Leadership

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bRUCE NEILL, PRESIDENT

Growing up in Miami, Bruce explored the diverse ecosystems of southern Florida and the Bahamas, and developed an appreciation for the ocean early on. This fascination eventually led him to study zoology at the University of Georgia, earn a Masters degree in coral reef biology and sea urchin behavior on Guam, and later complete a Ph.D. in conservation biology at Montana State University. Doc Bruce has held academic positions at colleges and field schools, as well as at elementary schools and the American Museum of Natural History. His true passion is teaching, and it is his hope that by sharing the wonders of the sea, he will be able to provide his students with a lifetime of discovery and ocean stewardship.

 


 Rick Bartleson, Secretary

Rick is a research scientist at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Marine Lab. His interest in estuarine science started while fishing with his father and around seagrass beds in Pine Island Sound. After getting his BA degree in Biology at USF, he started taking graduate marine science courses. He worked for Mote Marine Lab, Rookery Bay Marine Lab and Florida DEP before entering the Systems Ecology Program in the Environmental Engineering Science Dept at UF. He worked for the Florida Cooperative Research Unit at UF and then went to the University of Maryland Horn Point Environmental Lab to work on an ecosystem model of the Chesapeake Bay. His graduate research was centered around seagrass ecosystems and nutrients. His post-doctoral work was on effects of tape grass meadows on flow and nutrient concentrations in Lake Okeechobee. He is involved with research, seagrass and water quality monitoring and restoration projects. 

 


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Ron Taverna, Board Member

Ron is a passionate conservationist, avid fisherman and general manager of a local bait and tackle retailer. In 2012, moved to Florida’s Gulf coast, and although relatively new, is committed to the mission of preserving the heritage of the “Waterman” as well as the habitat of our marine life and the coastal paradise millions of people come here to enjoy. By 2013, learned that his position afforded him a rare opportunity to educate a tremendous number of people, to help preserve and improve the quality of our marine environment. Active member of START, CCA Florida, Sanibel Island Fishing Club. 

 


Richard Johnson, Board Member 

As a local business owner with his wife and family, Richard has been engaged in environmental issues dating back to their days living on the St. Johns River.  Water and the issues that we all face managing our impact on this fragile ecosystem have been a priority for his family for decades.  The entire family focuses on the environment and how we can make this a better place for all to enjoy and prosper well into the future.   

 

 


Douglas Gould, Board Member

Gould grew up near Philadelphia and visited Sanibel annually for twelve years before moving to the island with his wife, Christina, and their daughter, Reagan. After graduating from Wittenberg University, he attended Vermont Law School where he served as a Note Editor for the Vermont Law Review and co-founded the School’s Criminal Law Group and Trial Advisory Board. In 1996, Gould went to work for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in Norristown, Pennsylvania where he served for nearly five years. During his time with the Office, Gould served on the Narcotics Enforcement Unit, Sex Crimes Unit and Major Crimes Unit. In 2001, Gould left the Office and went to work for a Pizonka, Reilly, Bello & McGrory, P.C. in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where he ultimately became a partner. In July, Gould successfully sat for part A and part B of the Florida Bar Exam.

 Gould has been deeply affected by the recent fish-kill and economic injury inflicted on our local businesses by the recent Red Tide outbreak.  He hopes to use his personal and professional experience to aid Coastal Keepers with its goal of conserving our estuary while enhancing the Sanibel community.




Kevin Vertesch, Vice President

Bob Brooks, Board Member

Henry NachtsHeim, Board Member

Kim Taverna, Board Member

Paul Tritaik, Board Member


Staff 

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Sam Lucas, Conservation Initiative Coordinator 

Sam was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, but spent her childhood summers exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast. From a young age, Sam knew she wanted to pursue her interest in marine science. She went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. While at school, Sam worked as a naturalist at a local discovery center, where her passion for environmental education was ignited. After graduation, she continued to pursue this passion and moved a little farther down the shore to work as a master educator at a field station on the coast of Virginia. Sam is ecstatic to start a new adventure with Coastal Keepers, and cannot wait to share her enthusiasm for the ocean.