Meet Our Trainers

Matt Zealy was born and raised in Broward County. Matt graduated with a BS in Microbiology from the University of Florida. He has always had a passion for the environment and a love for the sciences. Matt has been teaching high school for 12 years at South Plantation High School in the Environmental Science and Everglades Restoration Magnet Program. As a Broward County Environmental Educator of the Year recipient, Matt has helped develop and teach the Overview of the KOE Watershed course that is taught to all the 9th grade students in the magnet program. He continues to sponsor and advise the student-run outreach club, the Everglades Restoration Ambassadors – reaching as many young minds and adults through service learning opportunities. Matt contributed to and helped pilot the original Everglades curriculum developed by the Everglades Foundation, and he looks forward to reaching even more students with the Everglades Literacy Project.

Pam Moran is a third grade teacher in Naples FL.  She teaches science and math. Pam is a strong proponent of STEM and Project Based Learning. During the schoolyear, she works on many science based projects for the Collier County School District. Pam has been an Everglades Literacy trainer science 2015. She is the mother to two teenagers and her other passion is working with foster kids.

Colleen Pollett is a second year teacher at Galaxy Elementary School in Boynton Beach.  She is a graduate of the University of Florida (Go Gators!). She currently wears many hats at her school as an ESE teacher, School Based Team Leader, and Choice Program Coordinator. She absolutely loved being a part of last summer’s Train the Trainer workshop and has been sharing what she learned about the Everglades with teachers across Florida. She is looking forward to continuing to share knowledge and appreciation of the Everglades with all students and teachers!

Erin Mitchell say she is thrilled to be an Everglades Literacy teacher trainer.  She currently teaches 4th grade at Palm Beach Day Academy and integrates environmental education into all subject areas.  She started a school community garden at her school four years ago and feels it has been extremely beneficial in her teaching. Erin is also working on her Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction, with an area of focus in environmental education, at Florida Atlantic University. Erin feels that we are so fortunate to have the Everglades in our own backyard.  She  feels that it is important, now more than ever, to help educate our citizens about the importance of preserving such a unique and beautiful ecosystem.

Danielle Vande Zande is an Education Specialist with the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County. Previously she has worked as an environmental educator at the River Center in Jupiter and FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center. She is a certified interpretive guide and a facilitator for Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, and the Everglades Literacy Curriculum. Currently she is working on a Masters in Environmental Education at Florida Atlantic University.  Danielle has a true passion for Florida’s natural world and is excited about her role as an Everglades Literacy trainer.

Kirsi Johnson is currently a 6th grade ELA teacher at Anderson Middle School in Stuart, Florida. She has taught within the Martin County School District for 21 years, and active at the Environmental Studies Center of Martin County for 13 years. Born and raised in southeast Florida, she grew up digging in the dirt and splashing in the waters, always curious and eager to spread the word of the importance of understanding and protecting the “real Florida”. Being a part of the Everglades Foundation’s Everglades Literacy Project fulfills her desire of both of these and most importantly, the opportunity of enlightening our youth of the power they have to be stewards of Florida’s future.

Janine Fernandez has been a teacher for 11 years and is currently teaching math and science to 4th and 5th graders at Sunset Park Elementary School in Miami, Florida.  She was recently awarded the Science Teacher of the Year at Sunset Park Elementary and will continue to bring the love of math and science to her students.  Janine holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology, Masters Degree in Reading, and is one of 2 teachers in Miami-Dade County to hold a STEM Certificate in both Math and Science through a program at Florida International University.  It is her interest in STEM that brought her to the Everglades Foundation in July of 2015 to attend their Train the Trainer program.  Janine has trained over 100 teachers this year in Everglades Literacy and incorporates the curriculum in her science classes with her students.  She is married and has two daughters, 23 and 21 years old.

Beatriz Guimarães attended Florida International University and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with two certificates in Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management and Agroecology. She works in environmental education with programs that promote experiential learning through informal and hands-on science. Beatriz has a deep passion for the environment and conservation, as well as for educating people about the environment. She hopes to instill that same passion in the teachers and trainers she meets, furthering their knowledge and appreciation of the Everglades and giving them the tools necessary to educate an Everglades literate generation.

Jessica Hernandez has been teaching for 9 years, primarily math and science to 4th and 5th grade in Miami-Dade County. She has been the STEM facilitator at her school for the past 5 years. As part of her role as a STEM facilitator she leads two after school clubs: SECME and Lego robotics. This past school year, her school became an environmental STEM school.  As of last school year, Jessica also became the math coach at her school. This new role has allowed her to work more closely with teachers and students in all grade levels and to see how the curriculum connects from year to year. With this knowledge, she was able to develop a curriculum plan for their environmental STEM classes. Last summer, she became one of The Everglades Foundation’s first Everglades Literacy Project trainers. As a result, her students are learning more about the hidden gem right in our own backyard, the Everglades!

Melissa Lorenz was born and raised in Palm Beach County, Florida where she developed a great love of nature and the ocean. Her deep interest eventually led her to the Florida Institute of Technology where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in the Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Marine Biology. From there Melissa worked as a Marine Mammal Observer stationed, primarily, in the Gulf of Mexico for two years.  Deciding that she would rather be a teacher, Melissa went home to Palm Beach County to teach environmental science and marine biology in the middle grades while earning her Master of Education in Environmental Education from Florida Atlantic University. After five years at the middle school level, Melissa moved to the high school level where she currently teaches Biology and AICE Marine Science.

Karen Solms has more than 15 years’ experience with environmental education curriculum development and implementation, nature based recreation leadership, training techniques and citizen science fieldwork. With her Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and minor in Environmental Science from University of Florida, she hopes to educate the patrons of the Deering Estate on the aspects of South Florida ecology and History.  Karen received her Master of Science degree in Marine Biology from NOVA Southeastern University with a specialty in Sea Turtle biology. Prior to coming to Deering Estate, Karen was one of the lead naturalists for the Sea Turtle Awareness Program at Crandon Park’s Visitors and Nature Center where she worked to educate youth and adults, both onsite and off-site, about sea turtle biology and behavior.

Keisha Kidd currently teaches 6th grade science for the Miami-Dade County Public School System.  Her previous teaching experience includes math and science for grades K-5.  Keisha has been teaching for over 12 years including her experience as a science coach and science curriculum support specialist for the district providing science professional development workshops for teachers throughout Miami-Dade County.  In addition to the classroom, Keisha started a Life Science Club at her school to promote awareness about all living things and the importance of preserving their habitats.  Her passion for education and motivation to share information about the Everglades led her to become an Everglades Foundation Literacy Trainer in the summer of 2015.