PLANT CAMP 2014 Presenter/Contributor Biographies

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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 and Wildland Weeds for the Florida and Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Councils (FLEPPC and SE-EPPC), and serves on the board of directors of both 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 writer, director, editor, actor, and animator. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, Plainfield, VT. Phil is currently a Teaching Artist for the Sarasota School Board's EDExploreSRQ program and is certified as a Florida Public Schools Teaching Artist Contractor to produce documentary videos of classroom adventures in any public school in Florida. For seventeen years he taught Video Production, Concepts and Methods and New Media at Sarasota's Ringling College of Art and Design in the Computer Animation and Graphic and Interactive Communications Departments.

Phil's diverse film career includes making hundreds of aquatic and invasive plant, skateboarding, skydiving, science, nature, drama and documentary programs. His credits include the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, US Department of Energy, National Geographic Special: "Realm of the Alligator" and "Cats" on the Public Broadcasting Nature series. He was inducted into the Florida Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2005, currently he is producing historical films for the National Skydiving Museum and will be featured in a television special due out in Fall 2014 for his participation in the world's first civilian space program.


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.)


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. Sharon is also the Project WET Coordinator for the University of Florida


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. Getty's 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 88 publications, including 28 abstracts, and was lead editor for the 2nd and 3rd 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 President of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society and represents FWC on several interagency task forces.


Gary Kreitzer (Florida Conservation Corps) is a second year Florida Conservation Corps member stationed at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park where he has been working on prescribed burns and invasive exotic plant management.


John Kunzer (FWC) graduated with an AS degree in professional photography from Daytona State College and a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of South Florida. John interned as a Fire Effects Monitor in northern New Mexico and curated a marine mammal collection and herbarium at Daytona State College. He worked with Wunderlin and Hansen in the University of South Florida and is a professionally trained plant taxonomist specializing in the Bromeliaceae, Poaceae, and the Cyperaceae genus Carex in Florida.

Working with the Florida Park Service, John completed a floristic inventory of Tomoka and Bulow Creek State Parks. He served as park biologist at Tomoka State Park until joining the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Invasive Plant Management Section in 2012, where he is a biological scientist based out of Inverness.


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.

Mindy is an adjunct assistant professor in the College of Fine Arts at UF teaching natural science illustration.


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.


Lauren Natwick (UF-IFAS CAIP) started as an AmeriCorps member in the Great Basin National Park, located in Nevada, working on trails and building fences. She then relocated to Florida and worked for two more years as an AmeriCorps member on a traveling team, then as an I.P. AmeriCorps member at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, where she specialized in the removal of non-native invasive plants through the use of several different types of herbicides. Lauren is currently the Curricula Demonstrator for the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. She is responsible for in-classroom demonstrations and assisting in other outreach efforts. She prepares educational materials and lessons for PLANT CAMP as well as providing general support to the program such as: assisting with inventory, collecting plant samples, and outreach via social media. Lauren plans to work toward an Environmental Science degree, with the intention of becoming 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, Dr. Netherland 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. He is the current President of the Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS.)


David Newton (Florida Conservation Corps) is a 2014 Project A.N.T. member at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. He grew up in Maryland and completed his undergraduate studies at West Virginia University in 2013, where he majored in chemistry and environmental geoscience. David plans to use the skills he is learning to pursue a career in wildlife and natural resource management.


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 Dr. Overholt'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). He 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.


Bethany Peters (Florida Conservation Corps) is a Project A.N.T. member at Paynes Prairie State Park. She has lived in North Florida all of her life and grew up being active in the great outdoors. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation. As a Project A.N.T member, her focus is to help restore the natural habitats by treating the exotic, invasive plants at the Prairie. Bethany plans to use the skills she is learning to further her career in wildlife and natural resource management.


Dr. Eric Rohrig (FL Dept. of Agriculture, Plant Industry) is an entomologist with the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Rohrig is a graduate of the University of Florida and specializes in biological control of invasive pests. He has worked in this field for nearly 15 years with both USDA-ARS and FDACS-DPI. Dr. Rohrig is involved in numerous state wide projects including biological control of the invasive air potato climbing vine.


Jeff Schardt (FWC) graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology from Penn State in 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 38-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.

Jeff 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. Jeff 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.


Alex Ulloa (Florida Conservation Corps) is a first year Florida Conservation Corps member stationed at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park where he has been working on prescribed burns and invasive exotic plant management.


Heather VanHeuveln (UF-Agronomy Graduate Student) is currently a University of Florida graduate student studying towards a master degree in weed science under the guidance of Dr. Gregory MacDonald with a major focus on Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) management. Prior to studying at the University of Florida she worked as project assistant for the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) and for Dr. Bill Haller where she assisted with herbicide screening research and with the invasive plant educational outreach efforts of the Information Office. Heather also served as a Florida State Parks Americorps volunteer at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. At the preserve, she worked as an invasive species removal technician, using prescribed fire, chemical and mechanical control methods in an effort to control invasive plant species in the park. 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) coordinates the Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative, an outreach program created to provide science teachers with lessons, activities and training about invasive plants. 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. Katie oversees the design, desktop production and dissemination of educational materials produced by the Center. In addition, Katie serves as treasurer and alternate board member for the North American Invasive Species Network project. She has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Florida.