The MDC Team


Chad Truxall

Chad Truxall

Executive Director


I have more than 17 years of experience as a biologist, educator and non-profit manager.

I came to the Marine Discovery Center in 2004 as its Director of Education and now serve as the Executive Director, responsible for the long range vision, mission and strategic direction for the organization. This involves a strong community presence and the implementation of hands-on, feet-wet education, restoration and stewardship programs focused on Florida’s coastal ecology.

I have a B.S.A. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a specialization in Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida. I am a Florida Master Naturalist instructor and coordinate the Florida Coastal Naturalist program. I serve as the coordinator for the Florida region of the Association of Nature Center Administrators and believe that in the future, nature centers will play an increasingly important role in the community. I have more than 9 years of experience as a Volusia County Marine Mammal Stranding Team Member and recently completed a six-month study circle through the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation.

  • B.S. Wildlife Ecology and Conservation- University of Florida
  • Florida Master Naturalist Program, Lead Instructor
  • USCG Certified Crew
  • Lifeguard/First Aid/CPR
  • Boat Safety Course
  • Open Water Diver


Tessa Barnard

Tessa Barnard

Aquarist & Educator


I’m a native Floridian born and raised in DeLand. I’ve always loved animals and had fish tanks growing up (and still currently do!). I’ve always been fascinated by aquariums because it’s almost like a little piece of mother nature right in front of you that not many people get to experience in real life, and to successfully take care of an environment with such demands is mind blowing to me.

I attended Stetson University and graduated with a degree in Aquatic & Marine Biology with minors in Health Sciences and Psychology. I’ve visited MDC in the past on field trips in High School and College and absolutely loved it. I eventually worked here over the summer of 2019 as a camp counselor for the older campers helping them with fishing, surfing and even scuba diving. In the fall of 2020 I was allowed the opportunity to become the aquarist intern, and since then it’s grown into a full time position as an aquarist!

  • B.S. Aquatic & Marine Biology, minors in Health Sciences/Psychology
  • Infant/Child/Adult CPR, First Aid and AED Certified
  • PADI Open Water Diver Certified
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certified
  • PADI Enriched Air Certified
Wendy Castino

Wendy Castino

Marketing & Fund Development Coordinator


I bring 30 years of client service experience with me to the Marine Discovery Center. For the last 20 years I have been in the insurance and financial planning industry with a focus on client service management as well as seminar and event coordinating. I am a firm believer that “people can tell when you’re smiling, even over the phone”. My goal is not only to meet a client’s expectations, but to exceed them.

I moved to New Smyrna Beach three years ago and began volunteering at MDC to obtain a better knowledge of “what is floating and living in the river in front of my house”. My family boats, kayaks and paddleboards regularly on the Indian River and we want to make sure it is taken care of so others can enjoy it for years to come.

  • Vocational degree in Travel Planning
  • 30 years Client Service experience
  • 6 years Seminar and Event Coordinating
  • CPR and First Aid certification
Guy Flick

Guy Flick

Boat Operations and Facilities Coordinator


I am a retired restaurant executive with 31 years’ experience spent managing a 150 unit multi state territory. Upon retirement, I renewed my Captains license and started down a completely different path. First, I started working for several local venues including being an airboat captain for Black Hammock Fish Camp and a Seatow captain locally at Ponce Inlet. I also spent two summers in Alaska as a guide at Yesbay lodge and will continue to go back on a limited basis. I eventually obtained my Florida Master Naturalist – Coastal certificate and worked part time for both Turtle Mound Eco tours and Marine Discovery Center. I came aboard full time at MDC in September 2016 to manage the Boat / kayak operations and facilities management.

  • Vice president Captain D’s Seafood Restaurants 9 years
  • 31 years restaurant experience
  • Master Captain for 5 years
  • Seatow Capt.
  • US Power boat instructor
  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Coastal Systems Certified
  • Fishing Guide NSB and Alaska
Heather Gilder

Heather Gilder

Welcome Center Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator


I have been so incredibly fortunate to have an eclectic, wonderful, adventurous career path. I have helped countless patients within the medical field through being a Transporter, Patient Care Technician and Scope Reprocessing Technician in Radiology, Oncology, and G.I. I have cared for Alzheimer’s Patients throughout the night in a Skilled Nursing Unit, helped patients in Cardiovascular Thoracic Trauma Units, and Surgical Intensive Care Units, and have even provided Hospice and Respite Care for my own family.

Peppered along the way were deep longings to fulfill my childhood dream of working with animals. I did just that in 2011 as I interviewed for a Traineeship that the Walt Disney World Resort had in place for its cast members. After a year and two interviews I was chosen for a prestigious role on the Night Team out of 270 applicants. During my almost four years there, I have worked with many amazing species both directly and indirectly making hundreds of specific diets and specialized enrichment as well as giving animal presentations in front of thousands of guests. I’ve worked on feeding platforms for smaller zoos as well, and I was a Marine Life Educator for SEA LIFE Orlando inspiring guests through dive presentations, feeding experiences and touch pool interactions. I have five years of paid AZA experience, all without a formal degree.

I volunteered with the Marine Science Center’s education, gallery tours, and turtle hospital. I also have volunteered with the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Lake Louisa State Park, 5K’s, NatureFest, and with Operation Migration providing husbandry assistance through Disney’s Conservation Fund in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, I am a current volunteer with NSB Turtle Trackers, and it was through this role that I came to find the Marine Discovery Center.

I participated in the 2019 Lagoonacy festivities. I walked out by the salt marsh during one of my breaks and I thought to myself, where has this been my whole life? I never want to leave! So I jumped right in, got hands-on, feet wet and took my first Florida Master Naturalist Course. I’m also completely obsessed with making oyster mats!

I am grateful to work with and learn from our dedicated Welcome Center Volunteers each day. I love the opportunity that I have been given to blend all of my skills and experience in order to create the most welcoming, educational, and unforgettable memories for you and your family and friends. So here I am world… excited, inspired, and waiting to share my passion for animals and conservation with all of you. You truly will discover AMAZING!

  • The President’s Volunteer Service Award, 2012
  • Certified Nursing Assistant, May 2001-2005 & May 2016-2019
  • Home Health Aide, 2016-2019
  • First Aid Certified, 2018-present
  • Tunnel Tend Trained, 2018-present
  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Coastal Shoreline Restoration Certified
Tess Sailor-Tynes

Tess Sailor-Tynes

Conservation Science Specialist & Educator


Since sophomore year of high school, I strived for a future in marine conservation. I made the move from San Antonio, Texas to Florida in 2013, when I started at Rollins College. During my collegiate career, I took an internship with the Marine Science Center as a part of their Artificial Reef Research Team. Additionally, I was involved in NCAA athletics as a Cross Country runner, was a member of Eco Rollins, and worked on projects that were dedicated to urban farming and sustainability. I graduated in May of 2017 with a degree in Environmental Studies, with a focus in Marine Conservation.

My journey with Marine Discovery Center started in May of 2018, when I accepted a position as a Summer Camp Counselor. After completing 11 successful weeks of Summer Camp exploration, I joined the Boat and Kayak Guide team to expand my passion for educating the community about conservation efforts in our local ecosystems. Each excursion on the IRL is different and I never get tired of seeing all of the incredible species that call this place their home.

When I’m not at work, I spend time working on photography projects, cooking up new recipes, or running on the beach. I love being outside and I’m so fortunate to have a job that allows me to combine lifelong learning with personal gratification.

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies
  • Project WET Certified
  • First Aid & CPR Certified
Laura Stapleton

Laura Stapleton

Welcome Desk Associate


I grew up on Long Island in New York and always had a love for nature and the outdoors. I stumbled upon Marine Discovery Center when I moved to New Smyrna Beach in 2017 and began taking the Florida Master Naturalist Classes in 2018. Volunteering at MDC was just a natural progression and I’ve loved every minute of it.

My real passion is turtles, all species of turtles. When I moved to New Smyrna Beach I began to volunteer with the New Smyrna Beach Turtle Trackers and now I help conduct the daily surveys and document the nesting activity on our local beaches during the nesting season. I feel privileged to work with this outstanding group and contribute to the data collection of these endangered and threatened species.

I’m very excited to join the MDC team and bring my passion and experience to help our visitors and locals learn about all the wonders of nature here in Florida.

  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Certified in Coastal Systems, Freshwater Systems, Upland Systems, Environmental Interpretation, Conservation Science, and Wildlife Monitoring
  • Founder – Volusia Friends of the Florida Master Naturalist Program
  • New Smyrna Beach Turtle Tracker Volunteer
Traci Trusler

Traci Trusler

Communications and Data Specialist


My career path has been a winding, curving, interesting road on which I’ve toured people around historic homes, driven sightseeing trolleys through St. Augustine, welcomed visitors at Walt Disney World, and instructed people to stretch and bend themselves into various yoga poses. A native Ohioan who was fortunate enough to grow up with a second family home in New Smyrna, I moved to Florida permanently in 2012 and began volunteering and then working at MDC. I do have my official duties of course, but if you happen to see a chick in a mermaid tail around here, that’s probably me too. In fact, some people know me first and foremost as Mermaid Traci.

In addition to the above I am a mommy to a feline furbaby and a tankful of freshwater fishies, and I spend absolutely as much time as I can with my husband, Scott.  I am a lover of theme parks, camping, music, history, and exploring interesting and quirky places. Odds are if you can’t find me I’m very likely with Scott either wandering around EPCOT or at home laughing hysterically at episodes of MST3K.

  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Coastal Systems Certified
  • B.A. History, B.S. Recreational Therapy
  • “Certified” Mermaid – Sirens of the Deep Camp, Weeki Wachee
Jessy Wayles

Jessy Wayles

Conservation Science Coordinator


I am a graduate from University of Central Florida with a B.S. Environmental Science, and I bring over twelve years of professional and volunteer experience to the Marine Discovery Center. I expanded my interest in environmental science through a variety of volunteer work including relocating sea turtle nests, tagging and measuring sea turtles, and assisting with data collection on fresh water turtles in Florida’s springs.

My love of nature has compelled me to complete the all three Florida Master Naturalist Programs, earning myself the title of Florida Master Naturalist. I have been an interpretive ranger at Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina and am continually involved in finding ways to secure the health of the Indian River Lagoon and its habitat by being a member of the Citizen Action Committee at IRL NEP.

When I am not working to make the IRL a healthy  habitat, you can find me at the skating rink playing roller derby under the name “Spikey Wayles” or getting lost in one of Florida’s beautiful and unique ecosystems.

  • BS- Environmental Science, University of Central Florida
  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Freshwater Certified, Coastal Systems Certified, and Upland Systems Certified
  • Chairperson for the Atlantic High School A.E.M.S. Academy Advisory Board
  • Member of the Indian River Lagoon Council Citizens Advisory Committee
  • Turtle enthusiast!


Lisa Mickey

Lisa Mickey

Boat Narrator & Copy Writer


I was the kid who kept a cricket cage on my bedroom windowsill at night to sing me to sleep and who sometimes chased escaped box turtles under my bed. I spent an entire childhood tromping in the North Carolina woods, quietly observing wildlife from my treehouse, romping on the beaches, rappelling down mountain rock faces, crawling into caves and catching peeks from the local Audubon chapter’s viewing scopes in my teens. That was my real education in nature, formalized years later with classes and instruction that taught me the names of things I had always seen and heard. Decades later as a certified naturalist, I find that my role in environmental interpretation is still like giant “Show & Tell” from elementary school. It’s more scientific now, but the goal is the same – to explore the wonders of nature and to feel supremely blessed by sharing a planet with such living diversity. I can’t think of a place I’d rather be than sitting in a kayak on the Indian River Lagoon watching dolphins and manatees, strolling down a sun-splashed beach kissed by sea foam, riding a bike while trying to watch a soaring osprey or plant-nibbling gopher tortoise, or hiking in Merritt Island with binoculars, hoping and praying that a Florida Scrub-Jay will come say hello.

  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Advanced Master Naturalist & Florida Land Steward Certification
  • Florida Master Naturalist Assistant Instructor
  • ACA Certified Kayak Instructor
  • USCG Certified Crew
  • U.S. Power Squadrons Paddle Smart certification
  • Former Adopt-An-Estuary program coordinator
  • B.A English, High Point University, North Carolina
  • Graduate Studies in Literature, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
  • Veteran newspaper, magazine journalist
  • 3-time national award winner – Golf Writers Assoc. of America
  • Certified in First Aid & CPR
Jeannie Asby

Jeannie Asby

Boat Narrator

As a Florida native, I grew up loving all things “nature.”  After graduating from Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, married life detoured my college path.  When 4 sons came along I couldn’t even see the path!  I home-educated our sons, frequently using the outdoors as our classroom, and watched their fascination and appreciation for nature grow.  When they all graduated I returned to school and received my Nursing degree, but after working as an R.N. for just over a year I went back to my first love.  I completed the Florida Master Naturalist core classes, where I finally met other “nature nuts” like me.  With an empty nest, my husband and I quit our “real” jobs and we are following our passions.  For him, music; for me, nature.

I’m constantly amazed by this incredible world we’ve been given and I love to share the discoveries of creation with others, especially children (my grandkids included)! I believe the first step toward conservation and preservation is education.  When people experience nature, they connect to it, and they want to take care of it.  MDC is all about those same things!  Come join us!  I can’t wait to see all we can do TOGETHER to be good stewards of the Indian River Lagoon, a place of beauty, fascination, and tranquility for us… and the next generation.

  • Florida Master Naturalist, certified Coastal, Freshwater, and Uplands. Special topics pending.
  • Florida’s Natural Element, LLC, owner
  • FWC – Project WILD Facilitator/Trainer
  • Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, member
  • Space Coast Regional Chapter of Florida Master Naturalists, member
  • Registered Nurse, A.S. in Nursing, Daytona State College
  • American Canoe Association, member
  • ACA Level I and II Kayak Instructor Certification
Bob Creedon

Bob Creedon

Boat Narrator & Kayak Guide

After 30 plus years in Corporate America, I have retired and finally made more time to pursue my passion: Nature. In my prior careers, I worked at a large Corporation, both in Finance and IT roles, with the last 20 years in leadership positions.

I have lived fulltime in New Smyrna Beach for the past four years and owned a duplex here previously. I am an avid kayaker and hiker, and love exploring new trails, and have spent many afternoons on the waters of the Indian River Lagoon.

  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Certified in Coastal Systems, Freshwater Systems and Upland Systems
  • Member of the Friends of the FMNP – Volusia County
  • Nature Editor for NSB Guide website
  • Recent new member to the Volusia County Washback Watchers (Sea Turtles)
  • Created the Sugar Mill Ruins guided nature trail
  • Self-proclaimed Epiphyte expert
James Engelbrecht

James Engelbrecht

Boat Narrator & Kayak Guide

I have spent winters in New Smyrna Beach since 2011. I moved here full time in 2020 and really enjoy spending time exploring the nature of this area and what it has to offer. I am currently a self-employed photographer specializing in travel/tourism and wildlife/nature photography. I started at the Marine Discovery Center as soon as I moved here as a naturalist guide for the kayak and boat tours. I am a Coastal Systems Naturalist and am working to complete my Florida Master Naturalist program through the University of Florida.

I have a BFA in Communication Design/Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I have worked as an Art Director in Advertising and at Parker Brothers Games. I was a Creative Director and Photographer in the travel industry. As a professional photographer, I have been on many photo assignments in Europe and the United States for deluxe travel companies.

I spent 14 years as a Boy Scout leader teaching ecology, nature, outdoor skills and nature activities. This included many field trips, canoeing, hikes and extended wilderness camping and summer camp in New England.

I love being on the water and am a skilled kayaker and spent summers sailing on the Charles River as a member of Community Boating in Boston, MA. I have completed the USCG Coastal Navigation course.

Bob Hazelton

Bob Hazelton

Boat Narrator & Kayak Guide

I count myself as a Native Floridian courtesy of my dad being in the US Navy and me being born in Jacksonville. Since then, I have been in-and-out of Florida 6 times and have lived in 9 Florida cities.

My introduction to the Marine Discovery Center happened when I took the Coastal Systems course on my way to completing my Florida Master Naturalist certification. I remember sitting in the classroom and thinking that working for the MDC would be a lot of fun.

I spent nearly 40 years working for software companies and am very fortunate to have been able to change careers at 59 ½. My training in public speaking and instruction really became a labor of love when I began volunteering for the US Forest Service and the National Parks while living in southern California. Being a volunteer is the best job you’ll never get paid for.

After moving to the area, I was excited to see an opening for a Kayak Guide. I am thrilled to have been hired and take pride in doing all I can to support the mission of the Marine Discovery Center.

  • Florida Master Naturalist – Coastal, Freshwater, Upland Systems. Special topics – Conservation Science and Coastal Restoration.
  • Certified Interpretive Guide via National Association for Interpretation
  • Florida Water Tours & Florida Water Warriors, First Mate/ Interpretive Guide
  • Leave No Trace Master Educator
  • Leave No Trace State Advocate – California
  • Anastasia State Park, volunteer Bird Steward
  • US Forest Service, Wilderness Ranger and Trail Boss (volunteer)
  • National Park Service, Volunteers In Parks – Joshua Tree National Park, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (Historic Weapons Crew) and Fort Matanzas National Monument
  • Served on the board of directors for several local and national nature-based organizations
Melissa Landreville

Melissa Landreville

Boat Narrator & Kayak Guide

Being a native Floridian, I have come to truly appreciate and love the natural diversity our state has to offer. After graduating from New Smyrna Beach High School (where Marine Discovery Center is now), I went on to study health communication at the University of Florida. Soon after graduation, I was able to acquire enough experience to open and operate a medical transcription service. My strong desire to continue learning put me on the path to University of Central Florida where I earned my master’s degree in health services administration. Technology changed the landscape of the medical transcription industry so I then ventured into elementary education. Through several years of teaching children, I have developed a keen awareness for the environment and how much we need to protect and preserve it. This inspired me to learn how to paddleboard so I could get out on the water as much as possible and view it from a completely new perspective.

Observing wildlife in the Indian River Lagoon and other water bodies has filled me with the need to make a difference by educating others about this unique state. Countless manatee encounters solidified my love for them as well and how much we need to protect them. Becoming a volunteer for the Florida Parks Service at Blue Spring State Park and for the Save the Manatee Club in the past several years has helped me in this realm. In the spring, summer and fall, I am privileged to be a Manatee Observer in a kayak as well as on the boardwalk educating the public about the manatees and the importance of protecting them and their habitat. During the winter, I am able to spend time in the Manatee Rover program educating the public about the manatees and the importance of their warm water refuge.

A few great friends told me about the Florida Master Naturalist Program. I have completed the modules for the Coastal Systems and the Uplands Systems. Soon after the conclusion of the Coastal Systems module, I began volunteering at MDC. It has been terrific to learn in greater detail about how special this area is and to give back to the community in which I grew up. I am very excited for this opportunity to be a kayak tour guide.

Aside from volunteering and teaching, I enjoy adventures with my family and friends, paddleboarding, observing manatees, kayaking, hiking, camping, exploring local, state and national parks, and running.

  • UF/IFAS Florida Master Naturalist Program – Coastal and Uplands Systems certified
  • FWC Project WILD certified
  • FWC Aquatic WILD certified
  • Volunteer, Florida State Parks and Save the Manatee Club
  • Member, Friends of Volusia County Florida Master Naturalist Program
  • Primary Teacher, Volusia County Schools
  • Owner, Expert Transcription, LLC
  • B.A. Health Communication, University of Florida
  • M.S. Health Services Administration, University of Central Florida
  • Graduate, Daytona State College, Education Bridge Program
  • Completion/Certification, Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water Online Boating Safety Course, approved by National Association of Boating Law Administrators
  • Completion/Certification, Department of Environmental Protection, Advanced Kayak Training
Jasmine Schwadron

Jasmine Schwadron

Boat Narrator

I grew up in Port Orange and my very best childhood memories were at the local beaches and waterways. I went to camps at the Marine Discovery Center and the Marine Science Center from a young age and these really sparked my passion for marine science and conservation. I remember the first time I went kayaking with manatees, the first time I went seine netting, and the first time I looked at plankton under a microscope. I knew I wanted to go into Marine Biology after those incredible experiences. I spent a lot of time during my teenage years volunteering at both of these places as well. I was employed at the MDC in 2015 and 2016 for summer camp after volunteering the prior three summers. This was such a fun and rewarding experience.

I studied Marine Sciences at the University of Florida and graduated with my degree in May 2019. I had amazing experiences in college like doing research on coral reef ecosystems abroad, doing an internship at the Marine Science Center, working in a marine invertebrate lab at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and being President of the Marine Biology Club. After college, I completed internships at The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot working in aquatic animal husbandry and Nature Coast Biological Station doing fish and seagrass surveys along with education. I also worked briefly at Seaworld as an educator. I learned so much from each one of these experiences.

I am extremely passionate about marine conservation and love educating people about the wonders of the natural world. In my free time I love to scuba dive, go to concerts and music festivals, go camping, travel somewhere new, or binge watch Netflix.

  • Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences with a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida
  • SSI Open Water Scuba Diver
  • NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver
  • NAUI Rescue Diver
  • NAUI Nitrox Diver
  • AAUS Science Diver
  • DAN CPR, AED, BBP, E-O2, and Aquatic Injuries


Walt Hangen

Walt Hangen

Boat Captain

Having spent a good portion of my early years on an undeveloped island on the coast of New Jersey I learned about the land and sea, its inhabitants, the environment and how they related to each other. This was long before the study of Ecology became formalized. Throughout my working career with the US Public Health Service and 35 years in a Rental Equipment business I was always involved in some sort of activity around water and nature and sharing my learning and experiences with family and others. Following a move to New Smyrna Beach, I was fortunate to obtain my captain’s license, work for the National Park Service and learn about the Florida Master Naturalist Program and Marine Discovery Center. I was hooked on the chance to continue learning about the things I love and be able to share the excitement with others. I am thankful for such opportunities! I hope to be able to continue to serve in these activities for the foreseeable future.

  • B.S. Science, Biology & Chemistry
  • US Public Health Service, local, regional and national positions
  • Advanced classes in Public Administration and Management
  • Owned & Operated W H Rental Corp (Tools, Equipment & Party) 35 years
  • USCG Master Captain, 50 Ton and Towing Endorsement
  • Red Cross Water Safety Instructor
  • Park Ranger, Canaveral National Seashore, NPS
  • VIP, Canaveral National Seashore, NPS
  • Certified First Aid & CPR
  • Florida Master Naturalist Program – Coastal Systems Certified
Gary Kessler

Gary Kessler

Boat Captain

My love of the ocean dates back to my childhood growing up on southern California beaches. I became a certified SCUBA diver as a teenager in the late-1960s largely due to an interest in discovering old ship wrecks. I went to college to study oceanography but got distracted by mathematics and computer science, but I have pretty much always lived near water, including 33 years on Vermont’s Lake Champlain between 1977 and 2012. I started boating in the early 1990s, eventually becoming a SCUBA instructor and USCG boat captain. I have lived in Florida since 2012 and am getting accustomed to a new type of marine life, and starting to get back into my basic diving interest of maritime history and archaeology, volunteering with the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). I continue to love any activity that puts me on, in, or under the water.

I am also a cybersecurity consultant, educator, and researcher, a field in which I have been involved since the late-1970s (and it continues to be a growth industry). My primary focus is on maritime cybersecurity.

  • USCG Licensed Captain (50 GT Master and Tow Assist)
  • USCG Auxiliary Coxswain
  • PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer (specialties include Underwater Naturalist, Goliath Grouper, and Lionfish)
  • First Aid/CPR
  • B.A., Mathematics; M.S., Computer Science; Ph.D., Computing Technology in Education
  • Professor of Cybersecurity, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (retired)
Connie Mann

Connie Mann

Boat Captain

I’ve been a licensed captain since 2006 and have spent the last 15 years introducing students and guests from around the world to the crystal-clear beauty of Silver Springs and the Silver River in Ocala, Florida. I drove glass bottom boats at Silver Springs for over 8 years and spent 13 years as the lead captain and head of the boat program for the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center, which is part of Marion County Public Schools. What a privilege to introduce boat-loads of school children to their first alligator or manatee, and get them excited about nature and conservation.

I am also a published author and write suspense and adventure fiction, much of it set in Florida. Both my Florida Wildlife Warriors and my Safe Harbor suspense series are set in the sunshine state and help showcase the beauty and diversity of our beautiful state.

Hubby and I recently relocated to this part of Florida and I’m delighted to be part of the Marine Discovery Center’s boat program. I love the Center’s mission of exploration, conservation and education and am excited to be part of the team.

  • USCG Master Captain (25 ton)
  • Certified CPR/First Aid
  • BA International Ministries
Doug Marcella

Doug Marcella

Boat Captain

Having grown up on the Atlantic Ocean off Massachusetts, and buying my first boat at 12, it seemed natural to join the US Navy after graduating high school. My time serving on the USS Point Loma took me throughout the Pacific Ocean, receiving the National Defense Service Medal. I spent the next 30 years as a commercial fisherman, captaining my own boats from Gloucester Mass to the Outer Banks of NC.

After retiring from fishing in 2010, I worked as a Private Investigator for Liberty Mutual and UPS. In 2017, my wife and I sold our house and bought a 68” Hatteras in Beaufort, SC which we lived on and traveled the ICW and to the Bahamas before settling in New Smyrna Beach in late 2019. During this time, we chartered our vessel, delivered boats and did sea trials.

We really love New Smyrna Beach and look forward to working with the Marine Discovery Center.

  • USCG Licensed Captain (100 ton with Tow Endorsement)
  • FCC Radio Operator License
  • FCC Radar License
  • First Aid/CPR Certified
  • Scuba Diving Certification
  • Licensed Private Investigator
  • US Navy – Honorable Discharge
Bill Mead

Bill Mead

Boat Captain

My wife and I moved to NSB in 2017 after raising three children in central NC. I obtained my love for the water growing up in this area before moving north as a teenager. As a Navy and Coast Guard veteran I wanted to return to a career on the water and obtained my 100 Ton Master License in order to follow that dream. Leading tours on the Discovery allows me to get back on these waters and share so many of the wonderful things I remember seeing as a child on the lagoon.

George Texter

George Texter

Boat Captain

I owned a graphics business in Buffalo NY for 34 years. I raised three girls, paid for the their education, retired and moved to Ponce Inlet, Fl. I hold a fifty ton masters license and enjoy driving for the MDC.


Lois Reed

Lois Reed



I am a lifelong naturalist. I worked as a Wilderness Survival Instructor at Project U.S.E., as well as studying and adventuring with Outward Bound and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School).

Since moving to Florida I have earned my certifications as a Florida Naturalist in Coastal and Freshwater systems.

I returned to college in 2003 to earn my certification as a website designer. My art degree from The School of Visual Arts in NYC has served me well in my website design. I built and now maintain the MDC website. I create websites at Lois Reed Designs & sell my mixed media art at local shops and galleries. I also teach nature art in New Smyrna Beach, FL.

discover amazing white

"To protect and restore the Florida coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."