Board of Directors

David C. Drysdale, Board Chairman and President

The Alligator Farm has been in the Drysdale family since 1937, when David’s father and his partner Charlie Usina first purchased the attraction. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1970, David assumed management responsibilities, and he has led improvements and expansion projects over the last five decades. He continues to be actively involved with strategic planning for the zoo as well as dedicating his time as a member of the Board of Trustees of Flagler College and the Lightner Museum. David and his wife Cece have two sons, David and James.

Frank D. Upchurch III, Secretary of the Board

Mr. Upchurch is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his J.D. degree at the University of Florida College of Law. He served in the Judge Advocate General Corps for the U.S. Navy and earned the rank of Lieutenant. He is a shareholder in the law firm of Upchurch, Bailey & Upchurch, P.A. and serves as the St. Johns County School Board Attorney. Among his civic and professional activities are: the University of Florida Law Center Association board and membership and former chair of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee. He also serves on the board for Flagler College. Mr. Upchurch is a member of the Florida Bar Association.

Robert C. Ferran

As a fifth-generation Florida native, Robert has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s fascinating wildlife. A graduate of the University of Florida, Rob has travelled extensively throughout the tropics, and for years he was involved with his father in the family’s mechanical contracting firm in Orlando, Ferran, before the company was sold in 2010. Rob and his wife Michelle reside in Alpine, Texas.

Richard D. Brock

Richard has extensive experience and expertise as a financial advisor and business consultant. After earning his degree from the University of Florida, Richard was a founder and chairman of the Jacksonville-based LBA Group, a CPA firm with over 100 employees. He resides in Jacksonville Beach.

David C. Drysdale

David, like his father, was born in St. Augustine and has had a lifelong interest in the Alligator Farm. He graduated from St. Joseph Academy, where he excelled in baseball, which he continued to play competitively at the collegiate level. David graduated from the University of Florida in 2020 and is currently engaged in the real estate business.

James H. Drysdale

The youngest member of the family graduated from St. Joseph Academy, where he was a star football player as well as a member of the baseball team. He loves the Florida outdoors, hunting, and fishing. James is a recent graduate of the University of Florida.

Toni Lekas, Board Treasurer

Toni first visited the Alligator Farm in 1994, when she moved from Maryland to St. Augustine. Completely awestruck by the zoo and a true enthusiast of animals, she became a regular visitor to the Alligator Farm. In 2012, she became an accounting consultant for the zoo. She stayed with the Alligator Farm as a consultant until February 2021, when she became a full-time employee. Today, she is the Alligator Farm’s controller, and she loves being involved with the activities and animals at the zoo.

John D. Brueggen, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park General Director

John came to the Alligator Farm in 1999, after working at Walt Disney World. He helped develop, and is the co-coordinator for, the Crocodilian Biology and Professional Management course, which is designed for zoo professionals working with crocodilians. He is an advisor for AZA’s (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Crocodilian Advisory Group and a member of the IUCN’s Crocodile Specialist Group. John and his wife Jen enjoy traveling around the world–even getting married in Borneo. They have participated in many scientific endeavors, including crocodilian bite-force work, crocodilian color change, tool use of crocodilians, and man-eating crocodile prevention. John was inducted into the Explorers Club in 2018.

Dr. Kent A. Vliet

Kent Vliet is a faculty member at the University of Florida Department of Biology. His research is restricted exclusively to crocodilians. Kent conducted his Ph.D. research at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm from 1981-1983, investigating courtship and other social behaviors of the zoo’s alligators. He has continued to do research here for most of the time since. Over more than 40 years, his research has included disease prevalence and progression, antibiotic dosing trials, parasitism, embryonic growth and metabolism, innate immunity, endocrinology, stress, phylogenetic relationships, locomotion, thermoregulation, bite force, and identification of cryptic species, utilizing all of the crocodilian species in the Alligator Farm’s remarkable collection.

Zoo Leadership

Gen Anderson, General Curator

Gen began working at the Alligator Farm in 2000 as a zookeeper within the Bird & Mammal Department. Over the years, she has risen up through the ranks, spending five years as the Bird & Mammal Curator before her promotion to General Curator in early 2014. This position oversees the Animal and Conservation Education Departments as well as Conservation and Research. She also has experience working at three other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Gen’s favorite parts of her job include the successful reproduction of endangered species, the support of in-situ and ex-situ conservation projects, and the resolution of historical animal data entry mysteries.

Jim Darlington, Curator of Reptiles
Josie Taylor- Assistant Curator of Education

Josie has been with the Alligator Farm for several years, working her way through the ranks from Education Specialist I to Assistant Curator of Education. As a part of the education department with SAAF, she has enjoyed working with the North Florida communities to engage the public with camps, homeschool days, and conservation minded events. A graduate of Southern Illinois Carbondale (BS in Zoology and MS in Geography and Environmental Resources) Josie always knew she wanted to work in the zoological field, her passion blooming as early as elementary school, and spent four years honing her skills by interning and working at various zoos across the Midwest. Now, she strives to offer engaging, empathy building experiences to community members to foster a love and appreciation for our wildlife and wild spaces. In her spare time, she enjoys being outside, rock climbing, making connections within the local community, and furthering her involvement with the AZA. Josie currently serves as an Education Specialist with the AZA Asian Hornbill SAFE program.

Megan Victoriano, Assistant Curator of Birds and Mammals

Megan joined the Alligator Farm’s Bird and Mammal Department in 2019. She attended North Carolina State University for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Zoology. In that time, she also traveled to Namibia, where her interest in African vulture species was first sparked. She spent three years at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where she worked with a wide variety of species and eventually became the Curator of Behavioral Husbandry. Now at the Alligator Farm, she is able to pursue her many passions in animal care including naturalistic enrichment, incubation, animal training, and population management. Megan is currently the AZA SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper for Hooded Vultures, as well as a member of the AZA African Vulture SAFE Steering Committee.

Lauren Gruny, Assistant Curator of Reptiles

Lauren joined the Alligator Farm in 2011, having always wanted to work closely with animals. Since joining the zoo, she has managed the Species Survival Program (SSP) for Malaysian Giant turtles for 10 years, and she is also the studbook keeper for the Siamese crocodile SSP program. Some of her favorite aspects of the job are being able to assist with various research projects at the zoo and heading up reptile incubation. She has successfully hatched out 15 different species of crocodilians, several snake species, and Galapagos tortoises.

Molly Ebersold, Sales and Marketing Manager

Molly heads up the St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s Group Sales and Membership programs. She came to the zoo from the Radisson Ponce de Leon in October of 2003 (just after Maximo arrived!). Molly is a dedicated employee, responsible for managing zoo sales and branding, organizing inter-departmental activities, and overseeing zoo communications and marketing. Molly has been married to her husband, Danny, for 30 years and they have one son, Nick. Not content to just play with the animals at the zoo, Molly and Danny also adopted a hound mix named Marley. Molly also enjoys taking cruises with Danny…when we can bear to be without her.

Scott Brown, Crocodile Crossing Zip Line Manager

Scott moved to Florida from Michigan in 1982. After graduating high school in 1986, he served four years in the US Army, and following his honorable discharge, Scott worked in precast and prestress concrete for over 20 years. As a testing technician, he earned over 10 state and federal certifications for quality control, production supervision, shipping and receiving, and setting barriers all over the southeastern US. He started building ropes courses in 2008 and joined the family at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 2011 after completing the Crocodile Crossing ropes course. He moved with his wife Deana and son Steven to St. Augustine in 2011 after accepting the position of manager for the ropes course. Scott is responsible for day-to-day operations of Crocodile Crossing as well as repairs, new construction, and course design. He is also involved in general tree care for the entire zoo. Scott enjoys fishing, hunting, knife collecting, and family time with his two children, Steven and Sara, one granddaughter, Josalyn, and two cats, Rayray and Mowmow.

Kim Miller, Retail Manager

After serving as a retail manager at a K-Mart store in Pennsylvania for over 10 years, Kim moved with her family to Florida in 2003. She came to the Alligator Farm in 2004 and now manages the Gift Shop, Admissions, and Photo Hut Departments, where her passion for retail is evident in the dedication and focus she brings to every task. Kim and her husband have been married for over 30 years. She has two adult children, Ashley and Lukas, and two twin grandchildren, Derek and Derriona. Kim was a member of the Girl Scouts of America, serving over 10 years as a Girl Scout Troop leader. She enjoys Zumba Fitness and singing.

Diane Scott, Food and Beverage Manager

Diane came to the Alligator Farm in August 2019. She was previously the General Manager of the St. Augustine Yacht Club. Diane has been in food and beverage management for over 30 years. She has been very successful in her career increasing revenue and reducing cost in food services businesses. Diane resides in Elkton with her husband, Randy. She loves the outdoors and gardening.

Ryan Stevens, Operations Manager

Ryan was born in Georgia and moved to St. Augustine in 2002. He has a passion for carpentry and a love for animals. When Ryan came to work at the Alligator Farm in 2015, he was able to combine these interests in a job he thrives in. Ryan lives with his partner Jaclyn and her daughter, Rowan, in addition to their two dogs. He and Jaclyn just welcomed their new baby girl, Winter Rose.

Toni Lekas, Controller

Toni first visited the Alligator Farm in 1994, when she moved from Maryland to St. Augustine. Completely awestruck by the zoo and a true enthusiast of animals, she became a regular visitor to the Alligator Farm. In 2012, she became an accounting consultant for the zoo. She stayed with the Alligator Farm as a consultant until February 2021, when she became a full-time employee. Today, she is the Alligator Farm’s controller, and she loves being involved with the activities and animals at the zoo.