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Ms. Ferguson is currently the Director of the Abaco Tourist Office. She is from Abaco and has been a dedicated and enthusiastic employee of the Ministry of Tourism for 15 years. Her service on the Board only serves to strengthen the relationship between FRIENDS and the Ministry of Tourism.


Vice President  


James Richard is the Chief Operations Officer for the One Eleuthera Foundation and the Center for Training and Innovation in Rock Sound, Eleuthera.  He served as the Principal of Forest Heights Academy in Marsh Harbour, Abaco for 14 years. He has also taught at the Bimini All Age School and S. C. Bootle High School as well as in Jamaica and Haiti.  Born and raised in Michigan, he has been living and teaching in the Caribbean since 1995.  

Mr. Richard’s passions are the environment, education and social justice. He served as a unit leader and island coordinator with the Governor General’s Youth Award for over 20 years and has been a Board member and volunteer with Friends of the Environment since 2004. He helped to write the Bahamian Marine Science curriculum, chaired the Abaco Education awards committee, and served as a Zone Leader for the National Food Distribution Task Force.  

He has two children: Donte, a senior at Michigan State University and Khalea, a sophomore at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.




Charlotte was born in Nassau, Bahamas and has grown up in Hong Kong and the UK. She completed her Master of Science degree in Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrew’s, Scotland in 2005 and recently received her PhD in Biology focusing on vocal communication in Blainville’s beaked whales: implications for social interactions and conservation. Charlotte has been living and working in Sandy Point with the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization since 2004. She has been involved in community service work in London, New York, and Hong Kong and now is an instrumental part of the Board at FRIENDS here in Abaco.




David is originally from Nassau and has lived in Abaco for the past 7 years. David was the first Abaco Park Warden for The Bahamas National Trust in Abaco, and now works as Chief Park Warden for the country. He previously worked as the Agricultural Officer in charge of Abaco for the Department of Agriculture and has extensive knowledge of the terrestrial environment in The Bahamas. He and his wife and three children live in Marsh Harbour.




Bachelor of Science University of the West Indies (Mona) - Zoology and Marine Biology. Ministry of Education teacher for over 30 years. On Ministry of Education Curriculum writing team for writer for Biology and Marine Science. Taught Marine Biology at Abaco Central High (Patrick J Bethel). Self proclaimed workshop junky, always in the pursuit of knowledge and always eager to share what I have learned. Leader in the Bahamas Girl Guides Association for 35 years and through that organization have engaged girls and young women in Coastal Clean ups, tree planting and other forms of Environmental activism. Michelle joined the Board in 2018, but has been part of FRIENDS' programs for much longer, actively working to involve her students in environmental education and help FRIENDS improve our reach. 




Jody is a bone fishing guide, one of the fastest growing ecotourism industries in the Bahamas. Jody’s roots are in Abaco, his family has been here for generations. Jody is a true outdoorsman and enjoys many of the opportunities Abaco has to offer. He lives in Marsh Harbour, Abaco




Diane was born and raised in Nassau. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science in 1988 from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida and completed an Overseas Research degree to fulfill requirements for a Master’s degree in Zoology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in 2006. Diane received her PhD in biology focusing on Spatial processes in the population ecology of beaked whales at St. Andrews University in Scotland. In 1991, Diane began the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization where she currently serves as Project Director and principle investigator.




Reg is a long time Abaco resident and is the proprietor of Lucayan Surveying in Marsh Harbour. As a land surveyor, his profession has provided him with extensive knowledge about The Abaco’s.  He currently lives in Marsh Harbour with his wife Donna and has two children. He is an avid birder and leads many of FRIENDS’ bird walks; he now offers tours through his company Lucayan Nature & Birding Tours. Reg possesses extensive terrestrial knowledge, as his father, Jack Patterson, was the author of the book Native Trees of The Bahamas, which many consider to be the premier book on native plants in The Bahamas.  Reg has also been a dedicated Rotarian for many years and is excited about sharing his knowledge and time with FRIENDS.




Joy Chaplin is a retired school teacher, who taught students both in Nassau and Abaco. Joy came to FRIENDS as a volunteer and helped to get the Discovery Club, an environmental education after school program up and running. She ran the Discovery Club for three years, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with countless students before moving onto a position on the Board. She lives in Leisure Lee.




Justin Higgs currently works as the Principal and Grade 5 & 6 teacher at Hope Town Primary School. He and his wife Amanda live in Hope Town, with their daughter Journey. His class has submitted winning projects at FRIENDS’ Science Fair multiple times. One of the projects was an experiment about how mangroves help fight against global warming. Justin was also the recipient of the 2008 FRIENDS scholarship to the Island School. Justin has a master’s in Education from Florida Atlantic University.




Jeremie is from Nassau and he moved to Abaco in 2005. He has been employed as a Public Servant since 1989; working in the Department of Fisheries later renamed the Department of Marine Resources (DMR). He is the senior officer responsible for Abaco and the management of both Marsh Harbour and Cooper’s Town offices of the DMR. He is a Marine Captain by profession and holds Associate degrees in Marine Technology and Marina Management from Florida Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife Carla and their son Jeremy in Central Abaco.

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