Staff

Leadership

Graham Casden - Founder & Chief Visionary Officer

Graham Casden - Founder & Chief Visionary Officer

Graham was born in Jackson Hole, WY but moved to California as a child. He soon developed an insatiable love for the ocean and quickly realized his life was intertwined with the sea. In 1995, Graham moved to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado and study marketing and entrepreneurship. His love for traveling and the ocean have led him to dive destinations all over the world. Graham wanted to find a way to continue exploring while also protecting the environment he loves. Over the course of the next 10 years, he’s worked diligently to create a community of ocean enthusiasts who are passionate about experiencing and preserving our marine environments.

Amy Christopher - Director of Travel

Amy Christopher - Director of Travel

Amy has been swimming and snorkeling for as long as she can remember. Her first experience was snorkeling with her family at Playa de los Gatos in Mexico when she was 2. From that point on she was hooked. Amy has been fortunate to have spent the majority of her life traveling around the world with her family. She earned her Open Water certification in 1991 and is now a SSI Master Instructor. Amy is the Director of Retail & Travel Operations and a videographer at Ocean First.  Her favorite part about diving is coming across the unexpected while diving, observing the behaviors of marine creatures, and exploring new countries. Amy has been with the team since March of 2000.

Kathy Gagliardo - Director of Retail & Buyer

Kathy Gagliardo - Director of Retail & Buyer

Kathy has always loved and been intrigued by the ocean, all from the first time she was "bitten" by a starfish at the age of 6. She has since learned that starfish can not bite people. Kathy loves learning about the behavior of creatures in the ocean and plans on becoming a vet someday. For now, she volunteers her time at Colorado's Ocean Journey. Kathy joined the team in January of 1998 and became an instructor in 1999.  She is the Retail Buyer for Ocean First.

Mark J Duvall - Director of Service & Facilities, Master Service Technician, TIDES Program Coordinator

Mark J Duvall - Director of Service & Facilities, Master Service Technician, TIDES Program Coordinator

Growing up on a ranch in the middle of Montana doesn’t afford many opportunities to spend time in the water, but as a teenager Mark would get out to Flathead Lake in northern Montana. In 1985, Mark moved to Boulder and worked as the IT Director for the Geological Society of America.  Later that year, while at a GSA meeting, a group of managers decided they would go diving in the Caribbean.  Unable to resist the lure of the tropics, Mark followed suit and never looked back.  Since then, he has been diving in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Roatan, Mexico and all around the Caribbean. In 2007, Mark became an instructor for Ocean First and is now the Director of Service & Facilities and Master Service Technician.

Brennan Bushman - Director of Training

Brennan Bushman - Director of Training

Born and raised in Vermont Brennan moved to Colorado in 2008 to pursue his love for cycling. He has worked in all facets of the bike industry from nonprofit to e-commerce. Scuba diving was always something that was a bucket list adventure and in 2018 he obtained his open water certification. This was a start to a new adventure that quickly turned into a passion. After 50 dives his first year, He endearingly earned the nickname Scuba B from his cycling buddies as well as got a tattoo inspired by the Wes Anderson film "The Life Aquatic". He just could not get enough and decided to pursue a career in diving. Brennan is currently on the path to becoming an Instructor and can't wait to share his love for diving with Colorado and beyond.

Alysha Perrin - Swim Director & Swim/Snorkel Instructor

Alysha Perrin - Swim Director & Swim/Snorkel Instructor

Alysha grew up swimming, boating, and flipping in the blue waters of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She began her water career in North Carolina in 2012 as a swim teacher at Charlotte Aquatics and a lifeguard and counselor at Camp Spring Creek. After spending recent years focused on other pursuits, she reanimated her water career by joining the Ocean First team in 2021. As a mountain girl at heart, Alysha was elated to discover a company dedicated to ocean adventure, education, and conservation in landlocked Colorado! In her other career, Alysha is a dance, aerial, and stilt teacher & performer and holds a BFA in contemporary dance. She enjoys kayaking, skiing, camping, and hiking and looks forward to adding more diving to her life!

Chrissy (Fred) Frederick - TIDES Team Leader, OFI Director of Education, Scuba Instructor

Chrissy (Fred) Frederick - TIDES Team Leader, OFI Director of Education, Scuba Instructor

Chrissy brings over 20 years of experience as a science teacher to her role leading the TIDES team. In addition to teaching scuba and marine science to youth, Chrissy is the Director of Education at Ocean First Institute.  She is a passionate advocate for ocean literacy and believes that all people should have the ability to learn marine science. When not helping others understand the ocean, Chrissy can be found spending time with her rescue lab mix, Roscoe, strumming her ukulele, or playing outside.  Chrissy is an avid trail runner, climber, paddler, skier, and equestrian.

Lisa Taylor - Executive Assistant to Founder

Lisa Taylor - Executive Assistant to Founder

Lisa grew up near Washington, D.C. and loved spending a portion of her summers exploring the Outer Banks. She learned to kayak and snorkel on vacations in Captiva, FL. From a young age, she was enamored with and respectful of Mother Ocean and all sea life. She moved to Colorado in 2003, and through a partnership with the engineering firm she worked for and Ocean First, she was able to realize a dream come true when she earned her Open Water in 2012 at Ocean First! Her decades-long career in customer care, sales, project management and team leadership led to joining the OF Community in early 2022 to support our Founder and Chief Visionary Officer. Since joining the team, she has established herself as a team leader and team player as she collaborates on initiatives with all Ocean First entities. In her free time, Lisa loves spending time with her blended family of 7 *pups make 9. She enjoys hiking, pilates, travel, continuing her dive education, and is loving learning how to surf.

Swim Instructors

Molly Leute - Swim Administrator & Lifeguard Instructor

Molly Leute - Swim Administrator & Lifeguard Instructor

Molly has been living in Longmont, Colorado since she was 11 months old. She has always loved the water and spent a lot of summers playing in Longmont's outdoor pools and taking lake vacations with her family. After wanting to be better than her brother, she became a lifeguard and eventually a Lifeguard Instructor and has been around pools ever since. She is passionate about teaching people how to be safe in the water. Molly graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in marketing. She enjoys spending her free time playing board games, going on motorcycle rides, and swimming.

Rosie Lee - Assistant Swim Administrator & Swim Instructor

Rosie Lee - Assistant Swim Administrator & Swim Instructor

Rosie was born and raised in central Texas. She moved to Boulder in 2023 to start a new adventure and to explore new opportunities as the Assistant Swim Administrator and teacher. She always loved the water growing up, whether that was swimming in her family pool or in the lake while camping or tubing. Her love for the water only grew over time, leading her to becoming a lifeguard and then an assistant manager at her home town pool. Rosie hopes to become scuba certified and learn more about freediving. When she is not around the water, you can find her with her fiance eating good food, walking her dog or at a bookstore.

Isabelle Wederquist - Swim Instructor

Isabelle Wederquist - Swim Instructor

Isabelle was born and raised in the beautiful town of Colorado Springs, spending most of her time camping, swimming, and enjoying the outdoors. Through her lengthy swimming career, she was a four year state qualifier and has spent time as a Special Olympics/Paralympics coach, swim lessons instructor, lifeguard, competitive swimming coach, and has served on the Colorado Swimming board of directors. Isabelle loves spending her free time camping, going to concerts, watching sports games, and going on spontaneous travel adventures with her friends and family!

Octavio Querol - Swim Instructor

Octavio Querol - Swim Instructor

Octavio grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, and moved to Longmont, Colorado at 12 years old. He has been swimming his whole life and started competitive swimming in sixth grade, during which he fell in love with the water. Throughout his competitive career, Octavio qualified for state many different times and in two different states, usually with his favorite stroke, freestyle. Octavio loves being in and around the water, especially in the ocean. He has a passion for the ocean and marine life, and is exploring career and education opportunities in this field. He became open water certified in scuba in the summer of 2022, which has only served to reignite his passion for adventure and the ocean!

Christian De Simone - Swim Instructor

Christian De Simone - Swim Instructor

Christian has been living in Colorado since 2019. Before moving to Boulder, Christian lived in Connecticut and Mexico. Ever since growing up in Connecticut, he loved the water. Whether it was swimming at the local pool or going to the beach, Christian loved to swim and be in water. Christian joined the swim team at 4 years old because he wanted to do what his sister was doing. During middle school, Christian moved to Mexico where he raced in triathlons and learned to speak Spanish fluently. After moving back to Connecticut for high school he continued racing on the competitive swim team and competed at states over multiple years for multiple events. Christian is now pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Lily Harris - Swim Instructor

Lily Harris - Swim Instructor

Born and raised in Miami, Lily has always enjoyed the ocean. From a young age, she enjoyed spending weekends at the beach or on a boat. Having been a runner all her life, in 2021 she picked up swimming and biking, which brought her to Colorado to join the CU Boulder Triathlon team. She recently placed 14th out of 358 athletes at Collegiate Nationals. When she goes home to Miami, she loves to open water swim while admiring all the sea life. Aside from pursuing a degree in Psychology at CU, she loves hiking, running and biking all the trails Colorado has to offer!

Sierra Pokrob - Swim Instructor

Sierra Pokrob - Swim Instructor

Sierra was born in New Hampshire, but spent most of her life in Oregon.  After growing up surrounded by mountains and being raised by outdoorsy parents, Boulder felt like a good fit for her.  She spent time camping, hiking, and backpacking during childhood and now as an adult.  Although she loves that aspect of nature, the element she’s been most drawn to is water.  As a toddler she and her dad walked their dogs to a nearby river everyday. As she got older, she spent as many days of summer as she could in Oregon lakes and rivers. In high school she played water polo and swam competitively, and she’s continued those activities recreationally.  Sierra also has a history of incorporating her love for water into her work life; her first job was as a lifeguard and she worked as a swim instructor before joining the Ocean First team!

Emily Moran - Swim Instructor

Emily Moran - Swim Instructor

Emily was born and raised in Central Texas. She moved to Longmont 5 years ago with her husband and 3 dogs. She had a pool in her childhood backyard and swam her summer breaks away. Her family always centered their vacations around lakes, rivers or the gulf coast. Following in her older siblings footsteps, she became a lifeguard in high school and always felt it was her most rewarding job. She believes everyone should know the basics of swimming and how to stay safe in the water. In her free time Emily spends time with her husband and dogs, takes care of her many houseplants, crochets, and works on various craft projects.

Justus Redding - Swim Instructor

Justus Redding - Swim Instructor

Justus was born in Atlanta, Georgia and has been swimming since he can remember. He was taught to swim by his lifeguard mother and was on the Emory Barracudas swim team for 5 years During that time he went to the state championships twice. He later decided to follow in his mother's footsteps and has been a certified lifeguard since 2019. He moved to Colorado to study Biology at CU Boulder and spent a semester abroad studying in Spain. Justus has always loved the water and is very excited to bring that same joy to others.

Stephanie Sarette - Swim Instructor

Stephanie Sarette - Swim Instructor

Stephanie is from Sunnyvale, California. She started learning to swim at 9 months old. By the time she was 6, she was swimming competitively, but stopped competing when she started playing club volleyball in middle school. However, she still loved to swim and became a lifeguard in high school. In 2017, she moved to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend Eckerd College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science. She moved to Boulder in 2023 to pursue her Master’s degree in Data Science at CU. Stephanie became Scuba certified during her freshman year at Eckerd. During her free time, she loves to swim, play volleyball, read, travel, and scuba dive!

Scuba Instructors

Jaimie Albach - Assistant Training Director, TIDES OFKL Program Coordinator

Jaimie Albach - Assistant Training Director, TIDES OFKL Program Coordinator

Jaimie became scuba certified in 2014 while pursuing a degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston. Since then, she has worked as a scientific diver aiding in research for NOAA and universities, as an aquarium diver, and as a Divemaster and Assistant Instructor working with students of all ages and countries. Most recently, she came to us from her home state of Texas, where she worked as a diver for three and a half years at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, assisting astronauts in their training for space walks. Her goal is to instill a confidence in the water and a love of scuba and the ocean in all her students.

Kelly Dananay - Marketing Coordinator, Scuba Instructor, & Trip Leader

Kelly Dananay - Marketing Coordinator, Scuba Instructor, & Trip Leader

As a Colorado native, Kelly discovered scuba diving when she was certified in high school. She tried a wide variety of jobs and even went to Colorado State University to earn a degree in Biomedical Sciences, but eventually decided to pursue a career in scuba diving. Diving has taken her all over the Caribbean, Bahamas, Asia, Fiji, and then some! After a few adventurous years working as a dive instructor in Curacao, Kelly came back home to Colorado to continue her scuba diving career as a dive instructor and Assistant Training Director for Ocean First.  Kelly helps out with marketing, retail, and tends to many of the office plants. When she's not blowing bubbles, you can find Kelly gardening, hanging out with her pets (including chickens), and a hive of honey bees!

Matt Carr - Scuba Instructor (Divemaster Instructor), Service Technician

Matt Carr - Scuba Instructor (Divemaster Instructor), Service Technician

Matt has been around the water his entire life. At a young age he would swim in his parent’s pool, testing how long he could hold his breath, to see what it was like to be underwater for a long period of time. In high school, he was on the diving team and as he grew older, his passion for the water also grew. In 2001, he took a trip to Cancun where he was introduced to diving with a Try Scuba class. In May 2002, he got Open Water Certificatied and then for the next 7 years volunteered for a dive shop as a Rescue Diver. In 2013, he got certified as a Dive Control Specialist and started working for Ocean First. Matt has worked his way up the Instructor ranks to become a Divemaster Instructor. Matt is also one of the main service techs and helps maintain our facility. Locally, he has logged over 150-175 dives in The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa New Mexico, 75 dives in Homestead Crater in Midway Utah, and 75 dives in Aurora Reservoir. Belize is one of his favorite places to dive!

Cathy Christopher - TIDES Program Coordinator, Scuba Instructor, Trip Leader

Cathy Christopher - TIDES Program Coordinator, Scuba Instructor, Trip Leader

Cathy grew up in northeast Ohio knowing that she loved science - biology specifically - from an early age. While her interest in marine science started with whales, by the time she got to undergrad, she was enamored with the invertebrates. While in grad school at Florida Atlantic University, Cathy earned her Open Water and Nitrox scuba certifications and gained experience with various projects about birds and sea turtles and everything in between. Cathy moved from Florida to Colorado in 2015 to work full time for Ocean First Education (OFE) where she and the rest of the team develop K-12 marine science content. If you've taken any of the SSI Ecology courses, you're already familiar with the work done by OFE – the two companies partnered several years ago to make marine science education more accessible to divers. In 2017, Cathy became a dive instructor for Ocean First and enjoys pointing out the unique invertebrates she comes across on her dives throughout the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific. If you ask nicely, she might even help you ID your fish and invert images.

Dan Goldan - Scuba Instructor

Dan Goldan - Scuba Instructor

Dan was scuba certified by Ocean First back in 1991 when it was still Scuba Joe.  He had wanted to get his scuba certification for several years, but at the time, couldn’t afford it.  He won a certification course as a door prize at an awards dinner.  At the time, he was a volunteer firefighter with Cherryvale Fire (now Rocky Mtn Fire), and is still a volunteer rescuer with the Boulder Emergency Squad.  He went on to become a public safety diver with the Boulder Emergency Squad, and then a Public Safety Scuba Instructor in 1997.  Dan became a corporate trainer for Dive Rescue Int’l in 1998 and remains active with them today.  In 2008 he became a recreational scuba instructor with SSI, and moved on to becoming a technical diving instructor in 2012.  Dan joined Ocean First as an instructor in 2010 and is currently an Assistant Instructor Trainer with SSI.  His passions in diving include multi-gas and multi-tank, deep, sidemount diving, as well as mentoring new instructors.  He also enjoys biking, swimming and shorter distance triathlons.

Mike Pivacek - TIDES Program Coordinator, Scuba Instructor

Mike Pivacek - TIDES Program Coordinator, Scuba Instructor

Mike grew up in upstate New York where he fished and snorkeled around cold, dark lakes as often as possible. His dream was to work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and spend time in and around the ocean. When his family moved to Colorado, he was forced to put his oceanic career on hold; Mike spent eight years in the military and graduated from Regis College with honors, beginning a career in technology where he became a Chief Information Officer and eventually the General Manager for a large data company in Denver. He has traveled extensively for business and pleasure – his favorite land destination was Zimbabwe, and his favorite diving trip was to the Socorro Islands.
Mike lives in Broomfield and now splits his time now between management consulting, training students in his self-defense business, traveling and diving with his wife Erin and teaching scuba at Ocean First including middle and high school students in the TIDES program.
He has been diving since 2009 and has been instructing since 2017 – all of his certifications and professional training were completed at Ocean First. Mike’s dive travels have taken him to Key Largo, Cozumel, Fiji, the Caymans, Roatan, the Socorro Islands, and Guadalupe Island where he got to see great white sharks up close and personal!

Dave Sturtz - Scuba Instructor

Dave Sturtz - Scuba Instructor

Dave was scuba certified at Ocean First in 2002 when it was still called Scuba Joe, and went on to become a scuba instructor in 2011. He has dived in Costa Rica, Maui, Bonaire, Roatan, Cozumel, Baja, Grenada, the Caymans, the Virgin Islands, Fiji and Thailand, mostly with his wife and dive buddy Anita.  He began working on the retail end of Ocean First in 2016 and loves giving customer the care and attention he would expect to receive.  Dave also enjoys camping, rafting, skiing, biking and motorcycling, and is a volunteer firefighter with the Gold Hill FD.

Shayna Farnsworth - Scuba Instructor

Shayna Farnsworth - Scuba Instructor

Shayna fell in love with the water from an early age. Her mom was a scuba instructor in her 20’s and Shayna remembers being amazed using mom’s equipment to breathe at the bottom of the pool. Shayna continued her journey underwater and became a scuba instructor in Roatan, Honduras in 2017. Since then, Shayna has been passionate about learning more about marine life and spreading her love for the ocean to everyone around her. She loves being a part of the TIDES program and helping students discover the wonders of the ocean!

Jon Bork - Scuba Instructor

Jon Bork - Scuba Instructor

Jon was scuba certified in 1981 in the Florida Keys and, after retiring from Intel Corporation, became a scuba instructor with Ocean First. He enjoys diving in reefs and wrecks and has explored various locations including Bonaire, Roatan, Cozumel, Belize, Tulum, the Caymans, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Truk, Palau, and Yap, often alongside his wife and favorite dive buddy, Kim. Recently, he has been assisting Ocean First Key Largo with teaching and guiding during his snowbird stays in Key Largo. Jon also dedicates his time as a volunteer rescue diver with the Larimer County Dive Rescue Team.

Dean Harper - Scuba Instructor

Dean Harper - Scuba Instructor

Dean is a Colorado native who didn’t spend much time around the water until serving as a nuclear propulsion officer in the US Navy.  While stationed in San Diego, CA in the early ‘90s, he completed his open water certification and made a number of dives along the west coast before moving back to Colorado in 1994…  after many years away from diving he came to Ocean First in 2017 with his wife and daughter and they all completed their OW certifications so they could dive on a vacation in Belize.   Since then he’s been diving as much as possible, mostly throughout the Caribbean, and ultimately decided to pursue his passion for the ocean and diving by completing his Instructor Certification in 2021.   Dean loves to share his passion for diving and helping others on their journey.  

 

Alex Dorgan - Scuba Instructor

Alex Dorgan - Scuba Instructor

SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor/React Right Instructor. Alex became a diver over 25 years ago in Cozumel, Mexico and has had opportunities to dive all over the world, including the Red Sea, Egypt, Fiji, and Iceland to name a few. He began his professional scuba career with Oceans First in 2018, and is now an SSI Advanced Open Water Instructor. Alex is passionate about developing his knowledge, skills, and abilities as a diver and has become a multi-gas technical diver, and is working toward his cave diving certification in order further explore the underwater world.

He is a Lieutenant on the Denver Fire Department, and serves as a HAZMAT team leader on CO-TF1, FEMA Urban Search and Rescue, which responds to national level disasters. Alex had a prior career as a photojournalist working for the Des Moines Register, the Associated Press, and Department of Defense. Having grown up in Boulder, Alex is also an avid cyclist and also a wine enthusiast.

Alex is always looking forward to his next dive adventure and loves to share that enthusiasm and experience.

 

Andy Hawk - Scuba Instructor, Trip Leader

Andy Hawk - Scuba Instructor, Trip Leader

Andy considers himself “Native Enough” when it comes to Colorado street cred. His family moved to Colorado early in his childhood, and he has been fortunate to split his time between the front range and Breckenridge ever since. His outdoor recreation vocations began during college as a ski instructor on the slopes of Breckenridge, CO, where he still teaches part time. A summer adventure with Outward Bound confirmed outdoor recreation as a lifelong passion, and that the true reward would be found in
sharing those opportunities with others.

Andy is a SSI Assistant Instructor Trainer at Ocean First and loves to help divers find their balance of relaxing vacation and ongoing education about diving, the ocean, and local culture. He’s at home in the Caribbean but enjoys diving everywhere. A bucket list
junkie that is willing to try many things once. He once sprung out of the icy waters of Lake Superior with a frozen and free-flowing regulator only to begin planning colder and deeper dives... from the beaches of Cozumel. Andy summited Mt. Kilimanjaro under a
full moon with a group of friends and family. After 7 summers as a river guide in Colorado, he prefers his old truck to a new car because of the certainty that no matter where adventure leads, there will always be a reliable place to sleep.

Retail Staff

Drew Herrick - Freediving Instructor & Retail Specialist

Drew Herrick - Freediving Instructor & Retail Specialist

As Florida native, Drew has been exploring underwater as early as he can remember.  He took his first scuba class in 2008 and became a divemaster in 2010. Eventually, the mountains lured him to Durango, Colorado where he earned a degree in Adventure Education and spent several years working in the outdoor industry. Still, the ocean called and he moved to southeast Asia to continue developing his water skills. He became a Freediving Instructor in 2016 and taught courses in Thailand and the Philippines. To date, Drew has achieved breath holds over six minutes and depths of 200ft. He recently moved back to Colorado and is looking forward to training at altitude and supporting the growth of apnea enthusiasts around the front range.

Mike Price - Retail Specialist, Scuba Instructor, Trip Leader

Mike Price - Retail Specialist, Scuba Instructor, Trip Leader

Growing up on Long Island, NY, Mike was around boats and the ocean his whole childhood. He was OW certified in 2002 in Maui while attending his friend's wedding. Life got in the way of diving after that and he spent 17 years away from scuba diving. In 2019 he took a scuba refresher class at OF before his trip to Belize. On that trip that he decided to get out of the restaurant business, that he'd been in for 26 years, and become a full time scuba instructor. He is very grateful to be able to continue sharing his passion and continuing to educate students about the ocean and marine life while living in Colorado. When he's not diving he enjoys playing music, seeing live concerts, playing golf, going to baseball games, and of course, traveling!

Ocean First Key Largo

Mark "Sharky" Alexander - Captain & Scuba Instructor

Mark "Sharky" Alexander - Captain & Scuba Instructor

Captain Mark “Sharky” Alexander’s love for adventure in the outdoors started from a young age. Over thirty years ago, he started diving as a public safety diver in Illinois and has been hooked since. He enjoyed his first ocean dive in the Caribbean and that experience launched his desire to help others learn to dive. He has been instructing divers for 25 years. He is a rebreather, mixed gas, and Diver Medical Technician/Hyperbaric Medicine instructor. His extensive diving expeditions led to him becoming a member of The Explorer’s Club in 2010 and a fellow with the Royal Geological Society. His love for the ocean motivated him to earn his US Coast Guard 100-ton master captain’s license. After 33 years of being a paramedic and 20 years of the US Air Force Reserves, Sharky and his family retired to Tavernier, FL. In January 2022, Sharky joined Ocean First Key Largo. He is an SSI Assistant Instructor Trainer and the head captain for Wave Ryder and Blazin’ Blue.  Come and join Sharky diving the wrecks and the reefs of the Florida Keys!

Lauren Tracy - Divemaster & Marine Biologist

Lauren Tracy - Divemaster & Marine Biologist

Lauren began her diving career as a scientific diver at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers where she graduated with her bachelors in Marine Science studying seagrass, zooplankton, and K. brevis (red tide). After graduating, she moved to Key Largo, Fl to work as a divemaster and mate while also gaining sea time to upgrade her captain's license. In Key Largo, Lauren also works with Ocean First Institute on shark, goliath grouper and microplastic research. Following her love for the ocean, Lauren bought a 34 ft sailboat, SV Lizzie Belle, when she was in college and has lived aboard since 2020.

Alisia Carlson - Scuba Instructor & Photo Pro

Alisia Carlson - Scuba Instructor & Photo Pro

Alisia Carlson (known as Al by fellow divers and crew members) started life in Panama City, Florida and fell in love with the ocean as a child. Her first job was as a lifeguard and swim instructor and, no matter what state her family moved to, she found a way to be in the water. While lifeguarding in Mississippi one day, an instructor gave her the opportunity to do a quick scuba dive in the deep end. It was MAGIC!!! Years later, in Springfield Missouri, she was bouncing in and out of college and couldn't figure out what she wanted to do with life. She read a book that suggested thinking of the happiest fifteen minutes of her life and applying that to a career. Immediately that fifteen minutes in the deep end of a pool came to mind and she decided to be a dive instructor! After getting her open water certification in Key Largo she knew it would become her home. A couple of years and a lot of hard work later, she made her home in Key Largo and started building her life and career there. Now Al is an Advanced Open Water Instructor who can navigate around the reefs better than on land and has been building her portfolio of professional underwater photography. When you visit Ocean First Key Largo, definitely dive with Al!

Julie Alexander - Administration

Julie Alexander - Administration

Julie signed up for a Discover Scuba class in Hawaii in 1994 and loved it! When she returned home to Illinois, she met a guy who also shared her love for the ocean and the desire to learn more about scuba diving. He paid for her Open Water class, and the rest is history! They were married two years later and have been diving together all over the world. They have two children, Alana and Malia, who are also both certified divers. They loved diving in the Florida Keys so much that they decided to move to Key Largo in 2021. Julie is the Office Manager for Ocean First Key Largo, and her husband Sharky is a dive instructor and the boat captain. Give her a call to sign up for a scuba class or a dive charter to see the wonderful reefs and wrecks of the Florida Keys!

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