FPAN Associate Director Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, RPA, has been awarded one of Florida’s highest honors in Historic Preservation: the 2015 Senator Bob Williams Award. It was presented to her at the annual Florida Heritage Awards ceremony in Tallahassee on March 11, 2015.
The award is named for the Senator Bob Williams, an individual who served as Florida’s first State Historic Preservation Officer. The Williams Award recognizes those public employees whose service is so exceptional that it has changed the course of historic preservation in Florida. In the letter informing her of the award, Secretary of State Ken Detzner detailed the rational for bestowing the 2015 award on Della,
“Throughout your career your dedication to the preservation of submerged cultural resources in Florida has immeasurably increased public awareness of the significance of these fragile and unique resources. The effects of your legacy of preservation will be felt for generations to come.”
Watch the video presentation prepared by the Department of State for the awards ceremony.
Della graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Historical Archaeology. She also holds a Master’s in International Relations from Troy University, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Florida State University. Della is certified as a Scuba Instructor with the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). She is a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA).
In the presentation of this award, Della was recognized for twenty years of work in raising public awareness of Florida’s underwater cultural heritage. Notable has been her work on the Pensacola Shipwreck Survey, which led to discovery of shipwrecks from the ill-fated 1559 fleet of Don Tristan de Luna, and work as an Underwater Archaeologist with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR) where she expanded the number of Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves. Della left BAR in 2006 to join FPAN as the Public Archaeologist in the Coordinating Center. Before being named as Associate Director, she developed and directed the Northwest and North Central Regional Centers of FPAN.
At FPAN, Della has developed the Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar (HADS) and the Submerged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship (SSEAS) programs, both aimed at increasing respect for the Underwater Cultural Heritage. HADS focuses on training the professionals who train scuba divers on the value of archaeological heritage and stewardship, and SSEAS takes a similar message directly to recreational divers with an interest in heritage.
Della’s professional contribution these days goes well beyond her daily work at FPAN. She was chair of the 2010 Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology at Amelia Island, Florida, has recently served on the SHA Board of Directors, and currently serves SHA as Conference Coordinator. She has also served on the board of the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology. She has lectured and consulted on the preservation and interpretation of the Underwater Cultural Heritage both nationally and internationally, and sits on a number of national and international advisory boards.
Della’s success is in no small measure a result of her clear vision, focus, and dedication, but is also enabled by her collegial nature and professional demeanor. FPAN is indeed fortunate to have Della as part of our leadership!
William B. Lees, PhD, RPA
Florida Public Archaeology Network