Leslie Wheeler, President
Leslie has been a member of Florida Trail Association ever since she went with the Western Gate Chapter on a field trip to Garcon Point and observed rare pitcher plants on her hands and knees over 20 years ago. After she moved to Jacksonville, she became active in the North Florida Trailblazers Chapter serving as an officer. She has been on the Board since 2001, first as a Director, then as Secretary. She considers her time serving at the state level as a learning experience and is grateful for the opportunity to meet many members of our great organization.
Leslie has a BS Biology from Millsaps College and a Specialist in Blood Banking at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans. She earned a Master of Healthcare Administration from Tulane University. She is happily retired from full-time work as a Transfusion Services manager but stays employed part time. She also is on the Friends of Talbot Islands State Park board, and on the Institutional Review Board of Jacksonville University.
Carlos Schomaker, VP Development & Outreach
Radiation Therapy Equipment Service Engineer
Ft. Myers, Florida
Carlos has been active in outdoor recreation and environmental causes since the 1970s, including USFS RARE II, Passport in Time, and trail work in CA and the Pacific Northwest. He is employed as a Radiation Therapy Equipment Service Engineer, and has also worked in R&D and factory testing environments in that medical industry. He is an active PADI scuba instructor and guide. Raised in Venezuela, Japan, Spain and the US, he attended Michigan Tech University and served in the United States Navy. He is a former Chapter Chair and Chapter Council Rep in the FTA. Carlos enjoys hiking and a number of other outdoor land, water and winter sports.
Pete Durnell, VP Governance
Pete graduated from Miami University (Ohio) with a BA in Psychology and has an MA in International Relations from the University of Arkansas. After graduating from Miami, he joined the US Air Force and served a 20-year career there with a focus on Intelligence. After serving at various locations worldwide with the USAF, including living and working in England for several years, Pete returned to the US in 1994 and joined the FTA.
Pete became active with the Central Florida Chapter serving as an Activity Leader, Activity Coordinator, and Chapter Chair. He helped with the transition of the FTA Footprint from a newspaper format to a magazine format and served as co-editor and editor. He joined the Board in 2000 and served as a Director, Vice President of Administration and President until 2011. He has now rejoined the board.
David Waldrop, VP Trails
Wide Area Network Engineer, Polk County Schools
Lake Wales, FL
David is a graduate of USF with a BS in Engineering Technology and has been employed by the Polk County School District since 1994. He has been a member of the Florida Trail Association since 2005 having joined after working with members of the Heartland Chapter doing trail maintenance. He is a section leader for the Kissimmee River section of the FNST, chapter chair of the Heartland Chapter and chapter council representative.
Pam Hale, Treasurer
Palm Bay, FL
Pam has been an FTA member since 1978 and has served in a number of volunteer capacities including chapter officer, activity leader, section leader, state Director, VP-Administration and Treasurer. Together with her husband and two sons, she put in many hours developing and maintaining trails in the Central Florida area. She is also an avid hiker, logging miles on trail from the U.S. desert southwest to the mountains of Europe. She is a Leave-No Trace Master Educator.
Pam is a graduate of Rollins College with a degree in Business Administration and minors in accounting and organizational communication. She has been employed with Harris Corporation for over 30 years in various accounting, finance and business operations roles, currently as a lead financial analyst on federal government programs.
Jan S. Wells, PhD, AICP, Secretary
Jan is a native Floridian and graduate of Florida State University. However, she spent most of her professional life in New Jersey where she taught urban planning at Rutgers University, specializing in housing, land use and transportation. Her major focus of research concerned transit oriented development and pedestrian issues.
Jan is an avid hiker and in addition to being active in FTA since she returned to Florida, she is a long time member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, life member of the New Jersey-New York Trail Conference, member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Carolina Mountain Club. She loves to travel and has hiked widely in the US and around the world. Jan also serves as a docent at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitors Center at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
David Denham, Director
Manager Biomedical Engineering
David came to South Florida from Virginia Tech in 1967 to study at RSMAS, but ended up earning another degree in Engineering. His first son was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in Nov 1969. David started work at the University of Miami Medical School in 1970. He spent nearly 35-years there developing new medical devices and handling some special projects. During this time he arned an MBA in Healthcare Administration and taught an evening graduate course in Clinical Engineering for about 10-years.
In 2005 he moved over to Mercy Hospital in the Grove to manage their Biomed program, and ultimately managed the entire Facilities Department. David was briefly laid-off while Catholic Health East was negotiating the sale of Mercy to HCA. The same month he began drawing his Social Security and UM pension, Mercy invited him back to help out with the transition from a non-profit, religious hospital to HCA, and eventually his same Biomed manager job was outsourced to GE, his current employer.
His job at the University came with a month’s vacation every summer, which provided him the opportunity to travel extensively in the US and abroad. He looks forward to his retirement in 2014, when he can start his bucket-list traveling again. He has been exploring in the Big Cypress area since the late 1960s, and he really look forward to the upcoming relocation of the FNST in the Add Lands and pursuing my quest for a dry west-to-east trail Across-the-Preserve.
Greg Knecht, Director
Greg was born and raised in Winter Haven Florida and has always enjoyed the outdoors. After graduating from FSU with a degree in Biology, he spent 20 years working for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection principally on South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Projects. In 2012 he joined The Nature Conservancy as the Director of Protection where his primary responsibility is working with private landowners to protect natural lands through various means including conservation easements.
He’s an avid cyclist, hiker and kayaker and absolutely loves Florida’s diverse natural areas.
Megan Eidel (Donoghue), Director
Trails Coordinator, Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Megan was born and raised in Florida and has always had a love for anything outdoors. During her time pursuing a double major in journalism and anthropology at the University of Central Florida, she got a taste of the recreation field as one of the student managers in the University’s Outdoor Adventure program. She decided to continue her education and pursued a master’s in Recreation, Parks and Tourism from the University of Florida. While completing her degree, she started working at the Florida Trail Association as Volunteer Program Coordinator for the 1,300-mile Florida National Scenic Trail. For the next three years, she discovered her love for working with volunteers in the outdoor setting. Megan continues her passion of trails and volunteers and currently oversees several parks and trails for Sarasota County.
In her free time, Megan enjoys living on the Gulf Coast, traveling, and staying active in her community.
Bill Turman, Director
Bill was born and raised in central Virginia and as a Boy Scout attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He enjoyed many backpacking trips on the AT. A graduate of Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Civil / Structural Engineering, he began his career as a construction engineer, then design engineer with Dominion Resources / Virginia Power. A unique work highlight included underwater inspection activities as part of the civil engineering dive team.
Bill moved to central Florida in 1990 when he took an engineering position with Westinghouse Electric Corporation, where he helped develop and implement gas turbine and combined cycle power plants. His responsibilities increased as he progressed into the positions of group and department manager within Westinghouse and later Siemens Power Generation when Siemens purchased Westinghouse. A career highlight was living in Germany, performing the integration manager duties.
A member of the Florida Trail Association since 1991, he has backpacked and hiked many of the trails in central Florida. Since retiring, Bill has been active with the Central Florida Chapter, helping to perform trail maintenance activities, acting as an activity leader, chapter chair, and representative at the Chapter Council. He is an avid hiker, cyclist and kayaker, and enjoys traveling the country with his A-frame camper, visiting the National Parks.
Deborah Schroth, Director
Child Law, P.A.
Orange Park, FL
Deborah has been a member of the North Florida TrailBlazers for a number of years now, and participates in hikes, maintenance work, and has volunteered for IDidAHike for the past three years. She is proud to have a National Scenic Trail in Florida, and knows the importance of managing this resource. She is a Florida public interest attorney interested in environmental matters with experience in both state and federal regulatory matters.
For almost 25 years she has worked for non-profit law firms, gaining public advocacy and litigation skills. She is experienced in grant writing, and for a number of years was tasked with raising the money for her own salary.
Ralph Hancock, Director
Ralph joined Florida Trail Association in 1991 after learning of FTA on a day hike in Myakka State Park and has served as Trail Master, Section Leader, Trail Coordinator, in addition to two terms as Chapter Chair. He joined the Board of Directors in 2008 and served for 4 years. He has recently rejoined the Board. Currently he is Section Leader of Green Swamp West. He is also a member of the Appalachian Trial Conservancy and has backpacked over 1,700 miles of the AT.
Ralph graduated from Georgia Southern College in 1964 with a degree in Business Administration. After college joining the Army and later Air Force Reserves. Worked as a sales representative for two national manufacturers in the hardware industry, later joining the family metal finishing business. In 1990 along with a partner opened his own shop until selling it and retiring 2015.