Melissa Hamilton

November 16, 2021

UF TREEO Center Celebrates its Instructors!

*This article was written collectively by the UF TREEO Team

The University of Florida’s Center for Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupations (TREEO) recently held a day-long workshop and award luncheon for more than 20 trainers who have helped make UF TREEO Center a leader in environmental occupations training since 1977.

The day-long event began with a breakfast meet-and-greet, followed by a strategic plan overview from TREEO’s Director, Andy Campbell, and administrative updates from Operations Manager, Lauren McCain.

TREEO Instructor, Ron Trygar, spoke about the challenges of teaching during a pandemic and presented tips and tricks for teaching virtually. He also led an open discussion around training horror stories that were provided by attendees.

Tom Mulling received a plaque for his 25+ years of service and shirt from Backflow Prevention Coordinator, Marta Keilhauer.

Attendees were treated to an awards luncheon where trainers from five separate industries were recognized for their years of service and dedication to environmental training. Brainstorming sessions followed the luncheon where the instructors put on their training hats and came up with ideas to assist each other with topics related to instructional technology.

By attending either in-person or via Zoom, 26 instructors had the opportunity to reunite with other trainers they had not seen in several years. The industries represented and the instructors from each included:


  • Toi Aiken – 4 years
  • David Wiggins – 25 years
  • Karen Meyer – 32 years
  • Terry Zinn – 32 years
  • Russ Stauffer – 33 years

Backflow Prevention

  • Max Sako – 3 years
  • Tom Mulling – 25 years
  • Les O’Brien – 30 years

Safety and Health

  • Cindy Mercado – 1 year
  • Marian Nesbitt – 1 year

Solid Waste

  • Norm Thomas – 7 years
  • Carmen Bruno – 9 years

Water and Wastewater

  • Daniel (Rick) Pfleiderer – 1 year
  • Phillip Brown – 8 years
  • Michael Cherniak – 24 years
  • James Clifton – 34 years
  • Ron Trygar – 19 years

Asbestos Abatement instructor, Karen Meyer, receives a gator-themed trophy for her 30+ years of training from Asbestos Program Coordinator, Melissa Hamilton.

Several instructors were not able to attend in person but were able to participate via Zoom. These included:

  • Glynn Stoffel, water and wastewater – 15 years
  • Charlie Martin, water and wastewater – 15 years
  • Jane Gregory, hazardous waste management – 13 years
  • Kenneth Waite, backflow prevention – 11 years
  • Jeff Ball, backflow prevention – 14 years
  • Marco Flammia, backflow prevention, – 8 years
  • Carlos Vazquez, asbestos – 9 years
  • Tim Grobe, asbestos – 32 years
  • Robert Sweeney, asbestos – 2 years

In total, these instructors have served TREEO for more than 400 years!

All trainers received a UF TREEO polo shirt and a Certificate of Attendance. Depending on their length of service, the instructors also received a length of service pin, a plaque, or a gator-themed trophy.

The response to this inaugural workshop has been very positive, with most indicating that the workshop and networking opportunity should be an annual event. We have some exciting ideas for next year’s meeting – stay tuned to the TREEO website to learn how we plan to celebrate our invaluable environmental trainers! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Solid Waste Program Coordinator, Vivian Li, presented Carmen Bruno with a polo shirt, a length of service pin and certificate of appreciation for his 9+ years of service.

Are you interested in becoming a contract instructor, or providing training for UF TREEO Center? We are always looking to expand our course offerings and instructor roster! Contact Ron Trygar at 352-294-3881 or email him at to find out how to become part of our environmental training team!

Safety and Health Trainer Cindy Mercado (right) received a certificate of appreciation and shirt from Laurie Brown, Safety and Health Program Coordinator.

Water and Wastewater Program Coordinator, Areiole Williams, presented Phillip Brown with a shirt and service pin recognizing his 5+ years of training.