Florida Humanities Grant

The St Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance has been awarded a grant from Florida Humanities.

Saint Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance (Volusia)


“St Johns River to Sea Nature and History Corridor Phase 2” – $5,000
St Johns River-to-Sea (SJR2C) Loop Alliance will support the mapping, exhibition, promotion, signage, and public education of sites accessible on the SJR2C Loop including African American settlements, Bartram and other early trails.

With support from Enterprise Museum and Stetson University, the Alliance will continue development of the River to Sea Nature and History Corridor with mapping, exhibits, promotion, signage, public education and exploration of historic sites accessible on foot or bicycle along the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop multiuse trail in Volusia County.

The project includes seminars by Stetson professors Dr. Andy Eisen and Dr. Tony Abbott featuring their ongoing research and an online story map guiding trail users and others to historical places of interest. This project will benefit our region by increasing awareness and strengthening the connection between trails and our historic and natural sites, and expanding education resources and community outreach at the Enterprise Museum.

Special thanks to Enterprise Museum, Stetson University, Volusia County Parks, Recreation and Culture and all who sent letters in support of the project.

Seminars and exhibits will be presented at the Enterprise Museum in the spring.  

Dr. Andrew Eisen, Humanities Scholar and Presenter

Dr. Eisen is a visiting history professor at Stetson University.  He co-founded and co-directs the Community Education Project,a higher education in prison program and teaches at the Tomoka Correctional Institution, providing participants with meaningful opportunities for personal growth, reflection, and intellectual engagement. Incarcerated students have studied slavery and Indian Removal in Volusia County. CEP researchers published about their project in Process, the Organization of American Historian’s blog, presented at national conferences, and recently completed a traveling exhibit that tells more complex and complete histories of race and resistance in East Florida.  You can read more about CEP here:  https://www.stetson.edu/other/cep/

Dr. Eisen has long lamented the dearth of public knowledge about the lives of enslaved people and first free African American settlements. He has investigated the mostly undocumented history of slavery and later freed African American communities in southwest Volusia.  He will present a screening of his documentary film “Slavery and the Struggle for Freedom in East Florida” making reference to historic sites accessible on foot or bike from each venue.  He recognizes the importance of raising awareness for trails and the benefits they bring to our residents, students and communities, and hopes residents and visitors utilizing these trails will not only have the opportunity to appreciate nature, but more importantly, to recognize the history of those who lived and labored on these lands. 

Dr. J. Tony Abbott, Humanities Scholar and Presenter

Dr. Abbott is chair of Stetson University’s Geography and Environmental Science which includes alternative energy, energy conservation and agricultural biodiversity.  He holds a PhD in geography from the University of Minnesota. His training in geography informs his research on the human-environment interface. He has led multiple excursions to Latin America and published in numerous scholarly journals. His primary work is training students to excel beyond graduation, charting careers in research, activism, environmental enforcement, environmental policy, education, entrepreneurship and environmental law.

Dr. Abbott spearheaded the efforts in Volusia County to promote William Bartram’s story for heritage tourism through the production of a tourism map and brochure that the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor distributes throughout the state. He has traced, mapped and documented the legacy of naturalist William Bartram as he traveled through the region in the 1700s following what’s now the path of the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor and the St Johns River to Sea Loop.

William Bartram (1739-1823) traveled through the British Territories of east Florida in 1774. He chronicled his journey with a small boat up and down the St Johns River in Report to Dr. John Fothergill, his patron in London, and later in "Part Two" of his book Travels of William Bartram.  Dr. Abbott has placed Bartram Trail interpretive kiosks at several spots including Blue Spring State Park. He will continue this work and share findings with public exhibits and seminars at the Enterprise Museum. 

Dr Abbott’s seminar will emphasize historic sites accessible from the Loop, building on his work already begun to document Bartram’s experience at sites such as Beresford Plantation and Blue Spring.  Both sites are on the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop trail.  Excerpts below are from Dr. Abbott’s in-progress story map featuring passages from Bartram’s journal.

Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.