Past” that was organized in April 2018. This was the result of a two-year study of cultural and national resources in the Panhandle Area. The proposal for designation as a National Heritage Area was presented. Panelists discussed the benefits and obstacles of cultural resources preservation and the role of heritage preservation in sustainable development.