Island Dolphin Care Staff Members

They say it takes a village to raise a child. At Island Dolphin Care, it takes an amazing collection of donors, supporters, volunteers, community partners, doctors, hospitals, staff and friends to create a place that generates smiles rivaling the Florida sun intensity.

Deena Hoagland, L.C.S.W., C.H.T.
Executive Director, IDC Instructor

Deena received her Master’s Degree in clinical social work from the University of Denver, and Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education. She is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in Colorado and Florida.

Deena oversees all aspects of Island Dolphin Care. In addition, Deena continues to work in the water and classroom with children and families as an Instructor.

Deena’s personal experience as a parent of a child with special needs allows her to provide great insight to families.


Philip Admire

Director of Zoology

Shane Watson

Curator of Zoology


Shane was born and raised in Las Vegas. He turned down a scholarship to play college baseball in California for an academic scholarship to stay in Vegas. He graduated from the Community College of Southern Nevada with an associates in biological science, and then from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree majoring in Ecology and Evolution as well as minoring in Biochemistry. Shane has worked with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins for over 6 years at The Mirage in Las Vegas, and about a year and a half with elephants at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

Michelle Crosetto


Nicole Diaz

Senior Behaviorist









A California native, Nicole has her BA degree in Psychology with minors in Biology and Spanish from San Diego State University. She has worked with the animals in the Navy Marine Mammal Program and with sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  She began her career as a dolphin trainer in Las Vegas and was there for the births of two dolphins.  At Island Dolphin Care she is one of the Behaviorists who will be working with the dolphins and families to make sure everyone has a successful and positive experience.

Lindsay Ashba

Senior Behaviorist








Lindsay holds a degree in Psychology and Communications, with a Master of Arts in Counselor Education from the University of Central Florida. Originally from Ohio, she moved to Orlando, Florida where she began her dolphin training career at Discovery Cove. She has been a trainer for several years and has recently moved to the Keys after working with dolphins in Kona, Hawaii.  At Island Dolphin Care, she currently works as a Senior Behaviorist as one of the lead staff for the animal training department and facilitates therapy sessions between the animals and clients.

Caitlin Olson

Associate Behaviorist








Caitlin received a Marine Biology degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in May 2015. Originally from South Dakota, she has been living in Florida for the past 5 years. Prior to joining IDC, she was a Marine Biologist with Sarasota Bay Explorers based at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. She currently works as an Associate Behaviorist here at Island Dolphin Care and participates in both training and husbandry of the animals and working programs.

Joe Hoagland
Chief Officer of Inspiration

As the “Chief Officer of Inspiration” at Island Dolphin Care, Joe is working towards becoming a behaviorist.  helps out around the facility by answering phones, working in the garden, assisting with Dolphin Talks and Dolphin Camps and offering the best tour of the facility.

Gretchen Thomasson, BS Sp. Ed.
Assistant Director, IDC Instructor, Internship Coordinator

Gretchen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Maryland at College Park. She was a special education teacher in Maryland for six years prior to joining the Island Dolphin Care staff in July 2005.

At Island Dolphin Care, Gretchen coordinates and oversees Dolphin Talks, the Community Swim Program, Dolphin Camps, and the Internship Program. In addition, Gretchen works in the water and classroom with the children as an Instructor.

Eli Smith, BS Sp. Ed.
IDC Instructor

Eli holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Ball State University in Indiana. Prior to joining the IDC team in 2006, Eli gained teaching experience working with students with emotional and learning disabilities in a self contained room at the middle school level.

At Island Dolphin Care, Eli helps in overseeing Dolphin Talks, and Dolphin Camps. In addition, Eli works in the water and classroom with the children as an Instructor. Eli also offers assistive technology workshops to IDC families as well as individuals from the community.

Kim Severance, MS, CTRS
Marine Science Education Coordinator, IDC Instructor, Veteran Program Coordinator

Kimberly Severance moved to the Florida Keys in 2006, after receiving her Masters in Therapeutic Recreation from Southern Connecticut State University. She was a volunteer at Island Dolphin Care for 3 years and joined the Island Dolphin Care staff in 2009.

At Island Dolphin Care, Kim coordinates and oversees the Veteran program and the Marine Education program. In addition, Kim works in the water and classroom with the children as an Instructor.

If you have any questions about marine education trips at our facility, or regarding our portable touch tank program, please contact Kim at

Pete Hoagland, MA IS
Program Manager

Peter holds his Masters Degree in Art and Interdisciplinary Studies from Oregon State University. Along with being one of the founders of Island Dolphin Care, he is also the General Manager.

Peter works closely with several Wish Organizations to provide experiences to their families. Peter also serves as the Vice President of the Florida Keys Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association and on the Board of Directors of the Marine Mammal Conservancy.

Kathy Jones
Program Assistant

Kathy holds an Associates Degree in Business. She is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting. At Island Dolphin Care, Kathy assists families with making reservations and is a book keeper. Kathy is an 18 year resident of the Florida Keys.


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