Aquatic Plants of Florida


Leadership Team

Gil J. Sharell, Sr. — Founder and President

Oversight, Strategic Planning and Finance

Gil Sharell founded Aquatic Plants of Florida, Inc., in 1994. Under this leadership, APF has grown to be a multi-million-dollar company, and, in the process, Gil has earned wide recognition as an expert in the preservation of endangered wetlands and in beach renourishment. He regularly attends industry events and classes and holds membership in numerous related trade associations. Prior to creating APF, Gil worked for 20 years as an investment banker in New York City. He has a B.S. in Business Administration from Youngstown University.

Miguel “Mike” Garcia, Jr.

Business Administration and Operations

Mike Garcia joined APF in 1997 and has more than a decade’s experience working with environmental projects. Prior to joining APF, he had 10 years of business administration experience in the healthcare industry. He graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from Elmhurst College and is fluent in Spanish.

Gil Sharell, Jr. – Sales & Marketing

Business Development

Gil Sharell, Jr., who began working at APF in part-time roles at its inception, has over 15 years’ experience working for corporations in the areas of business communications and finance. At APF, Gil created SeedClean to offer seed cleaning and science services. He also co-founded a Plant Tissue Culture laboratory with company advisor Dr. Jie Sun and assists on research and development projects.  He has a B.A. from Stetson University and an M.B.A in Management, with Honors, from Mercer University.

Kathleen “Kathie” Babcock – Laboratory Manager & Director of Research

Kathleen Babcock has been managing the Tissue Culture Lab at APF for the past four years directing micro-propagation and research of native plant development.  She has extensive experience in aseptic technique, chemistry, management and in-service education.  Kathleen received her B.S.N. from Michigan State University and M.A. Ed. From University of Detroit.

Fernando Ortega — Farm Manager

Fernando Ortega joined APF in an entry-level position in 1998, working in basic nursery and field operations. After gaining extensive knowledge and experience working with Florida native plant species, he was promoted to crew leader and later to the position of Assistant Farm Manager. Fernando assumed his current duties as Farm Manager in October 2003. His responsibilities include recruiting and overseeing farm personnel, coordinating plant collections and deliveries and daily administration of nursery operations. He is fluent in Spanish.

Jess Sabin – Administration

Jess Sabin joined Aquatic Plants of Florida in 2015 filling the role of Administrative Manager in the Sarasota office. He has over 15 years of experience in administration, business development and project coordination. Additionally, he has 6 years work experience as an assistant greenhouse manager at MSU. Jess earned an Associates degree in Horticulture from Lansing Community College.

Arthur “Otter” Kersey – Maintenance Manager and Construction

Mr. Kersey has over 20 years of experience in nursery and greenhouse operations. He joined APF in 1994 and manages farm equipment maintenance and nursery construction projects. Mr. Kersey has a Class A commercial driver’s license and is a Certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and fireman. He is also a Certified Burn Manager licensed by the Division of For-estry. During harvesting season, Mr. Kersey manages APF’s seed collection program.

Jimmy McDaniels — Field Operations Director

Project Management

Jimmy McDaniels, serves as Field Operations Director for Aquatic Plants of Florida on coastal and wetland projects in the Southeast US. At Aquatic Plants, he has successfully installed hundreds of thousands of native plants for government agencies to improve wildlife habitat and reduce erosion. A south Florida native, Jimmy began working after graduating from Martin County High School in erosion restoration, going on to found Mac Marine Erosion Restoration. He is a Florida certified Firefighter and EMT with an A.S. degree in Fire Science Technology from Indian River State College.

James Henslick — Monitoring and Wetland Delineation Manager

Jim Henslick is responsible for the preparation and submittal of mitigation and littoral shelf planting plans, as well as monitoring and maintenance plans. He designs many APF wetland projects and littoral zones/mitigation areas and also prepares and submits monitoring reports to jurisdictional agencies. Additionally, Jim serves as a liaison and mediator in problem resolution with governmental agencies. He has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Florida.