SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Marty Main

Dr. Main is a Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. He has also served as an interim Department Chair, Associate Dean of Extension, and Associate Director of Florida Sea Grant at the University of Florida.

He has a diverse educational background, including a

• BS in Biological Sciences from Central Michigan University

• MS in Biological Oceanography from the Florida Institute of Technology

• PhD in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University

Dr. Main’s research has been broadly focused on behavioral ecology, human-wildlife conflict, and conservation and management of wildlife habitat and has included studies of coyotes, the Florida panther and of jaguars in Central and South America to name a few.

Marty is best known for developing the Florida Master Naturalist Program, which includes a suite of natural history and conservation education courses taught by a statewide network of certified instructors. The FMNP has won many awards, including the Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education from the Ecological Society of America.

Ray Coleman

Mr. Ray Coleman, the Executive Director at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, has over 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience. Ray holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s degree in Social Work and post-master’s certificate in Industrial Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. He is presently enrolled as a doctoral student in the FAU College of Education, Educational Leadership in Community and Adult Education program, where he is focusing on perceptions of climate change in low-income communities and strategies for building community resilience.

Ray has designed, implemented and managed over 30 programs geared at engaging and educating youth and the community. Many of these programs began as federal, state and local grants he authored and they continue to operate today. Before joining FAU in 2012, Ray served as the Executive Director of the Mohican Outdoor School and Environmental Learning Center located in North Central Ohio.

Since joining FAU, he has charted a new course for Pine Jog by incorporating several new initiatives such as the H2O to Go Residential Research Institutes, the Pine Jog Community Laboratory- a fully operational micro-propagation laboratory created to grow native wild orchids, the OrKIDS program, the Educational Connections to Ongoing Research Projects (E-CORP) program, the Apple Snail Adoption Program (ASAP) and a myriad of others.

With his formal roots in Social Work and having spent much of his career in leadership roles, Ray believes in relationship building and humanitarianism. Of particular importance to him is the ability to establish relationships and facilitate civil dialogue with those with different viewpoints. It is in these dialogues that compromise occurs and compromise is often the precursor to progress, just as unbridled emotion is often its deterrent. The professional relationships Ray forges are intended to engage community partners. Partners like the Everglades Foundation for whom Pine Jog created an Everglades literacy conceptual framework, and assembled and piloted a series of Everglades lessons for students in grades k-12. This has currently resulted in the training of more than 2,000 teachers in 14 Florida counties to use the curriculum. Additionally, Ray values partnerships like the one with Florida Gulf Coast University’s Vester Marine Field Station to implement the second phase of H2O to Go on the West coast of Florida. These partnerships bring universities and resources together for the benefit of everyone. In this case, it has resulted in Pine Jog submitting a large NSF proposal with FGCU, to hopefully secure funding to expand this important work.

Ray Coleman could not be more proud of his team at Pine Jog. In the past year alone, FAU Pine Jog received two national awards, one from the United States Green Building Council and National Green Schools Network for outstanding collaboration, and more recently, the highly competitive North American Grand Prize for innovative STEM education from Underwriters Laboratories and the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Diversity in Environmental Education Discussion Panel

Panel Speakers:

Robert E. Raze, Jr. is a professor at St. Petersburg College teaching Integrated Science and Mathematics; Curriculum and Instruction; Classroom Management; and Early Childhood Education courses.  At SPC, some of his other duties include supervising students in school-based (practicum) and final internship (student teaching) experiences.  Dr. Raze has taught in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Florida in a variety of educational environments and various levels.   He has planned and facilitated professional development training sessions and workshops for preservice and practicing teachers.  Dr. Raze has presented at local, state, national, and international conferences on topics such as elementary science, environmental education, and technology.


Laura E. Valencia has served as a Florida 4-H Youth Development Agent in Extension since 2012. Ms. Valencia specializes in developing and implementing new, innovative cultural programming for diverse audiences to increase their participation in the 4-H Program. Presently, she is the project county manager of various grants that bring the positive youth development program to Latinx and other underrepresented families.

For the past nine years, Laura has been involved in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) initiatives at the national, regional, state, and local levels. Laura’s interests in research and professional development areas are Intercultural Competency, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Multiculturalism, and the Development and Integration of the Hispanic/Latinx Communities in the United States.

She is part of the University of Florida Alliance for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (AIDE) and UF/IFAS Extension CAFE Latino, a coalition of faculty and Extension professionals for Latinos/Hispanics serving the needs of the Latino/Hispanic population in Florida. In 2017, she was the recipient of the University of Florida Diversity and Inclusion Superior Accomplishment Award recipient.

Her qualifications include: Intercultural Development Inventory IDI Qualified Administrator, Intercultural Conflict Inventory Qualified Administrator, Navigating Difference Trainer (an Intercultural competencies training), and a Coming Together for Racial Understanding/Everyday Democracy Trainer.


Anesti Vega is an oceanographer and places great emphasis on Indigenous leadership to environmental and marine science education and stewardship. He currently holds positions as Executive Director of USX: a scientific research agency connecting military veterans to STEM field research, SCUBA Council Chair of Diversity In Aquatics, and Lab Tech at the Underwater Technology Laboratory at the Florida Institute of Technology, where he also runs the SCUBA program. Anesti also uses SCUBA as an exciting conduit to teach about physics, physiology, engineering, and environment for youth, with an industry focus on increasing accessibility and inclusion in SCUBA and ocean exploration.


Moderator:

Sylvia Collazo is a doctoral candidate in Exceptional Student Education (Special Education) at Florida Atlantic University, specializing in early childhood. She is interested in inclusive practices in environmental education as well as the integration of nature in early childhood special education. Presently, she is working on her dissertation where she is creating a professional development training package for teachers of young children with exceptionalities on embedding nature-based activities in their practice. Driven by her personal experiences as a sibling of a now-adult with special needs, Sylvia has spent nearly 20 years serving children with disabilities, their families, and fellow educators in a variety of roles including program assistant, early childhood special education teacher, behavior therapist, and consultant. She has over eight years of experience in teacher preparation and professional development and currently works as project supervisor for a federally-funded, special education graduate program. Sylvia has spent the last several years focusing on nature-based early childhood education and has served as an editorial assistant and consulting editor for the International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education (IJECEE). She enjoys music, reading, yoga, and photographing nature as well as spending time with her husband, family, and furry children.

Musician

Grant Livingston has been a favorite at acoustic music venues throughout Florida since the mid-eighties.

An offbeat sense of humor comes through the stories told in Livingston's songs. You'll meet Einstein and Gypsy Rose on a road trip, a guy who is way serious about eating pie, a French-speaking cat in a graveyard, armadillos, barnacles, an unleashed dog and more.

Many of Grant's songs reflect his love for his South Florida home. History, environment, social commentary, bringing Florida's past to light and making light of its present, Grant has earned the title of Miami's Historian-in-Song.

As a guitarist Livingston employs a style which is a unique mix of ragtime, country blues, and early swing.

Grant's songs appeal to the child in grownups, and to the adult in kids. He often plays for schools, museums, and other children's programs.

Grant has taught songwriting at Miami-Dade College and, along with fellow songwriter Janet Goodman, coordinates the Nashville Songwriters' Association's South Florida chapter.


Founded in 1983, the League of Environmental Educators in Florida is the professional association for individuals and organizations dedicated to the cause of environmental education in Florida. We are the state affiliate for North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), an organization that brings together those interested in the study and enjoyment of our natural world and one that has promoted excellence in environmental education throughout North America and the world for over four decades.  

The League of Environmental Educators in Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

© 2021by the League of Environmental Educators in Florida.


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