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MEET THE TAMPA BAY WATCH CREW
Peter Clark, President
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Peter A. Clark is the founder and president of Tampa Bay Watch. Under his watch, the organization has coordinated more than 100,000 volunteers, installed 10,000 oyster reef units and 1,200 tons of oyster shell to create more than two miles of oyster shell reef communities, planted more than 1,000,000 salt marsh grasses to restore 200 acres of coastal tidal ponds to Tampa Bay. In 2005, Tampa Bay Watch completed construction of the $4 million marine and education center in Tierra Verde, Florida. Until 1993, Mr. Clark served as Director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Agency on Bay Management, an alliance of agencies charged with protecting the Bay. Mr. Clark has a BS in Marine Biology and over fifty professional publications on natural resource restoration, water quality and environmental planning. Mr. Clark also initiated the nomination, which ultimately led to the designation, of Tampa Bay into the EPA's National Estuary Program. Mr. Clark holds a US Coast Guard Captains License, received the Outstanding Environmentalist of the Year award from the Florida Marine Research Institute Environmental Excellence Awards program in 1994, and the NOAA Fisheries / American Fisheries Society Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award in 2005.
John Anderson, Groundskeeper
John Anderson was introduced to Tampa Bay Watch through its volunteer programs and ended up in the oyster reef ball program. John won the position of part-time grounds keeper in mid-December 2012. John's background includes being a hardhat construction worker, a stockbroker and picking up a B.A. in Zoology along the way. The stated goals of Tampa Bay Watch give John, a native Floridian, something he can enjoy working for and believing in. Hobbies include writing, martial arts, and snow skiing.
Nina Ardle, Membership/Major Gifts Coordinator
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Nina joined Tampa Bay Watch in September 2018 and is primarily responsible for developing individual and corporate membership programs. She studied public relations and nonprofit management at the University of Florida and previously worked with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the local sea turtle nesting patrol. A native Floridian, she likes to spend her free time outside and enjoys reading, live music, cooking, photography, and road trips.
Rachel Arndt, Communications Manager
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Rachel Arndt has worked on Tampa Bay Watch communications since 2007. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating volunteers through weekly announcement of activities, writing the quarterly newsletter and gaining media interest for restoration projects. She has lived the majority of her life in Florida. Rachel received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and graduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has a wealth of working experience with non-profit and governmental agencies. Rachel is a runner and enjoys jogging along the downtown St. Pete waterfront and the Pinellas Trail. She is an avid sports fan and follows all of the local teams, especially the Florida Gators.
Jordan Findley, Education Program Coordinator
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Jordan joined the Tampa Bay Watch team in September of 2016 as the Environmental Education Specialist. She assists in the development and facilitation the Estuary EDventures field trip and summer camp programs. Jordan holds a B.A. in Zoology and a M.A. in Biological Sciences from Miami University. Her graduate coursework, focusing on anthropogenic cause of wildlife decline, led her to study human impact on the environment in Mexico, Australia, and Kenya. Jordan’s passion for the environment extends far beyond her career, as she believes wholeheartedly in creating a future of sustainability and fostering a generation of environmental stewards. She comes from a background of various experiences in the biological field, including environmental consulting, animal husbandry, wildlife rehabilitation, and environmental education. Jordan enjoys all outdoor activities and traveling.
Melanie Grillone, GIS/Environmental Specialist
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Melanie joined Tampa Bay Watch in 2015, and is responsible for the management and creation of all GIS data and restoration maps. She assists in various habitat restoration efforts and oversees the Coastal Cleanup and Storm Water Programs. With a fiery passion to inspire environmental stewards for the protection of our waterways and wildlife, she is a member of Surfrider’s Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition, aiming to reduce marine debris and our reliance on single-use plastics. Graduating from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, she holds a B.S. in Biology with minors in Marine Biology and Animal Behavior. She enjoys exploring all that the sunshine state has to offer and singing karaoke to her cat, Prim.
Serra Herndon, Habitat Restoration Director
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Serra joined the Tampa Bay Watch team in May 2006. She holds a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Washington and B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Oregon. In addition to being the Habitat Restoration Director, Serra manages the oyster restoration program, the seagrass transplanting program, and the derelict crab trap program. In her free time, Serra enjoys spending time running around after her daughter, hanging out with family and friends, and enjoying the estuaries and beaches she is working to protect.
Leanna Jackson, Director of Development
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Leanna Jackson is passionate about encouraging environmental stewardship. Leanna comes to Tampa Bay Watch from the Society for Conservation Biology where she secured funding for global biodiversity protection efforts. She has raised more than $54 million over the course of her career and enjoys helping communities fund solutions to environmental problems. Leanna grew up and graduated high school in Tampa Bay (Lakeland, FL) and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of South Florida. She enjoys windsurfing and is an avid tennis player.
Samantha Johnston, Education Specialist
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Samantha was welcomed to the Tampa Bay Watch crew in February 2017 as an Environmental Educator. She works with the Education team to facilitate field trip and summer camp programming for young, brilliant minds that pay Tampa Bay Watch a visit. She also assists with the various citizen science projects offered through education, hoping to reach the public and encourage their participation in the conservation of the estuary. Samantha holds a B.A. in Marine Biology and plans to extend her education to graduate school in the near future. Since high school, Samantha has found pride and passion in spreading the love for environmental conservation and awareness and wants everyone to know they have an important role to play if positive change is to occur. Samantha enjoys experiencing new adventures, SCUBA diving, and traveling.
Tiana Kirby, Development Support Specialist
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Tiana joined Tampa Bay Watch in August 2018 in support of a variety of needs in our growing organization before officially joining our development team in November. With degrees in the performing arts and anthropology, and 15 years in the Information Science and Management section at FWRI in support of the conservation sciences, Tiana is interested in the ways diverse fields can intersect to generate pro-environmental change and instill stewardship. A native St. Petersburgian, she enjoys photography and hiking in natural areas, writing and playing music, dancing, vegan cooking, and being out on the water when possible.
Jill Kunesh, Director of Accounting and HR
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Jill was born and raised in the Chicago area and has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She is an avid Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, and Cubs fan. Before joining the Tampa Bay Watch team, she worked for large corporations in positions such as Corporate Credit Manager and Accounts Receivable Manager. Jill got her start with TBW by doing volunteer administrative work. She joined the staff as the Office Administrator in 2012 before being promoted to Director of Accounting and HR. Jill loves kayaking, bike riding, and sea turtles. She has been involved in sea turtle volunteer work on both coasts of Florida and has partnered with the Sea Turtle Conservancy to get turtle-friendly lighting retrofits completed at several condo and hotel properties on St. Pete Beach.
Paige Lansky, Bay Grasses in Classes Coordinator
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Paige joined Tampa Bay Watch in January 2020. She is responsible for coordinating our Bay Grasses in Classes Program and assists with various restoration projects and educational programs. She has worked in environmental education and natural resource management across the eastern US from the mountains to the coast! She graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Zoology, specializing in animal behavior and neurobiology. She is passionate about communicating environmental science in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. In her free time, she enjoys "herping" (looking for reptiles and amphibians), searching for native flora, hiking with her family, kayaking, and gardening.
Andy Lykens, Environmental Scientist
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Andy got his start with Tampa Bay Watch in 2007 as an environmental intern. Upon his graduation from Eckerd College in 2008 with a degree in Environmental Studies, he began working full time with Tampa Bay Watch in the Estuary EDventures education program. Recently, Andy's passion for marine and habitat restoration practices led him to his current position with the organization, Environmental Scientist, where he conducts oyster shell bar restoration projects, seagrass restoration projects, and scallop restoration projects, among other duties. In his free time, Andy loves standup paddle boarding, snorkeling, fossil shark tooth hunting, and fishing.
Katie Mastenbrook, Director of Education
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Katie Mastenbrook runs the Marine Education Center at Tampa Bay Watch. She is in charge of the Estuary EDventures field trip programs and Tampa Bay Watch Summer Camp. She joined Tampa Bay Watch in September 2014 bringing with her more than seven years of experience in the Marine Science and Environmental Science field. She has held instructional and coordinator positions at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, MarineLab, FWC Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, and was even a state park ranger. Katie received a B.S. Degree in Marine Science, with a minor in Environmental Science from Coastal Carolina University. She holds a USCG Master Captain License and loves spending time out on the water.
Jamey Miller, Administrative Specialist
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Jamey first discovered Tampa Bay Watch while riding her bike past the main gate toward Fort De Soto in 2011. As of June 2019, she joined the team full-time as an administrative specialist. Originally from Utah, she brings 20+ years’ experience and knowledge in corporate sales and marketing to the crew, along with eight years of accounting. Through her love of running, biking, horses, and dogs, she has always liked spending time outdoors. She is very proud to now be part of the Tampa Bay Watch team and to help with the great need for protection and education of our estuaries, marine life, and natural resources.
Audrey Mitchell, Education Specialist
Audrey joined Tampa Bay Watch in September 2016 as a part-time Marine Science Educator and joined the crew full-time Spring 2017. She is involved in the Estuary EDventures education programs and Tampa Bay Watch Summer Camp. Audrey received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Auburn University and aspires to continue her education in her field. She is truly passionate about educating people of the importance of preserving and restoring our bays and oceans. In her off time she can usually be found out on the water or beach; she also enjoys reading, painting, and her cat Manu.
Eric Plage, Environmental Specialist
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Eric Plage graduated from Eckerd College in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Geology. Here at Tampa Bay Watch, he facilitates our oyster reef ball Program. He also facilitates the Oyster Bar programs presently taking place at Honeymoon Island and MacDill Airforce Base. He has a passion for the outdoors and can be found most weekends fishing, birding, kayaking, or boating around the Tampa Bay area.
Amy Rothenhoefer, Marine Science Educator
Amy began her journey with Tampa Bay Watch the summer of 2017 as an environmental intern. After graduating from Eckerd College in 2018 with a degree in Biology, she joined Tampa Bay Watch as a part-time environmental educator. She is involved in the Estuary EDventures summer camp and field trip program where she educates students about the marine life that fills the Tampa Bay estuary. During her time off, Amy enjoys paddle boarding, snorkeling, and spending time at the beach.
Dwayne Virgint, Discovery Center Executive Director
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Dwayne joined Tampa Bay Watch in October 2019 and is responsible for opening and operating the new Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center on the soon-to-be-completed Saint Petersburg Pier. Dwayne earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Bridgeport. He brings more than 25 years of broad experience in leadership, operations and management of mission-based organizations to TBW including zoos, aquariums, and museums. He served over twelve years as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and its affiliated companies in Albuquerque, NM. His goal at TBW is to ensure that generations of young leaders will continue the mission of protecting the bay and the world’s ocean. He is a beekeeper and an avid scuba diver and spends much of his spare time in local waters.
Rachel Zafar, Administrative Specialist
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Rachel Zafar joined the Tampa Bay Watch team in 2015. Interested in marine life conservation and new to the area from New Jersey, Rachel discovered Tampa Bay Watch while researching volunteer opportunities nearby. She earned a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Delaware, and she worked in project management in the logistics industry prior to moving to Florida. During her time at Tampa Bay Watch, she has supported the development team and now currently serves on the administrative and accounting side of the organization. In her free time, Rachel loves traveling, gardening, skiing, and spending time at the beach with her family.
Jon Ziegler, Bay View Community Room Coordinator
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Jon came on board with Tampa Bay Watch in 2015. Originally from Illinois, he moved to Florida in 2005 to escape the cold winters and be closer to his family. Jon is our Bay View Community Room coordinator, planning the weddings that take place here at Tampa Bay Watch. When not planning weddings, Jon enjoys gardening, cooking and playing with his dogs.
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3000 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715
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