A 25-year veteran of non-profit management, Jim McDuffie previously served in a variety of leadership roles for The Nature Conservancy’s programs in Florida, North Carolina and Maryland/DC. His tenure with the organization also included fellowships in Palau, where he consulted with the Palau International Coral Reef Center in Koror, and in Australia, where he collaborated with multiple conservation partners across the Asia-Pacific region on strategies for building financially viable organizations. A native of North Carolina, Jim grew up in the longleaf pine forests of the Sandhills, where from an early age he enjoyed hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. He added fly-fishing to those passions 16 years ago, beginning with trips to Montana, Colorado and the Southern Appalachian streams of his home state. Jim received the BA and MA degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Director of Science and Conservation • Senior Scientist, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Aaron is the Director of Science and Conservation for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and a Senior Scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University. He received a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College in Maryland, a Master’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and also holds a Coast Guard Captain’s License. He has lived, worked, and fished on both coasts of the US, as well as throughout the Caribbean, where he has been conducting fish research for more than 25 years. His pursuit of effective fisheries and habitat conservation are rooted in his years growing up near Chesapeake Bay, where he witnessed the decline of the Bay’s habitats and fisheries.
His scientific focus has been on conducting applied research with conservation implications (from coral reef to recreational species), with a particular interest in fish habitat ecology. As Director of Science and Conservation, Aaron is responsible for formulating and implementing BTT’s science and conservation plan.
In addition to his duties at BTT, Aaron is also an avid angler, and spends considerable effort translating fish science into fishermen’s terms – including authoring three books and contributing to numerous other books.
Membership and Communications Manager
Nick was born in Palo Alto, California, but grew up in North Carolina, where he earned a BA in English from Duke University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Before joining the BTT staff in the summer of 2016, Nick spent six years working as a fly-fishing guide and freelance writer in Asheville, NC. He has had the opportunity to fish in some unforgettable places, including Belize, Patagonia, Italy, and the Argentina-Paraguay border. His writings about his fly-fishing travels have appeared in a number of publications, including Fly Rod & Reel, The Drake, and Eastern Fly-Fishing.
As the Membership and Communications Manager, Nick heads up the membership program and serves as the primary contact for current and prospective members. Nick also helps produce the BTT Journal and monthly newsletter, as well as content for the blog and BTT’s social media accounts. Please contact Nick with any questions regarding membership or communications.
Florida Keys Initiative Manager
Brooke Denkert Black was born and raised in Miami, FL to a family of devout shallow water anglers and currently resides in Islamorada with her husband, Capt. Richard Black. She received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and is completing her M.S. of Environmental Science with a concentration in estuarine ecology from Florida Gulf Coast University. Artificial tackle is Brooke’s favorite mode of attack but the fly rod is always on the boat when frequenting Florida Bay and the waters of the Florida Keys. Her favorite fish changes daily but she can’t deny the tremendous respect and curiosity she reserves for bonefish physiology and ecology.
Understanding the importance of all professional arenas, Brooke develops and maintains relationships with the angling, scientific and political communities from Key Largo to Key West with occasional jaunts to “the Mainland.” Much of her work involves GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and a proactive approach to fishery research, conservation and management. You can frequently spot her at public meetings and fishing tournaments.
Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Program Manager
JoEllen was born with an obsession for all things saltwater related - especially fishing. She made her boating debut at 5-days-old and had a rod in her hand by the time she could walk. JoEllen grew up fishing Charlotte Harbor with her family which soon influenced family vacations to Australia, Belize, Costa Rica and an annual Keys trip - with the intermittent snowboard trip out west. Her fascination for fishing and guidance from her father ultimately led to a career in marine science. JoEllen held a position with Florida's management agency (FWC) and spent time in the field volunteering with FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory. After receiving her Bachelor's Degree from Florida Gulf Coast University, JoEllen was hired as BTT's first membership administrator and research assistant. She completed her Master's Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at University of Florida (Go Gators!) where her research focused on Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Use. A self-proclaimed "aquaholic", JoEllen spends her free time fishing Charlotte Harbor with her husband and their two dogs.
As BTT's Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Program Manager, JoEllen is in charge of all things juvenile tarpon related. This includes juvenile tarpon habitat research projects from South Carolina to the Florida Keys, mapping of juvenile tarpon habitat and education to the public through presentations.
Bahamas Initiative Manager
Justin is a Bahamian native from Freeport, Grand Bahama. Being raised on the island around the water, his passion for fishing and the ocean started from a very young age. He first started fly fishing off the beach near his family home for whatever could swim. From there, he evolved into a passionate flats angler and conservationist, with a particular fondness for bonefish. Justin attended St. Francis Xavier University on the East coast of Canada where he received a BA in Aquatic Resources with Public Policy and Social Research. During his undergraduate studies, he took part in a variety of conservation efforts including the Bahamas bonefish tagging program and juvenile bonefish research. After he completed his undergraduate degree, Justin went the University of York in England where he completed an MSc in Marine Environmental Management.
With BTT conservation efforts expanding throughout the Islands of the Bahamas, it was apparent that someone was needed in the Bahamas full time. Justin is now the Bahamas Initiative Coordinator, and is in charge of leading conservation efforts, such as tagging and habitat restoration. He will also be charged with maintaining and forging new relationships with the many lodges and guides around the islands that depend on the health of the bonefish fishery for their livelihood.
Director of Development
Mark caught his first bonefish when he was nine years old, and has been pursuing all types of finned, feathered, and furred species ever since. He is a graduate from Elon University with degrees in Strategic Communications and Video Production. After college, he spent a year working for an outfitter in Alaska before following his dream of a cross country road trip fishing from Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula to Key West. Since then, he returned home to the DC area working as a Legislative Assistant at Capitol Hill Consulting Group, a lobbying firm on Capitol Hill. Mark is thankful to have gotten an early start in fishing through his parents, and hopes to preserve the world’s most exciting game fish for his future children.
As the Director of Development, Mark is in charge of all BTT's fundraising events. He manages the various aspects of events including committees, event details, program and auctions, and makes sure that everyone gets the most out of any BTT function. He also assists on the many different initiatives at BTT. If you have any questions regarding any events feel free to email Mark.
Finance and Operations Manager
Scott is a Miami native whose family owned and operated Pinewood Acres School for 60 years in Kendall, FL. He graduated from the University of Miami and supports his “Canes”. His family retired the Pinewood Acres School in 2013, which gave Scott the opportunity and flexibility to do what he loves, spend time in the outdoors! Scott is an avid fisherman and hunter who started fishing at the age of 4 pursuing everything that swims. He and his father traveled frequently to the Caribbean and the Keys chasing bonefish, tarpon and permit on fly. Self admittedly catching snook on artificials in the Ten Thousand Islands area is his favorite pastime. Scott is excited to be a team member in helping to preserve the future of our fisheries.
Development & Event Coordinator
Ashley grew up in Pennsylvania but now considers herself a Floridian. She has been an avid scuba diver for over ten years and after earning her BA in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in 2014, Ashley pursued her MS at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School. While conducting her thesis research in Dry Tortugas National Park, she got hooked on fishing for tarpon from kayaks in-between slaying invasive lionfish and conducting reef fish counts. Ashley’s research focused on the benefits of marine protected areas as conservation tools for fisheries. Before joining BTT in 2016, Ashley worked as a marine biology teacher in San Salvador, Bahamas.
As BTT’s Development & Event Coordinator, Ashley manages all aspects of planning BTT’s fundraising events and serves as the point person for coordinating with event committees, speakers and attendees as well as outside vendors. Please contact Ashley with any questions regarding events or communications.