Meet the Blue Heron Nature Preserve Team

Denise Cardin

Denise Cardin

Conservation & Operations Director

Denise learned very early in her childhood the value of green spaces in an urban setting as she skipped through the Grunewald forest in Berlin Germany. Only to have that sustainability bug further embedded attending Audubon camps in Massachusetts and building her first basic hot water solar panel.

Fast forward to a young adult, she went into the Navy and then landed a Field Engineer position with IBM, followed by Project Engineering for UPS in computer hardware and later an Environmental Facilities Auditor, responsible for reporting, compliance and process improvements energy costs.

She later became a successful retail business owner, but returned to project management at the Woodruff Arts Center. With the spirit of volunteerism, she has been involved in assisting non-profits towards greening their business. Denise earned her bachelor’s from Oglethorpe University. In her spare time she enjoys many of the local trails with her friends and pups, painting, and loves gardening.

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 2

Andrew Lester

Andrew Lester

Director of Education

As a lifelong resident of Georgia, Andrew’s love for the environment began at an early age. He graduated from Young Harris College in 2013 with a B.S. in Outdoor Leadership, focused on experiential education and began teaching Environmental Education with Georgia 4-H in 2014.

Andrew continued to work in both formal and informal educational settings, while simultaneously pursuing his M.S. in Environmental Education from Montreat College, which he completed in 2019. He has been fortunate to share his knowledge and passion for the environment with children from schools across the Southeast; believing positive experiences, as well as accessibility to the community can aid in creating the next generation of environmental stewards.

In his free time, Andrew enjoys creating digital art, hiking and playing the guitar. He is excited to begin his next chapter as the Director of Education Programs with Blue Heron Nature Preserve!

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 3
educationprograms@bhnp.org

Sandy Layton

Sandy Layton

Development Director

Sandy is an Atlanta native and her roots run deep in the community. A passion for her hometown has grown through the years and an awareness of the environmental challenges that now face her family and friends. Over the last 20 years in the non-profit world, she has developed a passion for all green spaces and how she can contribute to protect and preserve these rare jewels. Attending Georgia State University and remaining close to home has deepened her passion and commitment to work with like-minded individuals and welcomes the opportunity to work with Blue Heron. At home in Buckhead, she is raising her furry friends, hiking, enjoying adventure travel and spending quality time with meaningful relationships.

Becca McCoy

Becca McCoy

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Becca McCoy had a 20-year career in performing arts before transitioning into communications and creative entrepreneurship. Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, Becca has lived or worked in a quarter of the United States, enjoying the vast diversity of nature throughout. As an award-winning photographer specializing in nature and travel, she has exhibited at Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Atlanta Photography Group, Acworth Arts Alliance, Smyrna City Hall, and more. She published a photography travelogue, The Year of Extraordinary Travel, which was adapted for stage in 2022. She is currently a contributor to Smyrna Vinings Lifestyle Magazine, supplying arts-centric articles and photography.

She has worked in arts administration, public relations, and marketing, and is a passionate community-builder.

She manages Leafmore Studios, a creative arts LLC, alongside her husband, artist Justin Groom. They live in Smyrna with their cat Bella where they are active with Smyrna Arts Council and Indie Arts Alliance. Becca is mom to a brilliant daughter, a coffee fanatic, and possessor of some serious Gen-X bonafides.

Jen Glaze

Jen Glaze

Administrative Assistant

Jen’s love of the outdoors began at a young age while spending much of her childhood outside in central Georgia, surrounded by red clay and pecan orchards. She spent some time in 2020 volunteering for Blue Heron as an excuse to get outside and has since grown enchanted by Blue Heron’s thirty-acre oasis.

She is currently wrapping up a Master’s program in Public History with a certificate in Museum Studies. Though she does not have a background in the sciences, she still finds ways to integrate the human relationship with the outdoors into her studies and daily life. Her goal is to contribute to a non-profit organization with a strong mission and vision.

In her free time, Jen is a serial hobbyist. She is most likely teaching herself how to crochet, identifying pollinators in a garden, or reading a novel.

Daniel Walton

Daniel Walton

Meadows Manager

Daniel was born in Stuart,FL and spent much of his youth exploring the natural surroundings of the smaller inland town of Palm City. The picturesque stretches of pine forests, wetlands, and Florida coastline brought about his lasting love of plants and wildlife - especially aquatic species. Thanks to his family, visual art was introduced which led to the studies of painting, photography, and printmaking. His horticultural career development began upon arrival to Atlanta in 2001. He has since gained experience in the care of interior tropical plants, estate gardens, and most recently, as an assistant horticulturist at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.