Last month we featured one of our newest team members of the Osceola County Historical Society, Rachel, and thought it would be fun to share a little more about the rest of the team in the coming months. Today, we’ve got the skinny on Margaret Wallis, the Development Director of the OCHS.
Margaret was born and raised in Osceola County and graduated from Osceola High School, where her parents and grandparents all went to school. After graduating, she majored in Communication and International Studies at Flagler College in beautiful historic St. Augustine. During her years in St. Augustine, she lived in a 100 year-old house one block from the historic Bridge of Lions, where she would often sit and watch sailboats drift through the water past the Castillo de San Marcos, a coquina fort built by Spanish colonists in 1672.
That’s where her love for Florida history blossomed. When she heard of the opening in her hometown’s historical society just weeks before graduating from college in December of 2013 she was ecstatic. The rest is history! Margaret started at the Osceola County Historical Society in January of 2014.
Her first task as the OCHS Development Director was to sell 200 seats at our annual Dine with the Departed. For those of you who don’t know about that event, it is an elegant dinner event in Kissimmee’s Rose Hill Cemetery. She knew from that moment that her job would never be dull!
One of her favorite things about living in her hometown again is how often she sees her family. They have been in Osceola County for generations, and Margaret is really proud to be involved in preserving the legacies of the families who made this county what it is today.
One thing she hopes to bring to the historical society is not only preservation of the cultural history of Osceola County, but its natural history as well. One of Florida’s oldest industries, citrus, is in major decline thanks to a disease called citrus greening. She can’t wait until the day they can plant an orange grove at the new Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. Margaret is very interested in beekeeping and would love to have a hive on site to pollinate the grove and keep it healthy so visitors can experience the smell of orange blossoms in the springtime – one of her strongest memories from childhood is climbing orange trees in her family’s very own grove.
Her more conventional hobbies include journaling, reading Ernest Hemingway novels and daydreaming about seeing as much of the world as Hemingway did. She also loves boating of any sort. Margaret is also facing one of her biggest fears (her family may have let her watch JAWS a little too early in life) and is currently in the process of getting certified to SCUBA dive.
As the Development Director, Margaret hopes to bring a lot more to OCHS than just funding. Osceola County has grown so quickly, and so many of its newest residents haven’t learned of its strong history. She wants to establish partnerships within the community that allow the OCHS to share Osceola County’s history in ways that engage young and old, natives and newcomers.
We are all part of Osceola County’s history, which is happening all around us every day and Margaret is making sure everyone knows it!