We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Mandica and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before we started the Amphibian Foundation, I was managing an amphibian conservation program at an institution which did not prioritize these types of initiatives. In 2016, the program was abruptly discontinued, sending several critical amphibian conservation programs into uncertainty. These programs included the conservation of species considered at imminent risk of extinction, like the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander, which has declined by 90% in the last 20 years. Within a few hours of the program’s closing, my wife and I had a plan to not only continue these critical conservation programs for amphibians, but to insure they remained a priority into the future, and would never again be placed into jeopardy by changing priorities, or anything else. We quickly drafted an outline for a nonprofit that could focus on the conservation of imperiled amphibians, while engaging the public with dynamic educational programs for all ages. There wasn’t much of a complicated thought process behind starting what would become the Amphibian Foundation — we just knew we needed something that could quickly continue these conservation initiatives without losing momentum. Initial partners such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Turner Foundation, and Blue Heron Nature Preserve gave us the support we needed to continue without delay.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Every day, I become more fulfilled when I see how much our Amphibian Foundation has grown — in under 4 years! We have over a dozen staff members and 91 volunteers and interns all focused on conserving amphibians, and educating others. It’s that passion and focus that keeps us going — creating and implementing lasting solutions for the global amphibian extinction crisis.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Well, my friends know that I am most likely to suggest places where one can find interesting wildlife and nature. In Miami, I would suggest All-America Park (which is where Crystal and I got married!!). The park is on SW 64th Ave, and is the only known location in the US to see the introduced Jamaican Anole, a beautiful, large, and aggressive lizard from the Caribbean. Tropical Park is a great place to see exotic basilisks. If you want to see native natural wildlife, you can’t beat Everglades National Park. I spent 4 years researching amphibians in the Everglades, and it is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. In Atlanta (where we are now) I usually suggest Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve as an amazing place to encounter native amphibians – we have documented a dozen species in the preserve. Cascade Springs and Constitution Lakes are other wonderful places to encounter wildlife in the city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Crystal Mandica, my incredible wife and Co-Founder of the Amphibian Foundation deserves the biggest shout out possible. Her passion for educating the young ones about amphibians and reptiles has become an important part of the Amphibian Foundation’s mission, and a vital way that we are able to raise support for the Foundation.
© Amphibian Foundation