Our Education Team

The education team at Pacific Whale Foundation offers 30 years of combined passion and experience in the marine education field.

Lendy Leslie

Lendy Leslie

Lendy Leslie, originally from the landlocked state of Oklahoma, has always been fascinated by the wonders of the ocean. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Arts in Earth and Environmental Science and her Master of Science in Mathematics & Science Education both from The University of Tulsa, Lendy first joined our team in 2004 and worked in various positions through 2009. Lendy resumed working with PWF in March 2014 after a five year hiatus of teaching and training in different locations throughout the world including Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, California, Hawai'i Island, Florida, Bahamas, Africa and Fiji.

Lendy has participated in marine research accessing human impact on spinner dolphins around the Big Island and humpback whales in Maui County. She has also taught in a variety of experiential education programs from environmental education in the Virgin Islands and Florida Keys to outdoor and adventure education in Colorado.

Lendy values her role as a Marine Education Specialist to empower our future generation as stewards of the ocean and as advocates against marine injustices. Specifically passionate about ending the exhibition of cetaceans in captivity, Lendy hopes to give others an accurate and truthful education of the natural environment and the potential impact humans can and may have on it.

In her spare time, Lendy enjoys reading, writing, researching, hiking, dancing, serving others and spending time with her church family. A missionary at heart, Lendy is honored to also contribute to the Pacific Whale Foundation mission of protecting the ocean and its inhabitants.

Kelly Montenero

Kelly Montenero

Kelly is originally from Wisconsin and fell in love with all things aquatic at an early age. She attended University of Wisconsin and while there studied abroad in Dominica, West Indies and then in Florence, Italy. She graduated with a double major in Psychology and Conservation Biology, specializing in limnology, the study of inland waters.

After graduating she moved to the coast, working at Catalina Island Marine Institute in California as a marine science instructor for kids ages 12-18 for 3 years, and also spent a summer teaching science and sailing at Sail Caribbean in the British Virgin Islands.

She then returned to school, and received her Masters of Science in Marine Affairs and Policy from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. While in Miami, she worked as a naturalist at the Biscayne Nature Center, teaching students age 3-14, and also was a research fellow through National Science Foundation’s Science Made Sensible program, planning and teaching hands-on science labs to middle schoolers in Miami- Dade. She did her master’s thesis research on developing and implementing surveys to assess effectiveness of marine protected areas, in Dry Tortugas National Park.

After graduating in 2013, she worked as a field fish surveyor in Alaska and then joined the Pacific Whale Foundation team as a marine naturalist. She’s so excited to join the education and conservation departments at PWF, as they allow her to follow her twin passions of protecting the ocean and educating others about how awesome the ocean is! Her education and conservation philosophy can be summed up in this quote by Baba Dioum: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

Erin Iberg

Erin Iberg profile pictureErin Iberg’s love for the ocean began here on Maui, Hawaii as a senior studying at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Originally coming to Maui for a land-based internship at Pacific Primate Sanctuary, she had never really seen the ocean before and after an incredible experience diving off the Wailea coast, she realized a whole new passion in life. Having grown up in Wisconsin and only seeing the ocean for the first time as a university student, this new environment fascinated her taking her academic focus from terrestrial biology and zoology studies to anything marine related.

After graduating a few months later with a BS in biology and captive wildlife she moved back to Maui. She started working for Pacific Whale Foundation’s boat company as a marine naturalist and shortly after she also joined the Pacific Whale Foundation’s research team as a research assistant. Her goal was to learn and experience as much as possible. As a Marine Naturalist, she taught people about the marine life with the goal of helping them connect in a meaningful way with the Hawaiian environment that they came to experience. As a research assistant, she helped to collect data on the East Australian humpback whale population and was fortunate enough to spend hundreds of hours around this amazing species.

Erin’s wanderlust and desire to travel caused her to leave Maui in 2009 and after a bit of travel and an amazing summer in Alaska guiding, she returned to Maui in 2010. She spent three years working at Maui Ocean Center and managing the education department there before returning to Pacific Whale Foundation in April 2014 as a Marine Education Specialist. Erin has a love for the ocean and passion for helping people of any age better connect with the marine environment through firsthand experience.