Board of Directors
Jimmy Buffett, Co-Chair
Jimmy Buffett is a world-renowned singer/songwriter, best selling author, and business entrepreneur who has advocated for numerous environmental causes. He co-founded Save the Manatee Club in 1981 and serves as the Co-Chair of the Club’s Board of Directors.
Helen Digges Spivey, Co-Chair
Helen Spivey was elected Co-Chair of our Board of Directors in 2000 and still serves in that capacity. People have always referred to her as The Manatee Lady because of her decades of hard work for manatee protection – first as a concerned citizen, then as a member of the Crystal River, Florida, City Council, and then as an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives. Helen is the archetypal community-minded concerned citizen and believes that a life worth living is a life of service to help make the world a better place. She was one of the first manatee protection pioneers in Crystal River, which has a large year-round manatee population and is one of the most important areas for manatees in the entire state of Florida. In the early days, Helen received a lot of threats from those who opposed manatee protection measures. Now, however, she is widely revered for her decades of work – all unpaid – that have made manatees much safer throughout the state and in Citrus County waters, notably for her successful work to publicly acquire the Three Sisters Springs parcel, which abuts two manatee refuges. She was an appointed member of the Florida Manatee Technical Advisory Council, the Manatee Forum, and numerous environmental committees. Currently, Helen is on the Board of the National Greyhound Foundation and is President of the Florida League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Her conservation work earned her awards from One Thousand Friends of Florida, The Sierra Club, Florida Consumer Action Network, The League of Conservation Voters, The Florida Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and, of course, Save the Manatee Club. She most recently received the Good Citizenship Medal from the Withlacoochee Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution for “her many decades of dedication to the protection of the manatees.” Helen was married to a career Navy Chief Petty Officer for over 47 years when he passed away. They had four children.
Dr. Daryl P. Domning, Secretary
Dr. Domning is Professor of Anatomy at Howard University, Washington, D.C. He is also a Research Associate in Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and a Research Associate in Vertebrate Paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California. Formerly, he was a research biologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA), Manaus, Brazil, where he studied Amazonian manatees. A native of Biloxi, Mississippi, he received his B.S. degree (1968) from Tulane University, and M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1975) from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Domning has been a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Sirenia Specialist Group since 1984, and founded and edited for 21 years its newsletter Sirenews. A former member of the Committee of Scientific Advisors of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, he has also been a scientific advisor to the Save the Manatee Club for over 20 years. He was a member and sometime Vice Chairman of the State of Florida’s Manatee Technical Advisory Council, 1981-2002, and is an advisor to Sirenian International, Inc., as well. His research deals with the paleontology, evolution, classification, and functional anatomy of sirenians and their extinct relatives the desmostylians, and is presently focused on the evolution of sirenians in the West Atlantic-Caribbean and Mediterranean-European regions. He has most recently conducted paleontological field projects in Jamaica (with support from the National Geographic Society), Austria, and France. His Jamaican project discovered the 50-million-year-old, four-legged Pezosiren portelli, the most primitive sirenian known from relatively complete skeletal remains. He has also carried out fieldwork in Australia, Brazil, Libya, Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico as well as various parts of the U.S. He has authored over 100 scientific articles and monographs, mostly on sirenians, and created the definitive Bibliography and Index of the Sirenia and Desmostylia.
Dr. Roger L. Reep, Treasurer
Dr. Reep was raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated in 1973 from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Physics then earned a PhD in Neuroscience/Zoology from MSU in 1978. His doctoral research involved the neurophysiology of learning in the insect nervous system. Dr. Reep developed a general interest in comparative neurobiology, with emphasis on the development and evolution of cerebral cortex. From 1979-1981 he did postdoctoral research on the neural connections of prefrontal cortex at the University of Michigan. From 1981-1984 he was an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Florida, where he developed image analysis techniques for use on neuroanatomical data. In 1984, he became a faculty member in the Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, where he is a professor. Dr. Reep teaches Embryology, Histology, and Neuroscience to freshmen veterinary students, and courses in Nervous System Development and Brain Evolution to graduate students. He has trained several graduate students and serves as Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Physiological Sciences and the Marine Mammal Program. Dr. Reep’s research has centered on three major areas: manatee biology, comparative organization of mammalian cerebral cortex, and development of a rodent model of hemispatial neglect. Collaborators include colleagues at Mote Marine Laboratory, Cornell University, Northern Illinois University, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Reep is co-author of a book on manatees: The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation (2006) by Roger L. Reep and Robert K. Bonde, University Press of Florida.
Dr. Joseph Siry, Assistant Treasurer
A native of Miami Beach, Dr. Siry teaches environmental studies and the history of science and technology to graduate and undergraduate students at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He received his doctorate in environmental history from the University of California, at Santa Barbara where he studied with the late Garret Hardin and Roderick Nash. His book on estuaries and the conservation of rivers and coast areas was published by Texas A & M University Press; entitled, Marshes of the Ocean Shore. He was a volunteer technical advisory member of the California Coastal Planning process for Sonoma County, and a member of Save San Francisco Bay, a citizen watch-dog advocacy group. Upon coming to Florida to teach, he was keenly interested in preserving the coral reefs of the Key Largo area and became influenced by Friends of the Everglades, Michael Chenoweth, and Archie and Marjorie Carr to actively engage the community in protecting biologically significant wildlife and fisheries. He helped two colleagues to edit and produce “Feeling the Heat” in Florida as part of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 1999-2001 effort to have scientists analyze trends in the state to better educate policy makers about climate change due to global warming. An avid kayaker, hiker, swimmer, snorkeling fan, and snow skier, Dr. Siry has advised over twenty five masters theses including graduate work on endocrine disruption in wildlife, environmental literature, genetic engineering, and a quantum theory of God. He teaches a class on Charles Darwin: Reluctant Revolutionary, and advocates for the teaching of evolution by means of natural selection in primary, secondary, and higher education. Very like his students, he is curious about the natural world, committed to the protection of rivers, water quality fisheries and biological diversity because without the natural world, we have no accurate measure of human behavior, limitations and responsibility. A founding member of the Association For Environmental Studies and Sciences, he writes and resides in Laguna Woods, California with his wife of over 35 years, Barbara Siry.
I am a Miami native, and growing up surrounded by lush vegetation, beautiful vistas, and the serene Everglades inspired me to be an advocate for Florida’s flora, fauna, and open spaces. Unfortunately, the Real Florida is disappearing fast, and action must be taken now! I believe that the Real Florida can be saved, and it will improve the quality of life for all of Florida’s inhabitants, animal, plant, or human. In the spring of 2009, I was amazed to see a family of three manatees in Matheson Hammock Park in Miami. To see two calves without propeller scars brought me joy, but soon thereafter I welled up in tears just thinking about all the manatees that don’t have the same luck. I think it was a sign, because shortly thereafter in the summer of 2009 I was contacted by the amazing Helen Spivey to assist Save the Manatee Club with legal matters. I am a law student entering my last year at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. As a lawyer, I hope to fight those who would choose to destroy Florida under the guise of developing it. I am happy to work with the Everglades Law Center and Save the Manatee Club in their efforts to protect Florida. I truly believe that groups like these are the true leaders in the fight to save the environment in Florida and beyond. The leadership and education they provide is a glimmer of hope for the future of Florida. As Student Member of the Board of Directors, I am honored to help Save the Manatee Club in its mission to save manatees through action and advocacy. As an advocate, I have attended governmental meetings in Miami to give a voice to manatees to prevent the weakening of manatee protection laws. I have also worked with Miami-Dade Public Schools to bring manatee education to two schools. I participated in Broward County’s Water Matter Day 2010, where over 1,000 families from all over the County learned about environmental issues. The children truly are our future, and we must inspire them to care for all of Florida’s treasures, like the manatee!
After receiving Degrees in Marine Science and Wildlife Biology and spending a 17-year career serving with several State of Florida conservation agencies, Matt rejoined the private sector with the formation of Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company. Matt personally leads as many of Aardvark’s Eco-Heritage tours as possible, as well as Save the Manatee Club’s “Do Not Disturb” member tours. He has also been presented with a Manatee Hero award by SMC for his long-standing advocacy for the manatee. Matt has a degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Florida and was employed by the Florida Co-Operative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at UF. He worked on sport fishery research projects in North Central Florida and the Everglades and manatee studies in Southwest Florida. Matt has also served with the Florida Marine Research Institute (now part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) as a manatee biologist, served on the Citrus County EcoTourism Committee, and sat on the Manatee Advisory Committee of Citrus County. He is a certified Eco-Heritage Guide and instructed a portion of the University of North Florida’s Eco-Heritage Guide Certification Program entitled “Environmental Ethics and Sustainability.” Matt now runs ecotours, including manatee observation programs.
Dan Hendrickson is a community organizer and public interest attorney in Tallahassee, Florida, who has served over four decades of advocacy and administrative work in the nonprofit world, in a variety of professional and volunteer positions for local, statewide, and national organizations. Dan learned his love for the outdoors from his family in Indiana and Kentucky, and growing up exploring the estuary and swamps of Tampa Bay. After college in Tennessee, he worked for more than twelve years as a journalist and organizer in the Appalachian coalfields, opposing strip mining and organizing alongside coal mining families for mine safety reforms in response to mine disasters in several states. He added his law degree from Stetson University College of Law following a sabbatical, and as a volunteer, he organized legal and administrative challenges over local and state implementation of Florida’s growth management and other environmental protections. Among his many volunteer accomplishments, he sparked the Florida Clean Elections Campaign and helped broaden other coalition work across many communities and constituencies. Since 2004, he has served as an appointed, voting member of the Leon County Canopy Roads Citizens Committee. For more than twenty years, he has worked as an Assistant Public Defender in the Second Judicial Circuit, specializing in mental health law, and has lobbied for mental health reform. He also is a volunteer lobbyist for environmental and consumer issues throughout his years in Tallahassee. Dan has received recognition and awards from organizations throughout Florida, as well as regional and national advocacy groups. For several years, he was Legal Chair for the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club and was twice elected to the National Executive Committee of the Council of Club Leaders. He has served as President of the Florida Consumer Action Network Foundation and as Vice President of the Florida League of Conservation Voters, as well as Coordinator of the Council of Southern Mountains. Other board positions have included Common Cause/ Florida, Citizen Action, Democracy South, and the State Organizing Committee of Public Campaign. He is married to long-time environmental lobbyist and advocate Susie Caplowe.