STAFF & BOARD
Meet Our Team
Barbara Schlitt Ford
(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.
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.
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.
Senior Environmental Educator
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.
Gian (pronounced John) has lived in Vero Beach since 2006. He taught middle school science at Sebastian Charter Junior High and St. Helen Catholic School, as well as oceanography at Indian River State College. Prior to moving to Florida, Gian was first the education coordinator and then the director of a public aquarium called the SEA Lab located in Redondo Beach, California. He has a Masters degree in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and two Bachelor degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. All of his favorite things to do involve water- whether it be fishing with his son in the Indian River Lagoon, fossil hunting with his daughter in Peace River, snorkeling with his wife in the Florida Keys and even running on the beach with his water-loving pooch.
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!)
Volunteer & Guest Services Coordinator
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!
Membership and Systems Manager
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.
Relationship and Experiences Specialist
Sue, originally from Pittsburgh, PA is a graduate of Indiana University of PA with a BS in Interior Design. Her career relocated her to Western Maryland which became “home” for many years. Her passion for the outdoors, Arabian horses and alpacas was the beginning of her easy transition to extensive involvement with a variety of nonprofit organizations. Her experiences includes agricultural fair management, marketing, public relations, grant writing and fundraising. Most recently, Sue was the Director of Development for the Arc of Washington County before saying good bye to snow and following her dream, relocating to Vero Beach in August 2020. Sue was excited to “sign on” joining the staff of the ELC in March of 2021. In her free time, Sue enjoys learning everything “Florida and Treasure Coast,” from lazy days at the beach, water activities, exploring local theatre, museums and scenery, as well as spending time with family and friends that “come down” to visit!
Guest Services Specialist
Lindsay joined our ELC staff in May of 2021. She is a Florida native, born in Melbourne, and grew up in the area. She came to the Environmental Learning Center after receiving her BS in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Before graduating, she worked in the education field, primarily with grant-funded S.T.E.A.M programs. She has a passion for educating others on important causes and that is exactly what brought her to the ELC. Throughout college, she studied areas such as environmental science, the impact of solid waste on our environment, and our ecological footprint. She knows educating the community is the first step towards making critical changes and is excited to help share and support our mission here at the Environmental Learning Center.
Guest Services Specialist
Marc has been a member of the ELC since 2018 and joined the team in 2021. He studied philosophy at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, where he also worked in customer service and administration at the Stuttgart Ballet for seven years. From a very young age he was active with various environmental organizations and their efforts to protect and preserve wild spaces. Upon moving to Florida he developed an avid interest in Florida native plants and landscaping for wildlife, which led to him working in native plant cultivation, landscape design, and habitat restoration.
Whenever Marc is not at the ELC campus, you can most likely find him hiking through conservation areas with his family and climbing trees with his son.
Rhian is a Florida native but has spent the last four years working seasonal jobs all over the country. She has worked in a variety of positions with US Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Fish and Game, the National Park Service, Florida Forest Service, and North Dakota Parks and Recreation. Most recently, Rhian was a Park Manager in North Dakota but is happy to be back in Florida where she can be closer to family and work in a position that allows her to share her knowledge and passion for the environment with others. She earned a B.S in Coastal Biology from the University of North Florida where she participated in research primarily focused on the ecology of local shark and ray species. As someone who spends a great deal of time hiking, kayaking, and generally exploring natural areas, it’s fitting that her true passion lies in helping others to connect with the environment and develop a love and appreciation for nature as she does. After all, you can’t protect what you don’t love, and you can’t love what you don’t know.
Sharon moved to Brevard County, Florida in 1984 and earned a B.S. in Biology from UCF. She was employed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and operated an environmental consulting business. Prior to retirement, she spent several years working for the Army Corps of Engineers in Planning and Policy on Everglades and Kissimmee River Restoration, Okeechobee Waterway recreation, manatee protection systems, sustainability and regulatory compliance. During her career, she was fortunate to conduct research on manatees, birds, horned lizards and turtles, on renewable energy development, sustainability, and as the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve Manager. Sharon joined the ELC staff in 2021. She is grateful for opportunities to engage the community in stewardship activities benefitting the Indian River Lagoon and its diverse wildlife. Sharon enjoys spending time on art projects with her husband, boating, watersports and just being outdoors in Indian River County.
Angel is very excited to be working with the ELC. She was a summer intern in 2020 and became very involved in various projects. Her favorite was eastern oyster monitoring, relocating, and restructuring. Before that at her college, Indian River State, she had experience being an intern with their archeological department examining what was found at the Vero Beach Sexton dig site. Having experience in both marine and terrestrial sciences was really effective at guiding her towards a career choice. Angel has an associates degree in biology and is currently working towards her bachelors degree in biology. She has a passion for nature and photography.
Linda joined the ELC staff in November 2021 after relocating from the Northern Virginia area. She spent her years in Fairfax, Virginia working for a local government agency which focused on children’s school readiness and ongoing success. Her work there in the areas of grants management, contracts, strategic planning and educational programming led her to her position as Operations Manager at ELC. As an Ohio native, Linda appreciates the warm Florida climate as well as the many outdoor offerings and opportunities in her new hometown of Vero Beach.
ELC Board of Directors
JOHN L. DANIELS
DONALD E. BARR
Tyler G. Puttick
Jeffrey L. Susi
Exec. Dir. Barbara Schlitt Ford
ELC Foundation Board
JOHN L. DANIELS
DONALD E. BARR
TIMOTHY R. BUHL
JOHN D. LOWENBERG, SR.
JOHN D. LOWENBERG, SR.