SAA PEC Biographies

Laura Howard

Beyond Touring (BT) & Lamanai Archaeological Project, 3036 Lake Shore Drive, Deerfield Beach, FL  33442, Phone number: 954.415.2897, Email address: laura@beyondtouring.com

Description of past and current involvement in public outreach and education

PAST

The Lamanai Field Research Center (LFRC) employed me for 4.5 years.  This center is located in northern Belize and focuses on research and ecotourism opportunities.  The center is located on the west bank of the New River Lagoon adjacent to the 2-sq mile Lamanai Archaeological Reserve and closely linked to Indian Church Village.   As their in-house archaeologist I designed and implemented hands-on activities, lectures, field excursions, educational display areas, and developed educational itineraries.  Various organizations and projects include:

Elderhostel:   This large non-profit organization provides adventures in lifelong learning for older adults through educational travel programs.  This includes trips throughout the world for groups of elders, logistical planning, coordination of research projects between principal investigators and Elderhostel participants.  As the archaeologist my role through the LFRC in Belize was to organize and coordinate 12 groups in the International Elderhostel Program each having an enrollment of between 10-17 participants.  The program length was generally 10 days.  I designed and implemented curriculum for fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and classroom lectures and activities.

Educational Student Groups: School groups organized through the LFRC generally concentrated on both biological and cultural subjects.  We developed and established relationships with: Samford University; University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh; San Francisco State; Clemson; and numerous high schools throughout the US.  I executed and developed archaeological based curriculum for these students that included lectures, field excursions, student projects, and community development.

International Expeditions: Throughout the 4.5 years with the LFRC I worked closely with International Expeditions (IE), the largest ecotravel company in the US that focuses on natural history.  I conducted weekly lectures and field excursions for the IE groups primarily focusing on Maya archaeology.

CURRENTLY

I am one of the directors of the Lamanai Archaeological Project (LAP), a position I also held while employed by LFRC.  Through this position Ive designed and implemented curriculum for the LAP field school, an intensive field techniques course.  Our field schools began in 1997 and have been conducted annually ever since.  Currently our field school is run through the University of North Carolina, Wilmington under the direction of Scott Simmons (PEC member).  I also assist the LAP with organization of museum collections, field surveys, lab and storage organization, and analysis.

The small educational based tour company I own and operate is:  Beyond Touring (beyondtouring.com).  Our goal is:  to carry out our mission of promoting ecotourism opportunities that monetarily support community enhancement, education, and research.  We work with individual travelers, as well as groups.  Our specialization is curriculum-based programs that concentrate on archaeology and natural history.  Beyond Touring creates itineraries, lectures, and field excursions as well as organizes all logistics between properties, airlines, and participants.  All participants work directly with our community development project in Indian Church Village.

Indian Church Village Community Development Project:  While employed by LFRC we began a long-term project aimed at sustainable development.  This included the acquisition of grants from Canadian Funds for Local Initiatives (CFLI), British High Commission (BHC), and the Government of Belize.  Development that occurred due to these grants are the Indian Church Village Artisans (ICVA), Indian Church Village Library, and the high school scholarship program.  Through these efforts I was able to help establish and set up the library in Indian Church.  This facility also serves as the central area for meetings and literacy classes Ive helped to set up.

Interest in PEC membership:   I have three main interests in PEC membership, 1) is to network within the field of archaeology since I frequently find myself immersed in the tourism industy, 2) is to learn about new ways and new resources that can help me share archaeology with my clients, and 3) is to help further the field of archaeology by sharing it with the public.

Area of interest:   My primary area of interest is heritage tourism that focuses on Maya archaeology, community development, and environmental issues. 

Target audience(s):   Ecotourists, professors and instructors who do study abroad type programs, and local residents in Indian Church and San Carlos Villages in Belize.