UWF in the Community

UWF student learns while teaching others

Instead of getting a minimum-wage job or spending countless hours at the beach over the summer, University of West Florida student Kristin Hill put her studies to use at Heritage Village, a 21-acre living history museum near St. Petersburg, Fla.

Heritage Village first opened in 1977 and is comprised of more than 28 structures, including a school, church, railroad depot and general store, some dating back to the mid- to late-19th century. Hill, a senior, is studying cultural anthropology and said that the internship at Heritage Village felt like a perfect fit.

As a native of Pinellas County, Hill has had her fair share of exposure to these types of museums and historic preserves. She developed an interest in history and the practices of other cultures at a young age.

“It’s near my hometown, and it gave me a great opportunity to learn a lot,” said Hill.

Volunteer members taught Hill and another intern, Timothy Suttle, the tasks of the village. Hill and Suttle were put in charge of about a dozen kids, age 12 to 17, everyday. This gave her a chance to not only learn about the history of the area and assist with day-to-day operations, but also to learn what it is like to lead and motivate others.

“Everything was a very rewarding experience,” said Hill. “I got to work in my field and help motivate younger people to be as excited as I am.”

The days in Heritage Village were split between doing chores and giving guided tours to visiting groups. Hill would often demonstrate how life was in the mid-1800’s. Washing clothes by hand, hanging them on a clothesline and drawing your own water for a bath were a normal part of everyday life. She spent nearly 200 hours recreating the 19th-century lifestyle and leading tours of the facility.

Hill said that Heritage Village is exactly the type of organization she would like to work with after graduating. She is planning to pursue a master’s degree and said her dream job is a position at the Smithsonian Institute.

Until then, she plans to continue studying her passion and will remain an avid student of anthropology and the lifestyles of other cultures.

“I hope I can go back and do more for them,” said Hill. “I’m sure now that this is what I want to do with my life.”