Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council

Meet the FLEPPC Officers and Board of Directors


christenmason Christen Mason, Chair
Land Resources Bureau, South Florida Water Management District
Phone: 561-682-2782
Fax: 561-682-5044
Email: cmason@sfwmd.gov

Christen Mason is an invasive species biologist with the South Florida Water Management District. She graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a degree in Biology, focusing on botany. Christen has monitored and treated non-native plants across more than 300,000 acres of the Everglades system. She began her career with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a field biologist, treating non-native plants and supporting invasive plant removal contracts. She then served as the invasive species biologist at the A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Prior to working with invasive plant species, Christen spent six years working with native animals at a wildlife hospital and sanctuary where she raised, rehabbed and cared for hundreds of mammals, reptiles and birds. Christen began work with the District in 2014. Her current job duties include vegetation mapping and monitoring, implementing and managing invasive plant removal contracts, and conducting field trials of herbicides. She sat on the Steering Committee for Treasure Coast CISMA from 2008 to 2011 and has been on the Steering Committee for Everglades CISMA since 2011.
karenbrown Karen Brown, Treasurer
University of Florida/IFAS
Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
Telephone: 352/273/3667 / Fax: 352/392-3462
E-mail: kpbrown@ufl.edu

Karen Brown is the treasurer for FLEPPC. She has a Master's degree in Library and Information science from the University of South Florida. She works at the University of Florida's IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.

aimeecooper Aimee Cooper, Secretary
University of Florida
200 9th Street SE
Vero Beach, FL 32962
Office: (772) 778-7200 x 189
Fax: (772) 778-7205
E-mail: aimee.lz.cooper@gmail.com

Aimee Cooper is a biologist in the Seeds Technology Group for Syngenta. Previously, Aimee was a biological scientist with the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida, leading the investigation of non-native plants for the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. She has also spent time in the field combating various noxious weeds and participating in ecological research in remote areas throughout Florida. She holds a B.A. in Biology from Otterbein College.

ruarkcleary Ruark Cleary, Editor
Ruark L. “Rook” Cleary is an Invasion Biologist (ESIII) with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Invasive Plant Management Section. He received his Master’s (M.S.) degree in Biology in 1985 from the University of Central Florida. From 1987 to 2000, he worked for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in conservation planning and reserve design for the Preservation 2000 program. Since 2001, he has worked in the terrestrial invasive plant management (or “Uplands”) program, which was transferred from DEP to FWC in 2008. Although trained as a herpetologist, and with an inordinate fondness for geckoes, he notes that the only difference between invasive plants and animals is that the plants don’t run away (usually).

sherrywilliams Sherry Williams, Past Chair
Seminole County Natural Lands Program
Ed Yarborough Nature Center

Sherry Williams is a Biologist/Park Ranger for the Seminole County Greenways and Natural Lands Division. She received her Bachelor's of Science in Marine Biology from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada. She has lived and worked in Florida as a biologist since 1990. Sherry's experience in Florida began with studying Atlantic salt marsh snakes for Volusia County Mosquito Control District. Later, she worked for the Florida Park Service as a District Biologist writing management plans, was involved in all aspects of prescribed fire, was responsible for invasive species management at 5 parks and all other resource related issues. Prior to coming to Seminole County, she worked for St. Johns River Water Management District as a Resource Planner, writing management plans and conservation easements as well as assisting land managers with resource management activities. In her present position, she is responsible for the invasives program on 10,000 acres of natural lands, passive parks, paved trails and active parks. Sherry is also responsible for the fire, monitoring, and grants programs, and coordinates volunteers for Natural Lands Program. In addition, Sherry serves as the Steering Committee Chair for the Central Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) and as Vice President for the Cuplet Fern Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Board of Directors

2nd Year Board Members

gwenburzycki Gwen Burzycki

Gwen Burzycki works for Miami-Dade County in the Environmental Resources Department. She received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Botany from the University of Washington. She has a diverse background that includes working as a research assistant for the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (now a branch of Florida Atlantic University) in coral reef and estuarine botany, managing state lands in the Indian River Lagoon for Florida’s Department of Natural Resources (now the Florida Department of Environmental Protection), and conducting environmental planning projects for Miami-Dade County. Her current work for Miami-Dade County includes managing conservation land for the Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program and doing environmental impact assessments. She has been actively involved with invasive plant management issues in South Florida from the first moment she stepped into land management duties, and has been a member of FLEPPC for almost that long.

SarahLaroque Sarah Laroque

Sarah Laroque is a Vice President and Environmental Scientist with EarthBalance®. She has 27+ years of experience working in Southwest Florida in the environmental field. Her work history includes Charlotte County Mosquito Control Biologist, Southwest Florida Water Management District Environmental Scientist – permitting and enforcement, and she has been with EarthBalance® since 1993. Her project experience and project management have focused on wetland delineation and evaluation, biological and ecological assessments, and permitting and permit compliance. Sarah manages business development at EarthBalance® including federal, state and private sector markets. Ms. Laroque holds a BA degree in Environmental Science from SUNY at Plattsburgh, NY with a minor in ecology (land management), is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and has an executive certificate in business from the University of Florida.

gregmacdonald Greg MacDonald

Greg MacDonald is a professor of Weed Science/Agronomy at UF/IFAS and teaches undergraduate and several graduate weed science and crop production courses, including online distance education courses. He investigates the physiology, ecology and management of invasive species, focusing on perennial grasses – cogongrass in particular. He also conducts research on the physiological aspects of herbicides in aquatic systems and mechanisms of herbicide resistance in aquatic plants. He is currently involved in international development with two USAID Peanut Mycotoxin Innovation Laboratory (PMIL) projects in Ghana and Haiti, focusing on peanut production, utilization and value added marketing. He is also the Coordinator of Peace Corps Masters International – CALS.

greggwalker Gregg Walker

Gregg Walker joined the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) in 2014 after 11 years with the Florida Park Service (FPS) serving as the invasive plant coordinator for 171 state parks and trails. Gregg has also worked as a natural lands manager/biologist with the FPS, Seminole County, Orange County, and in private consulting. He has extensive experience in prescribed fire, water quality assessment, habitat restoration, as well as managing invasive plants and animals. Gregg also enjoys collaborating with other organizations to reach common goals. He earned a B.S. in Limnology and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Central Florida with emphasis on upland restoration and landscape ecology.

1st Year Board Members

kristinecampbell Kristine Campbell

Kristine Campbell is a Regional Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Invasive Plant Management Section. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Rollins College. Since graduation, Kristine worked at the Genius Preserve in Winter Park as a restoration specialist and volunteered with Seminole County Natural Lands before joining the FWC team. Her current focus is on upland and aquatic habitats of central Florida. Kristine is also active in several CISMAs and is the Chair of FLEPPC’s Kathy Craddock Burks Education Grant Fund.

jimmylange Jimmy Lange

Jimmy Lange is a botanist with several years of experience working with South Florida plants and ecosystems. Graduating with honors from the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science, Jimmy began his research career studying effects of time-since-fire on foliar nutrients of scrub palmettos under the guidance of the Mack Ecosystem Ecology Lab. He went on to join the Plant Ecology Lab at Archbold Biological Station where he assisted on a number of research projects on several rare plant populations and scrub habitat. He then worked at the Michigan Tech Research Institute where he conducted ground-truthing surveys of Great Lakes wetland plant communities and worked on mapping the invasive Phragmites australis¬. Jimmy is currently completing a master’s degree at Florida Atlantic University where he has been studying impacts of Melaleuca quinquenervia and management practices on plant communities in the northern Everglades under Dr. Brian Benscoter. Jimmy joined the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) in January 2014 working on several projects relating to rare plant research and habitat management, and is a current research associate. During this time he also was a botanist with Keith & Schnars, conducting plant surveys of several mitigation sites. He currently is a field botanist with the South Florida Conservation Team at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden where he continues to work with south Florida plants and ecosystems, primarily focusing on mapping and monitoring of rare species, as well as helping guide management activities that promote native plant diversity.

mikemiddlebrook Mike Middlebrook

Mike Middlebrook Over the past 10 years I have had experience in managing a combined 70,000 acres of Florida’s public lands system from north to south Florida and have worked for a multitude of land management programs including the City of Jacksonville, St. Lucie County, and Broward County. I am a product of the Florida public land acquisition movement of the early 90s and was immersed in land acquisition programs such as Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust at an early age. My interest in Florida peaked in high school, graduating from the Center for Environmental and Architectural Development (CEAD) program. In pursuit of a career in environmental consulting, I graduated from University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with an emphasis on Florida ecology and genetics. While in school, I joined the City of Jacksonville’s Preservation Project which preserves the largest urban park system in the U.S.. I later worked as a Biologist with St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department before being hired as a Natural Resources Specialist II for Broward County. There I enjoyed working on the cuff of the Everglades and gained an added appreciation for obstacles one encounters while working on conservation lands in deep South Florida. I recently returned to St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department as the Natural Resources Land Management Coordinator. I currently assist the Board in managing the County’s 11,000-acre public lands program and provide planning and guidance on a wide array of initiatives such as invasive species management, prescribed fire, habitat restoration/enhancement, and passive recreation. I look forward to the opportunity of being an active member of FLEPPC and I hope that I can contribute to the organization from my experiences.

cody-mariemiller Cody Miller

Cody Miller is the Central Florida invasive species coordinator for The Nature Conservancy. She holds a B.S. in conservation biology from the University of Toledo. Cody started her career as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern at Yellowstone National Park and beyond that has worked as a park ranger for Idaho Parks and Recreation and was the Florida Keys Invasive Species Coordinator for the Institute for Regional Conservation. While in the Keys, Cody was an active member of the Florida Keys Invasive Exotic Task Force and since moving to central Florida has taken on the task of co-chairing the Osceola CISMA.