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Meet the Team «

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Jillian Morris

Founder & Outreach Coordinator

Born and raised in Maine, Jillian’s love for the ocean started at an early age and has continued to play an integral role in her adult life. She has spent thousands of hours in the field working and diving with sharks across the globe. She is a marine biologist, shark advocate, scuba instructor, explorer and educator. As the executive director of Oceanicallstars conservation media group, she combines her love of these animals with a passion for photo, video and writing. As a videographer she has worked with National Geographic, Discovery, BBC, Animal Planet, PBS, ESPN, ITV, E!, ABC and numerous other international networks.

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When she is not traveling to film, Jillian spends time in classrooms around the world talking to kids about sharks. She created SHARKS4KIDS because shark education and awareness should not be limited to experts or even people who live near the ocean. We all need the ocean and our oceans need sharks. She wanted to create materials, curriculum, videos and images that anyone can use to spread a positive message about sharks and why they desperately need and deserve our help. “Kids offer hope for the future of our planet and it is critical that they have the knowledge to save these amazing creatures. They have a voice, they will be heard and they will save sharks. “

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Dr Derek Burkholder

Lead Scientist & Education Coordinator

Derek grew up in Michigan spending a lot of his childhood exploring the woods and spending time on the water (though slightly less salty water than he deals with now). His love for the outdoors and the water started early and on a family vacation to Florida when he was 8, went on a marsh tour with a marine biologist. From that day on he had his mission!

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He received his Bachelors degree from Albion College in Albion, Michigan and during that time was first introduced to the amazing world of shark research. After graduation he moved to Florida as a Research Scientist at MOTE Marine Lab for a year before starting his graduate studies. Derek received his PhD from Florida International University in 2012 and is currently working as a Research Associate as part of the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Center at Nova Southeastern University.

His work at Nova will be focused around building a local shark tagging program in South Florida where we will study shark movements, shark diets, genetic population structure, and will also provide an opportunity for local residents and school kids to participate in the research, and to tag and learn about sharks in the field.

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Duncan Brake

Media Specialist & Videographer

Duncan Brake went in the sea for the first time when he was only 3 days old; his dad had a new underwater camera and wanted to snap a few pictures. Engrained early, his love for the ocean has shaped most of his adult life. Duncan films a lot of the Jawsome Sharks4Kids Videos. You can find out more about him by checking out his website www.DuncanBrake.com or watching his fintastic promo reel by clicking here.

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Duncan graduated with a degree in marine biology from Sterling University in Scotland before heading south to work as a junior scientist and fisheries observer. During his time in the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica; Duncan began honing his filming skills, capturing stunning images and video of the amazing and unique wildlife. A stint at the Sharklab in Bimini, The Bahamas found Duncan more involved in various shark related film shoots. He returned as the media manager and began filming for National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet and Discovery among others. Duncan created the media organization, OceanicAllstars as a means of bringing like-minded individuals together to create photos, videos and graphics to spread conservation messages.

Duncan travels the world filming sharks and other wildlife and combines a science background with his unique vision of the wild world to create powerful images he hopes inspire people to dive in, explore and take care of sharks and the planet.

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Joe Grabowski

Director of Education

Joe Grabowski is a grade 8 Science and Math teacher in the city of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He’s always loved the ocean, but fell head over heels while living in Wollongong, Australia for a year in 2007. It was there he first began scuba diving and was lucky enough to dive with 6 species of sharks. Since then he has explored the waters of Fiji, Cozumel and North Carolina, but usually he can be found more locally with his coldwater gear, diving the shipwrecks of the Great Lakes.   [expand title="Read More"] Joe first connected with Sharks4Kids through classroom Skype calls with Jillian and Derek. After those calls his class was inspired to write letters speaking out against the shark cull in Western Australia, making local and international headlines in the process. Later that year, he organized the Sharks4Kids Guelph Tour, flying Jillian, Duncan and Derek to Guelph and taking them on a whirlwind speaking tour. In 5 days they visited 20 schools and reached over 5,000 students. He couldn’t be more excited to be officially joining the Sharks4Kids Crew! [/expand]

Dony Zaidi

Media Editing & Photographer

Dony Zaidi has had an illustrious career in business and development, but has recently pursued more environmentally focused endeavors. His passion for the ocean and photography, has allowed him to generate numerous PSAs about important ocean conservation issues.

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Dony did his first shark dive at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas and was immediately hooked. He has since been active in shark conservation including speaking at a city council meeting regarding a ban on shark fins on the city of Toronto. In October 2011, Toronto officially banned fins, becoming one of the largest cities in the world to do so. Dony has proved that you do not need to live near the ocean to make a difference.

Dony is a strong proponent of renewable energy and has combined his business and development background with his passion for environmental conservation, partnering in the Balsam Lake Green Energy project, one of the largest solar farms in all of Canada.

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