"Pine Tree" Paul Arthur
President, Nokuse Education, Inc.
Director, E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
An entrepreneur turned naturalist/educator; Paul has been with the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center since 2010. Before moving to the Panhandle in 2009 from Birmingham, Alabama, Paul owned and operated a moving/delivery company that provided nationwide services commercially and privately. He also owned a local coffee shop in the southern part of Birmingham.
After the successful sales of both of his companies, Paul and his family decided to pick up and move to their favorite vacation spot; the Florida Panhandle. It didn’t take long for Paul to get involved in the community. He became a Cub Scout pack leader, joined the board of the Walton County School District Advisory Council and found his passion for educating children by working at Van R. Butler Elementary School as a substitute teacher and also as a Paraprofessional.
Paul then joined the team at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center as a part-time educator and soon was promoted after that. Paul is currently the President of Nokuse Education Inc. and Director of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. The Biophilia Center is the perfect spot for Paul to share his enthusiasm of the outdoors by teaching future generations the importance of conservation and preservation.
Paul lives in Freeport with his wife Heather and their three children: D.R., Lindy and Lillie.
Dalton was born in Panama City, FL. where his parents taught him to love the outdoors and everything that is a part of it. He went to Huntingdon College and earned a B.S. in General Biology while playing soccer and tennis for the college. After college he starting volunteering with the E.O. Wilson Center, where they offered him a job as an Environmental Educator/ Wildlife Biologist in September of 2009. Dalton became the Assistant Director of the center in 2018.
Jessica was born in Arkansas and raised in Texas, Jessica attended El Paso Community College where she studied Business Administration. In her time away from the Biophilia Center, Jessica enjoys traveling and spoiling her 3 year old West Highland Terrier, Ava. As a U.S. Air Force spouse, Jessica has had the opportunity to live in many different places, and is excited to embark on this new adventure in Florida and with the E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center.
"Turtle" Bob Walker
Florida Natural History Guru/ Director of Herpetology
Turtle Bob grew up in south Florida with the Everglades close by. This started his life long affinity for being a naturalist in the company of alligators, snakes, frogs, and of course turtles. In 2007 he came to Nokuse plantation to expand his work by studying the gopher tortoise and working on rescue and relocation projects. In 2009 he also became employed at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center and is now living his dream by spending his days with reptiles, amphibians, and young people that share his enthusiasm of natural history.
"Longleaf" Laura Sell
Formerly from Colorado, Laura moved to Freeport, FL in 2004. Her background is in Ornamental Horticulture and has a special interest in native plants and composting. At the Biophilia Center, Laura continues to learn and teach about the biodiversity of our area. Laura is a Master Gardener, is working on completing her Master Naturalist certification and also enjoys painting faux finishes and trompe l'oeil as a hobby.
"Bluegill" Jill Southerland
Environmental Educator/Mammal Director
Jillian has lived in Freeport since 2000, a Freeport High School graduate. Her passion for animals led her to work at a local veterinarian and equestrian center. In 2008 she graduated from University of West Florida with a degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. After teaching in Gulf and Walton County she came to the Biophilia Center where she is an Environmental Educator and Volunteer Coordinator. Jillian enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, kayaking and photography.
"Armadillo" Ashlyn Stanford
Birds of Prey Handler/ Mammal Handler
Ashlyn is a Okaloosa County native, graduating for Fort Walton Beach High School and completing an Associates Degree from Northwest Florida State College. She found a love for animals early on and continued her passion while volunteering for the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge on Okaloosa Island. She continued her education and acquired a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies from Florida State University. While in Tallahassee she continued to do her part by volunteering with the Florida Wild Mammal Association in Crawfordville before joining the amazing team here at the E.O Wilson Biophilia Center. In her free time she surrounds herself with more nature by paddle boarding with her dog Truman, scuba diving, and trekking the beautiful local trails.
"Mushroom" Matt Hamilton
Matt joined the Biophilia team in November 2019. A Massachusetts native, Matt graduated from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a B.S in Conservation Biology in 2016. Focusing primarily on aquatics, Matt worked for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation rehabilitating Muskellunge populations, performing habitat assessments, analyzing water samples, and performing population dynamic surveys in upstate New York. Matt followed up this work with the Nature Conservancy, working on Piping Plover nesting survival, and assessing the efficacy of Long Island culverts in the face of rising sea levels. Now part of the team, Matt will be working within the birds of prey program; and focusing his teaching on water testing and aquatic remediation.
"Cricket" Krysta Ponek
Assistant Camp Director
Krysta was born in Montana, grew up in California, moved to Florida during high school, and then headed up north to New York and Pennsylvania for college. She received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies at Saint Francis University and took part in their athletics program as a division one water polo athlete. After graduating in 2018, she moved home to the Panhandle and joined the State Park Service for one year. Krysta became part of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia family in August of 2019 and is eager to share her love of life and nature with others. In her free time, she enjoys staying active, being with her family, and playing with her pups, Poseidon and Boomerang.
Jennifer is an Environmental Educator and assists with the Reptile Program at the Biophilia Center. She grew up in the Mid-Atlantic (Dela-where?), arrived in South Florida after Hurricane Andrew and eventually relocated to South Walton County with her family. Jennifer spent many years leading environmental education tours of the Indian River Lagoon on the Treasure Coast, teaching about the ecological biodiversity of one of the largest and most diverse estuary systems in Florida while working at a marine science center. Jennifer has her Master Naturalist and Master Wildlife Conservationist Certifications from the University of Florida. Jennifer loves to travel, hike and spend time on the water, especially on the coastal dune lakes near her home.