Speaker presentations.

FPAN can help facilitate speakers for meetings of your civic group, community organization, youth club, or heritage society, and for lecture series and special events.

Most presentations last about 30-45 minutes with additional time for questions, although programs usually can be tailored for your needs. Specific topics are dependent on speaker availability, so book early! There is no charge for presentations, although donations are gratefully accepted to support FPAN educational programs.

Presentation topics are divided into two sections:

Take a look at our offerings, then submit the form below and let us know what you’d like to learn about! If you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask us and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

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Presentations for Children

FPAN staff is available to visit your classroom, camp, or club and provide hands on archaeology education activities. If interested, select from presentation list below and fill out our program request form at the top of the page. Programs are free for public schools, public libraries, local museums and non-profit organizations. Florida Archaeology Month (March) and Summer calendars fill up fast so please schedule as soon as possible in advance.


Introduction to Archaeology for Kids

This activity introduces students to prehistoric culture, focusing on ways that local prehistoric people used fire to meet their daily needs. A hands-on experiment provides a bang as students use balloons (and water balloons!) to explore how prehistoric people could cook prior to the advent of pottery.

Introduction to Underwater Archaeology for Kids

A classic! Students systematically excavate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to explore the concepts of stratigraphy and survey, emphasizing how archaeologists use the scientific method in the field. If Power Point is available, this activity can include pictures of real tools, fieldwork, and sites to enhance learning.

Prehistoric Pottery (for kids!)

Students learn about the advent of pottery in Florida, and do hands-on experimentation using play-doh or air-dry clay to explore pottery-making and -decorating technology. The lesson also teaches about how pottery can help archaeologists understand a site and its prehistoric people.

Shipwreck on a Tarp

Archaeologists don’t just work on land; they also try to learn about past people through the things they left behind underwater! In this fun and educational program, kids learn about the basics of underwater archaeology through our portable shipwreck on a tarp!

Atlatl Antics (for schools only)

Learn about how hunting technology changed through time in prehistoric Florida, as well as how archaeologists study these changes. In this program kids get an introduction to archaeology and the chance to try a prehistoric hunting tool, the atlatl, for themselves.


Presentation Topics for Adults


Shipwrecks of Northwest Florida

The Panhandle of Florida is the site of hundreds of historic shipwrecks, the result of centuries of maritime commerce, conflict, and travel. Three of these wrecks are featured in this presentation: USS Massachusetts, the nation’s oldest battleship sunk for target practice off Pensacola; SS Tarpon, a merchant vessel famous for its weekly trips between Mobile and Panama City until it was lost in a gale; and Vamar, sunk at Port St Joe under mysterious circumstances during World War II.

Shipwrecks of Pensacola

The excellent port of Pensacola was long the focus of European rivalries in the New World because control of the harbor helped ensure dominance of the northern Gulf Coast. Shipwrecks litter the bay and surrounding waterways, many of which have been identified and archaeologically investigated. This presentation describes a variety of Pensacola’s historic shipwrecks from Pensacola’s Spanish, British, early American, and Industrial Expansion periods.

Shipwrecks of the Blackwater River

A major tributary of Pensacola Bay, the Blackwater River flows through the pine forests and fertile uplands of Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties. Historically, commerce along the river included shipyards, brick kilns, and lumber mills, all of which used the river for transport of supplies and products. The remains of many of the watercraft engaged in these industries lie hidden in the dark water, some of which have been archaeologically investigated. This lecture describes these vessels, ranging from lumber schooners to steam tugs to snapper smacks.

USS Massachusetts: History and Archaeology of the Nation’s Oldest Battleship

Just outside Pensacola Pass lie the remains of our nation’s oldest existing battleship, USS Massachusetts (BB2). Launched in 1896 as part of the New Steel Navy, the powerful warship soon was rendered obsolete by naval technological advances. Nevertheless, Massachusetts had an exciting career of combat, training, and target practice, and now is a massive artificial reef. This presentation describes the ship and her long life of service to the nation and to Pensacola.

History is the Real Treasure: The 1733 Spanish Galleon Trail

The Spanish treasure fleet of 1733 wrecked in a violent hurricane along 80 miles of the Florida Keys. With the discovery of the first shipwreck in the late 1940s and the growth of scuba diving in the 1950s and 60s enabling treasure hunters to locate most of the rest of the fleet, these wrecks suffered from haphazard digging and the loss of much information. Today, these shipwrecks are among the oldest and most vibrant artificial reefs in the Keys. This lecture describes a State of Florida project to record and interpret the 1733 fleet that resulted in the production of a booklet and website devoted to telling the story of the fleet disaster and to promoting the archaeological importance of the sunken ships as tangible remains of our maritime heritage.

The Emanuel Point Ships: Florida’s Earliest Shipwrecks Associated with the 1559

Before the English settled Jamestown and before the Spanish colonized St. Augustine, the harbor of Pensacola, Florida, was targeted by Spanish authorities as the perfect place to establish a town on the northern Gulf Coast. Only a few weeks after arrival, however, Tristán de Luna’s fleet was destroyed by a violent hurricane. Two of Luna’s ships have been discovered in Pensacola Bay and have been archaeologically investigated. This lecture presents this little-known episode of colonial history as well as the ships and artifacts associated with the Luna expedition.

Museums in the Sea: Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves

Clues to Florida’s maritime history are scattered along the state’s coasts, bays, and rivers in the form of shipwrecks relating to waterborne exploration, commerce, and warfare. This lecture features Florida’s Museums in the Sea, historic shipwrecks that have been interpreted for divers and snorkelers as a way to educate citizens and visitors about the real treasure of Florida’s shipwrecks – their history.

Diving, Historic Preservation, and Heritage Tourism

Florida’s historic shipwrecks have long been exploited for their perceived tangible value as mines of (often non-existent) treasure. The real treasure of shipwrecks, however, is their value as sites of history and heritage, and their potential for heritage tourism. This lecture describes the issues archaeologists face regarding effective management and protection of submerged cultural sites, as well as strategies that have been developed for interpretation and sustainable tourism at underwater archaeological sites.

Our Past in Peril: Florida’s Trouble with Treasure

As the scene of several colonial Spanish fleet disasters from the 16th to the 18th centuries, Florida is at the center of the commercial historic shipwreck salvage industry. Despite public opinion and laws protecting submerged cultural heritage, treasure hunters still are engaged in the destruction of underwater historic sites for personal gain. This lecture describes Florida’s history of treasure hunting, laws regarding commercial salvage of historic shipwrecks, and the strategies employed by archaeologists and resource managers to protect historic shipwrecks for the present and future and to promote responsible visitation.

Fantastic Archaeology: Florida Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries

Delve into Florida archaeology by learning what archaeology is, and, importantly, what it is NOT! This educational and entertaining talk focuses on the misuse and abuse of Florida's heritage, ranging from the Skunk Ape to shipwrecks to the Fountain of Youth. Join in the discussion of pseudoscience and the many ways believe in nonsense can be dangerous.

Tombstone Tales: Cemeteries, Symbols, and Stories

Historic cemeteries are amazing outdoor museums containing vast amounts of information on markers and tombstones that can be "read" like historic documents. This presentation describes the development of the modern cemetery, the kinds of information that can be learned from inscriptions and symbols on markers, the laws protecting historic cemeteries in Florida, and ways to protect them for the future.

Introduction to Archaeology

What do archaeologists do, exactly? If dinosaurs and rocks come to mind, this is the presentation for you! Learn about the science of archaeology, its role as part of the field of anthropology, where archaeologists work, and how they discover and protect our cultural heritage. Appropriate for all ages, this fun and informative show sets the stage for understanding how archaeology preserves our past for the present and future.

Remote Sensing in Archaeology

Archaeology is a destructive science. Excavation disturbs sites in such a way that they can never be restored to their original state. To preserve sites as they are found, archaeologists have various technologies in their archaeological "tool kit" to help study and gather data from sites without intrusive excavation. This lecture discusses, in basic terms, the kinds of remote-sensing instruments archaeologists use, both on land and underwater.

Talking Smack: The Sailing Vessels of Pensacola’s Red Snapper Fishing Industry

After the end of the American Civil War, industry in Pensacola and Northwest Florida boomed as money flowed from the North to the South. Among the various industrial endeavors in the Pensacola area, commercial fishing for red snapper became one of the most successful. From 1870-1930, the colorful fishermen and beautiful sailing vessels of the red snapper fishing industry dominated the city’s waterfront. This presentation discusses the importance of red snapper fishing to the development of Pensacola and Northwest Florida, in addition to why the industry began and ended so quickly.

Mosquitos, Muggles, and Museums: Exploring Florida’s Archaeology with Geocaching

Are you ready to get outside and explore Northwest Florida’s archaeology and history? Forget your fedoras and bullwhips; pick up a GPS device and go geocaching! Geocaching is a worldwide scavenger hunt game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called caches, using GPS devices and share their experiences online. FPAN recently created a series of geocaches hidden at historic and archaeological sites across northwest Florida to increase awareness that these places are out there and they are open for you to visit. This presentation describes how geocaching works, what you need to play, and a unique geocaching adventure created by FPAN that will take you back in time through northwest Florida’s history and archaeology.

Pirates! The Last Scourge of the Gulf

Two centuries ago, a massive wave of piracy struck the Gulf of Mexico and terrorized shipping along the Gulf coast. Florida was especially dangerous for travelers. Jean Lafitte and Charles Gibbs, two of the most notorious pirates from this period, had close ties to the Florida panhandle. One case of piracy even wound up in the court of West Florida in Pensacola and made newspaper headlines across the nation. This talk examines some of the broader aspects of piracy during the early 1800s in the Gulf and Caribbean. It also focuses on the current archaeological evidence for possible pirate ships from this period that wrecked beneath the waters of the Gulf.

Unearthing Florida

With close to 500 years of European history and more than 10,000 years of Native American history, Florida is host to an array of archaeological sites on land and underwater. In this presentation the author of the Unearthing Florida radio program will highlight eight different archaeological sites across the state from prehistoric times to the Civil War. We will learn about the history and archaeological investigations of these sites, some of the high-tech tools archaeologists used there, the artifacts they uncovered, and why the sites are important cultural resources on this statewide journey!

Archaeology of Northwest Florida: A Tour Through our Heritage

This presentation features a virtual tour of the major archaeological discoveries in FPAN's Northwest Region, the Panhandle of Florida. You'll learn about 16th-century shipwrecks, Native American encampments and ceremonial centers, a Civil War gun battery, a Spanish fort and mission, historic cemeteries, and the nation's oldest battleship!

Deadman's Island: Pensacola Bay's Unique Landform

The area known as Deadman's Island in Pensacola Bay has served as a careening ground, shipbuilding center, quarantine station, and cemetery. Archaeologists have found remains of extensive activities, both prehistoric and historic, ranging from shipwrecks to barrel wells to coffins. Learn about the unique geography of this interesting landform, and why people have used it for thousands of years.

Archaeology of Gulf Islands National Seashore

The area of the National Park Service's Gulf Islands National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island is a jewel of unspoiled natural beauty. In addition to providing habitat for a variety of wildlife, the Park also boasts some of Pensacola's most interesting archaeological sites, both on land and under water. This presentation is a tour of some of these sites, including the Spanish colonial presidio and shipwrecks from several periods of Pensacola's history.