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MBNMS Education & Outreach Staff

picture of Amity WoodAmity Wood

Education and Outreach Coordinator
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
99 Pacific Street, Bldg. 455A
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 647-4255

As the Education and Outreach Coordinator, Amity guides the sanctuary’s education team in the implementation of strategic and annual planning for education programs, including overseeing the development, dissemination and evaluation of education and outreach activities, products, signage, and exhibits for visitor centers that promote stewardship and protection of sanctuary resources.

Amity holds over 20 years’ experience in the development and delivery of science education and teacher training programs across a wide spectrum of organizations. Prior to working with MBNMS, Amity served for ten years as the Director of Camp SEA Lab, a youth marine science program at Cal State University Monterey Bay. In addition, Amity worked to implement education programs at USC Wrigley Marine Science Center, Catalina Island Marine Institute, and Farallones Marine Sanctuary, building ocean knowledge and stewardship for future generations.

Amity graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, and earned a Master of Arts in Education from University of San Francisco. When not educating the public about ocean conservation, Amity enjoys spending time kayaking, surfing, and SCUBA diving in sanctuary waters.

picture of Michele RoestMichele Roest

Southern Region Community Liaison
(805) 927-2145

Michele is a biologist, science educator and interpretive planner. Her government agency work as a biologist includes the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and California Department of Fish & Game.

As a science educator, Michele has taught biological concepts for K-12 and is a biology instructor at the college level. Michele is a lead instructor for the UC California Naturalist Program and teaches the course at Cuesta College. As a curriculum developer, Michele works with environmental education organizations to develop education programs that are consistent with national and state science standards.

As an interpretive planner and project manager, Michele works with government agencies, nonprofits and private businesses to develop science-based outreach and education programs and products. Verified work examples include multi-year education plans, nature center exhibits, science-based signage plans, and ecotourism programs.


picture of Sophia BarwegenSophia Barwegen

Coastal Discovery Center Coordinator
(805) 927-2145

Sophia serves the Coastal Discovery Center Coordinator and oversees volunteer, education, and public programs, while managing the operational needs and local partnerships. She is a recent graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Environmental Management and Protection with a minor in Biology. Sophia formerly served as the social media and communications intern for the sanctuary and has interpretive experience from working in the commercial guiding industry in Yosemite. Growing up in the Bay Area allowed her to explore the beauty of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and to become passionate about protecting natural marine resources








picture of Lisa UttalLisa Uttal

Education and Outreach Specialist
(831) 420-3669

Lisa develops science-based education programs, interactive exhibits, and film that use her marine research and education background to deliver STEM experiences to a broad audience, with a goal to instill behavior change that results in ocean stewardship. Lisa heads up a Plankton Monitoring Program which is implemented along the sanctuary's coast. She also created the Voices of the Bay Fisheries curriculum as well as a California Salmon traveling exhibit, a Sanctuary Soundscape exhibit and a whaling exhibit. From 2007-2012, Lisa was NOAA's Project Manager along with City of Santa Cruz Economic Development for the design, development and construction of MBNMS Sanctuary Exploration Center (SEC), a LEED Gold facility. From 2012-2015, Lisa was the Center Director setting up facility operations, a new gift store and new programs

Lisa has over 25 years of marine education and research experience in the Monterey Bay. Lisa attended University of Michigan as a scholar athlete in gymnastics and received a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She holds a Master of Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories where she conducted deep-sea research on gelatinous mid-water organisms at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Lisa's ability to be a liaison between scientific research and informal/formal education are one of her strengths and enable her to involve and educate the public in marine and coastal resource issues through science-based stewardship.

image of Ariel HunterAriel Hunter

Sanctuary Exploration Center
(831) 425-4181

As the Sanctuary Exploration Center Manager, Ariel works with the team to oversee the Center's daily operations, including the education, volunteer, and public programs, and to support the Center's mission of providing access to and inspiring stewardship for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

She attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology. While exploring opportunities to work in research, she discovered a hidden passion for science communication. For the last decade she has been an active part of the Monterey Bay community, volunteering and working for a myriad of nature-based organizations in the area. Most recently she worked as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, managing volunteers, leading interpretive programs, and developing career-building opportunities for students. She serves on the governing council for the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, which supports shifting our climate change discourse to be solutions-centered and hopeful.

In addition to playing in the sanctuary, in her free time Ariel also enjoys reading, running, and exploring upland habitats as an amateur botanist.


picture of Becky GustafsonBecky Gustafson

Educations Specialist & Volunteer Coordinator
Sanctuary Exploration Center
(831) 583-8971‬

As the Volunteer Coordinator/Education Specialist, Becky is responsible for overseeing the volunteer programs, including recruiting and training volunteers, and assisting with public programming at the Sanctuary Exploration Center. Becky earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Chemistry from North Park University, and has over 7 years of experience working in environmental education including training staff and developing curriculum. She is passionate about educating others on the local marine environment, with a strong interest in tide pooling and marine mammals.







picture of Christin FunckChristina Funck

Gift & Bookstore Manager
Facilities Rental Coordinator
Sanctuary Exploration Center
(831) 583-8673

Christina has over 8 years of sales, marketing and management experience, and a deep passion for our oceans. As the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center’s Gift Store Manager and Facilities Rental Coordinator, she is responsible for facilitating operations that generate revenue via retail sales and facility rentals. Christina earned her B.S. in Plant Sciences from University of California Santa Cruz and enjoys environmental education, having also worked with Watsonville Wetlands Watch as a Wetlands Educator. In her free time, she enjoys surfing, diving, experimenting with macroalgae, and art/content creation.




picture of Dleanie Lavacude-KlenckDelanie Lavacude-Klenck

Education Specialist
Sanctuary Exploration Center
(831) 204-1645

As an Education Specialist, Delanie is responsible for coordinating and leading K-12 grade field trip programs at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, as well as education programs in Salinas collaborating with partners. Delanie graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. Growing up in coastal Southern California has given her a great passion for marine conservation as well as instilling that same enthusiasm in youth. Coming from a lifeguard/ EMT background, she is passionate about ocean safety and public education. As a waterman, she enjoys the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary through surfing, swimming, paddling, diving, and fishing.



picture of Emely CortezEmely Cortez

Bilingual Education Specialist
Sanctuary Exploration Center
(831) 200-3973

Maria Emilia Cortez-Torres (Emely) is the sanctuary’s Bilingual Education Specialist. She was raised in Watsonville, California and interned with Watsonville Wetlands Watch as a Wetland Steward during high school. Emely attended San Jose State University and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Communications and Media. Her first career job was working for the City of Watsonville Public Works team as a Bilingual Conservation Education Specialist, working with K-12 students and over 38 schools in the county on educating students about wildlife and sloughs. She led compost workshops and gave more than 500 backyard compost bins and buckets, hosted about 70 beach clean-ups with high school students and for programs for the Nature Center in Watsonville.

With more than five years of experience working with local schools to help conserve and restore the environment, Emely has provided youth development for 400+ students at elementary, middle, and high schools. Now working at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, she is eager to develop education programming and build stronger community connections to Watsonville.


picture of Richard StanleyRichard Stanley

Facilty Maintenance Specialist
Sanctuary Exploration Center

I have over 70 years experience taking things apart, and over 50 years of putting things back together professionally.

Most of my career has been spent working on equipment that made single use products. The Exploration Center has given me a chance to be productive in a more sustainable manner.

Some of my favorite things to do are walking the coastline of the western states and hiking in our National Parks. Two of my favorites are Yellowstone NP, and Brice Canyon NP.

My main hobby is building tube type guitar and bass amplifiers, and now I am also building the cabinets for my creations.





Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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