Sea Turtle Camp Educators
The Sea Turtle Camp team is comprised of expert Marine Science educators and an administrative staff who bring with them professional experience, in-depth knowledge and a broad range of skill sets. Sea Turtle Camp counselors are passionate about marine biology and the study of coastal ecosystems, and they are excited to share this passion with curious campers who have also discovered the importance and wonder of this field.
Employment at Sea Turtle Camp is extremely competitive. We examine hundreds of applications before selecting members of our elite team. All applicants must go through our intense three-part interview process and comprehensive background check. We take only the top candidates and are extremely proud to provide one of the greatest employment opportunities available among summer camps. Upon hiring, all counselors must attend our mandatory staff orientation prior to the start of each season. Required qualifications include American Red Cross certification in Lifeguarding, CPR and First Aid.
Our founder, Jen Civelli, plays a fundamental role in the hiring and training of each team member. Jen has worked as a chemistry instructor at Cape Fear Community College and UNC-Wilmington and has spent many years working with Jean Beasley at the Sea Turtle Hospital. She and her family continue to play a huge role in raising awareness and funds for this amazing organization.
Our mission statement of empowering youth to become independent, proactive stewards of the environment is deeply shared by our team. We are conscious of the fact that without the ocean there is no life on earth. We have dedicated our lives to educating campers about environmental conservation, living a lifestyle that is harmonious with this purpose, and exploring new ways of sharing our mission.
Blair Brannon, Program Coordinator
Blair is from Cornelius, a small town just north of Charlotte, NC. Her parents were avid scuba divers and got her involved when she was just 15 and has been scuba diving all around the world in places like Hawaii, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Florida Keys, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Soon after her introduction to diving, Blair’s interest in the ocean and marine life grew into her passion, which developed into her career.
In 2011, Blair moved to pursue a degree at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). There she studied Environmental Science with a minor in Spanish and volunteered at the NC Fort Fisher Aquarium. Each winter, she spent time in Costa Rica with sea turtle nest excavations and releasing hatchlings, gaining hands on experience. During an internship with the NC Coastal Federation in Wrightsville Beach, Blair found her calling for environmental education and sharing her passion with others. Loving Wilmington so much, she decided to continue her studies and received a Master of Science in Environmental Science, Coastal Management.
Following her graduation in 2017, Blair began her journey with our Surf Camp division becoming Unit Leader for the Guppy and Grom programs during the summer, earning 2017 Counselor of the Year. After that summer season, she worked for UNCW Youth Programs, traveling to schools all around coastal NC teaching classes hands-on marine science lessons.
In her free time Blair can be found traveling, playing soccer or volleyball, spending time at the beach, going to trivia nights, scuba diving, or holding up her ping pong champion status in the office.
Kasey Schollenberger, Travel Program Coordinator
Kasey was born and raised in Toms River, New Jersey. Growing up on the Jersey Shore, she was able to visit the beach year round and develop a true connection to the ocean and all of the related wildlife and ecosystems. At a very young age, she knew that she wanted to spend her life developing her passion for the ocean and marine life.
In 2008, Kasey moved to North Carolina to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). While completing her degree, she volunteered and interned at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Soon after graduating, Kasey interned at the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension Service and Aquarium as an environmental educator. This is where her passion for environmental education flourished. Following that internship, Kasey decided to further her education and returned to UNCW to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in Environmental Science and Coastal Management. Kasey has a wide variety of education experience in the fields of marine and environmental science, which have all deepened her love for public outreach and all things related to the marine environment.
When Kasey isn’t teaching about the ocean, she can be found at the beach reading a book, hiking, kayaking, or doing just about anything outdoors! She is very excited to have found her way back to Wilmington and loves that she gets to spend winters in North Carolina instead of freezing in New Jersey!
Kody Crawford, Camp Director
Kody is from the south shore of Massachusetts. By far, his favorite part of the year is summer. He spent his early summer seasons walking to the local beach with his friends. The only time not spent in the salty cold northern Atlantic was swapped for his fresh water escapades at his beloved childhood summer camp.
Kody considers himself a jack of all trades when it comes to hobbies and interests. He is a master level martial artist, a certified culinary artist, an avid adventure outdoorsman and former guide, (a previous) all scholastic runner, a novice breakdancer, and a decent volleyball player.
But one passion trumps all others – Kody’s passion for camps and youth development. Kody has held numerous roles at different camps. From junior counselor, to outdoor educator, to unit leader, and all the way to full time director, Kody has spent many years embodying the spirit of camp in the pursuit of helping youth find their way. It is for that reason Kody graduated from the honors program at Ithaca College with a degree in Recreation Management. In effort to further support children throughout the year, Kody will be undergoing graduate studies in School Counseling this fall at UMASS Amherst.
Ryan Tucker – Unit Leader (SCUBA)
Ryan’s passion for the ocean and conservation began at an early age. His family enjoyed traveling to many of the country’s national parks and protected lands. Growing up in California, Ryan was never too far from the outdoors. With the Sierra Nevadas to the East and the Pacific Ocean to his West, he was always surrounded by nature. While studying Marine Biology and Kinesiology at Humboldt State University, Ryan found a new passion, swimming with the local flora and fauna of the cool, nutrient-rich waters of the Pacific. When he isn’t swimming with fish or stepping from rock to rock in the intertidal, Ryan enjoys hiking, biking, and adventuring in the great outdoors. This is Ryan’s third summer at STC and he can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. There is so much to see and experience when it comes to the ocean, it is so vast and unexplored… what wonders lie beneath those crashing waves? He hopes you will come join him and find out. Let’s blow some bubbles!
Allison Nedrow – Unit Leader
Allison was born, raised, and now currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Saint Francis University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Aquarium and Zoo Sciences, as well as a minor in Psychology and Biological Scuba Diving. While attending Saint Francis, she interned at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in the education department and the aquarium, working with penguins and a variety of marine fish species which inspired her love of science communication/education and the ocean. Following graduation, Allison was fortunate to obtain an internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center; she says this experience was transformative and influential. She then worked at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo (MD) as a member of the hoofstock animal care staff, caring for over 100+ various species including zebras, ostriches, camels, North American Bison, and alpacas. Allison is now employed at the University of Pittsburgh as an Animal Care and Operations Technician, and is working towards her Master’s in Environmental Education. Because of her attendance of Sea Turtle Camp while in high school, Allison is most excited to inspire and motivate campers to invest in maintaining the ecological balance of our local and international ecosystems. Personally, Allison loves strong iced coffee, fresh donuts and cookies, impressing people with weird and random animal facts, watching college basketball, cooking French cuisine, and spending time with her family. This is her first summer working for Sea Turtle Camp, and Allison is so amped to see her campers have an up close experience with sea turtles!
Courtney King – Unit Leader (Loggerheads)
Courtney is an enthusiastic marine conservationist who is very excited to spend the summer with us at Sea Turtle Camp! After graduating with a degree in Biology, she has been working with nesting sea turtles since May of 2017 on both coasts of Costa Rica and on South Padre Island in Texas. She is now living and working back in Costa Rica with the biggest sea turtle species on the planet, the Leatherback! While in Texas, she also worked in environmental education and loved inspiring young people about the importance of marine conservation and is very excited to do the same here on Topsail. She hopes to encourage young aspiring marine biologists to get out of the comfort zone, go after their dreams, and see the world. Courtney loves spending time outdoors kayaking, hiking, and snowboarding and can’t wait to be a Unit Leader for Sea Turtle Camp 2019!
Emily Derby – Camp Counselor
Emily Derby lives in the North West of England, Liverpool. After recently finishing her time at college studying Biology, Health and Social Care, and Physical Education, she has decided to delay her time with further studies to travel and see the world. She is hoping to eventually complete the 7 wonders of the world, after having already completed one of them a few summers ago. With this being her first time ever working at an American camp and Sea Turtle Camp she can’t wait to come and be part of the team. Emily loves anything to do with adventure with one of her favourite hobbies being skiing. Emily has never shied away from the ocean and is always eager to jump right in. The amount of unknown species that we are still unaware of is mind blowing. Emily is really looking forward to joining us to expand her knowledge of the ocean, the sea turtle population and marine biology during her time as a counselor here at camp.
Zak Trimble – Marine Educator (SCUBA)
Zak is a student and diver living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. After finishing his first degree in Education back in 2014, he spent time as a volunteer firefighter, working with kids in aquatics, and traveling as much as possible. In 2018 he decided to go back to school pursuing a degree in Conservation Biology with the goal of eventually being able to help rebuild and protect marine environments.
Zak grew up on the Great Lakes and has always visited the ocean as much as possible. Growing up swimming, boating, and diving around all of these features has given him a deep love for the water and a desire to help protect it for future generations to enjoy just like he has. Zak is pumped be able to teach the campers about his love of the water and hopefully learn something new from them at the same time.
Gregory Lang – Marine Educator
Growing up, Gregory spent his summers in the surf at the Jersey Shore where he got his first introductions to marine life. In December of 2019, Gregory graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in Marine Science and a minor in Chemistry. While on vacation with his sister, Greg got certified as an Open Water Diver in the Dominican Republic before continuing on to become an Advanced Open Water Diver in Florida. During his time at Coastal, Gregory performed research on urchin populations while diving in Jamaica. Over the summer when he wasn’t at the beach or hiking, Gregory worked as a private swim instructor and lifeguard for several years. Currently, Gregory is working on applying to graduate school programs as a marine scientist with hopes to continue in the field and education. Gregory is excited to spend the summer working with kids and teaching them about marine life and the oceans!
Bri Burris – Marine Educator (Loggerheads)
Bri Burris is from Winston-Salem, NC and attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, with a concentration in conservation, and a minor in sustainability. During college, Bri was actively involved in Plastic Ocean Project, Study Abroad Ambassadors, and Kappa Delta Sorority. Attending college by the coast offered many unique opportunities that helped foster Bri’s passion for the conservation of coastal environments and the wildlife within them.
Bri’s first involvement with sea turtles was in college monitoring for sea turtle nests on Figure Eight Island, NC. Prior to Sea Turtle Camp, Bri worked as an Environmental Educator at Camp Jekyll, a Georgia 4-H facility, on Jekyll Island, GA. During her time at Camp Jekyll, Bri was the caretaker of a two year-old Loggerhead sea turtle named Nicole and a touch tank containing various organisms such as: whelks, hermit crabs, a blue crab, an anemone, a juvenile horseshoe crab, and flounder. In her free time, Bri enjoys traveling, working on her photography, and playing beach volleyball!
Ariel Plotnick – Marine Educator (Loggerheads)
Ariel is a junior at the University of Delaware studying Marine Science with a minor in Wildlife Conservation. Having been named after the Little Mermaid, she has always had a love for the ocean! In her attempts to become a real mermaid, she got certified as an open water scuba diver when she was 16. Ariel grew up going to sleepaway camp in southern Pennsylvania, always wanting to be a lifeguard when she was old enough. She spent 11 years at camp and was a lifeguard for the last two years and a counselor, spending all of her time on the water.
She has interned at the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club as an Invasive Species Intern where she got to help remove invasive species from local parks. While at UD she studied abroad in the Cayman Islands, studying coral reefs and scientific diving for a month. In her free time Ariel loves to read, scuba dive, and bake. She is so excited to combine her love of camp and the ocean and help inspire future marine scientists and scuba divers!
Tara Dixon – Trip Leader (Hawaii)
Tara Dixon is originally from the mid-West, but has always had a love for the ocean and marine life. Tara’s education background is psychology for her undergraduate work and social work for her Master’s degree. Tara’s interest for marine life and the ocean continued to grow through experiences and travels. This led Tara to move to Hawaii after college gaining work experience overseeing an education department at a Hawaiian aquarium. Through this experience Tara worked with youth doing turtle releases, beach clean ups, and leading educational camps. In addition, Tara has experience leading study abroad programs for college students and youth. Tara recently worked as a teen facilitator in the Cayman Islands on a project focused on helping endangered coral reef. Tara currently resides in Nashville and is enjoying working with Big Brothers Big Sisters overseeing teen mentoring programs. Tara is missing the ocean and feeling eager to join Sea Turtle Camp to be surrounded by the ocean and conservation work soon. Tara loves learning by doing and is excited to encourage youth to pursue their passions.
Eric Sliter – Trip Leader (Hawaii)
Eric hails from the landlocked state of Kentucky, where he grew up surrounded by the outdoors on the outskirts of Louisville. Contributing his love for the ocean to frequent beach vacations growing up, he realized that the sea was where he belonged. For the last 6 years he has traveled around the country and internationally to observe parks and ecosystems, working his passions. Hawai’i will be his 50th state visited!
He is an avid snorkeler as well as a NAUI Advanced and Rescue diver who has had the wonderful opportunity to dive in the Bahamas, Channel Islands, Florida Keys, Cozumel, and Similan Islands in Thailand.
He received his Bachelor degree in Bioengineering from the University of Louisville, focusing on biotech with renewable energy and sustainability. With work experience in renewable energy labs, sustainability driven resource research, and outdoor education in marine science he has been able to let his passion for sustainability and nature flourish and share it with others. Enjoying watching growth and inspiring others to care about the ocean, he has worked in the Florida Keys as a Unit Leader at Seacamp and has instructed marine science for Catalina Island Marine Institute. In his free time, Eric can be found snorkeling, hiking, reading a good book outdoors, playing video games, or getting excited about biology.
Jordan Boles – Trip Leader (Hawaii)
Meet Jordan, a second year Sea Turtle Camp counselor with a love for all things adventure and marine related! Jordan has just moved back from the Seychelles of Africa where she was working with Sea Turtles and professionally diving to work with the first electrified Coral Restoration project in the Indian Ocean. Jordan has worked with sea turtles through various marine conservation projects all around the world, but her true passion is advocacy and outreach for marine conservation organizations. Her favorite part of Sea Turtle Camp is working with the campers and watching them become excited about environmental conservation throughout their time at camp.
Olivia Loveday – Trip Leader (Costa Rica)
Olivia has been drawn to water and exploration for about as long as she can remember. She’s gone from sprint to synchronized swimming and fallen in love with scuba and freediving. She decided to study Oceanography at the University of Southampton which has allowed her to get a better grasp of what goes on in our oceans. Along the way, she started contributing to sea turtle conservation around the world and is hooked! She’s worked on research projects in Greece, Florida, and more recently Costa Rica with the Leatherback Trust where she spent 6 months tagging measuring and protecting nesting leatherback, olive ridley and black sea turtles. Over the last year she’s been backpacking around the world, experiencing new cultures and learning new skills like surf instructing in Northern Spain, leading hikes in the snowy mountains of Montenegro and olive picking across the Mediterranean…
Last summer, Olivia loved travelling to Costa Rica to teach amazing teens about the marine environment and how to make a positive impact in the world. She is so excited to be going back and continue educating students about the incredible ecology and environments in Central America and share her crazy adventure stories with everyone. Bring on the patrols, excavations and exploration: Pura vida!
Piper Bartlett-Browne – Trip Leader (Costa Rica)
Piper Bartlett-Browne is a high school science teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, NH. In addition to her teaching, she also leads international school trips each year and runs a science internship program for high school students in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire. Piper has also personally participated in research through the RETE Program where she worked on The Living Bridge Project and was selected as a PolarTREC educator where she participated in Arctic climate change research during the summer of 2019.
Piper’s teaching philosophy is to encourage students to engage in hands-on activities that generate data to investigate the application of academic concepts to real-world scenarios. She seeks to connect her students directly with the scientific community in order to foster enthusiasm and awareness, thus encouraging them to see themselves as genuine contributors to science. Piper has a passion for the outdoors, and living in New Hampshire gives her the opportunity to hike and ski. She enjoys traveling and exploring the underwater world through scuba. Piper is excited for this opportunity and to share her love of travel and conservation with Sea Turtle Camp!