“Delta Challenge” Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition at UWA

UWA’s Small Business Development Center to host

Delta Regional Authority’s Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition, “Delta Challenge”


The Small Business Development Center and The Division of Economic Development and Outreach at The University of West Alabama (UWA) are proud to announce that UWA has been chosen by the Delta Region Authority (DRA) as one of six host sites throughout the Delta Region for the Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition, “The Delta Challenge,” that will take place Oct. 11 beginning at 6 p.m. in Livingston Alabama. The Delta Challenge is a series of entrepreneurship pitch competitions, and a part of a newly established program called the DRA Entrepreneurship Network, to boost entrepreneurial success in the Delta region and DRA Black Belt Counties in Alabama.

The Pitch Competition is much like some of the current shows airing on television. An individual or company has three minutes to “pitch” their idea to a panel of judges who are experts in various business fields. There will also include a 1-minute Q&A time immediately following the 3-minute presentation. The top 2-3winners from each location will qualify to compete in New Orleans, March 19-24, with one additional alternate chosen from all locations for a total of 20 finalists.

“This is a great opportunity for our small businesses that are ready to take their business and business concepts to the next level,” said UWA SBDC’s Director, Donald Mills. “Locally, we have small business resources available that may be of great assistance to those competing regardless of whether or not they make the finals, but we certainly look forward to the winners competing in New Orleans and the opportunities that will bring.”

Within Alabama, anyone within the 20 DRA Counties may register to compete for a chance to advance to the finals in New Orleans as an Entrepreneurship Network Fellow. Eligible Alabama counties include Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Sumter, Washington, and Wilcox. This is an eight-state event; entrepreneurs and small businesses from any DRA County throughout the DRA’s eight-state region are eligible to compete in any or all of the six competitions. To compete, you must register at least one week in advance of the competition site that you wish to attend:

  • September 13, 2016 – North Little Rock, AR – Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub
  • September 20, 2016 – Cape Girardeau, MO – Codefi
  • September 28, 2016 – Jackson, TN – Lane College
  • September 29, 2016 – Oxford, MS – University of Mississippi
  • October 11, 2016 – Livingston, AL – University of West Alabama
  • November 1, 2016 – Ruston, LA – Louisiana Technical University

Individuals and non-profit organizations that provide direct entrepreneurship support or educational services are encouraged to apply to join this new Network as well. Representatives from up to 16 support organizations will be identified to join this effort officially. Application guidelines and instructions for interested entrepreneurs and support organizations can be found at dra.gov/entrepreneur.

For more information, contact UWA Director of Small Business Development Center Donald Mills at dmills@uwa.edu or call (205) 652-3814; or contact UWA Director of Economic Development and Outreach Allison Brantley at abrantley@uwa.edu or call (205) 652-3618.

Hometown Teams Smithsonian Exhibit: Voices from Sumter County

Hometown Teams 3 combined logo

Listen to special invitations from Sumter County sports participants to visit the Hometown Teams Smithsonian Exhibit, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, on view Sept. 14 through Oct. 31 at the Black Belt Museum on the Courthouse Square in Livingston.

Click here to enjoy the Hometown Teams Voices of Sumter County.

ATHP 2016 Preservation Award Honorees

PIP cover 2016The Alabama Preservation Awards were presented on Friday, July 29, 2016 in Mobile, Alabama. Celebrating historic preservation in Alabama, the awards are presented by the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation.

Please click here to view the ATHP 2016 Preservation Award Honorees.


Register Now-Certified Interpretive Guide Training Course at UWA

57b5929f-acd6-4b95-aea2-687a7072cce5The Alabama Chapter of the National Association for Interpretation Sunny Southeast Region, in partnership with Center for the Study of the Black Belt and Black Belt Museum is offering an interpretive guide training course for individuals who deliver interpretive programs or have public contact at interpretive sites.  Students pursuing degrees in Park and Recreation Management, History, Education, Archaeology and Biology benefit from learning how to take technical information then present it to any audience.  The training combines both the theoretical foundations of the profession with practical skills in delivering quality interpretive programming to visitors.  Course materials are covered over a 4-day period of class work, lectures, interactive activities and application of learned principles.
This course is required to obtain guide certification. Those who take the course have the option to become certified by taking the certification exam at the end of the course and paying the additional certification fee.
The CIG Program
The nationally recognized Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) program is designed for anyone in the interpretive field. Whether you’re a new hire, a professional looking to refresh your skills, or beginning a second career, this course will aid you in improving your presentation and communication techniques. The course combines both the theoretical foundations of the profession with practical strategies in delivering quality interpretive programming to visitors.
This 32-hour course includes:
* history, definition, and principles of interpretation
* making your programs purposeful, enjoyable, relevant, organized, and thematic
* using tangible objects to connect audiences to intangible ideas and universal concepts
   in interpretive programs
* presentation and communication skills
* certification requirements (open book exam; program outline; 10-min. presentation)
* all materials and workbook
Those choosing to apply for certification will receive a complimentary one-year membership to NAI. Memberships will become active within a couple of days of registration and will allow you to purchase course books and other registrations at the discounted member rate. Once memberships become active, you will receive a receipt via email letting you know that you are all setup. Current NAI members will receive a one year extension on their current membership.  If you are registering for $0, your membership will become active when you are certified.
Additional Resources
If you wish to purchase your own Core Literature Review books, please visit the NAI store. The books are $109.00 for current members and $137.00 for non-members plus shipping (prices subject to change). You may wish to purchase the books after you have paid for your registration to this workshop and receive the discounted member rate. It will take a couple of business days for your membership prices to become active. It is recommended that you look over the material in advance to allow you to focus more on class activities during the workshop.
All materials included in your course will be shipped to your instructor.
Texts used are:
The Gifts of Interpretation (Larry Beck and Ted Cable)
Interpretation: Making a Difference on Purpose (Sam Ham)
Personal Interpretation (Lisa Brochu and Tim Merriman)
Interpreting our Heritage (Freeman Tilden)
Sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. daily. There will be lunch and snack breaks.
Further Information
For more information about the workshop please contact Brian Mast, Public Historian at the Black Belt Museum in the Division of Economic Development and Outreach at the University of West Alabama, at 205-652-5528 or email:  bmast@uwa.edu.
Registration Rates for Interpretive Guide Training Course
Early (By July 11, 2016): $230
Regular: $255
Add Certification: $150
Registration Link:
Special Terms and Cancellation
Cancellations must be made in writing and emailed, postmarked, or faxed by July 11, 2016; a nonrefundable processing fee of $50.00 will be assessed. Emailed cancellations should be sent to: registration@interpnet.com. Cancellations cannot be made by phone.
No refunds will be given after July 11, 2016.
Please note: you must be logged in to the NAI website to register for this event.
If you have never had an NAI account, please choose Create an Account below.
If you are a current or previous member of NAI and have problems retrieving your login credentials, please email: login@interpnet.com.

If your event registration fees come to $0, you will need to continue to the payment page and proceed through all of the payment steps (you will not be asked for a credit card number) to finalize your registration.


Your Paper Trail: Bring ‘Em Back to Life conference explores local resources

SM-Genealogy Class 2016 Workshop Flyer To Distribute 6-13-16The University of West Alabama’s Black Belt Archives and the Marengo County History and Archives Museum in Demopolis announce the third annual Black Belt genealogy conference titled, Your Paper Trail: Bring ‘Em Back to Life on July 21-23.

Your Paper Trail will be a conference dedicated to discussing the local resources accessible to people researching their ancestors in the Black Belt region in west Alabama and east Mississippi,” said Mary Jones-Fitts, President of the Marengo County History and Archives Museum.

The conference will include a keynote address by Jay Lamar, executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. The other speakers and panels will discuss a wide range of available research modes for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced genealogist such as community history, freedmen’s bureau, school records, slave research, and university archives.

Amy Christiansen, Black Belt archivist said, “We hope the conference will address going beyond the standard methods of genealogy and promote newer modes of research.”

Your Paper Trail will begin on Thursday, July 21 at 5 p.m. with open registration and a presentation by Gwen Delaine on her new book, “The Moore Place Community: Remnant of a Time Gone By” at 5:30 p.m. followed by a dinner and storytelling by Vassie Welbeck-Browne, from 6-8 p.m. Other conference sessions will kick-off at 9 a.m. on July 22-23.

The registration deadline is Friday, July 15 and the conference will be held at the Bell Conference Center on the University of West Alabama’s campus in Livingston.

For more information on the Your Paper Trail conference, contact Amy Christiansen at (205) 652-3655/ achristiansen@uwa.edu or Mary Jones-Fitts at (334) 341-3439/marengomuseum@yahoo.com.



Black Belt Archives receives Gewin family genealogy donation

UWA Black Belt Archivist Amy Christiansen

Michael E. Gewin of Mobile donated a genealogy collection focused on the Gewins of Greene and Hale Counties to the Black Belt Archives of the University of West Alabama’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach.

“The Gewin family played a significant role in the establishment of Greene and Hale counties, and even in Colonial America,” said Dr. Tina Jones, Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach. “This collection represents a tremendous amount of hard work on behalf of the family and is a wonderful resource for not only genealogists with Alabama Black Belt connections, but also scholars working in early Alabama and American history. We are appreciative that the Gewin family has given this collection to UWA and the Black Belt Archives.”

The Gewin genealogy collection consists of five archival boxes of family history, an index, research notes, marriage records, and historic cemetery registry notes. Also included in the collection are three binders of reference materials and clipping files. Gewin is a direct descendant of Christopher Gewin who arrived in Virginia in the late 1600s. His descendants moved to North Carolina and Alabama in the 1700 and early 1800s.

“Genealogy and family history are important to everyone, we all have unique stories to be told and the Black Belt Archives is diligently trying to collect those found in the Black Belt region,” said Amy Christiansen, Archivist, “The Black Belt Archives’ mission is to ensure the identification, preservation, and access of the Black Belt region’s historical records and artifacts and to promote its history throughout the region, state, and the nation. The Archives looks to preserve collections from all over the Black Belt, including Greene and Hale counties so this is a great addition to its stacks.”

The Gewin family history collection will be stored in the Black Belt Archives located in Bibb Graves Hall room 126D. The Black Belt Archives is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., afternoons by appointment.

Contact the archivist, Amy Christiansen at (205) 652-3655 or achristiansen@uwa.edu for more information or to schedule a research appointment. A finding aid for the Gewin Collection will be made available on the Black Belt Archives website here, http://centerforblackbelt.org/units/black-belt-archives-2/.



Black Belt Museum seeks public input for Smithsonian exhibit in Fall 2016

Hometown Teams_Title Treatment_color_FNLBaseball. Soccer. Hockey. Bowling. Kickball. Surfing. People around the country are drawn to compete in many ways. Not only do individuals gather to compete, but even more to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.

The University of West Alabama, in cooperation with Alabama Humanities Foundation, will celebrate this connection as it hosts “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. “Hometown Teams” will be on view Sept. 14 through Oct. 31.

Smithsonian Institution LogoThe Alabama Humanities Foundation chose UWA and Sumter County to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in Alabama from Gadsden through Enterprise.

“We are very pleased to be able to bring ‘Hometown Teams’ to our area,” said Dr. Tina Jones, Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s sports history and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”

With this special tour, the University of West Alabama will develop a local exhibition and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition. The local exhibit, “Small Town, Big Impact” will feature sports items from Sumter County and UWA as well as a Wall of Honor dedicated to all individuals who have had an impact on sports in the area.

“We are currently collecting loaned materials to display in the local exhibition. We have had several community members give us softball helmets, newspaper clippings, football program sheets, and even vintage beer steins to display!” said Amy Christiansen, Archivist and Hometown Teams Project Director, “The Wall of Honor creates a forum where individuals may nominate people in the community who have had an impact in sports, to honor not only athletes but band members, coaches, parents, athletic trainers, cheerleaders, family members, sponsors and fans, all are included.”

The deadline to nominate a person to the Wall of Honor or loan Sumter County sports memorabilia is Monday, May 2.

The Wall of Honor nomination form is available by clicking here.

The Call for Memorabilia form is available by clicking here.

The Sponsorship form is available by clicking here.

The Teacher Smithsonian Traveling Classroom Exhibit form is available by clicking here.

The Memorabilia and Wall of Honor nomination forms may also be mailed or delivered to Kelly Land Hall on the UWA campus.

For more information, contact Black Belt Archivist Amy Christiansen at achristiansen@uwa.edu or call 205-652-3655.

UWA Center Museum Combo Logo Color


Alabama Bicentennial Celebrates 200th Anniversary

bicentennial-rendering-BState’s Bicentennial Covered in Public Information Session
The University of West Alabama’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach will host a public information session on plans for Alabama’s bicentennial commemoration on Friday, April 22 at Noon, at Young Hall Cafeteria on the UWA campus. The program is free, open to everyone interested and lunch will be served.
Beginning in 2017, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission will kick off a three-year commemoration period and launch significant projects and initiatives-such as traveling history exhibitions and professional development for teachers-that will serve the entire state. Local communities, though, will be the heart of the commemoration, and the information session will outline plans, share ideas and discuss resources designed to support activities for towns and cities.
The session will also help organizations, businesses, churches and other groups think about how they would like to participate.
From family reunions to school service projects, from museum exhibitions to common reading programs, and from recipe collections to oral history interviews, there will be many ways that individuals, groups and communities can involve themselves in the state’s milestone birthday.
In 2013, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission was established by the governor and the legislature to begin planning for the state’s 200th anniversary. For more information about the bicentennial, visitwww.Alabama200.org, or call 334-242-1415.
To find out more about the information session, call UWA at 205-652-3828.

The Black Belt Hall of Fame recognized Flynt and Lee

Harper Lee and Flynt

Ms. Nelle Harper Lee and Dr. Wayne Flynt

The Black Belt Hall of Fame will honored two prominent figures in the region’s history on Friday, Jan. 29, at a luncheon and induction ceremony from noon-2 p.m. at the University of West Alabama’s Bell Conference Center.

Dr. Wayne Flynt and Ms. Nelle Harper Lee were honored at the ceremony. Both inductees have devoted their life’s work to the Black Belt region and Alabama, both for its advancement and preservation.

The Black Belt Hall of Fame, a program of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt, seeks to recognize and honor those associated with the Black Belt who have had a positive impact on the region, the state, the nation, and the world through contributions in art, business, education, industry, medicine, politics, and science.

“In both literature and history classes around the nation, the works of Harper Lee and Wayne Flynt influence the thoughts of others. They are both truly ambassadors for Alabama’s Black Belt, and we are thrilled that they were inducted in the same class,” said Dr. Tina Naremore Jones, Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach said. “This was a special occasion honoring the rich legacy of both individuals.”

Dr. Wayne Flynt: Flynt’s contributions to teaching, writing, and advocacy have made a demonstrated impact on the Black Belt region and Alabama. Born on Oct. 4, 1940, in Pontotoc, Miss., Flynt attended Howard College and received an MS and PhD from Florida State University. After teaching at Samford University for 12 years, he joined the faculty at Auburn University where he remained for 28 years and became a distinguished University Professor Emeritus. Author or co-author of twelve books, including Alabama in the Twentieth Century; Alabama Baptists; Dixie’s Forgotten People, and a memoir, Keeping the Faith, Flynt was the first editor of the Encyclopedia of Alabama and the initial co-editor of the University of Alabama Press series, “Religion and American Culture.” His numerous awards include the Lillian Smith Book Award, the Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing, two James F. Sulzby Book Awards, two Alabama Library Association Awards, the Judson-Rice Award by “Baptist Today,” and induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor.

Nelle Harper Lee: Born in Monroeville, Ala. on April 28, 1926, Lee has had a major literary impact on America and the world. Lee attended Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. She then left the state to pursue a literary career in New York. In 1960, the masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published. The novel for which she received the Pulitzer Prize has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Set on the southern edge of Alabama’s Black Belt, the novel contains insightful portrayals of the various levels of society in the 1930s. Lee’s fiction has contributed to the conversation about race and tolerance, hope and family in American society for over half a century. She has written several short stories and essays devoted to Alabama history such as “Christmas to Me.” In 2015, Lee’s much anticipated, Go Set a Watchman was published. For her literary efforts, she has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts.

To nominate for the 2017 class, click here. For more information, contact Amy Christiansen, Archivist for the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at (205) 652-3655 or achristiansen@uwa.edu.

2016 Career Exploration Summer Camp application

COVER application Career Exploration Summer Camp 2016)

The Division of Economic Development and Outreach at The University of West Alabama is now accepting applications for the 2016 Career Exploration Summer Camp. The on-campus residential camp is for rising sophomore and junior high school students. The program will be held June 11-22, 2016. The application deadline is Monday, February 1, 2016.

The purpose of the CESC Program is to offer students the ability to explore career options and prepare for college through interactive and engaging hands-on activities, field trips and presentations. The CESC Program, sponsored by the Delta Regional Authority, is open to students attending high schools in Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens and Sumter counties. The CESC is an extremely intense and structured learning opportunity for youth in the secondary school systems of Alabama.

The curriculum offers students a thorough look into current and emerging career fields, highlights of the knowledge and skills needed for each career, essential information on projected employment— where the jobs are and will continue to grow, and steps that students can take now, while in high school, to prepare for the future. In addition, students will participate in standardized applicant test preparation courses, business etiquette, computer training, academic enhancement activities, field trips and hands-on projects.

Approximately 22 students from grades 10-11 will be accepted to participate in the free 11-day summer program. Scholarships will include the following:

• All program costs/room fees
• Workshops/Handouts
• Room and Board
• Facility Usage
• Equipment/Supplies
• Travel (Field Trips)
• Lab Fees
• Speakers
The CESC is a competitive selection process program limited to 12 male and 12 female students. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Parents are encouraged to participate in the application process. Guidance counselors may identify applicants to the CESC Program and assist them with completing the forms in the enclosed application package.

For more information, please contact Sanquenetta Thompson at (205) 652-3408, sthompson@uwa.edu or call UWA’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach at (205) 652-3828.

Approximately 22 students from grades 10-11 will be accepted to participate in the free 10-day summer program.

Click HERE to download the application.

© 2016 Center for the Study of the Black Belt