I’m Allison Vilardi, your resident “scuba Ally”! I was born and raised in New Jersey, but have found a wonderful (and much more temperate) home here in Sarasota, FL. I got into the world of diving almost by accident when I was 15 and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My passion lies in marine science and scuba diving has only made me even more invested in my fishy interests. Sharing my love of the underwater world has pushed me to become an instructor over recent years, which I love almost as much as my fish. I hope to go for my master’s degree at some point to study on how to best help preserve our local waters.
My name is Kendra and I am a Mom, wife and PADI Open Water Dive Instructor. I have a background in Marine Biology and the ocean has been a passion of mine for over 30 years.
Diving is a dream job for me. I get to work outside doing something I love, I get to be a frontline for conservation and environmentalism and I get to bring others into a world that so few ever visit. More divers means more ocean advocates.
Most importantly, diving allows me to be the example I want to be for my daughter. I want her to see a strong, assertive woman and I want her to know that if you want something enough, you do it and never let the opinion of others drive your decisions. I hope that she will see my passion for our oceans and the environment and she will generate a passion for it for herself.
My Dad was an avid boater, and I spent a lot of summers as a kid boating the waters of Puget Sound with him. Over the years I became very curious about what was under there. Little did I know that taking a peak would change my life forever. After hearing me talk about trying diving for years, my husband finally signed us up for diving lessons. We earned our Open Water Diver credentials Puget Sound in August 1997. From there we just kept on learning and getting more and more involved in the scuba industry.
Our instructor opened a dive shop in Seattle soon after we were certified, and I began running the office and the travel program. My husband took on responsibility for the Training Department. We traveled the world, and learned a lot about the industry, and met a lot of fantastic people. Onward to 2010, with our kids off to college, we pursued our dream of moving to a warm climate and owning a dive shop of our own. I took the final step of getting My OWSI Instructor credentials in 2012, with my IDC during Tropical Storm Isaac in Key Largo, FL – a story in itself! In 2019 I got my Cave Diver certification. The OWSI and Cave certs are two of my proudest accomplishments. Life is never boring. We continue to travel and dive as much as possible. Most of my current diving is on trips or in the caves. One final thing I want to say about this sport: Scuba diving has some of the most energizing, fun-loving people that I have met anywhere. Some of my most cherished friends were met in the water. If you’re looking for fun, adventure, and/or friendship,this is the sport for you!
I learned to dive at age 15 in a cold quarry in Illinois and loved every minute. Now I have taught for 9 years and don’t plan on stopping! I enjoy the trips. There is so much beauty to see underwater and I am thrilled to be one of the few to experience it. The people are great too!
Brooke is a native Floridian, a biology student at USFSM, and a divemaster who enjoys spending as much free time as possible underwater and hopes to work full time with marine life in the future. Since 2013, Brooke has been an intern at Mote Marine Laboratory, and started the cleanup organization, Sarasota Ocean Preservers in 2014. Brooke has also been conducting underwater population studies off Sarasota’s coast, and removing trash for many years.
Hi, I’m Taylor Tucker - part human/part fish. I spend most of my time researching various marine biology topics, teaching scuba diving, and engaging in all other water sports! I grew up in California and Oregon where I developed a long-lasting love for investigating tide pools along the Pacific Ocean where you can find sea urchins, anemones, and sea stars. Over the last year, I completed my graduate school degree in marine biology at Northeastern University in Boston and spent six months in Bermuda researching the expansion of lionfish along the northern coral reef tract. I love scuba diving because it connects you to a completely different part of our planet in a unique way that most people don’t experience! I first started diving because my father wanted to sign me up for a summer camp and he knew I had a very serious interest in the ocean. After that first dive camp, I kept going until I became an instructor so that I could finally afford to be underwater as much as I would like and because I love spreading the message of ocean advocacy to others. In my future, I plan on traveling the world, experiencing new places to dive, and working on marine biology conservation projects that benefit coral reef ecosystems as well as local communities.
Originally from Baltimore, MD. I started diving when I was a teenager with my father, who dove for for the police department. Got certified in a quarry. Fast forward- moved to Florida after college in Philadelphia! I love diving because it lets me be a part of a different world. As a health care professional by "day," diving allows me to let go, relax, and decompress (literally some days!). My favorite place to be is behind a camera shooting macro photos. Favorite classes to teach are Photography, Wreck, and Deep specialties and Advanced Open Water. When not teaching, I love dive travel near and far and taking classes on my own. Favorite "far" locations are Truk Lagoon and Lembeh, and "near" are Blue Heron Bridge and M5. Currently I am finishing up Tec45, working towards Full Cave, and taking as many photo seminars as possible. 2020 celebrates my Quarter century diving anniversary!
Hi, I’m Lindsey! Being born and raised in California, my love for the ocean started in early childhood. I learned to scuba dive in the Bahamas at age 14 and was immediately hooked. After some time in college, I decided to withdraw for a year and move to Florida to work at a dive shop. I’m so grateful I found Florida Underwater Sports, it feels just like home! I absolutely love working here and getting to meet everyone who walks through the doors. In the fall I’ll be continuing my degree in Marine Biology so I can learn even more about the ocean while continuing to dive!
My name is Jessica Stich. I'm 22 years old from Sarasota. I started diving in 2016 and quickly fell in love with it. I became a dive master in 2018 and am currently working towards becoming an instructor. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in hospitality management in May and have moved back to Florida to commit to diving full time! My dad is my dive buddy and our dives in Bali and Roatan have to be some of my favorites!
Jen Van Cura
Jen is originally from Chicago and has lived in various parts of the country, but now lives in Sarasota, Florida. She began diving in 2002 when her brother talked her into taking an Open Water class with him. Living in cold, land-locked areas of the United States – she would typically take one or two dive trips a year to a warm, Caribbean location in the wintertime. Upon moving to Sarasota and becoming affiliated with Florida Underwater Sports, she has decided that diving needs to be a year-round activity rather than just a winter escape. She completed her Master Diver Certification and became a Dive Master with FUS, as well as logging over 200 dives in the past year. Jen has also developed a passion for technical diving, including cave diving and CCR diving and is currently working on her CCR Cave certification. Her goal is to gain experience as a divemaster and one day become a technical instructor. She loves the interaction with marine life as well as the peace and solitude that come with diving and is excited to share that with anyone who will listen. She has recently participated in trips to Indonesia, Truk, Palau, Hornby Island and St. Croix and is looking forward to upcoming trips to Bonaire, Socorros, Galapagos and anywhere else the dive bus travels to!
I was hatched in Detroit and ended up in Sarasota via San Francisco, Sequin, Sonora, and Seattle. Family vacations always ended up involving snorkeling until we realized that scuba was the answer. We took Greg (age 12) out of school and spent time in Hawaii getting certified and making sure he got his homework done. From then on- vacations were all underwater in some really neat places... I still have 100's of slides.
When Greg and his best friend from high school, Carl, opened Florida Underwater Sports- my husband and I retired from construction and software, moved to Sarasota, and joined the store family.