As we continue our efforts to restore and protect America’s Everglades, we also need to ensure the next generation is educated and equipped to protect the precious ecosystem for future generations. This panel will bring together educators, students and community leaders who share a dedication to educating and empowering future conservation leaders.


  • Rich Kern, co-founder of Encounters in Excellence, (Encounters in Excellence is a non profit 501(C)(3) organization funded by foundations, corporations and individuals). is a noted wildlife filmmaker who has been presenting his travel-adventure films around the United States for over 35 years.


    He has been voted “best speaker of the year” on the prestigious National Geographic Film Lecture Series in Washington, DC. His footage has appeared in numerous TV documentaries on Discovery and other networks. Rich has a BA in biology from Colgate University. Encounters in Excellence has shared educational programming with 2 million Miami Dade County Public School students.

    Rich Kern,

    Co-founder of

    Encounters in Excellence


  • Jennifer Diaz’s background includes serving as an educator for more than 15 years, with extensive experience in science curriculum development. Diaz also has served as a science leader, science club organizer, and team leader of the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering. 


    Prior to joining The Everglades Foundation, Diaz was a Science Curriculum Specialist for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. There, she provided site support for low-performing schools in order to model effective science teaching, share resources, motivate, encourage, and support professionalism among STEM teachers. She also served as Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Director of two grants: The University of Florida’s STEM TIPS teacher induction program funded by the Department of Education, and the University of Miami’s Promoting Science Among English Language Learners (P-SELL), funded by The National Science Foundation. 


    Diaz has a bachelor’s degree in Health Education/Community Health, and a master’s in Educational Leadership. She also holds a science teaching certificate in STEM Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, awarded by the NASA Endeavor Fellowship Program.

    Jennifer Diaz, 

    Director of Education, The Everglades Foundation

  • Dr. Jennifer Rehage is a coastal and fish ecologist and associate professor at the FIU Institute of Environment and the Earth & Environment department. Studies in her research group focus on understanding how natural and human disturbances affect multiple aspects of the life of fish focusing on individuals, their behavior, populations, ecosystem role, and interactions with anglers.


    Over the past decade at FIU, Rehage has been studying how hydroclimatic variation effects fish and the recreational fisheries they support in the Everglades and throughout South Florida. Her research has focused on Common Snook, Florida Largemouth Bass, Bonefish, juvenile Atlantic Tarpon and Jack Crevalle. Her studies examine the interacting effects of natural flow regimes, climate, and management decisions on fish space use, distribution and populations, and involves recreational anglers, and local ecological (angler) knowledge.


    Rehage received her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky where she specialized in studying fish behavior. She went on to continue her education at the University of California-Davis and the US Geological Survey. She’s originally from Uruguay, where she grew up spending a lot of time at her grandfather’s fishing club. Rehage is an investigator in many studies involving water management and coastal fisheries, such as the National Science Foundation’s Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (FCE LTER) program.

    Dr. Jennifer Rehage, 

    Associate Professor At The Fiu Institute Of Environment And The Earth & Environment
  • Daniella Levine Cava was elected Miami-Dade County’s first-ever woman Mayor in November 2020. She enters the Mayor's office following a nearly 40-year career as a relentless advocate for South Florida families in public service and elected leadership.

    A social worker, lawyer, and community activist, she was first elected in 2014, and re-elected in August 2018, to serve as the Miami-Dade County Commissioner representing District 8.

    Born in New York and raised partly in Latin America, Mayor Levine Cava received her bachelor's degree in psychology with honors from Yale University and graduate degrees in law and social work from Columbia University.


    She came to South Florida in 1980 to join her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, a Miami native, who returned home to join his father in medical practice. Daniella and Robert raised two children, Eliza and Edward Cava, in Miami-Dade, supported by strong networks of friends, families, and co-workers.

    Daniella Levine Cava,

    Co-founder of

    Encounters in Excellence



  • 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. 


    Cassouto’s decision to work in environmental education came from interning at local non-profits, including 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, the availability and protection of water resources, the impact of climate change, and sustainable development.


    Cassouto is a Miami native, and enjoys traveling and reading.

    Bianca Cassouto,

    Education Program Manager, The Everglades Foundation



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