Michael Nelson – Executive Director
Michael is a graduate of Penn State University with a BS in Recreation and Parks Management with a focus on Outdoor Education & Environmental Interpretation. Michael started volunteering at the Refuge in 1991, began working full-time as an Educator / Naturalist in 1996, and became the Refuge Director in October 2000.
Marisa Nelson – Assistant Director
Marisa has been familiar with the Refuge since 1992, when she worked as a co-op student through LIU Southampton. She then became a registered nurse after graduating from Pace University. Having a love for both careers, Marisa had spent her summers working at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and returned to her nursing career during the rest of the year. Marisa has worked full time at the Refuge as an Environmental Educator since 2003, and was hired as Assistant Director by the Board in the spring of 2006.
Tonito Valderrama – Environmental Educator
Tonito has a background in museum and art education from C.W. Post Long Island University. He is also a national exhibiting environmental artist who has focused on local environmental issues such as deforestation and endangered species. Tonito has studied and enjoyed birds of prey, botany and Long Island’s varied ecosystems. His passions of nature, education and art have been well blended for the environmental educator position as of April 2010.
Dan DeFeo — Animal Caretaker/Environmental Educator
Dan has a background in biology from Suffolk County Community College. He has previously spent time working at Sweetbriar Nature Center, assisting in wildlife rehabilitation and providing husbandry for permanently injured animals. He has conducted environmental education programs for the public, where he has introduced awareness towards wildlife protection and animal conservation. His interest and passion towards wildlife has led him here to the Refuge in 2021, where he provides the best possible care for our permanent animal residents.
Stephanie Miller – Events Coordinator / Administrative Assistant
Stephanie is a graduate of SUNY Purchase, where she earned her Master’s in Modern & Contemporary Art History, and of Rosemont College in Pennsylvania, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Art History. After working in non-profit organizations in New York and on the East End of Long Island, her interest in supporting the local community and lifelong love of nature and the outdoors led her to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Cara Fernandes – Program Coordinator/Environmental Educator
Cara is a graduate of Stony Brook University where she earned a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Marine Science and Ecology. She first started at the Refuge as an intern in 2014 and continued to work summers throughout college. As Program Coordinator and Environmental Educator since June 2016, Cara enjoys sharing the Refuge’s unique history and ecosystems with visitors of all ages.
Robert Loetscher, Jr. – Maintenance Staff
Robert was born and raised in Hampton Bays. With a background as an Electrician and years of experience in both solar technology and grounds maintenance, Bob brings his expertise to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge where he has been since 2019. He loves fishing, boating, the outdoors, and loves animals. He can often be found out on the trails.