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.

jimmylange Jimmy Lange, Chair-Elect
Field Botanist
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Office: 305.667.1651, x 3515
Cell: 954.254.1020
Email: jlange@fairchildgarden.org

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.

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
St. Lucie County, Environmental Resources Department
E-mail 1: aimee.lz.cooper@gmail.com
E-mail 2: coopera@stlucieco.org
Work Phone: 772-462-6440

Aimee Cooper completed her BA in 2005 in Life Science with a concentration in Biology at Otterbein University, a small liberal arts college in Westerville, OH. She worked with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency conducting site inspections and cataloging hazardous waste materials before moving to Gainesville, FL that same year. She took a biological scientist position at the University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants where she provided assistance for the ecological and biological analyses of numerous invasive plant species throughout the state of Florida. In 2008 she shifted to coordinator for the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (IFAS Assessment), a literature-based assessment tool that evaluates the invasion risk of resident non-native species, the invasive potential of new species proposed for introduction, and agricultural/horticultural hybrids, cultivars, and varieties. In 2014 she had the opportunity to transition into a new field at UF’s Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) working on two projects: 1) examining the efficacy of copepods as biocontrol organisms for mosquito populations; and 2) investigating exotic bromeliads and their ability to provide an ideal breeding habitat for mosquitoes. Aimee recently accepted an appointment with St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department in the Environmental Regulations Division (ERD).

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).

Board of Directors

2nd Year Board Members

greggwalker Gregg Walker

Gregg got his start with the Florida Park Service as a Biologist at the Wekiva River Basin State Parks in 2001 focusing primarily on invasive plant control, water quality/quantity issues, prescribed burning, and local development concerns. He was promoted to the Bureau of Natural and Cultural Resources (BNCR) in 2009 where he established a statewide committee to develop an invasive plant database to manage invasive plant survey and treatment information. Gregg left BNCR in 2014 for an opportunity to work with Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) at Florida State University. After conducting invasive plant surveys across the state for FNAI for three years, Gregg has returned as the Natural Resources Supervisor position with BNCR.

Gregg also has land management experience with Seminole County, Orange County and UCF as well as permitting experience with St. Johns River Water Management District and seven years of private consulting. Gregg has a BS in Limnology, an MS in Biology, and worked on his Ph.D. in Conservation Biology all from UCF.

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.

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.

1st Year Board Members

CraigVanDerHeiden Craig van der Heiden

Craig van der Heiden is a conservation biologist and restoration ecologist working as the Fish and Wildlife Director for the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. He completed advanced degrees at Florida Atlantic University in Environmental Science (MS, 2005) and Integrative Biology - Ecology (Ph.D., 2012) studying the relocation of rhino in a sanctuary in Malawi, Africa, and the distribution and movement patterns of slough crayfish in the Central Everglades, respectively. Craig puts his diverse background into practice through research and applied management projects on rare and endangered flora and fauna as well as ecological restoration projects in Florida’s ecosystems. His work includes invasive species removal, the application of fire within ecosystem management, demographic studies on rare species, and vegetation responses to climate change.

ErickRevuelta Erick Revuelta

Erick Revuelta is a Scientist with the St. Johns River Water Management District. He graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Environmental Science. He has worked in natural resource planning, land resource management and permitting in the public and private sectors throughout the State of Florida. His current work includes performing formal wetland jurisdictional determinations, reviewing environmental resource applications and providing technical support and plant identification trainings to District staff. He has lead graminoid field identification and plant identification workshops in South and North Florida and volunteers with the South Florida Conservation Team at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

BrianLockwood Brian Lockwood

Brian Lockwood is currently the leader of the NPS Florida/Caribbean Exotic Plant Management Team based in Palmetto Bay. In this position, he oversees hiring/supervision of the team members and a program that provides invasive plant management services to 15 parks in Florida and the Caribbean. Brian assists these parks and numerous partners with technical guidance, data management, contracting and agreements, compliance, training and education activities, and other aspects of running a successful invasive plant management program. Brian is a graduate of the University of West Florida, with a B.S. in Biology. He began his federal career in natural resources management with the NPS at Biscayne NP in 1991 where he worked for10 years. He then held positions with USFWS in the Florida Keys as a Marine Biologist and in Oklahoma as an Assistant Refuge Manager. In 2009 he returned to the NPS at Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas as Preserve Biologist and finally as the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Plant Management Team Liaison in Virginia from 2012 until 2016, before assuming his present duties with the FLC EPMT in 2016.

KatharineMurray Katharine Murray

Katharine Murray has 25+ years of experience in environmental science and planning. She is the owner and CEO of Environmental Quality, Inc. (EQI), founded in 1990. EQI’s focus is environmental consulting and contracting with emphasis on exotic vegetation management, native habitat restoration, water quality, and island ecosystems. Many of her projects include wetland delineation, natural resource assessment, and native plant propagation. EQI has offices in Jupiter/Tequesta FL and Honolulu, HI. Katharine received her degree in Oceanographic Technology from Florida Institute of Technology in Jensen Beach, FL and studied biology with emphasis in agricultural science at Berry College in Rome, GA. Katharine is a Licensed Environmental Professional with NAEP, a certified Infrastructure Preparedness Specialist, and is Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Planning Commission.