Florida has an amazing field crew supporting FIRST programs statewide. That crew includes countless volunteers, FIRST program partners in FIRST LEGO League Jr, FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge, Regional Directors supporting FIRST Robotics Competition and program partners, and frontline AmeriCorps VISTA and FIRST Senior Mentors, who we’re highlighting here today.
FIRST Senior Mentors (FSMs) are funded and directed by FIRST headquarters to serve all four FIRST Programs, working with Regional Directors and Program Partners to recruit, support, and expand FIRST in their local areas. In Florida, we’re fortunate to have three amazing FSMs:
- Celena Crews, our newest FSM, serving North Florida
- Andy Milluzzi, now serving Central Florida and
- Allyn Bernstein, serving the South Florida area.
FSMs are essentially volunteers who receive a modest stipend for their time, and none of them is a “senior” in the sense of age or outlook. Senior Mentors are called that because they’re experienced, seasoned FIRST experts. They can be technically skilled with respect to FIRST support, or organizationally skilled, with respect to team management and assistance. All FSMs have supported multiple FIRST programs as Coaches, Mentors, Volunteers, Parents, Alumni or more.
More importantly, FSMs exist to “Mentor” teams, coaches and volunteers in the field, including helping start new teams, assisting existing teams, recruiting and supporting new coaches and team mentors, finding volunteers for FIRST events, or helping teams connect with resources. At heart, the role of the FIRST Senior Mentor is to assist your teams and students. To that end, we’re happy to spotlight here our three great Florida FSMs!
“Twenty years ago, as an assistant principal, a group of desperate FRC students came to my office. The team coach had moved to a new school with whatever equipment the first year team had. I was hooked! Team 168 was reborn and for 10 years I worked with the students, new coach, and mentors until I was moved to another school as principal.
“Having come back to the FIRST family after being away from the program for 10 years, I’m amazed by the program growth and very proud to be back as a FSM. My goals include supporting programs in South Florida by connecting teams with volunteers, mentors and resources to enhance their programs. Participating in outreach events provides teams with opportunities to reach out to their communities and demonstrate their robots, thus increasing their exposure to potential new volunteers, mentors, and support.”
Andy has been a serving as a FIRST Senior Mentor in Florida since 2014 and has been involved with FIRST since 2007. From volunteering at events to starting and coaching teams, Andy has experience in all FIRST programs: FIRST LEGO League Jr., FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida and now is a Systems Engineer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Besides FIRST, Andy is an avid maker. From LEGO creations to drones, to 3D printing, to amateur radio, Andy loves the creating and sharing his love of engineering with others.”
Celena Crews is a former engineer turned high school math and engineering teacher in Lake City, FL. She’s been involved with FIRST since 2010 when she founded an FRC team. Since then she’s worked to spread FIRST by supporting the formation of a FIRST LEGO League team at every elementary and middle school in Columbia County. She plans to use her experience as an FLL trainer and FRC lead mentor to support FIRST coaches and mentors in her North Florida service area.
Please reach out to these individuals when you need assistance in your area,and they’ll be happy to help you out. You can also find other program contacts under the relevant tabs on this website, or in the contact list at right.
The FIRST in Florida crew is here to serve you and help Make it Loud for FIRST statewide!