Meet The Presenters
Sara Ayers-Rigsby specializes in cultural resources management and historic preservation. As the Director for the Florida Public Archaeology Network's Southeast/Southwest Regions, Ayers-Rigsby is responsible for designing educational outreach and programming for Florida's southernmost nine counties, which comprise half of the state's population. Before beginning her role as Southeast/Southwest Regional Director for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, she spent ten years working as an archaeologist throughout the United States, with a regional focus on the archaeology of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. She earned her M.A. in Archaeology for Screen Media from the University of Bristol, UK, and her B.A. in Classical Archaeology from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. She is certified as a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA). Her research interests include public outreach and archaeology, resiliency, archaeological compliance legislation, and industrial archaeology in Florida. She loves visiting state parks, historical sites, and house museums in south Florida and is always thrilled to talk to others about them.
Evan P. Bennett, Ph.D. is a historian of the American South whose research focuses on the intersections of rural, environmental, and labor history. He has just completed writing a book on the environmental history of Tampa Bay. He is the author of “When Tobacco Was King: Families, Farm Labor, and Federal Policy in the Piedmont,” (University Press of Florida, 2014). He is also co-editor of “Beyond Forty Acres and a Mule: African American Landowning Families Since Reconstruction,” (University Press of Florida, 2012).
Chicago-born artist Frederic Clay Bartlett created Bonnet House in 1920 on South Florida oceanfront land given to him and his second wife, Helen Louise Birch, by her father, Hugh Taylor Birch, a prominent Chicago attorney, real estate investor, and naturalist. Tragedy struck in 1925 when Helen died from breast cancer and in 1931 Frederic married Evelyn Fortune Lilly. She spent winters at Bonnet House until 1995. Today, the estate is a preeminent house museum dedicated not only to historic and environmental preservation, but also to learning and creative expression – much like the Bartletts and Birches themselves. In both words and lush color photography, Bonnet House: A Legacy of Artistry and Elegance, tells the story of both Bonnet House Museum & Gardens and the creativity of these families. Click here to view sample pages. Bonnet House, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501c3, whose mission is to celebrate the story of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett, we preserve the art, history and nature of Bonnet House, providing inspiration and respite for all.
Clarence Brooks, associate professor and director of dance, teaches ballet and modern and directs the Repertory Dance Theatre Ensemble, FAU's resident professional dance company. He has performed with 70+ dance companies and toured the USA, Europe, and Asia with Nikolais/Louis Dance Company, Marcus Schulkind Dance Company, Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project, and the Ohio Ballet at internationally renowned venues such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Spoleto Festival/USA, Paris Opera, The Joyce Theater, and the American Dance Festival. Brooks can be seen in the video documentary "The World of Alwin Nikolais". His essay "Dancing With the Issues" was published in One Teacher in 10: LGBT Educators Share Their Stories (Alyson Books). The Library of Congress recently recorded his version of Talley Beatty's "Mourner's Bench" for the national archives. Past president of the Florida Dance Education Organization, he sits on the boards of Doris Humphrey Foundation Board and danceTactics as well as the advisory boards of Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble and FDEO. Honors include induction into the OCU Performance Hall of Honor, two Associate Artist-in-Residences at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and recipient of the Clyde Fyfe Award and the Frank Prize for Performing Arts. Brooks holds a MFA in dance, a certification in Laban Movement Analysis, a 200-hour yoga certification, and is certified to teach the Evans Method of Teaching Modern.
Claudia Dunlea, Ph.D., is a senior instructor of history at FAU. She earned her doctoral degree in European integration history from the University of Hamburg, Germany. Dunlea is the author of a book that investigates the origins of a supranational European foreign policy in the 50s. Her recent research on the diplomatic relations of the European Union was published in two international publications. Having been born and raised in post-WW II Germany, Dunlea developed a deep personal interest in the 12 dark years of her country’s history. Among other topics, she is teaching courses on WW II, aspects of the Holocaust, and modern Germany’s attempt to deal with its Nazi past.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, founded in 1984, is a unique cooperative project of the City of Boca Raton, the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, Florida Atlantic University, and Friends of Gumbo Limbo. As a beacon for environmental education, research, and conservation, Gumbo Limbo’s 20 acres on the protected barrier island provide refuge to many varieties of plants and animals - some rare or endangered. It also represents a commitment to protect our natural resources by our staff, volunteers, and the organizations that comprise the Center. Located at 1801 N. Ocean Blvd in Boca Raton, FL, The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center received more than 200,000 visitors in 2021.