Our Staff

Dana Pounds Natures Academy

Dana Pounds

President, Executive Director

Dana Pounds grew up immersed in nature with the beautiful landscape of the New Jersey shore, Vermont and Maine. She graduated Cum Laude with a double major in Environmental Studies and Biology from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1995. She received her Master’s Degree in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida in 2005. Dana has since devoted her knowledge and experience to teaching children and adults the importance of environmental conservation throughout the Unites States and as far as the Galapagos Islands and Australia.

She is the President and Executive Director of Nature’s Academy, Inc., where she continues to pursue her lifelong passion of creating and delivering high quality, engaging educational opportunities for children and adults. Dana is a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, has her USCG 50 Ton Captain’s license, holds her certification as a PADI Divemaster and is a member of the Florida Marine Science Educators Association, Florida Association of Science Teachers, League of Environmental Educators in Florida, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Marine Educators Association and the North American Association for Environmental Education.


Sarah Pecoraro

Education Coordinator

Sarah Pecoraro, a Florida native, was born and raised in Cape Coral. She graduated from Eckerd College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and minors in Psychology and Human Development.

After graduating, Sarah continued to develop her passion for nature and aiding all living species, working in the educational departments of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel, Florida. She joined the Nature’s Academy team as an Education Specialist in January 2016. When Sarah is not teaching students about Florida wildlife, she likes to read, paint, garden and enjoy the great outdoors.


Julie Austin

Education Specialist

Julie Austin was born and raised in Horsham, Pennsylvania. She spent her summers growing up at the Jersey Shore and that is where her love for marine science developed. She graduated in May 2015 from Coastal Carolina University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Science.

Following graduation Julie moved to New Jersey where she was a lead scientist for Marine Science Camp. She was also a naturalist on the Cape May Whale Watcher where she educated the public on the local marine wildlife. Through her job with Marine Science Camp, she was relocated down to Key Largo, Florida where she was an educator for the Eco Resort Series on the weekend. She educated the guests at hotels about local marine ecosystems. She also worked at John Pennekamp Coral Reef state park as a narrator on the glass bottom boat, The Spirit of Pennekamp. Julie joined the Nature’s Academy flock in October 2016 and has been aiding our education staff in spreading STEM literacy to the public. When Julie is not teaching students, she spends her time surfing, paddle boarding and going for bike rides.

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Just fill out the quick form below for a glance at who we are, our awards, and our programs.