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our crew
It takes a special team to run our programs.

With a science-based mission, Tampa Bay Watch’s staff members seek to promote its vision through habitat restoration programs and youth education each year, including habitat restoration in the bay, field trips, teacher training, and summer camps. 

image of staff member dwayne virgint

Dwayne Virgint

Chief Executive Officer

Dwayne joined Tampa Bay Watch in October 2019. 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.

Peter A. Clark

president

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.

image of staff john anderson

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.

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Rachel Arndt

communications manager

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.

Leah Biery

discovery center director

Leah joined Tampa Bay Watch as Discovery Center Director in 2022. She is responsible for ensuring that the Discovery Center, located on the St. Pete Pier, provides meaningful opportunities for locals and visitors to learn about Florida’s unique ecosystems and Tampa Bay Watch’s efforts to protect and restore them. With an academic background in marine science and career experience in nonprofit management and communications, she is passionate about combining her skills to promote environmental stewardship. Leah holds a Master of Science in Zoology from the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre and a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from North Carolina State University, where she also earned a minor in Nonprofit Studies. She has been a collaborator on marine conservation, education, and aquaculture projects in Florida and abroad. In her free time she enjoys yoga, stand up paddleboarding, and exploring near and far.

Reagan Fennessy

P/T Education Specialist

Reagan is our newest Tampa Bay Watch team member. She recently joined us in March 2022 as our part-time Education Specialist. She helps facilitate Estuary EDventure field trips and Tampa Bay Watch Summer Camp programs. Reagan holds a B.S. in Marine Biology, as well as a minor in Visual Arts from Eckerd College. During her time at Eckerd, she spent extensive time studying the marine environment surrounding Tampa Bay through both coursework and fieldwork. Her career goal is to contribute to environmental education initiatives by combining both her scientific background and creativity. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving, playing beach volleyball, and running with her friends.

Natalia Day

EVENTS COORDINATOR

Natalia joined Tampa Bay Watch as Events Coordinator in 2022. Her goal is to provide meaningful events for our community around the Tampa Bay area. With an International Corporate Planning degree from Georgia State University and career experience in executing social events, she is very passionate about combining her skills to promote and execute memorable events for our Tampa Bay community. Her passion to learn new trends, ideas, and collaborating with those she has met through her career journey over the last decade is where Natalia shines.  Natalia holds several awards and recognitions throughout the Tampa Bay area for her execution of all events related to corporate and social. She has been a collaborator with large nonprofit organizations that include marine conservation and education, so she learns how to incorporate that education into social events in Tampa Bay. In her free time she enjoys the beach, pool, and traveling with her two daughters, Bella and Mia. They are her world!

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jordan findley

education program coordinator

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.

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Serra Herndon

habitat restoration director

Serra joined the Tampa Bay Watch team 2006 is responsible for  the management and oversight of the organization’s community-based habitat restoration programs which include oyster reef building, seagrass restoration, marine debris cleanups, and living shoreline implementation. She holds a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Oregon.  In her free time, Serra enjoys traveling and exploring new places, hanging out with family and friends, and enjoying the estuaries and beaches she is working to protect.

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Tiana Kirby

database and IT projects manager

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.

Tara Kok

Restoration Specialist

Tara joined the Tampa Bay Watch team as the Restoration Specialist in January 2022. She is responsible for providing support for our Bay Grasses in Classes (BGIC) program and assisting with various restoration projects and programs. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Sustainability. Prior to joining Tampa Bay Watch, Tara worked as an after-school teacher and summer camp counselor with The Art of Science and brings with her a passion for environmental education and fostering engaging learning experiences. In her free time, Tara loves kayaking, gardening, cooking, embroidering, and exploring Florida’s natural landscapes.

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Paige Lansky

Bay grasses in classes coordinator

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.

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Katie Mastenbrook

director of education

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.

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eric plage

Oyster Reef Ball Program Coordinator

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.

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Richard Radigan

Oyster Shell Program Coordinator

Rick joined Tampa Bay Watch’s restoration team as the Oyster Shell Program Coordinator in September 2020. Originally from Michigan, he and his wife moved down to Florida to escape the cold winters and lack of marine life. Having worked in a number of fields from directing helicopters on a flight deck in the U.S Navy to serving as a firefighter/paramedic, Rick finally decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a marine biologist. Prior to joining Tampa Bay Watch, Rick had been an oyster biologist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the last nine years. Rick holds a BS in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Tampa. In his free time, Rick enjoys spending time with his family, playing in the water, and golfing.

Molly Robison

Annual Giving Manager

Molly joined Tampa Bay Watch in September 2021 as a member of the Development team. As a fairly recent transplant from Colorado, Molly is delighted to retire her snow shovel and start enjoying the beautiful Florida weather and Tampa Bay. With a BS in Business Administration, Molly has worked in the nonprofit community with a strong focus on fundraising, event planning, administration, and donor relations throughout her career. Since arriving in Florida, Molly’s newest hobby is long walks on the beach while taking pictures of sunsets!

Lauren Twele

Education Specialist

Lauren started at Tampa Bay Watch in Fall 2021 where she helped facilitate Estuary EDventures field trips. Now moving into a full-time role in support of these programs, she is excited to continue working with this amazing team! Lauren is a graduate of The University of Tampa where she earned a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology. Having always been passionate about conservation education and inspiring youth to protect our aquatic habitats, she has worked at several organizations as a science instructor including The Florida Aquarium and Seacamp Association, Inc., and also has experience as a first mate on eco-tourism boats around the Tampa Bay area. In her free time, you can find her helping assist scuba classes as a divemaster, dog sitting, paddle boarding, and hiking through America’s national parks.

Candice Wade

Education Specialist

Candice joined Tampa Bay Watch in 2022 as an Education Specialist, leading summer camp programs and Estuary EDventures field trips. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Southern Arkansas University and a master’s degree in marine conservation from University of Miami. Candice spent much of her career in the zoo and aquarium world, including roles at the Dallas World Aquarium, National Aquarium, ZooTampa, & Mote Marine Laboratory. With a passion for conservation psychology and as a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation, Candice is especially interested in engaging audiences in ways that provide a lasting impact and inspire conservation behavior change. In her free time, Candice enjoys exploring Florida with her husband, spending time with her pets, Renaissance festivals, and hula-hooping.

Michelle Yepez

Director of Development

Michelle joined Tampa Bay Watch as Development Director in 2021 with oversight of corporate and community philanthropy, and a strong commitment to stewardship after serving as Membership and Events Coordinator 2014-2018. A native to Tampa Bay, she tributes her passion for sustainability to a sun-soaked childhood exploring old Florida’s unique ecosystems. Her drive to preserve the region’s natural resources for today’s enjoyment and tomorrow’s safekeeping resulted in earning an Early Childhood Education degree at Miami Dade College in 2008, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality & Technology Management at University of South Florida in 2013, and Diversity Equity & Inclusion Certificate from the Muma College of Business. In her spare time she enjoys woodworking, local dining, camping, studying floral design, and being a Taekwondo mom to three kids.

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Rachel Zafar

administrative accountant

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.

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Jon Ziegler

Bay View Community Room Coordinator

Jon joined 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.

Click here to meet our crew at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center on the St. Pete Pier!