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.

This year to participate in a discussion panel you must


Register for Panel 4 below:


  • Rich Kern,

    Co-founder of

    Encounters in Excellence


    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.

  • Jennifer Diaz, 

    Director of Education, The Everglades Foundation

    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.


  • Bianca Cassouto,

    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.

    Education Program Manager, The Everglades Foundation



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