Artist Boat

Karla Klay, Executive Director

Karla Klay is the founding director of Artist Boat. She has over 19 years of experience in arts and environmental education. She earned a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor's of Science from Texas A&M University in Marine Biology. Karla was raised in the Florida Keys by parents who developed the technology to keep sharks alive in captivity and shipped live sharks all over the world to large educational aquariums. Their neighbors were the dolphins of the Dolphin Research Center. This unique childhood with sharks in the backyard (the Gulf of Mexico) and dolphins as childhood playmates shaped an individual that has an extreme love of coastal margins, the marine environment, and the Gulf of Mexico. Karla Klay also is a recovering coastal citizen of the hurricanes of Katrina, Rita, Ike, and the BP "spill". She is deeply concerned with preserving coastal ecosystems that will create a more resilient coastal environment for citizens and wildlife.

Karla Klay

Nicole Ekstrom, Conservation and Education Technical Writer and Planner

Nicole has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a Masters in Marine Resource Management from Texas A&M University Galveston. She has been in the field of restoration ecology and education for 10 years, and was integral in the development of Artist Boat's Habitat Restoration Adventure Program. Additionally, Nicole has volunteered for many organizations in the Galveston area, including the Surfrider Foundation Galveston Chapter, the Galveston Island Long-Term Recovery Committee, and the Bay Area Boy Scouts. Nicole is an American Canoe Association Level II certified kayak instructor, a US Coast Guard captain, is American Red Cross Wilderness First Aid Certified, and is SCUBA certified.

Cathy Webster, Executive Assistant

More info to come.

Micah Cypert, Accounting Manager

More info to come.

Amanda Rinehart, Education Program Manager

Amanda Rinehart received a B.S. in Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston. During the later part of her undergraduate degree she was introduced to the marine carbon cycle, which altered the course of her studies from organisms to biogeochemistry. Amanda went on to a M.S. at Texas A&M University in Oceanography and then a Ph.D. at University of Alaska Fairbanks in Biological Sciences. Amanda's graduate work evaluated the processing and transport of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in high-latitude streams and rivers. DOC is the brown 'stuff' that leaches from a tea bag. In the environment, DOC is food for bacteria therefore is an important component of the carbon cycle. In particular, Amanda is interested in the mechanisms that affect DOC processing in aquatic ecosystems so that as the climate changes, we can better predict how much carbon is transferred from aquatic ecosystems to the atmosphere and the ocean. Amanda brings to Artist boat an adventurous spirit, curiosity, and passion for science literacy. She believes that science can be a powerful tool to engage kids in learning, particularly when they can get their feet wet and muddy!

Mary Warwick, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager

Mary Warwick was born in Florida, but as an Air Force Brat she moved frequently before settling in the Houston/Galveston area. Mary received a Bachelor's of Science in Education and a Master's of Science in Environmental Science with a focus on Biology at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Mary developed an interest in coastal wetlands while completing her coursework. This interest culminated in a Master's project that compared salt marsh restoration methods in Pierce Marsh by analyzing the smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, communities. Mary's other interests include kayaking, stained glass, knitting, and photographing wildlife. Her top three places to photograph wildlife so far: Kenya, Costa Rica, and The Amazon River Basin.

Kristen Simmons, Habitat and Stewardship Program Coordinator

More info coming soon.

Cherie Crawford, Education Program Coordinator

Cherie joined Artist Boat April 2014. She was born and raised in Texas and is a Texas girl through and through. In May 2011, she completed her B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston, where she was on the Texas A&M crew team for four years and became a certified cavern diver. Each summer while at A&M, she worked as a marine science instructor at Sea Camp. It was while working at Sea Camp she found a love for outdoor education. She decided to continue her education in California, completing her M.S. at California State University Monterey Bay in the Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy program. While in graduate school, she worked as a naturalist for Elkhorn Slough Safari, a nature tour company that ventures up Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing California. As part of her graduate school curriculum she completed an internship at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, focusing on an ecotone wildlife monitoring project. She recently moved back to Texas after living in Marina, CA for two years. As part of her hobbies, Cherie loves to spend her free time reading/napping at the beach, swimming, diving, snorkeling, and just generally being around the water.

Kari in marsh

Kendall Guidroz, Bucket Brigade Coordinator

Kendall joined Artist Boat in February of 2015. She is a graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in Environmental Studies and a focus in Biology. During her undergraduate career, she interned with the Colorado River Alliance and the Galveston Bay Foundation where she found a passion for environmental education and outreach. In particular, Kendall is interested in issues of water quality, especially in her home state of Texas. She is excited to share these issues and a love of the natural environment with those in the Galveston Bay region.

Brooke Carlson, Eco-Art Educator

Brooke Carlson grew up moving from place to place. After she made it to Texas, she attended Texas A&M University at Galveston. In 2016 she received her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. She spent most of her college career working with Sea Camp and Moody Gardens educating the public about the natural world around them. Once she graduated, Brooke joined the Artist Boat team in 2016 first as a Bucket Brigade Lead Interpreter and now as an Eco-Art Educator. Her passion is to show the public the beauty and importance of the ocean and all of its inhabitants. She also enjoys using art to understand the world around her.

Kaitlin Morgan, Lead Eco-Art Educator

Kaitlin joined Artist Boat in August of 2016. She was born and raised in Texas, but went off to Florida for college. She is a graduate of University of Miami with a Marine Affairs degree, then stayed in Miami for graduate school at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science to study Coastal Zone Management and Marine Conservation. While in Miami, she spent 5 years in the scuba club going from an Open Water Diver and finishing at Dive Master. During her graduate school, she interned with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation teaching people about fish ID and invasive lion fish, while working on lion fish research projects. She loves being underwater and exploring new environments, but has also explored much of South Florida and the Florida Keys while kayaking. She loves showing adults and children new environments and teaching them about all the beautiful wildlife and nature that surround them.

Brenda Lee, 1% To Conserve Galveston Island Program Director

Mrs. Donaloio Lee, as President of her own environmental consulting business, specialized in cost effectively improving environmental and safety performance by implementing management systems, auditing systems, benchmarking and performance measurement. She has over twenty five years of experience in practicing or managing environmental, safety and health programs for the oil and gas, chemical, refining, packaging, marketing, mining and automotive parts manufacturing industries. Mrs. Lee has led numerous organizations starting with her first elected position as Student Council Treasurer. That trust has continued throughout her life: Treasurer of the Clemson University's Outdoor and Recreation Club; Board of Directors for the South St. Louis chapter of the National Wildlife Federation; Past - President of the Galveston Alliance of Island Neighborhoods; Past-President of the San Jacinto Neighborhood Association and others. She is a lifetime member of the Houston - Audubon chapter.