Archaeology Student Finds Unique Training Opportunity In Ocala National Forest

Taylor Collore (Credit: UCF Veterans Academic Resource Center)

A U.S. Navy veteran pursuing his master’s degree in archaeology will serve his country in a different way this Spring.

Anthropology student Taylor Collore will participate in a stewardship with the U.S. Forest Services and work directly with government officials to protect the Ocala National Forest.

“Serving my country and giving back is something I hold close to my heart,” explained Collore.

The Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) works in collaboration with state forestry agencies, cooperative extension and conservation districts to educate landowners on tools they need to manage forests and woodlands. Actively managed forests provide critical timber and fuel, along with recreational opportunities.

“I don’t think people realize how much goes into protecting where our resources come from,” said Collore. “When I learned about the history of exploitation in our forests it really shocked me.”

Collore originally graduated from the University of South Florida with a concentration in criminology and minor in anthropology. While pursuing his undergraduate studies he was introduced to Mesoamerican studies, a discipline concentrating on the history and artifacts inherent to Mesoamerica.

“UCF has a Mesoamerican program within the anthropology department that stood out to me because of the great reputation it has within the academic community,” said Collore.

Collore began his master’s degree with a concentration in Mesoamerican studies in the Fall of 2019. In coincidence with his new beginnings with UCF, COVID-19 sidelined the plans of Collore to participate in a field study in Belize.

This ended up working in his favor.

“I ended up tagging along on a project with my advisor, Edward Gonzalez-Tennant, Ph.D., after Belize fell through. It happened to be located within the Ocala National Forest where I got a lot of experience working in a place being actively protected. I met a forest archaeologist who brought up the stewardship and I thought I’d apply,” said Collore.

The U.S. Forest Services, in collaboration with the Hispanic Access Foundation, aims to provide stewardship to a candidate that will support national, regional, forest, and other agencies to comply with historic and heritage preservation laws.

“The mission is sustainability,” said Collore. “We’re working to protect our resources while still directly benefitting from them. My end goal here, and as an archaeologist, is to learn how to defend our resources, enact change and properly educate those around us on how to get involved and take proper care of the land we use.”



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