Anne Reynolds Receives State Award for Archaeology
Anne Reynolds, a member of South Florida Community College’s District Board of Trustees, has received the William C. Lazarus Award from the Florida Anthropological Society (FAS).
The Lazarus Award is the highest honor the society bestows on a person who does not make a living in the field of archaeology. The recipient must meet stringent criteria, and the award is not presented annually. As the first person to receive the award in seven years, Reynolds was recognized for studying and preserving the Blueberry archaeology site in Lake Placid, supporting the Kissimmee Valley Archaeological and Historical Conservancy (KVAHC), and educating the public about the value of archaeology.
What began as a hobby for Reynolds became her lifelong passion. “History has always been an interest of mine,” she said. “My father instilled it in me.” That interest expanded in the mid-1970s when she began fishing Native American artifacts out of a lake next to her home. She took her collection to the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History and learned that it contained remnants of a once-thriving Native American village.
Eventually, Reynolds became aware of a parcel of land in Lake Placid which was believed to contain Native American burial mounds. In 1988, Reynolds bought what became known as the Blueberry site for the purpose of preserving it and, in 1991, became field trained in archaeology. In 1992, the first dig was held with the hope of learning more about the burial site.
“We found out it was so much more than that,” Reynolds said.
Studies have revealed human activity on the land from three distinct eras. The top level of soil contains artifacts from the period of European colonization, when Native Americans interacted with the Spanish. A second or middle layer holds remnants of a 61-acre village inhabited by people who were part of the Belle Glade culture, which began in Central Florida around 1,000 B.C.E. A deeper, third layer holds the oldest fiber-tempered pottery found in North America as well pre-ceramic pottery that has been on the site for at least 6,000 years. Some of these pieces are now on display at SFCC’s Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC).
Along with the excitement of making discoveries about mysterious and bygone civilizations, archaeology gives Reynolds a chance to share her love of history with new generations.
“I love telling kids about history. They don’t always have an interest in it. Archaeology is something that speaks to them,” Reynolds said.
Today, students from Walker Memorial Academy in Lake Placid are trained to assist with archaeological research at the site. In turn, they train other students and share their knowledge with them. “It’s rewarding to see that spark of interest in history that begins with archaeology,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds has also spoken about the significance of local archaeology to Leadership Highlands, SFCC’s Elderhostel program, and other groups. She is actively involved in the KVAHC chapter, which represents Highlands, Okeechobee, Glades and Polk counties. It holds regular meetings and organizes programs at SFCC’s Highlands Campus.
Reynolds said she was extremely gratified to receive the William C. Lazarus Award as recognition for a lifetime of work. “It was really exciting for me,” she said. “It’s such an honor.”