STAFF & BOARD
Meet Our Team
Barbara Schlitt Ford
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.
Lena comes to the ELC from International Working Group Regus in Vero Beach where she was the Community Manager responsible for the daily operations and oversight of the Regus Office center. Lena also worked for several years at the Cleveland Clinic Martin Health in Stuart as a Foundation Database Coordinator overseeing the Foundation's Raiser's Edge database to ensure the accuracy and integrity of donor information. She was also responsible for importing and exporting data, extracting, and analyzing data, and ensuring the database effectively captured donor information to generate accurate financial and analytical reports. Lena earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, minoring in accounting, from Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, FL.
Lena has a passion for photographing sunrises, to sunsets, trees, flowers, plants, and various species of animals, and loves walking the shores of our beautiful Florida beaches. Living as one with nature is her daily priority.
Lena has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) since 2020, and is a Florida Notary Public.
Finance and HR
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.
Kyle is originally from Guntersville, Alabama, and has always enjoyed being outdoors - camping, canoeing, fishing, and hiking. He moved to South Florida in 2013 after graduating from Auburn University with a BS in Finance. Since then, he has spent the last decade in real estate finance, as a portfolio manager and asset manager, overseeing funds and focusing on process improvement. Combining his financial experience and enthusiasm for water conservation brought him to ELC in 2023.
He and his wife, Amanda, have three amazing children together, Watson, Malia and Gunter (woof). On his days off, you can find him with a fly rod in one hand and his family in the other, finding new fishing spots and exploring nature preserves and botanical gardens South Florida to help inspire new ideas for their backyard.
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.
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Janie is a Vero Beach native, and her family has been in Indian River County since the 1920’s. As Marketing and Communications Specialist here at the ELC, she has the opportunity to support two causes she is enthusiastic about: the environment and education. Janie’s experience includes 20 years with Fortune 500 media companies as an Account Executive and Sales Trainer. She has also worked for a local advertising agency in client services, producing videos and TV shows and event planning. Janie is a graduate of University of Florida School of Journalism with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. In her leisure time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and volunteering with Team Fox.
Marketing & Events Specialist
Heather is returning to the ELC after 10 years away while she raised her son and worked from home consulting various non-profits. She most recently worked in Tourism at the Sebastian Chamber and is now serving at the ELC as a Marketing & Events Specialist. Heather has been a successful manager, copywriter, graphic designer, and coordinator for over 22 years, and along with her love of nature and positive attitude, will certainly bring creative ideas and synergy to the organization. She holds a Bachelors degree from UCF in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications, minoring in Marketing, and certified in Conflict Management.
In her free time, she enjoys being out on the water; fishing, boating, kayaking, boogieboarding, and beach walking. She is currently working on publishing three children’s picture books, which she wrote while working at home, and is now designing the artwork. She lives in Melbourne Beach with her husband, Matt, who designs swimming pools, her son, Clayton, a fifth grader, their rescue dog, Luna, and Ripple, their pet snake.
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.
Kristiana is a native to the Sunshine State. With the Florida Keys, numerous lakes, and scrub habitats serving as her childhood playgrounds, it’s no surprise that she developed a passion for Florida's wild spaces. Her fascination with the natural world led to her undergraduate studies in biology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. For the five years following, she served the students of Central Florida as a middle grades science educator. She returned to the classroom, this time as a student, to Florida Atlantic University where she earned a Master of Science in Biological Sciences. Her areas of study largely involved the seasonal sargassum influx, Gulf Stream zooplankton ecology, and coral reef ecology. She comes to the ELC from the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit, where she gained a deep appreciation for the Indian River Lagoon. Scuba diving, underwater photography, audiobooks, traveling, and long walks are among her favorite leisure activities. She loves working with learners of all ages and believes education presents unique opportunities to make the world a bit better and more beautiful!
Jennifer is originally from New York and moved to Vero Beach from Colorado 2016. She started at ELC as a volunteer and joined the staff as part time educator in March of 2017. Jen has been a summer camp Girl Scout Leader, a Mad Scientist, and her favorite role is homeschooling her son. Combining homeschooling and her passion for protecting the environment, she started Homeschool Adventure Club in 2020. They to hike, kayak, and climb trees and play. This connects the participating homeschool families with the environment in the hope that they fall in love with the natural world and want to take care of it. Jen also co-leads a program called Wellness in the Wild designed to get women into nature and help them slow down and connect. She and her husband own a kayak rental and guiding business. Her most recent accomplishment is becoming a certified Florida Master Naturalist and she is enthused to share her knowledge here at the ELC.
Shelby is originally from Texas and after graduating from Texas State University with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology, she moved out to Florida to be closer to family and start her career. Throughout her time in college, Shelby worked as an environmental interpreter at a non-profit nature center operating at the university. There, she educated the public on the local natural history, the importance of water conservation, and environmental stewardship. While attending school, she also had the opportunity to work on a number of different research projects that included the study of Mosquitofish, Gulf Coast toads, and Green Herons. Shelby has a deep love for learning about the complex dynamics of ecosystems and is passionate about advocating to protect natural spaces. She is looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm for nature with students of all ages at the ELC!
Meghan is an Indiana native and a recent transplant to Florida. She grew up with a deep love of nature and as a child she aspired to grow up to be a Marine Biologist. She graduated from Wittenberg University in 2018 with a B.A. in Biology and a Minor in Marine Science. Since graduating Meghan has worked in environmental education in positions with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit and most recently Pelican Island Audubon Society. In these positions Meghan has had the joy of combining her passion for the natural world with her love of teaching and encouraging others to explore the amazing habitats in their own back yard. Meghan is thrilled to be joining the ELC education team where she can continue connecting others to the wonder of our natural world.
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.
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.
Hello! My name is Haylie Garman and I'm from Columbus, Ohio. I received my Marine Biology Degree from Bowling Green State University and now I am at at Florida Tech studying Ocean Engineering. I'm passionate about deep sea biology and taking care of fish and reptiles. In the future my dreams are to build marine-bio modeled robots and technology for aquariums and use them for research and conservation.
One of Adam's 1st memories is of a huge school of fish he saw swimming off a dock in Alaska at age 3. Since this moment, there is not a body of water he passes without looking for fish and other critters! Adam spent much of his early years caring for a mini-zoo both in and out of his childhood home. Here he had large salt water tanks, made a huge frog terrarium (that he slept on top of), bred Macaws and started his 1st business at age 8, breeding and selling rare bantam show chickens and mini holland lop rabbits. Adam was also related to the founders of the Austin Zoo and grew up spending some summers working there. Moving into his adult years, he was lucky to have worked at a greenhouse with Leo Chance, a renowned botanist who taught Adam all about rare plants and how to care for them. Adam chose to study Animal Science and Husbandry as well as Zoology in College and got to work with Animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. He also studied Art and Business, areas that crossed over nicely to his time working at The Denver Aquarium as he became a Swiss army knife of sorts, helping with and initiating a broad range of projects. Adam also used his artistic background to create the Quarters for Conservation sculpture for the Greenville Zoo and helped with one for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, both very successful projects to this day raising money for conservation. Adam took his passion for animals abroad on multiple occasions, helping remote villages in Fiji improve fresh water stream health to increase prawn and eel populations, working at a sea turtle refuge in Costa Rica and doing beach clean-ups in Mexico to improve shore bird health. Adam is also dedicated to conservation education and uses every opportunity to promote and advocate for the environment and the critters that live in it!
Laura Hersh Harris
Laura has been a Nature Mentor and Outdoor Educator with a variety of organizations throughout Washington, California, New York, Maine , Illinois, and Vermont since 2000. In addition, she has directed and instructed in multiple nature-based homeschool co-ops and organizations and has been a Teacher's Assistant at a Montessori school. When she is not mentoring she enjoys exploring Florida's natural wonders with her husband Brian, photography, practicing friction fire, riding bikes, playing guitar, and creating her own Results Coaching Business based on the work of Tony Robbins and Cloe Madanes.
Laura has earned her B.A. from Evergreen State College in Washington focusing on Community and Education as well as an A.A.S. in Graphic Design and Marketing and an A.A. S in Ornamental Horticulture. She is a graduate of the Wilderness Awareness School Immersion and Apprenticeship Program.
Guest Services Specialist
Storm began with the ELC in 2022. She is from Vero Beach, Florida. She studied Information Technology and Graphic and Interactive Design. Storm is passionate about telling story through video and enjoys doing marketing through social media. She has a great love of the Florida nature and its wildlife and is thrilled to be a part of the ELC team.
Guest Services Specialist
Karen is a Florida native with a passion for food, community and the natural world that surrounds us all. She graduated from Vero Beach High school in 2006 and started a family right away. Being a wife and mother are her two greatest accomplishments in life!
She traveled Central America with her husband and two children from 2010-2020 and were immersed in different climates, environments, culinary styles, and cultures. Experiencing different elements of life and the beautiful flora and fauna ignited a deep appreciation for nature and a desire to protect it. Karen is grateful to be a part of the ELC team where she can grow and learn even more about Florida’s environment.
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.