VICE PRESIDENT OF EDUCATION
Jennifer Diaz was an educator for more than 15 years and has an extensive professional background in science curriculum development. In addition to the classroom, Diaz served as a science leader, science club organizer, and team leader of the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering. Prior to the Everglades Foundation, Diaz was a Science Curriculum Specialist for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Diaz provided school site support for low-performing schools, to model effective science teaching, share resources, motivate, encourage and support professionalism in STEM teachers. She also served as Miami-Dade County Public Schools director of two grants, University of Florida’s STEM TIPS teacher induction program funded by the Department of Education, and University of Miami’s Promoting Science Among English Language Learners (P-SELL)-funded by The National Science Foundation. She has a bachelor’s in health education/community health and a master’s in educational leadership. In addition, Diaz holds a science-teaching certificate in STEM Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, awarded by the NASA Endeavor Fellowship Program.
EDUCATION PROGRAM MANAGER
Bianca Cassouto’s higher education and career experiences focus on sustainability, environmental education, and the relationship humans have with natural resources. She graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Geography Geosciences and a minor in Environmental Studies and received her M.A. in Global Sustainability with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism from the University of South Florida. Her decision to work in environmental education came from interning at local non-profits, interning at the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, and traveling to different parts of the world. She is driven to educate students, teachers, and others on the importance of the Everglades and protecting South Florida’s drinking water supply. Bianca‘s career interests include the availability and protection of water resources, impact of climate change, and sustainable development. Bianca is a Miami native and enjoys traveling and reading.
K-12 CHAMPION SCHOOLS
Alicia Torres is a Florida Native. She grew up in North Central Florida and earned her B.A. in Education from the University of Florida with a specialization in middle grades science. She then earned her M.A. in Education from Florida Atlantic University in 2001. Since then, she has been involved in science instruction in Palm Beach County in both the public and private sectors across various formal and informal educational platforms. Her love for the outdoors and passion for the environment eventually brought her to work more closely in the field of environmental education. She spent the last three years working at Florida Atlantic University Pine Jog Environmental Education Center as an Educational & Training Programs Coordinator working closely with educators and students across the South Florida region in providing Everglades education, solar energy programs, green school initiatives, and Project WILD and Project Learning Tree professional development. Alicia Torres also serves as the Vice President of the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society of Key Women Educators for the Beta Xi Chapter in Palm Beach County. In her free time, you may find her paddleboarding any one of Florida’s beautiful waterways.
EVERGLADES LITERACY PROGRAM COORDINATOR - SWFL
Tate was born and raised in the small town of Naples in Upstate New York and is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and minors in Experiential Leadership, Transdisciplinary studies, and Psychology. She interned with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Response team where she assisted with the rescue and response of over thirty manatees and dolphins statewide. After seeing the improvements that could be made in educating local communities about the Florida ecosystems and how to best protect them, Tate decided to pursue a career in environmental education. Tate then worked at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, where she developed curriculum, activities, and taught students ages 5-15 for the summer programming of AquaCamps. Tate additionally has taught, developed curriculum, and organized outreach events with Suncoast Kids, a ministry group, for the past six years. Tate aspired to promote cultural change, inspiration, and empowerment for future generations for the protection and restoration of our local environments. In her free time, Tate enjoys hiking, spending time outdoors, exploring new places, golfing, and spending time with her friends and family.
ALYSSA SALDARRIAGA EVERGLADES LITERACY PROGRAM COORDINATOR - TREASURE COAST
Alyssa Saldarriaga is a South Florida native who is passionate about protecting the diverse ecosystems that exist here, and empowering others to do so. In the early phases of her career in environmental education she volunteered at local nature centers and lead environmental camps. Over the last four years in her role as a Science Educator at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center she was responsible for developing Gumbo Limbo’s first celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and overseeing their seasonal events and public and school programs. Alyssa worked closely with the City of Boca and Palm Beach County School Districts to establish curricula and guidelines for environmental programming. She also served as a member of Resources in Science Education (RISE), and Florida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA).
In 2019 she received her Bachelor of the Arts degree majoring in Biology with a certificate in Environmental Studies, while working in invasive species mapping research. She is now working towards her Masters in Environmental Science, and assisted with the development of the Center for Environmental Studies’ ‘Understanding Algal Blooms in Florida’ video series. Overall, Alyssa aspires to always inspire environmental curiosity, critical thinking, and enthusiasm.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION SPECIALIST
Susan Toth has exhibited a lengthy, deep, and unwavering commitment to EE since the early 1980s. As Director of Education at Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, Susan worked to improve and expand elementary school programs, and oversaw projects that included construction of Florida’s first Gold LEED-Certified elementary school and the development of a Master’s program in EE in partnership with Florida Atlantic University. Among her many contributions to the field, she also served on the Florida Advisory Council on EE, the Florida Greenways Commission, the NAAEE Board of Directors, and as a founding member of the Green School National Network Board. In addition, Susan was a regular instructor for the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point’s online “Fundamentals of EE” course, taught one of the first EE courses in Thailand for the Smithsonian Institution, and wrote a series of children’s books on water and energy.