Meet Our Staff
Dr. Michael Dentzau, Ph.D.
Dr. Dentzau earned his bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, his masters from Texas A&M University, and his doctorate from Florida State University. He has been at Florida State University since 2010. Prior to that, Dr. Dentzau was president of an environmental services company where he was responsible for all aspects of company development and project management. Among those responsibilities were wetland and upland evaluations, environment site assessments, endangered species reviews, habitat enhancement and restoration, and regulatory guidance. Dr. Dentzau’s background in environmental services dates back to 1993 when he worked as an environmental manager/specialist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Dr. Lauren C. Johnson, Ed.D.
Assistant Director & Program Manager
Lauren Johnson joined the Oxbow Meadows team in 2012. Prior to joining Oxbow Meadows she worked for the Alabama 4-H Coosa River Science School, Merritt Island Rotary Park Nature Center, F. D. Roosevelt State Park, and Palm Bay Academy Charter Middle School. Lauren has also spent time as an AmeriCorps volunteer in California and a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. She earned her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum at Columbus State University, Education Specialist degree in Science Education at Florida Institute of Technology, Master of Science in Environmental Education at Nova Southeastern University, and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at LaGrange College. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys hiking with her dogs Shiloh and Penney, crocheting, playing the piano, and exploring the outdoors.
Environmental Educator & Public Programs Specialist
Ashley Herbolich is originally from Pittsburgh, PA but spent most of her adult years in Brooklyn, NY. Ashley has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from The New School in New York City. Prior to working at Oxbow, Ashley was a Pre-Kindergarten teacher through Bright from the Start for two years at a NAEYC accredited institution. Ashley was an Environmental Educator for the Wildlife Conservation Society for 5 years at the Prospect Park Zoo in New York City before moving overseas to New Zealand. She is excited to be working with both children and animals again! The mission of Oxbow Meadows aligns very closely with Ashley’s personal mission to strengthen or cultivate the connection that children (and adults) in urban areas feel towards wildlife and wild places through discovery and exploration.
Environmental Educator & Media Specialist
Victoria was born and raised in Georgia. She graduated with her Bachelors of Fine Arts with a focus in graphic design in 2019 from Columbus State University and is a certified Master Herpetologist. She joined the Oxbow team in 2016 and loves leading field trips, hikes, and working with our animal ambassadors. When she isn’t working, Victoria enjoys spending time taking care of her plant collection and exploring new places!
Jacob grew up in Ohio where he received a degree in biology from Wright State University in 2017. In 2019 he interned with the Denver Zoo at their Tropical Discovery department while working in the Office of Animal Resources at CU Boulder. As an intern at the Denver Zoo Jacob learned many of the skills he carries into his work at Oxbow Meadows. Jacob started in 2021 and hopes to spend many years caring for and educating the public about the amazing animals we have here.
Guest Services Assistant
Kentucky born and Georgia living, Mary has been in Columbus for about 11 years now. She received her Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts at Columbus State University in December 2021. Focusing in photography, Mary has had a passion to photograph the world since she was about 10 years old. When she isn’t running around with a camera, changing her hair color, or buying more plants... you can find her curled up with a book, chilling with friends, going on road trips or playing video games. Mary has a passion for animals and loves to learn as much as she can about them. Naturally, she has a “pet” moss ball named Mossmo. Before she decided to major in art, Mary wanted to be a teacher for most of her life. She still has a desire to teach, connect, and help others whenever she can.
CSU Student Employees
Ciara was born in Columbus, GA but was raised across the river in Phenix City, AL. From a young age, Ciara always had a fascination with reptiles and other "weird" animals. Instead of being read bedtime stories, she was read animal encyclopedias as a child. She graduates from CSU in fall 2022 with her BA in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. She plans to enter the field of herpetology focusing on species conservation, though she might also focus on communication in alligators and other crocodilians. When she's not studying or working, Ciara enjoys baking, playing video games, listening to music, caring for her animals, or being outside in nature.
Sierra is originally from Lakeland, Georgia, and moved to Columbus in 2019 to pursue her undergraduate degree at Columbus State University. She will be graduated with her Bachelors of Science Biology in May of 2022. Starting in fall of 2022, she will be attending the University of Florida to earn her master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. After graduation, she plans to continue public education and zoo keeping.
Taylor Battles is from College Park, Georgia and moved to Columbus to attend Columbus State University. She is pursuing a Bachelors in Fine Arts. She plans to focus on animation. She started working at Oxbow in 2021. She enjoys working with animals and children here. When she’s not at school or work Taylor is drawing, painting, or playing instruments.
Sarah is originally from Milwaukee Wisconsin but grew up in North Carolina. She has moved a lot and most recently came to Columbus Georgia from Germany, where she became interested in environmental conservation. A former paramedic Sarah decided to go back to college to change directions and obtained a Bachelors of Science from Arizona State University in 2020. She is currently enrolled in the Masters Program of Environmental Sustainability at Columbus State University and serves as a graduate research assistant at Oxbow Meadows. Sarah is very interested in native pollinators and you can always find her near our bee garden!
My name is Arianna Zapata, I was born and raised in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I am a mom of two boys who keep me busy! I have been in Columbus, Georgia for two and a half years so far. I graduated from SUNY Empire State College in Fort Drum, New York with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2019. I decided to continue my education and received my master’s degree in biology from Columbus State University Spring of 2022. My goal with my degree, one day, is to travel abroad and work on research for conservation efforts for big cats. During my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, we are usually always outdoors or during the sizzling summer by the water! I also enjoy binging some good Netflix shows. I look forward to my adventures at Oxbow Meadows!
Bio coming soon!
Matt is originally from Pine Mountain, Georgia and is currently attending Columbus State University, where he will be graduating with a Bachelors degree in Biology in the Fall of 2022. A former barista, coffee roaster, and carpenter, Matt is now focused on creating and enacting conservation and sustainability projects for Oxbow Meadows. After graduation he hopes to continue doing conservation work and promote more sustainable environmental practices. When he is not working or in school, you can usually find him in his garden, the gym, or playing games with his wife, Kamie, and dog, Ox.
Bio coming soon!