Sea Turtle Camp Team
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.
Deaton Wright, VP of Operations
Born and raised in North Carolina, Deaton spent most of his childhood on the beach or in the mountains. He attended his freshman year of college at Lenoir-Rhyne University where he was an NCAA Academic and Athletic All-American swimmer. He then transferred to UNCW in 2012 where he began his career with WB Surf Camp. While attending college he worked in many different roles within the company to include teen overnight camps, day camps and international surf coaching. He has a passion to teach, travel and positively influence the lives of others.
Upon graduating from college, Deaton found himself fully immersed in a winter wonderland while working on the mountain in Breckenridge, Colorado. He was thankful for the experience but his love for the ocean led him back to the east coast where he moved to the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina. It is here that he honed in on his skills in staff management, operations, international travel programming and of course the heavy barreling surf that the area has to offer. While living in the OBX he maintained his relationship with Surf Camp and spent time coaching in Tortola and Costa Rica.
After years of experience in the water sports industry, Deaton’s aptitude for logistics, operations, concern for conservation and search for more meaning in his career led him back to Surf Camp, where he is the Operations Director. In his free time, you can find him fishing the inland waters of NC, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, searching for barrels and researching his next surf trip.
Kasey Schollenberger, Program Director
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!
Bailey Kaufman, Program Coordinator
Bailey grew up year-round on Fire Island, New York. She spent her entire childhood on the sands of the tiny barrier island, always doing her part educating visitors, local communities, and other parties about her hometowns’ wildlife, history, and environmental issues. She has deep love and respect for the ocean and all it offers. Her goal is to help others feel the same by educating them about the importance of marine and coastal ecosystems.
In 2016, Bailey ventured to St. Augustine, Florida, to receive her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in Spanish at Flagler College. She was an active member of the college’s sustainability club and always volunteered within the community. During her final semester, Bailey interned at Anastasia State Park and gained abundant experience working with Florida’s wildlife, especially with sea turtles! After graduating in 2020, she completed a 50-week AmeriCorps service term through Conservation Legacy, serving as the Community Volunteer Ambassador for Fire Island National Seashore. During this time, her interest in conservation, community outreach, and environmental education grew stronger. She is currently enhancing her outdoor teaching skills and science/nature content knowledge through the North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate program.
Bailey spends her free time surfing, painting, hiking, cooking, practicing yoga, and exploring nature. She loves to travel and encourages individuals to travel sustainably and support local communities!
Mead Krówka, Program Coordinator
Born outside Chicago, Illinois, Mead has always been drawn to the water. In 2008, Mead moved with his family to Asheville, NC, where he volunteered at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, sparking his interest in the natural world. This led to Mead becoming PADI Open Water Dive certified in 2014, PADI Rescue Diver certified in 2017, and maintaining continuous American Red Cross Lifeguard certification since 2015.
In 2017, Mead moved to Wilmington to begin his career at UNCW. It was at this time he learned to surf and has been in the water with every given opportunity since. Since then, he has been experimenting with different board shapes and styles, his favorite board being a 6’1 Single Fin Bonzer. During his time at UNCW, Mead was a member of the UNCW SCUBA Club and an intern for the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees. He also completed a directive individual study in 2020, studying the diet of the Greater Northern Galago primates, publishing his research in the American Journal of Biological Anthropology.
Mead graduated magna cum laude in 2021 with a B.S. in Environmental Science, a B.A. in Anthropology, and a Chemistry minor. Immediately following, he became the Sea Turtle Camp SCUBA Marine Educator, before transitioning to his current position as the WB Surf Camp Program Coordinator. In his free time, Mead is most likely surfing on Wrightsville Beach. He also enjoys shaping surfboard fins, exploring shipwrecks, and enjoying all the natural beauty coastal NC has to offer!
Michaela LeMay, Program Coordinator
Michaela was born and raised in Massachusetts and moved to South Carolina in 2014. She decided to trade in the cold, snowy winters for warmer weather and the coast and has since fallen for the beauty of the Carolinas. She completed her undergrad at Coastal Carolina University in Marine Science with a Biology minor.
After graduating, she started her career as a park ranger with SC State Parks. While working for the organization she was able to rediscover a passion of educating youth about the natural resources of the coast. Inspired by her work, Michaela decided to return to school and is almost finished with her master’s in Youth Development and Leadership at Clemson University.
While working for SC State Parks, she volunteered with SCDNR’s Sea Turtle stranding and nesting programs. She spent four summers responding to sea turtle strands, working on sea turtle nests, and educating the public in Myrtle Beach, SC. Due to her work with sea turtles, Michaela is a very early riser and with her free time can be found reading, somewhere outside, or searching for something new to learn.
Liz Smith, On-Site Director
Liz grew up going to summer camp and enjoyed it so much she decided to make a career of it! Combining her love of camp with a passion for coastal science led her to get a master’s degree in Environmental Education from UNCW. Liz has also worked at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island as an educator, UNCW as an adjunct professor, and many, many camps as a naturalist. This is her second year with Surf Camp, but her 28th year at a summer camp. From CIT, to counselor, all the way to director, Liz has worked nearly every position at camp but most enjoys now being able to teach young adults about working with kids, teaching about the environment, and becoming professionals themselves.
Liz originally hails from Illinois and first fell in love with the ocean at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Moving to the ocean was her first priority after high school, and she’s lived within 10 miles of the beach ever since. Her favorite coastal activity is kayaking in the Intracoastal Waterway and marshes. When not at camp, Liz spends time fostering retired racing greyhounds, making crafts and sewing, and reading science fiction.
Susannah Cogburn - Unit Leader (NC SCUBA)
Susannah grew up in Orlando, Florida, and fell in love with the ocean and conservation from attending SeaWorld and Disney’s Animal Kingdom summer camps. As a December 2022 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science with a double minor in geology and climate change studies, she has had various experiences researching the Southwest Florida coast. At the university, she has conducted research on harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification, and with elasmobranchs among other things. She also acted as a Research Diver through FGCU’s Scientific Diving program. Throughout this program, she dove all across the state of Florida from the North Florida Caverns to the Florida Keys. Susannah has been diving for the past five years and is currently a NAUI CPR/AED/First Aid and SCUBA Instructor.She is continuing her education at Florida Gulf Coast University this coming fall, obtaining a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science with a focus on marine ecotoxicology. This is her first year working for Sea Turtle Camp and she is so excited to meet everyone and dive off the NC coast!
James Nagaoka - Unit Leader (NC Carolina Ocean Odyssey)
James was born and raised 45 minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Arcadia, CA. Fun fact: Arcadia, CA has wild peacocks that roam the streets! The close proximity to the beach fostered his love for the ocean and all of the life it holds. He moved to Columbus, Ohio to attend The Ohio State University. Initially, James didn’t know what he wanted to study, but after switching majors a few times, he finally decided on Evolution and Ecology. He will be graduating this spring with a B.S. in Evolution and Ecology. James has a deep interest in science. He has always been an inquisitive person and while at university, he performed undergraduate research on invasive vines. During his time at OSU, James also worked as a teaching assistant for Biology where he found his love for teaching. His love for nature and teaching brought him to this position and he is super excited for this summer! James plans on attending graduate school for marine ecology after a few gap years to gain some work and life experience. Some of James’s other interests include weightlifting, baseball (go Dodgers!), and exploring new places/new food. His favorite animal is the Sea Walnut (Mnemiopsis).
Lyndsey Butler - Marine Educator (NC Marine Biology)
Born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, Lyndsey found her passion for marine science while spending time on the beach with family in Cape Cod and Florida at a young age. Through her time volunteering under the Student Conservation Association and the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium as a teenager, she learned the fundamentals of sustainable conservation and solidified her resolve to pursue a career in environmental education.
After spending two years at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina studying Marine Science, she decided to expand her knowledge of marine ecosystems worldwide and transfer abroad. She is now currently working towards a degree in Marine Biology at the University of Stirling in Scotland, UK. With a special interest in salt marsh ecology and sustainable aquaculture, she aspires to use her knowledge to protect marine ecosystems from present and future challenges.
As an experienced camp counselor and conservationist, Lyndsey is committed to providing campers at Sea Turtle Camp with a fun, engaging, and educational experience. She is excited to share her knowledge and love of marine biology, and looks forward to inspiring campers to develop a deeper understanding for the ocean and its inhabitants
Brielle Parse - Marine Educator (NC SCUBA)
Brie grew up in central Massachusetts, but fell in love with the ocean at a young age with frequent trips to the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and beaches on Cape Cod. She learned how to scuba dive at age 12 on a trip to the Caribbean with her family. The second she descended below the surface on her first open-water dive, there was no going back. She remembers being uncharacteristically relaxed, and that feeling was something she knew she wanted to chase for the rest of her life. Her experience as an outreach education intern at NEAQ in the community programs department developed her passion for conservation and science education. She is graduating in May with a B.A. in Marine Science and a minor in Hospitality Administration from Boston University, where she was also an active member of her community service sorority Omega Phi Alpha (most recently serving as President of the chapter). In the summer of 2022, she interned for Sea Turtle Patrol on Hilton Head Island, participating in 3 to 4 beach patrols each week dealing directly with nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. She also assisted with the educational portion of the program, “Turtle Talks,” to spread awareness of beach etiquette and turtle conservation. She plans to eventually go back to school for her Master’s degree but is currently looking forward to getting some real-world work experience and solidifying her interests and passions. This is Brie’s first summer at Sea Turtle Camp and she can’t wait to live and work with everyone in NC!
Kalyn Markuns - Camp Counselor (NC Marine Biology)
Kalyn Markuns graduated this past spring (2023) from the University of Rhode Island with a major in marine biology and a minor in wildlife conservation biology. Her passion for marine biology began when she was in fourth grade and read a series of books written by Eugene Clark. She was known in the science community as ‘the shark lady’, and she sparked her interest in marine life.
She was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Being so close to the ocean growing up she became fond of surfing, and later on, gained her scuba certification. In addition, she enjoys spending her free time playing indoor and beach volleyball, playing with her four cats, and going out to eat with friends!
Molly McNeil - Camp Counselor (NC Marine Biology)
Molly McNeil is from Wayne City, IL, and graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in May 2022. She received her bachelor’s in marine biology with a minor in psychology. She currently works at Geff Grade School as a junior high science & stem teacher. She was a Sea Turtle Camp camper a few years back and is super excited to have the opportunity to return as a counselor for the summer!
Nicole Kirsten - Camp Counselor (NC Carolina Ocean Odyssey)
Meet Nicole, often known as Nicki or Nics. She is 24 years old, born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied Sport Science and Biokinetics at the University of Pretoria and graduated in 2020. After college, she then returned to Johannesburg to do an internship in 2021. After studying and completing the internship, she became fully qualified for work, but first wanted to take the time to travel, adventure and see a bit of the world this year.
Growing up Nicki’s favorite holiday trips were always (and still are) at the beach or at a local reservoir. She adores the beach, being outdoors and in the sunshine; she is happiest on a boat or swimming in the sea. She is always keen to try new things and see new places, no matter how extravagant or simple, just as long as you refer to it as being an “adventure”. Nicki loves music and dancing and more often than not is the first on and last one off the dance floor.
Some fun facts about Nicki: she can play the drums, has her skippers license, considers “Footloose” to be the best movie ever made, and her three favorite things are strawberry ice cream, classic VW beetles and country music.
Ryan Tucker - Trip Leader (Spring Break & Hawaii)
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 SIXTH 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!
Madeline Hallahan - Trip Leader (Hawaii)
Madeline grew up just outside of Chicago and spent her summers on Lake Michigan and at the Shedd Aquarium with her mom. She always dreamt of becoming a marine biologist and working with the divers at the Shedd. The first step in her dream coming true was attending Sea Turtle Camp in 2011! Experiencing the ocean for the first time and learning about conservation made a lifelong impression.
Madeline got her degree in Secondary Biology Education at Illinois State University. Soon after, she led youth bike camping trips and backcountry canoeing expeditions in Michigan. Madeline then spent a month rafting the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon! She developed the environmental education curriculum for Science Adventure School in West Virginia, and worked at Sea Turtle Camp in North Carolina as well as co-led the 2022 Florida Keys trip with Molly Ripka. Madeline can be found daydreaming about snorkeling, fixing (sometimes riding) bikes, identifying neat plants and animals, and going for nature walks!
She loves white water rafting, learning about critters (especially crabs and parrotfish) with her pal Molly, running, and adventuring with her fiancé. Madeline currently works as a bike mechanic in the suburbs of Chicago, and cannot wait for another spectacular camp season packed full of adventure and new experiences.
This will be Madeline’s third season with Sea Turtle Camp!!!
Molly Ripka - Trip Leader (Hawaii)
Carson Torres - Trip Leader (Costa Rica)
Carson is from Burien, Washington, a town just south of Seattle, and enjoyed growing up on the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Northwest. Her favorite things to do growing up were tide pooling and exploring parks with family and friends. Carson has always been passionate about education, conservation, and the outdoors. She also has a love for traveling and learning new things.
In 2021 she graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and a focus in Biology. Since graduating she has gained experience in the forestry industry, environmental education, diversity training, and coaching wrestling to high school students. Carson is now living and working in Tybee Island, Georgia where she is teaching hands-on science classes to primary and secondary aged students. She loves having the outdoors as her classroom and hopes to keep contributing to the education of those around her.