Meet Our Team

Barbara Schlitt Ford

Executive Director

(772) 589-5050 ext. 105

Barbara Schlitt Ford is a 2nd generation Vero native, an accomplished attorney, educator and organization leader. She grew up appreciating this area as a true paradise. Barbara is a lifelong nature lover. An ideal day might include a swim in the ocean, a boat trip on the lagoon, or a mountain hike to a waterfall. She cares about environmental stewardship and is passionate about living in union with our Earth systems, nature preservation and on finding solutions to our water quality issues in the area.  She joined the ELC as Executive Director on April 1, 2019. She strives to maintain a mission-focused, collaborative and uplifting leadership style. She appreciates synergistic commitment and teamwork from staff, board members, volunteers and community partners. She is an optimist who believes that individually we can each make a positive impact, but working together, we can truly create a better future.

Marcy Harrison

Finance/HR/Operations Manager

(772) 589-5050 ext. 103

Marcy is a Florida native, born in Tampa.  She grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee where she loved camping, fishing and other outdoor activities.  She graduated State University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia with a BBA in Accounting. After working in Atlanta for 20 years, she moved back to Florida, making Vero Beach her home.  Not for profits are one of her passions, as she managed accounting for Vero’s Habitat for Humanity and Indian River Medical Center.

Kat Redner

Donor & Marketing Manager

(772) 589-5050 ext. 102

Kat was born and raised in Sebastian, FL and visited the ELC several times on school field trips.  She received her degree in Communications (Multi-platform Journalism) at the Florida Institute of Technology in 2018.  In her free time, Kat enjoys photography, cars, and art.  She is SCUBA certified, enjoys spending time with her rescue dogs and watching sunrises on the Indian River Lagoon. Kat has a passion for education and giving the next generation the opportunity to experience the environment and enjoy time outside.

Sara Piotter

Senior Environmental Educator

(772) 589-5050 ext. 111

Sara’s relationship with the ELC goes back almost a decade. From 2006-2008 Sara helped teach our school programs as a part-time naturalist. In the spring of 2008 she left the ELC to work as a field biologist. She’s worked for The Nature Conservancy, The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the United States Geological Survey on research projects related to restoration ecology, water quality, and foraging and reproduction studies of passerines and waterbirds. Sara grew up exploring green spaces around Indian River County, as she was raised right here in Vero Beach. Although Sara connected with the natural world from a very early age, her passion for conservation and natural resource management was ignited during her studies at the University of Florida. In 2004, she earned her B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from UF. Additionally, Sara’s received training from the National Geographic Society in Watershed Education. Sara originally joined the education team as a full-time Naturalist. She’s thrilled to expand her relationship with the communities ELC serves and strives to promote a life-long, positive, mutually-rewarding relationship with nature. In her free time she enjoys all things nature, cooking, traveling, live music, crafting natural products, aromatherapy, and spending time with her family. 

Amy Shea

Environmental Educator

(772) 589-5050 ext. 106

Amy Shea joined the ELC in spring of 2019.  She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of Arkansas and an M.Ed. in elementary education from Vanderbilt University.  She has also completed graduate work in free-choice learning and fisheries management at Oregon State University.  She moved to Florida in 2011 to pursue the field of environmental education and has previously worked at SeaWorld and the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society.  Outside of her work at the ELC, Amy enjoys SCUBA diving, playing the fiddle, traveling, and spending time with her rescue dogs.

Nancy Puglio

Volunteer & Guest Services Coordinator

(772) 589-5050 ext. 107

Nancy became part of the ELC staff in 2006 has been instrumental in growing the ELC volunteer group to over 260 happy volunteers of all ages! She and her family moved to Florida from New Jersey in 2003.  She  was very active in St. Edwards Parent Association before joining ELC in 2006.  Nancy worked in the finance/lease end of the auto industry before her three boys arrived and she has been busy ever since! 

Kenny Kinchen

Membership and Systems Manager

(772) 589-5050 ext. 109

Kenny joined our team as the Development Data Manager in November of 2018. He was born and raised in Vero Beach and visited our campus on school field trips numerous times. Kenny grew up boating and fishing in the Indian River with his family. He has spent the last 14 years working in Spreadsheet and Database Management as well as Statistics and Reporting and he is very excited to join the team and help make a difference in the community and environment.

Ray Weatherdon

Facilities Manager

​Ray is originally from South Africa where he was an apprentice with Wankie Colliery Company Limited in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe today).  During Ray’s five year apprenticeship he received “Apprentice of the Year.”
After a stint in the Rhodesian Army where he attained the rank of full Corporal, Ray held various positions as a Maintenance and Construction Electrician, and then as a Production Supervisor and Facilities Manager overseeing a staff. Never one to stay still, Ray started his own very successful home improvement company and also renovated his 80 year old house in Newark, Delaware and built all the furniture. As with many new Floridians, a visit to warmer Florida spurred him to relocate and that was a lucky thing for us! Now we keep Ray very busy maintaining our 64-Acre Lagoon Island property and facilities and we’re so grateful to have such a talent! For fun (as if he weren’t busy enough) Ray’s bucket list includes traveling to all 50 states (he’s done about half so far) and renovating his Florida house (and probably making all new furniture!) 

Phil Chieco

Boat Captain & Facilities Assistant

Phil joined the ELC in September of 2018.  Phil was born and raised in New York City. He left the northeast for Florida in 1989 when his snow shovel broke.  Phil is a life long fisherman and boater. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100 Ton Master License. In his previous career, he was a 41 year veteran of the auto repair industry and felt it was time for a change that would bring him closer to nature and the water. When not at the ELC, he likes spending time with family, fishing, boating, traveling and building custom fishing rods.

Kathleen Torres

Guest Services Coordinator

(772) 589-5050

Kathleen was born and raised in southern Alabama and has been a Vero Beach resident since 2007. She has two energetic children and is involved at their school functions (including field trips to the ELC!).  Her husband, who was a Senior Ranger with the Florida Forest Service, put  together a booth at EcoFest , which brought Kathleen to the Environmental Learning Center. She enjoys kayaking, camping  as a family and spending time in nature.

Nicole Lemmo Saini

Digital Marketing Specialist & Environmental Educator

(772) 589-5050 ext. 110

Nicole Lemmo joined the ELC education team in the spring of 2019 after receiving an M.S. in Environmental Education from the Florida Institute of Technology.  Before her studies, Nicole lived in Thailand for seven years, first as a Peace Corps volunteer and then working in the field of educational and eco-tourism.  A native of Philadelphia, she holds a background in finance and a diverse set of business skills.  Nicole is driven by her personal experience in connecting with nature, and it is her passion to educate people on environmental action and the skills necessary to create lasting and sustainable change.  

Laura King

Environmental Educator

(772) 589-5050 ext. 108

Laura joined the ELC in the Fall of 2020. She was born and raised in Alabama. She moved to Florida to attend the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Marine Science and Biology.  After graduating, she worked as a zookeeper at the Palm Beach Zoo. She later attended Florida Institute of Technology to study vision in seahorses and received a M.S. in Marine Biology. Laura spent 5 years as an elementary/secondary science teacher teaching grades 2nd through 12th.  Laura also fills her time as an adjunct biology professor at Indian River State College. When not working, Laura enjoys exploring nature with her husband and daughter!

Heather Kramer

Environmental Educator

(772) 589-5050 ext. 110

Heather Kramer has been using the out-of-doors as a classroom and a place of inspiration for over ten years, believing there is a firm connection between science and art. Finding relevance in the patterns and cycles that nature presents, she emphasizes these foundations through hands-on, art-based learning opportunities both for herself and students of all ages. She works to create educational pieces that connect the communities to their local ecosystems. Heather leads our Junior Interpreters program, designs our Nature Near You Kits and helped start our thriving Artist Series.

ELC Board of Directors


Vice Chairperson








ELC Foundation Board


Vice Chairperson











ELC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3). Admission, memberships & donations are critical to continuing our mission. 


Join or give today!



255 Live Oak Drive

Vero Beach, FL 32963


Located on the western base of the Wabasso Bridge on the 510 Causeway.

ELC is a Smoke-Free campus.  Service Dogs only, please.


Phone: (772) 589-5050

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