Staff

Mario Aguilar

Maintenance/ Groundskeeping

My name is Mario Aguilar. I work groundskeeping and general maintenance. My job entails mostly outside work where I have the privilege of enjoying the beauty of nature that Calusa Nature Center has to offer.

Ian Barksdale

Office Manager

Traditional music is inspired by the sounds of nature! Ian loves working to help the public appreciate the wonders of nature. Make sure you take time to visit with his favorite animal, Erica the Eagle! She is a true symbol of the power and resilience of America’s freedom. With just one wing, she has led a long and happy life here at The Calusa Nature Center and loves to meet visitors!

Ian has called Lee County, Florida, home for nearly twenty years now. He has recorded several albums of Irish music over the years, both solo and with bands, and plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and Irish whistle. He performs and teaches Irish Traditional music and song several times weekly.

Charlie Beaulieu

Planetarium Manager

Charlie is the Planetarium Manager at Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. He handles the day to day operation of the Planetarium under the supervision of Heather the Planetarium Director. Presenting the current night sky shows is the favorite part of his day. With a degree in sociology and  a minor in community planning and development he never expected to be working in a Planetarium. But he’s glad to help CNCP because has a passion for working with people and is highly motivated to connect people with nature. In his free time you can probably find Charlie working in his families food forest or playing disc golf.

Kaitlin Danks

Director of Operations

Hello SWFL! My name is Kaitlin and I serve as the Director of Operations at our local treasure, the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. I graduate Florida Gulf Coast University in the Fall of 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. I am a member of the City of Palms Fort Myers Rotary Club and currently serve on the friendship committee. I am a founding member of the FGCU SW Florida Association of Environmental Professionals and serve as their Vice President. My favorite hobbies include kayaking, fishing, and traveling to new and exciting locations near and far. I have a small one eyed dog named Cooper who will fur-ever hold my heart with his sweet personality and loving nature. When I am not at CNCP, you can find me downtown Fort Myers at the City Council meetings, reading a book on my ENO hammock, at the Bonita Springs Dog Beach or acrylic painting on canvas on my living room floor. I am so excited to be apart of this historic non-profit that has foundation that dates back almost 50 years! I encourage everyone to come out and see what Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium has to offer as I can guarantee there is something for everyone!

Estelle Griffis

Guest & Member Services Coordinator

Estelle works at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium as the Guest & Member Services Coordinator overseeing the Front Desk, the Membership Program, the Rental Facilities Program, and Guest Hospitality throughout the day. Estelle was born and raised in Indiana until her senior year in high school, at which point her family decided to move to Florida. In addition to her responsibilities at Calusa, she is currently a Philosophy major at Florida Gulf Coast University with plans to attend law school in the near future. When she has free time she enjoys cooking, reading, and watercolor landscape painting. Favorite CNCP Sights: The 3 ‘B’s of Calusa the boardwalk, the Bearded Dragon, and Billy the African Spurred Thigh Tortoise.

Samantha Origlia

Education Coordinator

I am the Education Coordinator here at Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium.  I graduated Florida Atlantic University in 2017 with an Elementary Education degree and spent my first year out of college as a Third-grade teacher here in Lee County.  I started at Calusa as an intern with the summer camp for my master’s in the School Counseling program at Florida Gulf Coast University. I then became one of the counselors and found a whole new love for nature.  Having the chance to run a camp where children can be immersed in nature and learn by being outdoors has been a fulfilling experience I will never forget. I love being able to work in a place where I can combine my new passion for nature and my passion for working with and educating children in our community.

Heather Preston

Planetarium Director

Specializing in asteroseismology, gas dynamics and computational fluid dynamics, our planetarium director, Heather Preston, is also a research astronomer. She is currently working on data from Kepler’s K2 mission and from TESS, but also on an informal-educational outreach component to a NASA Living With A Star grant administered through FGCU. “Informal education” includes fun things you learn in the planetarium, outreach to schools and other groups – all kinds of cool ways to get some STEM into your day! Heather started in museum science outreach as a high school student (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), volunteering in the Environmental Information Center at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Her work has appeared in more than 50 publications including The Astronomical JournalThe Astrophysical JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Astronomy and Astrophysics, and the Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society.


Mary E. Wall

Marketing Coordinator

Growing up on a farm in central Virginia, I was always outside in nature. My love of animals was realized early in life. We rehabbed many injured animals over the years, from snakes to opossums to crows. My life has always been very intertwined with nature, and working at CNCP has allowed me to continue to live my life in tune with the natural world.

I graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in December of 2018 with a B.A. in philosophy and communication. Working as marketing coordinator for CNCP means that I can combine my deep love of nature with my degree in communication. One of my favorite ways to re-connect with nature is by teaching Yoga in Nature every Sunday at 11am.