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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Deborah Keller


Deborah Keller was born in 1954 in Coaldale, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. During college, Keller began birding in the Northeastern United States. She became deeply invested in the environment. In the mid-1970s, she graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta with a degree in environmental studies. Keller had a difficult time finding a job in environmental justice work. Eventually she got a fundraising job. Not long after, Keller combined her knack for fundraising and advocacy for the natural environment. In 1984, she became a fundraiser at the New Jersey Environmental Federation, eventually becoming the executive director of that organization.

In 1991, Keller began working at the Nature Conservancy in Tallahassee, Florida. Initially resistant to the idea of living in Florida, she believed in the organization’s mission and was struck with the natural beauty of the state. When oyster farming began in the state, Keller saw it as an opportunity to practice conservation work outside of political advocacy. Keller began farming oysters on a lease in Wakulla County’s Oyster Bay in 2015. She retired from the Nature Conservancy in 2020 and farms oysters full time. She markets and sells her oysters under the OysterMom label from her warehouse in Tallahassee, Florida.

Date of interview:

Annemarie Anderson

Annemarie Anderson

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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