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. If you are interested in participating in our bird conservation work, please visit our employment, internships or volunteer pages.
To email a staff member, simply click on their name.
Tammy VerCauteren, Executive Director (Fort Collins, CO)
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. Tammy serves as the NABCI Human Dimensions Subcommittee Chair, as well as Chair of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture Management Board and Co-Chair of the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture Management Board. 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.
Xitlaly Avitia, Bilingual Environmental Educator (Brighton, CO)
Xitlaly was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. Since an early age she has had a love for all things outdoors. For three years she worked with Environmental Learning for Kids and has been a part of the organization as a student and now volunteer for almost ten years. Working with youth outdoors, Xitlaly has found a passion for inspiring her community to get outside. She knows the importance of diversity in the outdoors and will continue trying to inspire everyone, everywhere that they belong in the outdoors. She has been advocating for environmental justice and hopes to reach more communities. In her free time she enjoys going to concerts, hiking, watching really long movies, and spending time with her loved ones.
Rachel Belouin, Program Manager, Southern Plains (Fort Collins, CO)
Rachel received a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a master’s degree in Non-Fiction Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and a master’s in Natural Resource Stewardship with a concentration in grasslands and ecological restoration from Colorado State University. Rachel has experience working and living on a third-generation cattle ranch and enjoys riding her horse, trail running with her son, and a great book.
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Jenny Berven, Senior Program Manager (Fort Collins, CO)
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 Bird Conservancy in 2009.
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Delanie Bruce, Education Manager (Scottsbluff, NE)
An eastern Nebraska native, Delanie received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education from Goshen College. Delanie’s experience as an environmental educator has taken her from state parks in eastern Nebraska and Indiana to schools in the Bahamas to an outdoors camp in Michigan to a sustainability non-profit in Nevada, to now with the Bird Conservancy in western Nebraska. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, Delanie loves to share her passion for hiking, traveling, reptiles, amphibians, and birds with friends, family, and anyone else she encounters. When not working, she enjoys reading, skydiving, searching for rattlesnakes, and snuggling with her cat, Bentley.
Amy Burnett, Communications Director (Fort Collins, CO)
Amy Burnett has worked in the wildlife education, interpretation and communication field for over two decades. She was previously the Public Relations Liaison/Information and Education Program Manager for Arizona Game and Fish Department. Amy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. As the current Communications Director for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, she is excited about sharing her passion for conserving birds from the Rockies to the Great Plains, Mexico and beyond. When Amy is not working to connect people with the natural world around them, you may find her running the local mountain trails.
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Harold Campbell, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Gillette, WY)
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Harold loved to find what aspects of nature he could in a big city and often spent many weekends camping at the lake or hiking what trails he could. He received his B.S. in Environmental Science in 2016 from St. Mary’s University, followed shortly by his M.S. In Environmental Science from the University of Texas San Antonio. Upon graduation he spent 4 years as a contractor supporting the Air Force’s Centralized Environmental NEPA Division. He is now excited to be able to work directly with his local community in any sort of conservation effort possible, but has always had a deep rooted admiration for our winged friends.
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Rita Campbell, Accounting Manager (Brighton, CO)
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 countryside.
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Tyler Cash, Digital Engagement Manager (Fort Collins, CO)
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 Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, where he gained extensive knowledge in natural history. After college Tyler worked at several different Outdoor Education facilities where he held several different roles ranging from Teaching Naturalist to Education Coordinator to Camp Manager. Through his time at Bird Conservancy Tyler has gained knowledge in communications and social media and is excited to share Bird Conservancy’s story through different digital platforms. In his free time you can find him hiking, rock climbing, traveling & exploring the mountains with his wife and two Australian Shepherds Pinyon and Birch.
Marion Clément, Senior Avian Ecologist – Mexican Spotted Owl Coordinator (Fort Collins, CO)
Marion Clément joined Bird Conservancy in 2022 as the Mexican Spotted Owl Coordinator. She first moved to Colorado in 2020 to work for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Threatened and Endangered Species, where she investigated population trends and threats to a petitioned bumble bee, Bombus occidentalis. She is particularly fond of doing research on owls; for her Master’s Degree, Marion studied differential resource selection of Barred Owls along a development gradient. On her own time, Marion started a Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding station near her home in Fort Collins, Colorado. After work, Marion enjoys all kinds of outdoor sports, including biking, skiing, and rafting. In addition, Marion has a penchant for salsa dancing and painting.
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Katherine Crawley, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Chadron, NE)
Katherine, is a Missouri native, and has had a love for all things wildlife from an early age. Katherine earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from Northwest Missouri State University in 2015. Her first experience working with various bird species and wildlife came in 2012 as an intern with United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as an intern at Baca National Wildlife Refuge. She continued working with game and non-game birds throughout her career with United States Geological Survey (USGS) in eastern Nebraska, working as an Assistant Scientist for a private consulting company, and with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as a Private Lands Biologist in the Southern Panhandle of western Nebraska. Katherine’s favorite past times include hunting, hiking, shed hunting, and a strong passion for books and reading.
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Payson Cronen Smith, Environmental Educator (Brighton, CO)
Payson grew up in Fort Collins, CO with a family that enjoyed the outdoors, going camping, hiking, skiing and more. Payson attended Colorado State University, earning a Bachelor’s in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. While initially interested in fisheries, he discovered bird conservation to be far more enjoyable, joining birding clubs and volunteering with hawk monitoring or restoration projects along the way. After graduating, Payson started at Bird Conservancy as a Seasonal Avian Field Technician performing bird point counts in the Great Plains and Northern Colorado. He then transitioned to the Environmental Educator role, looking to inspire his same passion for birds in all members of our community. When outside of work, Payson is usually spending time with friends and family, attempting to photograph birds, listening to music, overcomplicating drinking coffee, or playing competitive card games.
Kyle Deschenes, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Woodland Park, CO)
Kyle is originally from Florida where he grew up fishing, hiking, snorkeling, and watching wildlife. He earned his B.S. in Forest Resources & Conservation from the University of Florida with a minor in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation and a specialization in Environmental Law. Upon graduation, he moved to Colorado and began working as a naturalist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. After a year of working in the state parks, he had the opportunity to become a wildlife technician working with mule deer, elk, and mountain lions. Kyle is extremely passionate about restoring wildlife habitat to its historical structure and function. In his free time, Kyle enjoys fly fishing and hiking with his dog.
Elinda Dennis, Chief Administrative Officer (Brighton, CO)
Elinda earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Accounting from the University of Phoenix. Elinda has over 30 years of experience in accounting/finance with 16 years as a senior finance executive in the Senior Living and Hospitality Industries. She is a native of Missouri where she grew up on a small cattle ranch. Elinda loves the outdoors and in her spare time enjoys hiking mountain trails and spending time with her husband in their mountain retreat in Estes Park, Colorado.
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Sarah Doxon, Education Manager (Brighton, CO)
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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Angela Dwyer, Program Manager, Northern Great Plains (Fort Collins, CO)
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 before joining Bird Conservancy in 2012. 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.
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Taylor Dziedzina, Development & Executive Assistant (Brighton, CO)
Taylor has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University. After college, she worked at Colorado Parks and Wildlife as the Statewide Volunteer Program Assistant. For the past three years Taylor has been a field biologist leading surveys in the Intermountain West for threatened and endangered species. In her spare time Taylor can be found hiking and backpacking with her dog, Delilah, birdwatching, or curled up with a good book.
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Jackson Ebbers, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Trenton, NE)
Jackson is originally from Cambridge, Nebraska, where he developed a passion for the outdoors at a young age spending many hours fishing and exploring the lake near his hometown. Jackson attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned his B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife. Jackson has gained experience working with wildlife and habitat management by working as a Conservation Technician for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on public lands. He is currently working to finish his master’s degree in Agronomy specializing in Great Plains Studies. His work in graduate school focuses on examining roadside wildflower seeding and mowing regimes for the benefit of pollinating insects. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time at the lake. Jackson is excited to move back to Southwest Nebraska as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist so he can help preserve the grasslands that helped spark his interest in conservation.
Anna Gaw, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Fort Morgan, CO)
Anna has spent most of her life in Colorado, going on nature walks, climbing, horseback riding, and doing a variety of arts and crafts. While completing her undergraduate degree in Ecology at Colorado College and CU Boulder, she studied grazing impacts on plant communities, interned with an environmental education non-profit, and volunteered at animal rescues. She received her master’s degree in Biodiversity and Global Change from University College London, where she studied the impacts of alternative farming methods on insect diversity around the world.
Anna Greenberg, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Alamosa, CO)
Growing up in Chicago, IL, Anna spent her early days searching for worms, frogs, and ducks. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, where she worked on campus sustainability advocacy projects. After working as an outdoor educator in California and a member of the Aspen Skiing Company sustainability team in Colorado, Anna earned Master’s degrees in Ecosystem Science and Management, and Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan. Anna is excited that her work with the Bird Conservancy operates in the overlap between “doing” science and communicating science, as she is very interested in how land and wildlife conservation issues are addressed from a management standpoint and understood by surrounding communities. You can likely find Anna climbing or snowboarding while she waits for the climbing weather to return.
Noelle Grunwald, Environmental Educator (Scottsbluff, NE)
Growing up in Wisconsin, Noelle’s parents instilled in her a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Her love of the outdoors would ultimately lead her to pursue and attain a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis in Environmental Education/Interpretation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as well as a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Noelle has worked throughout the United States educating individuals of all ages about the beauty and importance of the natural world around them. Her favorite topics to teach about are animal adaptations and, of course, birds! In her spare time, Noelle enjoys adventures of all kinds with her park ranger husband, daughter, and their “prairie dog” Rosie. After these adventures she enjoys crocheting, reading, or obsessing over a puzzle.
Becky Heath, Camp Manager (Brighton, CO)
Becky grew up in upstate New York before moving to mid coastal Maine, where she earned her degree in Marine Biology from Unity College. Summers were spent there working as a Camp Counselor & Day Camp Coordinator and fostered a love of experiential education in the camp setting. After graduation, she made the move to the greater Houston area where she worked in several camp roles from Discovery Instructor to Camp Director. Becky is looking forward to working and learning from campers and fellow staff as she takes on the Camp Manager role at the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Outside of work, Becky enjoys hiking and camping with her dog as well as avidly knitting sweaters.
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Stephen Howland, Informatics Program Manager (Fort Collins, CO)
Stephen comes to us with extensive experience as a data engineer. He has created numerous innovative programming solutions through his work with finance, construction and oil and gas. He has proven success in making fully integrated and automated solutions using the most up to date technologies platforms especially Python and SQL databases. In his free time Stephen is a skilled glass blower and loves doing all outdoor activities.
Christopher Kilner, Research Scientist/Spatial Ecologist (Washington, D.C)
A Colorado native, Christopher is excited to join Bird Conservancy of the Rockies! Christopher earned a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, Philosophy, and BCMB (Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology) from The University of Scranton prior to studying at Trinity College Dublin as a Mitchell Scholar for his Master’s in Biodiversity and Conservation. He joins Bird Conservancy from Duke University, where he earned his PhD in Ecology—with a dissertation focused on theoretical and quantitative ecology—and a certificate in Geospatial Analysis. When not coding or reading the latest literature, Christopher enjoys creating new cake recipes, hiking, rowing, and nurturing his friendships through game nights and travel.
Kylie Lamoree, Avian Ecologist (Fort Collins, CO)
Kylie grew up in rural eastern Nebraska and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Wyoming. She has always had a deep passion and curiosity for the natural world and has experience ranging from multiple species surveys in Eastern Australia and the U.S., to leading conservation crews around Wyoming. She enjoys being outside, being too invested in sports, grossing out family and friends with odd biology facts, and most of all, winning bingo games.
Edward Landi, Avian Ecologist (Fort Collins, CO)
Edward grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, halfway between the Appalachian Mountains and the Outer Banks. In early high school, he began taking an interest in birds while volunteering at a local banding station. Chasing birds from the mountains to the coast became a frequent endeavour for teenage Edward. Once he got his driver’s license, he never hit the brakes on his new found hobby. This led him to pursue a career in bird research and earn his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from NC State University . While completing his degree, he worked field jobs across the country, spent a semester abroad in Ecuador exploring the country’s diverse avifauna, and banding birds at sites across NC with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Later, Edward moved to Colorado to pursue his M.S. in Biology at CSU Pueblo. For his thesis, he studied the Spatial Ecology of Cassin’s Sparrows using a remote telemetry system and solar-powered tags.
Quresh Latif, Research Scientist (Fort Collins, CO)
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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Chris Latimer, Research Director (Fort Collins, CO)
Chris grew up in Virginia where he received his B.S. & M.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Science at Virginia Tech. Chris completed his doctorate in Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison and then spent 4 years as a Landscape Ecologist at TNC, Colorado. Chris has a strong interest in quantitative ecology and leveraging data to inform conservation delivery. In his spare time, Chris enjoys getting outdoors with his family hiking, camping, fly-fishing and skiing, and brewing beer.
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Olivia Laws, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Sterling, CO)
Olivia earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology in 2016 from Cal Poly Humboldt. She has always loved wild animals, and has actively worked in natural resource research, education and outreach across the country for the past several years. However, when she took a position working with wetlands there was no looking back. Since moving to Colorado she has worked with wetlands across the state. Passionate about stewardship and working with the public, Olivia has found the best of all worlds with the Bird Conservancy in Sterling. She enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, video games and spending time with her cat.
Yue Pheng Lee, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Trinidad, CO)
Yue Pheng grew up in Wisconsin where he learned to appreciate nature through fishing and various recreations. During his time at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, he interned with the non-profit organization Urban Ecology Center in various stewardship roles. After graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Conservation & Environmental Science, he joined the Peace Corps serving the country of Nepal as a Food Security Volunteer. Following his service in Nepal, he worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a Wildlife Technician before joining Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. When not working, he loves to enjoy the outdoors plus the company of his many nieces, nephews, and family. Traveling and exploring the world is a passion of his!
Brittany Leslie, Program Manager (Fort Collins, CO)
A Northern Michigan native, Brittany earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography, Environmental Analysis & Resource Management from Western Michigan University (2006). From there, she worked for the National Park Service in Yosemite, where she used geospatial techniques to monitor visitor use and grazing impacts to the park’s meadows and riverbanks. It was there that she discovered the world of birding and spent most weekends exploring Yosemite and the Sierra foothills. She has been with Bird Conservancy since 2012, contributing to the Science Team’s GIS and IMBCR programs and now assists the Stewardship Team with grant and budget management. Brittany loves being outside with her family and in her spare time enjoys gardening, hunting, camping, and sewing.
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Meredith McBurney, Bander and Volunteer Coordinator (Brighton, CO)
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, Senior Avian Ecologist/ IMBCR Coordinator (Fort Collins, CO)
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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Katie Merewether, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Rocky Ford, CO)
Katie grew up in Eastern Colorado on her family’s cattle ranch. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Denver, where she also discovered a love of birds. Since then, she has worked as a field technician across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, including on the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions program. On her time off, she enjoys reading with her cat, hiking, and birding.
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Ashley Mertz, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Greeley, CO)
Ashley was raised in Kansas and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Wildlife Biology from Fort Hays State University. After a brief internship in Kenya doing marine and terrestrial ecology, and providing sustainability workshops, she worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a biologist at both Aransas (TX) and Bosque del Apache (NM) National Wildlife Refuges. Hiking and exploring nature with her kids and husband fill most of her spare time, and she relishes a good podcast while running with her dog.
Zoë Moffett, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Walsenburg, CO)
Zoë moved from Connecticut to Colorado to earn her B.A. in Ecology at Colorado College (2017) where she worked with a crew of biologists studying Flammulated Owls near Woodland Park, CO. In the spring of 2020, Zoë worked as a bird bander and educator in Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos, NM. In 2023, she finished her M.S. degree in Wildlife Biology at Utah State University where she studied Greater Sage-grouse nest depredation by the Common Raven. Now, she is thrilled to be back in Colorado working with private landowners to accomplish their forestry goals. In the outdoors, Zoë enjoys hiking and birding with her dog; indoors, she enjoys writing and running Dungeons & Dragons campaigns for her friends and family.
Lauren Newman, Stewardship Program Assistant (Fort Collins, CO)
A desert native, Lauren earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona in the Sonoran Desert of Tucson. She has worked as an avian field technician since graduating, including the 2021, 2022 and 2023 field seasons with the Bird Conservancy’s Mountains to Plains project. Her interest in avian evolution, behavior, ecology and conservation has been a life-long affair. In her free time she cooks locally sourced meals, reads Stephen King novels, and spoils her dog and husband.
Sherry Nickolaus, Education Director (Brighton, CO)
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 thrives on sharing her enthusiasm and helping the community make a personal connection with birds and the natural world. When not working, she spends her time with her family playing, gardening, mini-farming, and enjoying the outdoors.
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Bryan Nuse, Research Scientist (Athens, GA)
Bryan grew up in Atlanta, and is a quantitative ecologist with an interest in bridging the gap between statistical modeling and practical applications such as conservation management. He received his PhD in 2014 from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia, then worked as a postdoc in the Georgia Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit. Although his dissertation work involved bird surveys in river corridors and coastal wetlands, Bryan’s recent focus has been on building integrated population models for herps: gopher tortoises, loggerhead sea turtles. As his goal was always to return to bird work, his most recent project (Adaptive Management for Red Knots and horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay) has been a welcome change. And he is excited now to be coming back around to the kind of songbirds that led him toward ecology and conservation in the first place.
Arvind Panjabi, Senior Research Scientist (Fort Collins, CO)
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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David Pavlacky, Biometrician (Fort Collins, CO)
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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Joe Pettit, Development Director (Brighton, CO)
Joe is a development professional with experience spanning performing arts, conservation, climate change, foreign policy, political campaigns and urban horticulture. He grew up in eastern Nebraska and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. When not working, he can be found gardening, cycling, cooking, and, of course, birding.
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Brandt Ryder, Chief Conservation Scientist (Fort Collins, CO)
Brandt earned a Bachelors of Wildlife Biology from Unity College in (1999) and then went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in (2008). Brandt’s dissertation focused on the demography and social behavior of tropical lekking birds. Prior to joining Bird Conservancy, Brandt worked for a decade as a research scientist for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center focusing on the conservation and behavior of birds across their annual cycle. Brandt has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers on a diversity of topics including urban ecology, migration ecology, landscape ecology and behavioral ecology. Brandt enjoys the outdoors in his free time through hiking, running, and doing landscape and astrophotography.
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Jessie Reese, Avian Ecologist (Fort Collins, CO)
Jessie grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and earned a B.S. in Biology from James Madison University and an M.S. in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has studied birds and their habitats since 2011, including several seasons with The Institute for Bird Populations. During her M.S., she developed conservation partnerships in Latin America while studying migratory connectivity. After graduating in 2017, she worked to restore healthy forests for priority bird species with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Prior to joining Bird Conservancy, she worked with the Human Dimensions Branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fort Collins, where she has enjoyed exploring Colorado’s mountains and plains through birding, backpacking, and climbing.
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Tayler Scherr, Senior Wildlife Biologist (Glendive, MT)
Originally from Mandan, ND, Tayler moved out west and earned her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana in 2015. Her passion for birds was born while working for the MT Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit in Arizona, but her fieldwork experiences in western Wyoming really sparked her interest in applied ecology and a collaborative approach to research and conservation. Tayler is particularly interested in how human alteration affects wildlife and seeing science applied for the sake of management and conservation. She is currently working on completing her master’s degree in Zoology & Physiology at the University of Wyoming, examining the effects of temperature and habitat loss on the reproductive fitness and behavior of sagebrush-obligate songbirds. She is based in Glendive, Montana, where she works with agricultural producers and private landowners to build partnerships and conserve habitat for wildlife. When not working, she enjoys any activity that gets her outdoors, reading anything and everything, art, and spending time with her many animals on the ranch.
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Allison Shaw, Ecologist – Data Specialist (Fort Collins, CO)
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. Allison joined Bird Conservancy in the fall of 2014 to assist the International team with data and project management.
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Matt Smith, Avian Ecologist (Fort Collins, CO)
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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Rob Sparks, Senior Spatial Ecologist- Spatial Analysis Coordinator (Fort Collins, CO)
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 community science program to estimate occupancy dynamics.
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Marcella Tarantino, Senior Wildlife Biologist (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!
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Jennifer Timmer, Senior Avian Ecologist – Conservation Delivery Lead (Fort Collins, CO)
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’s Science team in 2017. Her work focuses on engaging partners, developing tools and resources, and disseminating information to guide conservation on-the-ground.
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Kristin Van Beek, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (Sturgis, SD)
Kristin, is a South Dakota native and has a love and passion for everything outdoors related. Whether that is spending every weekend camping or spending many hours in the backcountry hiking. Kristin earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Rangeland Wildlife Management and Rangeland Ecology from Chadron State College in 2022. She is currently working on her Master of Agriculture in Agricultural Sciences: Integrated Resource Management Specialization. She also has studied and researched various large and small game wildlife with the Forest Service, through species such as grouse, various bat species, and bumblebees. She is excited to work directly with producers and the community to help enhance conservation efforts, along with restoring native grasslands and wildlife habitat.
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TC Walker, Avian Ecologist (Fort Collins, CO)
TC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology (2020) from Colorado State University where he focused on GIS and avian ecology. Well before he even started school, however, TC took his love for birds and the outdoors on the road as a field technician. Since 2014, he has spent summers conducting breeding bird surveys for Bird Conservancy and the rest of the year monitoring raptors and sage-grouse throughout the western United States. TC went on to lead the southwest IMBCR survey effort in 2021 and later joined the Science team full-time to provide GIS support within the IMBCR program. TC can often be found in the forest four-wheeling to the best spots for fishing, camping and birding.
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Matt Webb, Avian Ecologist (Fort Collins, CO)
Matt was born and raised in Salida, CO. Around age 10, at odds with his preferences, his family moved to the ‘dull’ plains of Northern Colorado. To Matt’s surprise, he fell in love with the endless roll and incredible diversity of the shortgrass prairies. He later spent some time in Pittsburgh, PA, working at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the American Bird Conservancy, and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology and a Master’s in Conservation Leadership, both received from Colorado State University. When not building automated radio telemetry stations, Matt enjoys mothing, photographing beetles, riding and fixing bicycles, turning over stones, and dragging his family outside at night to watch the International Space Station go by.
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Chris White, Director of Science Operations (Fort Collins, CO)
Chris graduated from Arizona State University in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. While volunteering at an avian rehabilitation facility in Scottsdale, AZ, Chris 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 Bird Conservancy as a data entry technician in the fall of 2006. Since then, Chris has worked his way up through the ranks, serving as a biologist, then IMBCR Coordinator, and finally to his current position where he plays a key role in science operations for the organization.
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Colin Woolley, Banding Manager (Brighton, CO)
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, traveling, auto mechanics, and starting (and occasionally finishing) overly-complicated board-games.
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Eric Zach, Stewardship Director (Fort Collins, CO)
Eric received a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources Management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1998. During Eric’s 25-year career he has worked in both public and private lands management, as a Biologist for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and the last 11 years as Agriculture Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Eric grew up on a farm in northeast Nebraska and enjoys hunting, fishing, live music, and traveling with his wife Allison and their dog Max.
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Qing Zhao, Research Scientist (Fort Collins, CO)
Qing is a quantitative ecologist with strong interests in modeling wildlife populations, communities, and movement under regional to global environmental alterations to inform conservation decision-making. Qing received a BS in Ecology and Environmental Biology and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Peking University in 2000 and 2009, respectively, and a MS in Statistics from the University of Toledo in 2010. Qing’s current work focuses on developing population models to understand grassland bird population declines. Qing has worked on numerous bird species (mallards, northern pintails, snowy plovers, barn swallows, boreal birds) as well as wild monkeys.