PLANT CAMP 2013 Presenter/Contributor Biographies

Many thanks to the following individuals for making PLANT CAMP an informative and meaningful experience
for Florida educators.

Charlie Bogatescu (UF-IFAS CAIP) is the web developer and IT specialist for the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants Information Office where he works with the Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative, the UF/IFAS Assessment project, FWC and other entities. He maintains and updates the Center's websites, oversees content management, assists with graphics and layout of web and print material, and handles IT tasks. He has been working in IT for 10 years and web development for more than five years. Charlie has a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida in Digital Media specializing in Digital Interactive Systems and has an interest in using new technology for educational purposes.


Karen Brown (UF-IFAS CAIP) is the Coordinator of Educational Media/Communications for the UF-IFAS Center for Aquatic & Invasive Plants (CAIP) Information Office. She oversees the Aquatic Plant Information Retrieval System (APIRS)—an online database of the scientific literature pertaining to aquatic and invasive plants—which now has more than 85,000 annotated citations. She compiles and edits the newsletter AQUAPHYTE for CAIP; Aquatics magazine for the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society (FAPMS); and Wildland Weeds for the Florida and Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Councils (FLEPPC and SE-EPPC), and serves on the board of directors of all three non-profit professional organizations. She also publishes the Aquatic Plant Management Society blog with popular news about aquatic plant management from around the world. Karen has worked in the CAIP Information Office for 25 years in many different capacities including all aspects of APIRS; video production of our many educational video programs including over 100 aquatic plant ID segments; website planning and development; outreach at professional conferences and more. She enjoys her work and created a pond at home for aquatic plants to prove it.


Philip Chiocchio (UF-IFAS Affiliate) is an award-winning Sarasota writer, director, editor, actor, and animator. He is currently an Artist in Residence for the Sarasota School Board EdExploreSRQ program and formerly taught New Media at Ringling College of Art and Design. Phil's diverse film career includes making hundreds of skydiving, science, nature, drama and documentary programs. His credits include the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, the National Geographic Special: "Realm of the Alligator,"and "Cats" on the Public Broadcasting Nature series. His skydiving film "The Angry Sky" had a clip shown on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

Phil has won seven ADDY awards (the world's largest advertising competition) and has "special thanks" credits as an instructor from over 160 film festivals including two Student Academy Awards. Most recently he won 3rd place in the national TV ME pitch competition for unscripted reality programs and had footage included in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for "Bones Brigade: An Autobiography." He was inducted into the Florida Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2005 for his promotional efforts and is currently producing historical films from his background as a freefall instructor/cameraman for the National Skydiving Museum.


Andrea Christman (Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection) is the park biologist at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, a 22,000-acre natural area that became Florida's first park preserve in 1971 (now designated as a National Natural Landmark.) The mission of the park is to protect the Paynes Prairie 16,000-acre wetland. Andi's work includes coordinating the resource management program and providing plant biology expertise to the park manager. The resource management program includes overseeing a prescribed-fire regime along with hydrologic, wetland and upland restoration efforts; invasive species and endangered species management; and protection and management of cultural resources, both historic and archeological. The most difficult aspect of this work is balancing the needs of a large natural ecosystem (with an extraordinary abundance and diversity of plants and animals) with the needs and desires of a quarter-million visitors each year. Before joining the Florida Park Service, Andi spent 14 years working for the Florida Forest Service, focused on managing forested conservation lands, and helped private forest landowners with non-native invasive plant problems.

Andi received her bachelor's degree in resource ecology and management from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, 1994) and a master's in forest ecology from the University of Florida (2006.)


Dr. James P. Cuda (UF-IFAS Entomology/Nematology) is a Professor and a consultant to the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. His research deals with key elements of classical biological control of aquatic and terrestrial weeds, including foreign exploration, host-specificity testing, and release/evaluation of promising natural enemies of exotic weeds that have invaded Florida and threaten the southeastern United States.

Dr. Cuda received both his bachelor's (1973) and master's (1976) degrees in zoology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a Ph.D. (1983) in entomology from Texas A&M University (College Station). Since 1994, Dr. Cuda has been the Center's technical consultant on Biological Weed Control. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific publications; given more than 90 presentations at international, national, regional and local conferences; and is on the editorial boards of two scientific journals.


Lynda Dillon (UF-IFAS CAIP) participates as a team member and facilitator in the planning and organization of various educational and outreach exhibits and workshops for CAIP including arrangements and processing of payments for facilities, accommodations, equipment, catering, soliciting sponsors and correspondence with vendors, presenters and participants. She assists in the development of survey and tracking tools for evaluation and reporting requirements of the Center. Lynda has been with the Center for Aquatic & Invasive Plants since 2006.


Sharon Fitz-Coy (UF-IFAS) is a senior biological scientist with the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Program of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida. She received a bachelor's degree in natural sciences from the University of the West Indies (Jamaica) and master's degree in fisheries and allied aquacultures and in business administration from Auburn University (Auburn, AL).

Sharon has worked with UF since 1993. She oversees and conducts research dealing with water, aquatic plants, fish and invertebrates and supports the teaching, research and extension programs by providing her expertise in aquatic invertebrate identification and biology to faculty, staff, and students. Sharon travels throughout Florida participating in ecology days, 4-H camps, festivals, and environmental exhibits. She also coordinates and conducts a hands-on aquatic youth education program called "Fishing for Success." Annual participation in this program includes over 130 onsite programs involving 9,000 participants and 10 off-site programs with 4,000 participants. Sharon specializes in teaching and giving demonstrations on aquatic macro-invertebrates, fish and plants found in freshwater systems. Her demonstrations use live specimens she collects beforehand or specimens collected by participants.


Dr. Lyn Gettys (UF-IFAS FLREC and CAIP) is an Assistant Professor of Agronomy and is based at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie. She has been working with aquatic plants since 1996 and has worked closely with FWC biologists to develop methods that can improve the success rate of lake restoration and aquatic habitat enhancement projects. Dr. Gettys was appointed to her current position in 2012. Prior to that, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher and a research assistant scientist under the direction of Dr. Bill Haller at the UF-IFAS CAIP. She holds a bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Florida, a master's degree in plant breeding from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in plant genetics from the University of Florida.

Dr. Gettys' research is focused on the biology and ecology of native and introduced aquatic and wetland plants and evaluation of control methods for managing invasive species. She coordinates the UF-IFAS Aquatic Weed Control Short Course, which draws over 400 attendees annually. She also has statewide Extension responsibilities for aquatic weed control, including serving as a speaker and provider of Continuing Education Units. Dr. Gettys has authored or co-authored over 40 publications and 20 abstracts and was lead editor for the 2nd edition of the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation's Best Management Practices manual. She also serves on the supervisory committees of six graduate students at UF.


Dr. David Hall (Environmental Consultant) currently owns and operates an environmental consulting firm in Gainesville. He was previously employed as a senior scientist for KBN/Golder Associates from 1991-1997 after serving as Director of Plant Identification and Information Services at the University of Florida. In his 19 years with the University, responsibilities included plant identification and biology of all Florida plants with special emphasis on weeds and grasses. He helped write previous and current wetland jurisdictional rules for Florida and helped with the Federal wetland plant list and procedures.

Dr. Hall holds a bachelor's and master's degree from Georgia Southern University (Statesboro) and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Florida. He is a recognized expert in the field of plant identification, wetland-assessment delineation, and threatened and endangered species of plants. Dr. Hall has published 14 books and more than 150 articles. Having had identification responsibilities throughout Florida, he is able to identify most of the 4,000-plus species of plants that occur within the State, including threatened and endangered species. Dr. Hall has accrued numerous awards for his botanic, forensic and agricultural activities and holds certifications as an Expert in Botany, a Professional Wetland Scientist, and a Board Certified Forensic Examiner.


Dr. Bill Haller (UF-IFAS CAIP) has been Acting Program Director of the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, since 2004. In addition to serving as Director for CAIP, he conducts research on aquatic plants and herbicides, and serves as professor and extension specialist for the UF Agronomy Department. Dr. Haller holds a bachelor's degree in animal science and agronomy from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, 1969). He earned his master's degree (1971) and Ph.D. degree (1974) in agronomy from the University of Florida.

The Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants coordinates multi-disciplinary research and extension activities regarding aquatic and invasive plants statewide for UF/IFAS. Dr. Haller represents UF on several panels and programs throughout the U.S. and currently specializes in screening and selectivity of potential new aquatic herbicides for use against hydrilla. His research to date has focused on exotic apple snails, herbicide resistance in hydrilla, application techniques for more effective control of aquatic weeds, dye studies, drawdown and mechanical control methods, biological control, physiology of aquatic plants, and more.

Dr. Haller has received over $5 million in grant funds, and has advised such corporations as Walt Disney World and Florida Power & Light in weed management. He has traveled extensively internationally to help developing nations with aquatic resource management. He has received a number of awards and authored over 80 academic publications.


Ed Harris (FWC) is a regional biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Invasive Plant Management Section. He received his bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Georgia (Athens, 1983). He has worked in the aquatic plant management field since 1986, starting in Lake County and moving to the Florida Department of Natural Resources in 1993. He is also a board member of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society and represents FWC on several interagency task forces.


Dean Jones (UF-IFAS CAIP) is a senior biological scientist at the University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. He recently worked for a collaborative grant project with the Center, Osceola County and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate new and old technologies for controlling hydrilla and hygrophila in Osceola County, Florida (i.e., the Osceola County Hydrilla and Hygrophila Demonstration Project). Dean has over 16 years of experience as a professional aquatic plant manager in the private and public sector.

Dean holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of South Florida. In 2010, he was co-winner of the First Annual Aquatic Plant Management Society Outstanding Research Award for work on the Osceola County EPA grant. He is an active member of the Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS) and the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society (FAPMS), and served on the Board of Directors of FAPMS in 2002.


Gary Kreitzer (AmeriCorps) is a first year volunteer with the AmeriCorps Individual Placement program. Stationed at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park in Alachua County, he works in the field managing non-native invasive plants.


Catherine "Kitty" Lane (UF-IFAS Affiliate) has worked as an agronomist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specializing on rice production, pesticide use/reduction strategies, and registration of minor use pesticides. She has also worked as a research assistant for the USDA (EAA Everglades Agricultural Area) and Colorado State University (Wheat Project). Kitty has worked with Peace Corps on Community Agro-Forestry projects in three West African countries (Cameroon, Togo, and Mauritania). She has volunteered for the USFWS Wolf Reintroduction Project in Montana, raises service dogs for New Horizon's Service Dogs, and facilitates school garden projects in Clay County, Florida. Currently, Kitty field tests and demonstrates invasive plant curriculum for the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida-IFAS. Kitty holds a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture (Doylestown, PA) and a master's degree in watershed science from Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO).


Anthony LaPlaca (AmeriCorps) began his AmeriCorps experience at Silver River State Park where his focus was primarily resource management. Tony was involved in invasive species management, prescribed fire, trail maintenance, environmental education, in addition to assisting in several other park projects. Tony is currently an AmeriCorps member at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and is pursuing a degree in forestry with hopes of continuing to utilize his resource management skills to help preserve Florida's natural environment for future generations to enjoy.


Carlton R. Layne (AERF) received his bachelor's degree in biology from Clarion State University (Clarion, PA) and a master's degree in criminal justice from Rollins College (Winter Park, FL). He spent five years with the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service, and 30 years with the US Environmental Protection Agency in the pesticides and toxic substances branch. While with US EPA, Carlton was an inspector, grant monitor, and regional and national training officer (1973-1990), chief of the Region 4 pesticides section (1990-1999), and a national pesticides expert (2000-2003). Currently, he is the executive director of the Aquatic Ecosystem Research Foundation. Carlton is past president of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society and past director of the Aquatic Plant Management Society.


Mindy Lighthipe (Botanical Artist) has been teaching continuing education in botanical and natural science illustration since 1994 when she began teaching at the New York Botanical Garden. She coordinated the botanical illustration program and taught more than 20 different classes in illustration directly pertaining to plants. Mindy is active in the American Society of Botanical Artists and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. She has been leading painting and photography tours and teaching about the fragile environment of the rainforest of Costa Rica for 15 years.

Mindy received her certification in botanical art from the New York Botanical Garden in 1992. In 2009, she received a silver medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in London for her plants and pollinator series. In 2010-2011 she had a solo exhibition for her symbiosis series at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Her passion has always been the relationship of plants with animals, particularly insects.


Thomas J. McNabb (Clean Lakes, Inc.) is President & Senior Aquatic Pest Control Advisor for Clean Lakes, Inc. (CLI) He has been involved in the development and implementation of aquatic ecosystem management projects in thirteen countries, and is currently CLI's lead on a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the US Army Engineers Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory (ERDC-EL), for the Research and Testing of a System for Precision Littoral Zone Application of Aquatic Herbicides.

McNabb holds a State of California, Pest Control Advisors License, and a California, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wisconsin applicators license in the Aquatics, Regulatory, Demonstration and Research, and Right of Way Categories. McNabb attended Michigan State University, Fisheries and Wildlife Department prior to receiving a bachelor's degree in management from Saint Mary's College (Moraga, CA).


Michael Meisenburg (Kestrel Ecological Services) is an ecologist and co-owner of Kestrel Ecological Services. Before founding Kestrel Ecological Services, he was a research biologist at the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, where he was responsible for evaluating herbicides for their effectiveness in controlling invasive weeds. In an earlier role at the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, Michael was a biological technician providing outreach to the public regarding the invasive species Melaleuca and its control, as well as conducting herbicide trials. Michael holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation and a master's degree in agronomy from the University of Florida. He is a licensed pesticide applicator in natural areas and aquatics weed management. Michael is also an active member of the Florida ecological community and past president of Alachua Audubon Society. He is currently a member of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.


Jesse Natwick (AmeriCorps) is a second year AmeriCorps member with Florida State Parks. He spent the last year and a half learning how to identify non-native invasive plants, different treatment methods, and how to properly mix and use different herbicides. Prior to the Florida State Parks AmeriCorps, Jesse spent three years with the Nevada Conservation Corps where part of his responsibilities included treating non-native invasive plants. He received a restricted use pesticide license from the State of Nevada.


Lauren Natwick (AmeriCorps) started as an AmeriCorps member in The Great Basin National Park located in Nevada working on trails and mending fences. She is currently working in the Independent Placement program for AmeriCorps at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. She specializes in the removal of non-native invasive plants through the use of several different types of herbicides. Lauren is working towards a degree in environmental sciences to hopefully progress to a park biologist.


Dr. Michael Netherland (USACE_ERDC) is a research biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center where his research has focused on improving the use of herbicides for control of invasive aquatic plants and linking plant biology to control strategies. He received a master's degree (1989) from Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN), where he investigated impacts of plant growth regulators on hydrilla and Eurasian water-milfoil. Upon graduation, Dr. Netherland took a research position with the ERDC in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

In 1999, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida with research focusing on the biology and management of hydrilla. Soon after, he worked in private industry for the SePRO Corporation (Carmel, IN), managing aquatic research projects. In December 2003, he returned to the ERDC and is currently stationed at the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.

Dr. Netherland was President of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society in 2009 and editor of the Journal of Aquatic Plant Management from 2004-2010.


Kimberly Orren (UF-IFAS) is a teaching assistant and environmental educator with the UF/IFAS Fishing for Success Program. Since 2006, she has given pond-ecology presentations to more than 20,000 children and adults at the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences teaching ponds in Gainesville and also at numerous off-site locations including FWC- and IFAS-sponsored events, county events, museums, libraries, and schools. At the request of teachers and librarians, she adapts individual programs to include reading components, cross-curricula comparisons, and specific Sunshine State Standards.

Kimberly holds a bachelor's degree in biology, Magna cum Laude, and is an Ashton Scholar and a President's Scholar (Jacksonville University, FL, 1986). She completed post baccalaureate studies in education in 1987 and taught high school science for a number of years. She is now attending the University of Florida, where she is concurrently earning a master's degree and Ph.D. in fisheries and aquatic sciences (FAS) and developing curricula about freshwater ecology.


Dr. William A. Overholt (UF-IFAS Entomology/Nematology) is based at the Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC, Ft. Pierce). He joined the IRREC faculty in 2002 and has extensive international experience including two years in the Peace Corps working with the Senegalese Plant Protection Service, four years in Mauritania with the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and 12 years at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya. The focus of Bill's research program is biological control of invasive plants. His current work is focused on Brazilian peppertree, cogongrass and Mikania micrantha and involves foreign exploration, host range studies, and field release and evaluation of biological control agents.

Dr. Overholt received his bachelor's degree in agriculture at Ohio State University (Columbus, 1977) and Ph.D. in entomology at Texas A&M University (College Station, 1989). Bill also conducts extension activities aimed at the application of biological control as a tool for their management and increasing public awareness of problems associated with invasive plants.


Amy Richard (UF-IFAS CAIP) coordinates the Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative, an outreach program created to provide science teachers with lessons, activities and training about invasive plants, so they can teach their students about this important topic. The program is a cooperative effort of the University of Florida-IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission–Invasive Plant Management Section. Amy also oversees the design, desktop production and dissemination of educational materials produced by the Center. Earlier she served as an outreach specialist for the Florida LAKEWATCH volunteer monitoring program (UF/IFAS) and as editor of a children's publication about marine ecology. Amy has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree.


Jeff Schardt (FWC) graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology from Penn State University (University Park, 1976). He has since worked in the field of invasive aquatic plant management, first with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and most recently with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). During his 35-year tenure, he has conducted bio-control research, initiated Florida's aquatic plant control permitting program, and led annual plant inventories in 460 public waters covering 1.25 million acres.

Schardt developed funding and control priority systems as well as monitoring and compliance programs. As administrator of the invasive aquatic plant management program, he has been a tireless supporter of education and outreach, which resulted in the development of the Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative, a collaborative project with the University of Florida and Florida science teachers to develop and produce outreach materials and classroom curricula related to invasive aquatic plants and their management. Schardt has served as president of both the Florida and National Aquatic Plant Management Society and participated for six years on the 32-member Invasive Species Advisory Committee that provides input to Federal agencies at the Cabinet level.


Anne Taylor (UF-IFAS CAIP) is a senior clerk and library assistant. Anne enters and maintains bibliographic records in the APIRS database, assists the cataloger, and cares for the APIRS satellite library. Anne received her bachelor's degree in English at the University of Florida and is E.L.S. certified. Anne is a language artist.


Heather VanHeuveln (UF-UFAS CAIP) is a project assistant for the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) and for Dr. Bill Haller. She assists with herbicide screening research and with the invasive plant educational outreach efforts of the Information Office. Prior to working at the Center, Heather served a year at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in the Florida State Park's AmeriCorps Program. At the preserve, she worked as an invasive species removal technician, fighting the elements day in and day out in a courageous effort to help bring invasive plants under maintenance control through means of prescribed fire, chemical and mechanical control methods. Heather received her bachelor's degree in environmental science at the University of Florida where she minored in agricultural and environmental ethics and policy.


Katie Walters (UF-IFAS CAIP) assists with the coordination and implementation of the Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative and other outreach efforts at the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. She organizes and prepares materials for the annual PLANT CAMP teacher workshop (teacher kits, Teacher Resource Notebooks, curricula samplers, etc.); assists with the preparation and dissemination of Education Initiative curricula for grades 4-12 including the alignment of all curricula to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and the national Common Core Standards; provides desktop production support and shepherding of print and web-based outreach materials for the Center; and provides research and support for the North American Invasive Species Network project. Katie has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Florida.