About Us

We began as an effort to build a partnership for bird conservation in 2001, when asked what was needed in a partnership, the answer was field equipment! So we began this organization to give away binoculars and occasional scopes, then we started assisting with training. Now we partner with organizations such as Birds Caribbean, Neotropical Ornithological Society, Partners in Flight and Environment for the Americas to provide educational materials, binoculars, trainings and camaraderie.

Optics for the Tropics, Inc. is a  501(c)(3) charitable not for profit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Florida and is a tax- exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code.  A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll free 1-800-435-7352 within the State.  Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendations by the State.


Joni Ellis, Director

Joni became involved with bird conservation during her tenure with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where she was the statewide coordinator for bird conservation outreach.  She founded Optics for the Tropics in 2001 to build capacity for bird conservation across the western hemisphere.  She currently serves on the board of Environment for the Americas and leads travel opportunities as fundraisers.

Joy Hill, Secretary

Joy is retired from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.  She was the Regional Information Specialist and acted as spokesperson for the agency handling media relations, she coordinates and participates in information and outreach efforts in the region, including fishing derbies, conferences, meetings and speaking requests from the general public and other agencies.

Randy Batista, Board Member

Randy is well known for his years of photographic genius.  His most current endeavor, Bulla Cubana, is a celebration of arts and culture, promoting the exchange of ideas and inspiration between Cuba and the North Central Florida region.  With a personal and life long connection to Cuba, Randy has combine passion, partnerships and creativity to honor the rich culture through this arts celebration.  With a vision to unite the major creative centers of Gainesville, Randy has masterfully ignited the Bulla Cubana movement and spirit.

William R. Ellis: Technical Support:

Will is an electrical engineer, with a strong specialty in computer programing.  He is the proprietor of Easy Street Markets and commercial web designer.  In his spare time he can be found playing bass around town with a variety of musicians.