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Oakland Nature Preserve

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Jennifer Hunt,

Managing Director

Favorite Animal: Manatee       

Favorite Flower:  Oakleaf Hydrangea

What I Like Most About Working at ONP: The wonderful team of volunteers and staff.

Born and raised in Winter Garden, FL. Jennifer has close ties to the Oakland Nature Preserve. Jennifer holds a master’s degree in Zoology with a focus on conservation and inquiry-based education from Miami University located in Oxford, Ohio. While completing her degree Jennifer had the opportunity to study coastal ecosystems in Belize, high desert systems and Whale sharks in Baja, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Jennifer is a Florida Master Naturalist Program Lead Instructor and has been a member of the FMNP Advisory Board. Previously she served as Lead Environmental Educator where she developed new programs while leading a wonderful team of educators. Jennifer also has a great love of music, and in the past, has served as a Director of Music.

Jennifer also has a great love for one of Florida’s iconic creatures, the Florida manatee. As a research assistant with Sea to Shore Alliance she has had the opportunity to track juvenile animals, log behavioral observations, conduct physical examinations, and assist with rescues and releases of these wonderful animals. Other interests include scuba diving, nature photography, hiking, kayaking, and hanging out with family and friends.

Jennifer manages the daily operations, finances, marketing, fundraising and other general business for the Preserve.

 Photo Denise Byrne

Denise Byrne,

Grants & Fundraising Coordinator 


Favorite Animal: Panther

Favorite Flower: Passion Flower

What I Like Most About Working at ONP: The tranquility of the Preserve. 

Originally from Ireland, Denise found us as a student in the Florida Master Naturalist course held here in Fall 2015. Denise previously served as our Volunteer Coordinator, holds a degree in Marine Biology and is a certified SCUBA instructor. Before coming to the U.S., Denise spent two years working at an aquarium on the west coast of Ireland, studying the captive breeding of lobster and seahorses to replenish local decimated populations. Denise is also a feline rescue specialist and enjoys spending time outdoors, exploring both underwater and topside. She also loves photography, kayaking and hiking.

Denise helps coordinate our grants and fundraising events, manages the website and social media outlets, and is responsible for the trail cam and bird booth projects. 

 Photo Rachael Cravens

Rachael Cravens, Education & Program Coordinator

Favorite Animal: Skunk

Favorite Plant: Purple Passion Vine

What I Like Most About Working at ONP: The peace of the Preserve, and to see the wonder and joy on the faces of the families and students when they learn something new. 

Rachael is from western NY and grew up in a family of nature enthusiasts. She has a degree in Zoology from State University of NY College at Oswego and has always known that she wanted to focus on education.

Rachael was an opening cast member of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in animal programs and has also traveled the world as a corporate flight attendant. Upon discovering ONP she immediately felt at home and couldn’t wait to get involved!  Rachael’s passion is to inspire children to love and appreciate nature, and to encourage the teachable moments that children will retain and build upon. Rachael strongly believes that this younger generation will need to be leaders in preserving, restoring, and conserving our world.

Rachael has three wonderful kids with her husband, Richard. She is very involved in Girl Scouts as a troop leader.

Rachael develops curriculum and teaches our educational programs, as well as coordinates our programs, guest speakers, and workshops. Rachael is a Florida Master Naturalist Program instructor, Project Learning Tree facilitator, and USA Archery instructor.


 Photo Nicole O'Brien

Nicole O'Brien, Wildlife & Volunteer Coordinator

Favorite Animal: Pygmy Sperm Whale

Favorite Plant: Sunshine Mimosa

What I Like Most About Working at ONP: The work I’m doing can make a difference in ensuring our amazing natural environment remains for future generations.

Raised mostly in Colorado and Louisiana, Nicole made her way to Florida for college. She has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from University of Miami (Go Canes!) and a Master of Science in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University. After working as an Environmental Specialist for the Florida Department of Health and the City of Orlando, she took time to stay home with her son. She is very excited to return to work in an amazing organization!

Nicole has been fascinated by the outdoors since she was little. She lived on a farm for a few years, participated in 4H and Girl Scouts. She became interested in the marine environment in high school, completing her SCUBA certification at 15 years old. After moving to central Florida, she took a more active interest in all of Florida’s natural environments, native plants and animals. She enjoys camping, hiking, and kayaking with her family and walking/biking the West Orange Trail.

Nicole cares for our captive and program wildlife and manages all the Preserve's volunteers, provides visitor tours and trains volunteer tour guides.


Laura Scialabba, Educator

Favorite Animal: Alligator

Favorite Plant: Beautyberry

What I Like Most About Working at ONP: The wonderful staff, and the chance to foster a love of science and appreciation of nature in our future generations.


Growing up as a military brat, Laura lived in many places throughout the United States and Europe, but she considers Florida her home state having lived here the longest. While living in Germany, she was introduced to Volksmarching, a type of social fitness walk through the countryside. She was able to visit dozens of different towns, strolling through a variety of natural settings, and it sparked a deep love of nature.  

Laura moved back to Florida to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Florida. Following college, she worked for an engineering consulting company for 11 years. She traveled across the Eastern United States performing various environmental assessments, geologic surveys, soil and groundwater sampling, and wetlands identification and restoration. After starting a family, Laura stayed home with her children until they were both school-aged. One of her favorite parts about motherhood is observing her children’s boundless curiosity about the world around them, and taking the opportunity to explore and learn based on these interests. She returned to work when she realized she would have the opportunity to share her love of science and nature with many children, to help them explore and appreciate the natural world, and to ignite their passion to be tomorrow’s environmental stewards.

Laura develops educational curriculum and teaches our visiting classes and field trips.


Jenifer Odom, Educator

Favorite Animal: Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Favorite Plant: Indian Blanket

What I like best about working at ONP: The wonderful, family atmosphere the staff provides and the tranquility the Preserve provides.

Originally from NC, Jen landed in Florida when her husband accepted a job in Winter Garden.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from UNC- Wilmington.  She previously worked as an educator at the Jacksonville Zoo, the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  After taking some time off from working to spend time with her daughter, she is thrilled to have landed at ONP!

Volunteering is something very important to her.  She feels that giving back, in some way, is just as valuable to the community as it is to yourself.  In college, she volunteered at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where she quickly realized she has a love for teaching people about the natural world around them.  Over the years, Jen has also volunteered at the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter, served as a Sea Turtle volunteer and nest sitter, was a roving manatee volunteer at Blue Springs State Park, and has been a volunteer at Give Kids the World since 2015.

Jen teaches education programs for school groups and homeschoolers as well as develop programming for Saturdays at the Preserve.

  Photo Alecia Spence     

Alecia Spence, Accountant

Favorite Animal: Cardinal

Favorite Flower: Azaleas

What I Like Most About Working at ONP: The amazing staff who all have a heart for preserving a bit of our natural habitat and educating the public, especially children, about the importance of understanding nature. 

Alecia was born in Orlando and has lived in West Orange County all of her life. She graduated from West Orange High School, received her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Florida Southern College and is a Certified Public Accountant. She has worked as an accountant for 31 years, 17 years as a Public Accountant. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Rick, for 30 years, and they have been blessed with twins, Caleb and Cassandra. Alecia enjoys traveling, reading, movies and spending time with family and friends.

Alecia manages all aspects of ONP’s day-to-day bookkeeping and accounting processes, and maintains accounting procedures, policies and systems of internal controls to ensure the integrity of all financial systems.


Florida Communities Trust LogoFunding for the acquisition of this site was provided by the Florida Communities Trust using Preservation 2000 funds.



Office: +1 407-905-0054

P O Box 841

747 Machete Trail

Oakland, FL 34760


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