Robert L. Knight, PhD

Executive Director

Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist/systems ecologist. He has over 38 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. His doctoral work included an ecological assessment of Silver Springs and Silver River under the direction of Howard T. Odum. He completed assessments of the quantitative basis for establishing a minimum flow regime for protection of water and human-use resource values (WRVs) in Volusia County Blue Spring, a 50-year retrospective study of the ecological health of Silver Springs, the basis for establishing pollutant load reduction goals and WRVs for the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, and a comparison of the ecology of twelve of Florida’s artesian springs.

Under Dr. Knight's leadership, the Florida Springs Institute has developed restoration action plans for Glen Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Kings Bay Springs, Lower Suwannee River Springs, Rainbow Springs, Santa Fe River Springs, Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Wekiva River and Springs. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Florida Springs Institute, Dr. Knight is also a Board and/or Advisory Panel member for the Silver Springs Alliance, Ichetucknee Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Wakulla Springs Alliance, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and Florida Springs Council.

Heather Obara, Esq.

Associate Director

Heather received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Political Philosophy from Florida State University in 2010. In 2013, Heather became a graduate of Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida, where she received an Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law.  

As a law student, Heather was involved in several organizations on campus including serving as President of the Environmental Law Society, Vice President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and member of the Environmental and Earth Law Journal and Environmental Responsibility Committee. As a result of her hard work, she was selected as the 2013 Environmental and Earth Law Student of the Year by her law school professors. In September 2013, Heather was admitted to practice law as a member of the Florida Bar. 

Heather has been an active member of the environmental community for several years as a volunteer with various non-profit organizations and previously served as FSI's Outreach Director. Heather currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Springs Council and Silver Springs Alliance. She is also a member of the Blue Spring Alliance Steering Committee. 

Melissa Redon

Outreach Director

Over the last 10 years, Melissa has provided marketing, design, fundraising, and event planning services to a myriad of businesses and industries, including many local non-profits. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Florida in 2003 and an A.A. in Graphic Design from Santa Fe College in 2005, as well as a certificate in Tradeshow Marketing from the University of Illinois in 2011.

While Melissa is new to the environmental community, she has been a springs enthusiast since her first trip to Blue Springs in 2000. 

Emily Taylor

Environmental Scientist

Emily received her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Florida in December 2016 and plans to continue her education in Fall 2017 as a graduate student. Emily was an intern with the Florida Springs Institute for four years before becoming an Environmental Scientist. 

Paul Donsky

Environmental Technician

Paul  was an intern with the Florida Springs Institute before joining our staff as an Environmental Technician. He is currently receiving his AA degree from Santa Fe College and intends to transfer to the University of Florida to study Soil and Water Science. On the weekends, Paul volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. 

Tessa Skiles


Media and Communications Specialist, GIS Technician

Tessa has grown up around the springs and is driven by a strong passion to preserve and protect them so that future generations can enjoy the springs as she has. Tess has a degree in Drafting and Design Technologies and a background in GIS mapping, marketing, event coordination, film, and photography. On her free time she enjoys free-diving and nature photography. With her work and hobbies, most of the time this lands her at springs all around the state but she also enjoys traveling to discover new places and photographing all of nature's wonders, above and below water.

The Florida Springs Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. All or a portion of your donation may be tax deductible. FEIN 46-1663401.

Mailing Address: 23695 W US HWY 27, High Springs, FL 32643
MainTel: (386) 454-9369

Contact Us

FDACS Registration #CH38941, Expiration Date: 6/28/2018


Copyright © 2017 Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software