Bird Conservancy of the Rockies Staff
Most of the Bird Conservancy’s regular staff members are based in Colorado and western Nebraska, although they can be found across the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains working to conserve birds and their habitats. Staff members are associated with our Science, Education, Stewardship, International or Administration teams, as indicated following their position titles.
To email a staff member, simply click on their name.
Tammy VerCauteren, Executive Director
A Michigan native, Tammy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Management in 1995 from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in 1998 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied Sandhill Cranes. She began working for Bird Conservancy (then Colorado Bird Observatory) in 1999 as a specialist in GIS and landowner outreach for the Prairie Partners program. She has been Bird Conservancy’s prairie partners coordinator and outreach director and has served as executive director since 2008. She enjoys working with partners and encouraging proactive voluntary efforts for species conservation, and she believes it is relationships with people that will make a positive difference for conservation now and in the future.
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Nannette Archuleta, Staff Accountant
Raised in the north metro Denver area, Nannette earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in management from the University of Colorado Denver in 2013. A very competitive person, Nannette loves meeting new people and trying new things. She enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family and her two American bull dogs. Nannette joined the finance team in the spring of 2015 and works out of the Old Stone House in Brighton.
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Jenny Berven, Science Program Manager
Jenny earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology in 2003 and a master’s in biomedical sciences in 2007, both from Colorado State University. Since moving to Colorado she has worked and volunteered for a variety of agencies researching multiple avian species including raptors, waterfowl and upland game birds. Most of her research experiences have concentrated on how diseases like West Nile virus and avian influenza affect individual birds and avian populations. As a hobby, Jenny has volunteered for the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program for several years and values the opportunity to interact with birds of prey requiring rehabilitation. Jenny joined the Bird Conservancy in 2009.
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Adam Beh, Stewardship Director
Originally from Michigan, Adam has over 18 years of experience designing and implementing community conservation and rural development projects in Africa and the western United States. Prior to joining Bird Conservancy, Adam was a human ecologist for USDA-ARS at the Jornada (New Mexico State University) where he coordinated the development of mobile and web-based data integration platforms to support grassland stewardship efforts around the world. Adam employs participatory action research in his work and is always searching for new and innovative ways to integrate local, traditional, and scientific knowledge in land use decision making. He earned both his Master’s (2006) and PhD (2010) in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University. Adam is based in Fort Collins, CO.
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Jacy Bernath-Plaisted, Avian Ecologist
Raised in rural Michigan, Jacy began to appreciate birds and wildlife at an early age. His interest in ecology as a discipline was sparked during his undergraduate studies at Beloit College, where he took a field ornithology course taught in the backcountry of northern Minnesota. Jacy graduated in 2011 and went on to participate in a range of avian research project before completing his own master’s degree in natural resource management at the University of Manitoba in 2015. His thesis examined the effects of energy development on mixed-grass prairie songbirds. Jacy joined the Bird Conservancy team team in 2017 as an ecologist coordinating our grassland songbird demography efforts in the Northern Great Plains. As an ecologist, Jacy’s primary research interests focus on applied management and conservation of avian species.
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William Bevil, Communications Manager
William is a communications and interpretive media specialist with over 15 years of experience working in science and natural history museums, parks and natural resource management and wildlife conservation. He is a Certified Interpretive Planner and Guide with the National Association for Interpretation, and holds an Associate’s Degree in Visual Communications with emphasis on advertising design. William is passionate about informal education and outreach, and the role that effective communications play in contributing to conservation gains. He describes himself as an amateur birder, but is careful not to overstate his identification abilities. Before coming to Colorado in 2010, William worked for the New Zealand Department of Conservation where he enjoyed the opportunity to not only see much of that spectacular country, but also add considerably to his birding life list. His other hobbies include hiking, camping and gardening (both veggies and native plant/wildlife habitat gardening) as well as reading, art and travel.
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Jennifer Blakesley, Senior Scientist- Special Species Lead
Jennifer received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Utah State University, her Master’s Degree in Wildlife Resources from the University of Idaho and her doctorate in wildlife biology from Colorado State University. She studied the demography, habitat relationships and breeding dispersal of Northern and California Spotted Owls for 18 years. Prior to owl research, she studied habitat relationships of songbirds in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Jennifer worked for the Bird Conservancy as a Biometrician from 2006-2013 and was among a small team that developed the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions program. Jennifer is the project leader of a study monitoring site occupancy by Mexican Spotted Owls throughout the US Forest Service Southwestern Region (2013-present).
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Tyler Cash, Environmental Educator
Tyler grew up in sunny southern California where he spent most of his time outside and in the ocean. He graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies, where he gained extensive knowledge in natural history. Tyler is extremely excited to share his knowledge and love of birds and the outdoors.
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Emily Chavez, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist
A San Luis Valley native, Emily has just begun her work with Bird Conservancy and Natural Resources Conservation Service in Alamosa, Colorado. Emily graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S in Natural Resources Management and Watershed Science. She has worked on various projects from grasslands experiments to snow hydrology. Most recently, Emily worked with the USFS monitoring endangered salmon habitat in the Columbia Watershed Basin for the Pacific Fish Inland Fish Biological Opinion. Emily is looking forward to applying her conservation knowledge to the San Luis Valley. She will be focusing on partnering with private landowners through various Farm Bill practices to preserve Southwest Willow Flycatcher habitat and wetland habitats.
Lauren Connell, Colorado Habitat Coordinator
Born and raised in south Florida, Lauren’s love of the outdoors was fostered at an early age and proved to be a guiding force in her educational and professional interests. Lauren earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science (2007) and a Master’s Degree (2009) from Florida State University. She worked as a Hydrogeologist in Florida for several years (2007 – 2013) but the promise of adventure led her west. Lauren moved to Wyoming to pursue a Master’s Degree in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management from the University of Wyoming. Her field research, based in Thunder Basin National Grassland in northeastern Wyoming, was highly applied and focused on management of rangelands for multiple uses, including livestock grazing and wildlife habitat. Originally hired as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist, focusing on habitat in sagebrush and grasslands ecosystems based in Wyoming, Lauren is now Colorado Habitat Coordinator and based in Bird Conservancy’s Fort Collins office.
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Maureen (Mo) Correll, Landscape Ecologist
Mo was born and raised in Conway, Massachusetts. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 2003. She spent the following seven years working as a research technician and project manager for a series of waterbird ecology projects across North America and the tropics. Mo returned to academia in 2010 to pursue her doctorate in Ecology and Environmental Science at the University of Maine, studying trends in tidal marsh bird populations and their habitat across the Atlantic coast. Through an externship during her degree, she also worked to identify stakeholder-sourced research needs in Alaskan coastal communities for the Arctic Landscape conservation Cooperative (LCC). Mo graduated in 2015 and turned her attention to landscape-scale conservation of grassland birds and other key resources through her current position. Mo is now an analyst for the Desert LCC’s Landscape Conservation Planning and Design (LCPD) effort and leads a regional demographic monitoring effort for grassland birds in the Northern Great Plains.
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Erin Divine, Coordinating Wildlife Biologist
Erin grew up in southeastern Nebraska roaming around the farm land of her parents’ home and the adjacent state Wildlife Management Area and State Recreation Area. She attended Nebraska Wesleyan University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 2005. In 2013, she completed a graduate certificate of advanced study in Geographic Information Systems from University of Denver, University College. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree, she worked for the Forest Service in Arizona, Oregon State University and Boise State University’s Raptor Research Center conducting surveys for Mexican and Northern Spotted Owl, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle and other raptors. She also has some experience with habitat improvement projects. Erin is stationed in Chadron, Nebraska.
Sarah Doxon, Environmental Educator
Growing up as a free-range child in the wilds of rural Iowa, Sarah’s connection with nature was fostered from an early age. This connection prompted her to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University (2011) and then a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology from Miami University (2017). Realizing that most children no longer have the opportunity to connect with nature in safe, meaningful ways, and that these early experiences help to shape conservation-minded adults, she has made it her mission to innovate ways to bring children and nature back together. When not teaching, Sarah can be found hiking, reading, or cooking with her husband.
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Nancy Drilling, Dakotas Projects Coordinator
A native Iowan, Nancy received her Master’s Degree at Illinois State University and is finishing her doctorate in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota. She has worked on many avian projects in all corners of the U.S., including research on forest passerines, shorebirds, waterfowl and colonial water birds. She also has experience in Southeast Asia, including three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand and several years working and conducting avian research in Indonesia and Malaysia. Nancy coordinates Bird Conservancy projects in South Dakota, including the second South Dakota Breeding Bird Atlas.
Angela Dwyer, Grassland Habitat Coordinator/Stewardship Team Lead
A Nebraska native and raised in Texas, Angela moved to Colorado in 2010 and worked for Audubon Rockies on habitat restoration and at Colorado State University on several GIS vegetation mapping projects. She studied waterbirds and received a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Management at Stephen F. Austin State University in 2006 and has been working with birds ever since. Prior to moving to Colorado, she was the conservation biologist for Audubon North Carolina from 2007 to 2010, chasing shorebirds on the beach. She loves exploring Colorado through birding, hiking and skiing. She has been with Bird Conservancy since 2012 and is based in Fort Collins.
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Marcella Tarantino, Range Ecologist (Gunnison, CO)
Marcella grew up in Golden, Colorado and did her undergraduate at Western State College in Gunnison in 2011. She worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service in Gunnison, as well as Oregon State University on a variety of projects. Marcella then studied sage-grouse diet and habitat use at Boise State University for her Master’s Degree. She enjoys skiing, backpacking, fishing and living in the west! Marcella is based out of the Montrose, Colorado NRCS office.
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Luke George, Science Director
Luke has spent a lifetime studying birds across North America, starting when he was an undergraduate at Reed College under the mentorship of David DeSante (Founder of the Institute for Bird Populations). He then went on to University of New Mexico to earn a Master’s Degree and PhD followed by post-doctoral research on grassland birds at Colorado State University. He became a faculty member in the Wildlife Department at Humboldt State University in 1991 and taught there for 21 years. His research focused on songbird ecology, demography, habitat selection, and conservation working with a variety of species including Greater Sage-grouse, Golden Eagles, Northern Spotted Owls, and small mammals. He has authored more than 75 scientific papers and technical reports on wildlife research and natural resource conservation and management and was the lead editor of a monograph entitled “The effects of habitat fragmentation on birds in western landscapes: contrasts with paradigms from the eastern United States”. From 2011-2014 he was a member of the Independent Science Review Panel that reviewed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. In addition to his role as Science Director at the Bird Conservancy, he currently teaches a course in the department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University.
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Adam Green, Biometrician
Adam received a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from Murray State University and a master’s in biology from the University of Arkansas. He spent two years at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center working on adaptive management of water drawdown impoundments for waterbirds on National Wildlife Refuges. While there, he developed an interest in quantitative methods to inform wildlife management decisions, pursuing this further while completing a Ph.D. in fish, wildlife and conservation biology at Colorado State University. His career focus has been on better understanding bird populations and their conservation with two postdoctoral fellowships on the development of an adaptive harvest management framework for northern bobwhite at Mississippi State University and the impacts of oil and gas development on greater sage-grouse in Wyoming at Colorado State University and USGS.
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Michael Getzey, Information Technology
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Kelli Hirsch, Development Manager
A central Nebraska native, Kelli earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Hastings College. Kelli has spent her career in fundraising for various nonprofit organizations and truly enjoys connecting people’s passions and interests to an organization’s mission. Kelli developed a deep appreciation for migrating Sandhill and Whooping Cranes as a young child. Although a bird novice compared to her colleagues, Kelli’s appreciation for birds stems from personal connections to birding friends and loved ones. Kelli loves natural landscapes, endless horizons and open spaces and looks forward to helping Bird Conservancy conserve these precious resources for future generations. In her spare time, Kelli plays French horn with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra and Gossamer Winds and enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and exploring National Parks.
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Kelsea Holloway, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Wetland Specialist)
Kelsea, a native to Idaho, received her Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Resources from the University of Idaho in 2013. During her years as an undergrad she assisted with prairie song bird studies and pygmy rabbit habitat studies. In 2014 she moved to Minnesota to assist the Natural Resources Conservation Service with the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). After almost 2 years in Minnesota, Kelsea joined the Bird Conservancy team in Colorado. She now assists multiple counties in northeast Colorado with WRP management.
Kristina Kline, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Durango, CO)
A Colorado native, Kristina received her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from Fort Lewis College in 2010. Shortly after, she worked as an environmental biologist for a private company conducting avian surveys and threatened and endangered species surveys in SW Colorado. Along the way, she assisted with the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas II developing habitat suitability maps for boreal and flammulated owls, volunteered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife working on black bear-human conflicts, and became a naturalist leading students on nature hikes. Kristina has also worked on water conservation projects as a GIS/GPS technician. After finishing her Master’s Degree in Forest-Wildlife Ecology at Oregon State University in 2016, she is back in SW Colorado working with partners and landowners out of the Durango NRCS office to incorporate wildlife habitat conservation projects on private lands. In her free time, she enjoys birding, hiking, snowboarding, and hanging with her dogs.
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Quresh Latif, Biometrician
Born and raised in California, Quresh earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife, Fisheries, & Conservation Biology from U.C. Davis, and his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology from U.C. Riverside. He developed his Ph.D. research in collaboration with Point Blue’s Eastern Sierra Riparian Songbird Monitoring Program, wherein he combined experimental and analytical approaches to study nest site selection and nest predation for Yellow Warbler along Mono Lake tributaries. After receiving his Ph.D., Quresh further developed his analytical skills and experience with monitoring to inform conservation as post-doc with the Center for Conservation Biology (U.C. Riverside, 2009-2011) and with the Rocky Mountain Research Station (U.S.F.S., 2011-2018). He joined Bird Conservancy in 2018 as a biometrician with a focus on forest birds and working with forest management partners. He is relishing the opportunity to work with a large monitoring dataset (IMBCR) and Bird Conservancy’s science team to inform forest management.
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Wendy Lanier, Spotted Owl Project Leader
Wendy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology from Vanderbilt University. She became passionate about research with conservation applications while conducting avian field work in California and Colorado. This passion led her to Colorado State University, where she received her Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology in 2015. Briefly leaving the avian world, her thesis focused on the effects of introduced greenback cutthroat trout on boreal toad recruitment. Wendy is currently applying her knowledge of population biology, ecological modeling and conservation biology to monitor the threatened Mexican Spotted Owl in Arizona and New Mexico.
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Jennifer Lutze, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Sturgis, SD)
Jenn grew up in California and attended University of California, Davis where she focused on animal husbandry (with emphasis on sheep). She later transferred to University of Alaska, Fairbanks where she studied the feasibility, cost effectiveness and meat quality of feeding reindeer a wheatgrass hay during the fall. She then attended South Dakota State University and completed her Master’s degree in August 2018 in Rangeland Management, studying grassland bird response to winter-patch grazing. In her role at Bird Conservancy, Jenn focuses on creating strong relationships with ranchers and private landowners to create healthier rangelands while simultaneously helping to increase grassland bird populations. She enjoys hunting and camping with her Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Murphy.
Kelsey Mazur, Programs and Volunteer Coordinator
Kelsey has served as an educator and a coordinator for a variety of nature-based experiential education programs. She’s gained professional experience building both citizen science and residential learning programs as well as inquiry-based family programs and summer camps. Kelsey loves working with students, volunteers, and the public to share her love for birds, nature, and all things wild. Kelsey is originally from Ohio where she attended Wittenberg University and earned a degree in history through studying pre-modern interpretations of the natural world.
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Meredith McBurney, Biologist/Bander
Meredith made her decision to make conserving birds and their habitats her second career in 1997 when she held a warbler in the hand for the first time while volunteering for Earthwatch in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Returning to Colorado, she took Hugh and Urling Kingery’s beginning birder class, obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology from Colorado State University, and learned her banding skills from the many excellent banders who preceded her as the bander at the Barr Lake station. She has worked for the Bird Conservancy since 2004, and bands in the spring at Chatfield and the fall at Barr Lake. She loves the hands-on experience of banding, and she loves sharing that experience with the hundreds of kids and adults who visit the banding stations every year.
Matthew McLaren, IMBCR Coordinator/Biologist
Matthew joined the Bird Conservancy in 2010 and works on the bird monitoring program. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Environmental Science, Matthew spent five years conducting field work throughout Alaska. Since then he has worked on several projects in Colorado and Wyoming, including studying Mountain Plover nest success and habitat use in Wyoming. He is based in the Fort Collins office.
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Stacey Monahan, Camp and Family Programs Coordinator
Stacey grew up in the beautiful state of New Hampshire, where she fostered a love of everything outdoors.She graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelors in Wildlife Biology. Stacey has worked at many different environmental education centers and summer camps on the East and West coasts. She is very excited to bring her knowledge and experiences to Bird Camp!
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Maryanne Murphy, Chief Administrative Officer
Maryanne is a financial officer with years of experience bringing processes and efficiencies to organizations to improve the bottom line and position organizations for stable growth. She is a certified public accountant and received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Throughout her career, Maryanne has earned a positive reputation for her attention to detail and her ability to create strategy. Her expertise in implementing technology systems and creating high functioning teams has helped organizations streamline processes. In addition to helping organizations function more effectively, Maryanne enjoys traveling throughout the United States and abroad. Whether on a safari in Africa, or a walking tour in Turkey or Morocco, Maryanne enjoys adding new experiences to her life. She also spends time at the theater and enjoys a good game of softball.
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Kaitlyn Nafziger, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist
A Pennsylvania native, Kaitlyn received a dual B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Earth & Environmental Science from Unity College in Maine (2015). During her time in college she spent her summers working as a rotating intern and an island supervisor for Project Puffin. After graduating she traveled across the country for seasonal jobs such as a loon technician for Biodiversity Research Institute in the Adirondacks, a research associate studying snowy plovers & least terns for the San Diego Zoo, a hunter survey technician for the University of Nebraska, a biological technician studying sea & shorebirds for US Fish & Wildlife at Monomoy NWR on Cape Cod, and as a soil conservation technician for the NRCS in Virginia. She is excited to combine her passion for birds and land conservation by joining the Bird Conservancy team as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist in northeast New Mexico, where she works with landowners to promote land-stewardship for wildlife conservation.
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Sherry Nickolaus, Education Director
Sherry grew up with a love for all things wild, leading her to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington and a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology from Miami University. Working with animals and children has always been a passion and she firmly believes children are our future and our hope. Sherry looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm and helping the community make a personal connection with the natural world through field trips at our Environmental Learning Center at Barr Lake. When not working, she spends her time with her family playing, gardening, reading and enjoying the outdoors.
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Arvind Panjabi, Avian Conservation Scientist
Before coming to the Bird Conservancy in 2000, Arvind worked on bird conservation projects from Alaska to Panama. He managed Bird Conservancy’s Black Hills bird monitoring project through 2005 and published several informative reports on the avifauna of this unique region. He works closely with Partners in Flight, manages the PIF Species Assessment Database, and was instrumental in applying the PIF assessment process to the Mexican avifauna, in conjunction with federal and NGO partners in Mexico. In 2005, he launched the Bird Conservancy’s International program to build a permanent bridge for bird conservation throughout the Americas. He is involved in several cooperative projects in Mexico in Chihuahuan grasslands, western Mexico and the Sierra Madre Oriental. Arvind has a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont (1993) and a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from Louisiana State University (1999).
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Ryan Parker, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist
Ryan grew up in south-central Wyoming and attended the University of Wyoming earning a dual Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Biology & Management, and Environment & Natural Resources. He worked for the Forest Service on the Thunder Basin National Grassland in Wyoming for 5 years, and is currently finishing a Master’s in Biology at the University of Colorado Denver. His thesis looks at identifying probabilities of occupancy for swift fox, Burrowing Owl, and Mountain Plover and interactions between the three species on black-tailed prairie dog colonies. Ryan joins our team as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist working with landowners to promote land-stewardship for wildlife conservation across the rangelands of SE Colorado. Outside of work, you can find Ryan birding and hiking across the mountains and prairies of Wyoming and Colorado, cheering for the Colorado Rockies, and being a rabbit dad.
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David Pavlacky, Biometrician
A Colorado native, David received a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University (1995) and a Master’s Degree in Zoology and Physiology from the University of Wyoming (2000). He earned a doctorate in Zoology from the University of Queensland, Australia (2008), where he studied landscape genetics and ecology of rainforest birds. David first worked for the Bird Conservancy as a field technician in 1995, and he rejoined the Bird Conservancy in April 2008 to work on the spatial ecology of playa wetlands in eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. His research interests include quantitative methods for the distribution and abundance of wildlife and landscape ecology of forest birds.
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Jennifer Perkins, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist
Originally from Michigan, Jennifer has spent 14 of the past 17 years in Florida before coming to Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. She is most passionate about endangered species and habitat conservation, and I would still be a wildlife biologist even if she didn’t have to work. She earned her B.S. in Resource Ecology and Management from the University of Michigan. Her favorite life experience was spending three months in Kenya through a wildlife study abroad program during her undergrad. She earned her M.S. in Biology from Virginia Tech where she studied Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers. Her thesis investigated whether military training activity affects Red-Cockaded Woodpecker demography or behavior. After graduate school, Jennifer worked with private landowners to manage for Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers and their habitats through Florida’s Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Safe Harbor Program. Subsequent to that, she worked as the wildlife biologist on a 73,000-acre Florida Army National Guard installation in North-central Florida, working with gopher tortoises, Florida Scrub-Jays, and again with Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.
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Laura Quattrini, Stewardship Program Manager
Laura obtained a Bachelor’s in wildlife biology from Ohio University with an environmental studies certificate. She has assisted with numerous avian research projects with organizations including Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, Carnegie Museum of Natural History / Powdermill Biological Reserve, HawkWatch International, Southern Sierra Research Station and Humboldt State University. She has higher education teaching experience and was an Americorps VISTA organizing outreach efforts with landowners in southeast Ohio.
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Allison Shaw, GIS and Data Manager
Allison is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Grinnell College and a Master’s Degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Iowa State University. She has worked on forest and wetland conservation projects across the United States and Central America for The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Peace Corps Guatemala and others. She joined the Bird Conservancy in the fall of 2014 to assist the International team with data and project management.
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Rita Sims, Accounting Manager
Rita received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Metropolitan State University in Denver, CO. Since graduating in 2012 she has gained experience in multiple types of industries focusing in on nonprofits in 2015 because she enjoys working for companies that have a larger picture in mind for the greater purpose. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and 4 dogs, trying to master the art of fishing and seeing more of the country side.
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Matt Smith, Outreach Biologist
Matt earned his Bachelor’s Degree in environmental science from the University of South Florida, and began work as a seasonal field technician with Audubon Florida while still in school. During that time he assisted with a variety of research and conservation projects focused mainly on colonial waterbirds and shorebirds, such as the reddish egret and American Oystercatcher. He spent the summer of 2011 as whitewater guide on the Arkansas River, and has been plotting to return to Colorado ever since. Prior to joining the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Matt was managing a bald eagle nest monitoring program for the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. Matt is an avid outdoorsman and a licensed falconer.
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Larry Snyder, Landowner Outreach Biologist
A lifelong resident of Kimball, Nebraska, Larry received an Associate Degree in Production Agriculture from Northeastern Junior College in 1986. He has more than three decades of experience in livestock and dry land crop production in the southern Nebraska Panhandle. An avid outdoorsman with an eye for watching wildlife, Larry began conducting special species surveys in 2002 with the Nebraska Prairie Partners as a seasonal field technician. Now as a full-time Landowner Outreach Biologist, Larry is responsible for implementing the Mountain Plover nest protection program and wildlife escape ladder project, and he is involved in the Nebraska Prairie Partners Education and Outreach programs. Larry continues to help conduct special species surveys and the implementation process of playa restoration projects in the southern panhandle.
Rob Sparks, Research Biologist/GIS Manager
Rob found an appreciation for nature at a young age growing up in the forests of Africa and South America. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Botany from Miami University and a Geo-Spatial Science certificate from Colorado State University. After college, he hiked the Appalachian Trail and traveled to Costa Rica to work on conservation projects. His research focuses on developing hierarchical models to estimate species habitat relationships and predict distribution. Rob also has an interest in understanding bird migration routes and has analyzed Black Swift, Western Tanager and Swainson’s Thrush geolocator datasets. He’s currently working with Chestnut-collared Longspur geolocators. In addition, he leads the Eastern-Screech Owl citizen science program to estimate occupancy dynamics.
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Erin Strasser, Biologist
Erin received her Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology from Northern Arizona University where she studied Pinyon Jay behavioral ecology. In 2010, she earned her master’s in raptor biology from Boise State University, investigating the impacts of human disturbance on American Kestrel stress physiology and reproductive abandonment. Her passion for research and avian conservation has led her to study birds in several Western states, as well as Belize and Honduras. She is interested in how anthropogenic change impacts breeding bird behavior and physiology, and the overwintering ecology of migrants. Erin is involved with the Bird Conservancy’s Chihuahuan Desert grasslands project aimed at understanding overwintering survival and habitat use of Baird’s and Grasshopper Sparrows.
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Jennifer Timmer, Conservation Delivery Biologist
A Michigan native, Jennifer (Jen) graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. She then worked on a variety of wildlife projects in several states to gain field experience and a better understanding of wildlife management and research. These projects led her to southern Iowa to track bobcats and to southwestern Colorado to track mountain lions. Jen returned to school to earn her Master’s in Wildlife Science at Texas Tech University where she estimated the population of Lesser Prairie-Chicken in Texas and created spatially explicit habitat models. She completed her PhD in Ecology at Colorado State University and incorporated sage-grouse and songbirds into range management models with input from a variety of stakeholders. Jen joined Bird Conservancy in 2017 to assist partners with conservation needs and tools.
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Alex Van Boer, GIS Biologist
Growing up far from Colorado on the East End of Long Island, Alex began birding when he was only six years old. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and has spent the last several years working field jobs in conservation and ecological research, including a summer surveying saltmarsh birds for the University of Connecticut. He started at the Bird Conservancy as a data proofing technician and GIS volunteer, and joined as a full-time staff member in 2016. Alex enjoys the outdoors during all seasons and writes and performs music in his free time.
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Nick Van Lanen, Biologist
A Wisconsin native, Nick graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology. Since 2001 he has studied birds in eight states. These projects investigated a range of topics including breeding, stop-over, migratory and wintering behavior of songbirds, raptors and gamebirds. Nick also spent 18 months as an interpretive naturalist on the Georgia coast. Despite enjoying birding and kayaking for a living, he realized that conducting research aimed at conserving birds was his true passion. He returned to school and in 2010 received a Master’s Degree from Colorado State University for his research investigating the potential competitive interaction between Northern Spotted and Barred Owls. After graduate school Nick immediately started working for the Bird Conservancy as the Wyoming field crew leader. Now a full-time biologist, Nick assists with data analyses, report writing and publications.
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Jessica Weathers, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist
Raised overseas in a military family, Jessica’s interest in wildlife and rangeland conservation was sparked during her time abroad. She completed her dual degree in Psychology and Spanish at Gettysburg College, later continuing her higher education in wildlife and rangeland management in Colorado. Jessica’s travels finally brought her to northeastern Wyoming where she assisted in the Thunder Basin Research Initiative, examining the vegetation community response to interactions of disturbance regimes including wildfire, prairie dogs, and livestock grazing. This research extended to an in-depth study of prairie dog behavior and habitat selection. When plague hit the colony, she assisted several agencies mapping prairie dog colony expansion and resiliency. Following her time in Thunder Basin, Jessica later returned to Colorado to work as a park ranger for state and city parks, dedicating her time to promoting natural resources education and raising awareness for conservation efforts. Jessica is returning to Wyoming as our Private Lands Wildlife Biologist in Gillette, WY, to connect ranchers with conservation efforts for wildlife habitat improvement and to promote sustainable management practices on private lands.
Chris White, Director of Science Operations
Chris White is Director of Science Operations with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. After graduating from Arizona State University in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, Chris volunteered at an avian rehabilitation facility in Scottsdale, Arizona and was smitten with birds. He conducted field work for the next few years, moving to Fort Collins, Colorado along the way. Chris was initially hired to work for the Bird Conservancy as a data entry technician in the fall of 2006. Since then, Chris has worked is way up through the ranks, serving as a biologist, then IMBCR Coordinator, and finally to his current position working directly under the Science Director.
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Brittany Woiderski, Biologist
A Michigan native, Brittany earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Geography from Western Michigan University in 2006. She then moved west to Yosemite National Park where she spent six years with the National Park Service helping to develop riparian and meadow health metrics for the park’s Visitor Use and Impact Monitoring Program. After moving to Colorado in 2012, Brittany wasted no time in volunteering for Bird Conservancy’s Science Team. In 2013, she came on board as a point count technician with the Northern Great Plains crew and served as the assistant crew leader in Colorado for 2 years. She now leads the IMBCR effort in the Southern Great Plains.
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Colin Woolley, Banding Coordinator
Colin grew up in Oregon and fell in love with birds on family trips to Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge. He took his first field job in 2004 studying sagebrush shrub-steppe birds and has been working in avian monitoring and research ever since. This work has taken him across the U.S., Canada, and Central America. He received his Bachelor’s in Conservation Biology from Prescott College and his Master’s in Biology from University of Colorado, Denver. He partnered with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies for his Master’s thesis studying breeding ecology and habitat use of Mountain Plovers. He has been banding birds for over 10 years and loves to share this experience with others. He has a borderline-obsessive affinity for Spizella sparrows and Toxostoma thrashers. His other interests include hiking, travelling, auto mechanics, and starting (and occasionally finishing) overly-complicated board-games.
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Ty Woodward, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Woodland Park, CO)
Born and raised in southeast Colorado, Tyrel earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Colorado College in 2008. He studied lesser prairie chicken habitat on Conservation Reserve Program enrolled land in southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas, and graduated with his Master’s Degree from Colorado State University-Pueblo in 2012. He has worked for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a wildlife conservation technician, aquatic conservation technician, and forest habitat technician. He has worked with wildlife species ranging from Arkansas darters and New Mexico jumping mouse to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, from the plains to the highest peaks. Ty believes strongly in habitat conservation; his forest restoration work has taken place across the state of Colorado. When not working he enjoys hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing.
(719) 686-9405 x103
Erin Youngberg, Community and Outreach Biologist.
Erin found her way to the Bird Conservancy as a volunteer intern for the Bald Eagle Watch Program in January 2010. A bird lover from a very young age, she jumped at the chance to get involved with such a great organization. She was then hired as a seasonal field technician for the International team’s grassland nest productivity study at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area during the 2010 summer season. When she wasn’t observing baby birds, she was performing regularly with her bluegrass band, Finders and Youngberg. Originally from Jackson, Wyoming, Erin graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University in 2009. She is extremely interested in conserving habitats for our birds and is excited to be lending her skills to the Bird Conservancy.
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