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Florida Gulf Coast University

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Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

Past Student Assistants




Zoë Spanbroek

Center Assistant

Zoë Spanbroek graduated summa cum laude from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minors in English and Interdisciplinary Studies. Her long-held love of writing and deep appreciation of the natural world continually guide her scholastic and professional endeavors. When she was a senior, Zoë combined these two passions into a research project that tested whether poetic writing would be more effective than popular science writing at shifting reader perspectives on climate change. The findings surprised her: both writing styles were relatively effective, and the FGCU student body was already environmentally conscientious prior to taking her survey. Zoë now dedicates her time to the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education as an active member of the Public Relations Team and a Colloquium Teaching Assistant. She considers herself lucky to work among a wonderful community of FGCU scholars who value environmental stewardship as much as she does.


Onye' Ogene

Student Assistant

Onye’ is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, currently majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Education and Climate Change. Being raised in Miami, Florida has led to Onye’s extreme passion for the world’s oceans. She is highly interested in Marine Ecology and aspires to pursue a master’s degree in Marine Conservation and Policy. Onye’s role at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education consists of assisting with the SAGE (Student Associates for a Greener Environment) projects and the Center’s events. While working at the Center, Onye’ hopes to further the environmental education outreach at the University by making students become more aware of the environmental changes the world is facing.

Grant Bailey   Student Assistant

Originally from Saint Petersburg, Florida, Grant Bailey is now a Senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and loves every minute of it!  He is seeking a degree in environmental studies and hopes to become an environmental educator.  Grant is anxious to travel and is currently considering graduate programs in environmental education. He is active in numerous student organizations on campus such as Power of One Animal Rights Group, Amnesty International, and Students Against Hunger and Homelessness. Finally, Grant is thankful to have found the Center as it has and continues to inspire him.


 Kevin Bedson

Staff Manager

Kevin Bedson, is a May 2015 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University and a South Florida native. He has his bachelor’s degree in Communication Ecology with a minor in Philosophy. He is interested in the role that media plays in shaping our perception of the natural world and how it affects our understanding of environmental issues. Kevin enjoys outdoor activities, especially those on and in the water. Kevin is an avid wake boarder, free diver, and scuba diver. Kevin has been working at the Center since August 2013. His role at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is to manage staff and press releases, which includes working with local newspapers. While working at the Center Kevin hopes to extend principles of sustainable living to students and the community.


 Sarah Davenport


Student Assistant


Sarah is a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University, majoring in Anthropology. Growing up in Naples, Florida has allowed Sarah to cultivate an interest and respect for the South West Florida ecosystems. Sarah is also a Service Learning Coordinator at the FGCU Food Forest and is very passionate about permaculture as a form of sustainable living. Sarah’s role at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is to help organize and promote the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue and manage the Center website. While working at the Center, Sarah hopes to engage other students in sustainability issues and encourage students to pursue sustainable lifestyles

Adam Finney   Center Volunteer

Born in Dayton Ohio and raised in Southwest Florida, Adam Finney is a senior graduating this spring with an Environmental Studies degree. He hopes to become a middle school teacher, educating our youth on the importance and wonders of the environment.  In his free time he enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors.


 Brandon Hollingshead

Research Associate

Brandon Hollingshead graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2005 with a major in environmental communication and a minor in literature. He is a member of the Earth Charter Youth Initiative Core Group and actively participated in the editing of the book The Earth Charter in Action: Toward a Sustainable World (KIT Publishers 2005). Hollingshead studied under Terry Tempest Williams in the Environmental Humanities graduate program at University of Utah. In the Fall of 2007, He married his sweetie Becky Yost and that totally rules.  At the Center, Brandon works as a consultant on research and editorial projects.



 Uzair Iqbal


Uzair Iqbal is an Environmental Studies Major with a Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. He was born in Pakistan and moved to San Antonio, Texas 10 years ago. After spending over 7 in Texas, he transferred to Fort Myers to study at FGCU. After quickly getting involved in several student organizations he gained the experience to become the Director of Sustainability for Student Government. As a Student Assistant at the Center for Environmental Sustainability and Education he will be organizing and promoting the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue. He will also be providing technical and marketing support for the Center. Uzair hopes to one day lessen the environmental problems for Pakistan by increasing sustainability awareness.

Megan Melvin   Student Assistent

Megan Melvin is preparing to graduate from FGCU in the Spring of 2008 with a major in English and a minor in Philosophy.  Originally from Indiana, she has also studied at Miami University of Ohio and University College London.  At FGCU, she edits the literary magazine The Mangrove Review and is currently coauthoring an essay with Dr. Jim Wohlpart for inclusion in the book Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development, edited by the Center.  Megan is now finalizing plans for after her graduation and is considering attending graduate school in the U.S. or returning to London.  She spends her free time traveling and relaxing with her family on Upper Captiva Island.

 Jessica Solimano   Graduate Assistant

Jessica Solimano is a graduate student working toward a master's degree in Business Administration. Born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Jessica came to FGCU as a freshman in the fall of 2001, and has been working with the Center since 2005.She is an alumna of FGCU, having obtained a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems in 2006.

In her free time, Jessica loves to travel and study languages.She visits Peru every year and works with the Love for Peru Foundation to provide assistance to the rural communities on the outskirts of Lima. Upon the completion of her MBA in 2007, Jessica plans to move abroad and work in international development.Her long-term goals are to study International Law and Human Rights, and to work with the United Nations and other international non-governmental organizations.Her aspiration is to help others, while traveling the world.

Elan Solveson   Student Assistant   

Elan Solveson is an undergraduate student working towards an environmental studies degree with an emphasis on environmental education. Elan is involved in many environmental education programs. She works with the Wings of Hope program educating students about the Florida Panther, works as an environmental educator for the FGCU Scholars Club leading students on tours of the campus trail system, works with Collier
County Audubon educating students about birds, and is excited at the opportunity to work at the Center! In her spare time, Elan enjoys playing the guitar and spending time outdoors. Upon graduation, Elan is excited to pursue her passion oftraveling, and is looking to incorporate environmental education into her travels.

Jessica Mendes   Graduate Assistant

Jessica Mendes is a graduate student at Florida Gulf Coast University working towards a degree in Public Administration. Jessica serves on the Board of Directors for a local, grassroots organization, Environmental & Peace Education Center and is also an activist for social justice and environmental issues in Southwest Florida. She hopes to continue working with nonprofit organizations in the future.

Ariel Chomey

Ariel Chomey   Student Assistant

Ariel Chomey is a fifth generation native of Southwest Florida. After being homeschooled until age 14, she enrolled at Edison State College and graduated High Honors with an AA degree in 2007 at age 17. She is currently majoring in Environmental Studies at FGCU and is active in the University Honors Program. A long time pianist, Ariel enjoys playing piano in her down time and also works to help local animal shelters. Ariel earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle Award, in 2009 and hopes to work for the National Park Service as an interpretive ranger in the future.

Michael Verdi   Editorial Assistant

Michael Verdi was born in Philadelphia, PA, but spent the majority of his youth in a small town in South Jersey. He came to Southwest Florida and enrolled at FGCU in 2006, but he took a semester off in 2008 to work for a non-profit environmental organization in Manhattan called Environment New York. He returned to FGCU in 2009, and he is currently a senior majoring in environmental studies with a minor in journalism. He is interested in joining the Peace Corps as an environmental volunteer after he graduates and possibly continuing his education after that. He hopes to do some sort of environmental reporting, and he eventually wants to teach.

Joseph Weakland

Joseph Weakland   Editorial Associate

Joseph Weakland was born in Pensacola, Florida, and is a graduate student in English at  Florida Gulf Coast University. Joseph enjoys reading and writing, and is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. He plans to pursue a doctorate, and hopes to one day be a teacher.


Kersey Voss   Student Assistant

Kersey Voss is a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University and a Florida native. Her major is Environmental Studies with a minor in Global Studies and she is planning on working in the conservation field in the future. Kersey is also the secretary of the Dominican Republic Outreach Program. She enjoys yoga, reading and traveling. She hopes to teach fellow students more about the environment while working at The Center for Environmental and Sustainable Education.


Sabrina Perri   Student Assistant

Sabrina Perri is in her third year at Florida Gulf Coast University with a major in Environmental Studies and minors of Sociology and Psychology. After moving to Florida from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she fell in love with the environment and decided to make southwest Florida home. She also works as an intern at Aquatic Systems Mosquito Education Program where she is a classroom assistant. During her free time, Sabrina makes purses from recycled fabrics, writes music, plays guitar and aspires to open a local coffee shop after graduation.

Anne Hartley

Assistant Director, Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

Anne Hartley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences and Program Leader in Environmental Studies. She arrived at FGCU in 2007, after four years on the faculty of the Environmental Studies Department at Florida International University in Miami. Hartley’s expertise lies in the area of global change ecology. Most recently, she studied the impact of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in Florida scrub oak forest on soil microbial processes involved in nitrogen cycling. She spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide and warming on plant growth and nutrient cycling in Swedish subarctic tundra. Hartley holds a Ph.D. in biogeochemistry from Duke University, where as a NASA Global Change Fellow, she studied environmental controls on soil nitrogen cycling in the Chihuahuan desert of New Mexico. Her work for the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education includes the development of a multidisciplinary upper-level undergraduate course on campus sustainability.


Jordan Yingling      Student Assistant 

Jordan Yingling was born in Bellevue, Ohio and is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University.  Jordan is the third boy in his family to graduate from FGCU, with a sister still enrolled.  Jordan enjoys playing intramural sports on campus, as well as fishing and golfing.


Emily Porter       Graduate Assistant 

Emily Porter is an Environmental Studies Graduate Student in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences at FGCU. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Emily volunteers at Barefoot Beach giving Interpretive Nature Talks on Florida's coastal ecosystems. She also assists with tracking and monitoring Sea Turtles during nesting season. She is a Florida Coastal Master Naturalist. One of Emily's roles at The Center is to assist Dr. Corcoran with promoting humane and sustainable food initiatives at FGCU.

Kate Pozeznik     Editorial Assistant 

Kate Pozeznik is originally from Michigan but claims Southwest Florida as her home. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor's degree in English and a minor in Education. Kate's passion for the natural world and pedagogy prompted her to continue her education at FGCU by pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on environmental education. In addition to her work at the Center, Kate is a campus naturalist and enjoys sharing her love for, and knowledge of, the unique natural environments of Southwest Florida with fellow FGCU students. She enjoys snorkeling, reading environmental literature, facilitating connections between children and the ocean, traveling, cooking, collecting rocks and shells, and salvaging undesired furniture. Her favorite marine animal is currently the sea hare.


Darrel Bagiotti      Student Assistant

Darrel Bagiotti is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and has been working for the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education since the spring 2013. He is pursuing a B.A in Environmental Studies with minors in Biology, Climate Change, and Interdisciplinary Studies. Darrel is an active member of the Universities varsity roller hockey team. He hopes to work in Water Management when he graduates in the spring 2014. While working at The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education he plans on educating fellow students on and off campus about the many environmental issues we face in today’s world.