Dr. Chris Jenkins is Chief Executive Officer of The Orianne Society. Chris has also worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Massachusetts, University of British Columbia, and National Geographic. He has worked on the conservation of reptiles and amphibians throughout North America and is currently expanding his work internationally. Chris' primary interests are in the ecology and conservation of snakes and managing nonprofit conservation organizations, but he has strong interests in the conservation biology of all reptiles and amphibians. He received a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Massachusetts in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Idaho State University. His dissertation focused on the effect of livestock grazing, invasive plants, and altered fire regimes on the reproductive ecology of Great Basin rattlesnakes. Chris' current projects include protection and management of Indigo Snakes and their habitats, understanding the factors responsible for the decline of Indigo Snakes, restoration of Gopher Tortoise and Indigo Snake populations, and the conservation of vipers including rattlesnakes of the Rocky Mountains, Appalachian populations of Timber Rattlesnakes, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes, and Bushmasters. Chris founded and chairs the IUCN Viper Specialist Group and serves as co-chair on the Steering Committee for the Southeast Region of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. Chris has contributed to multiple scientific papers and has written multiple book chapters including Modeling Snake Distribution and Habitat in the recently published book titled Snakes: Ecology and Conservation. Chris is currently writing a book titled, The Indigo Snake: A Complete Guide to their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation.
The staff of The Orianne Society at the 2012 Annual Meeting. Pictured from left to right is Wayne Taylor, Karen McLain, Fred Antonio, Jerry Medlock, Dirk Stevenson, Heidi Hall, Javan Bauder, Andrew Harkey, Sue Bottoms, Chris Jenkins, Steven Spear, and Mike Jackson.
Growing up in Arcadia, California, Fred spent his early years scouring the San Gabriel Mountains in search of reptiles and amphibians. By his early teens, he maintained an impressive collection of local herps along with exotic pythons, monitor lizards and eventually venomous snakes, the latter becoming his focal area of interest and research to this day. Fred pursued his formal education at Montana State University, graduating with a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management (Bachelor of Science, 1975). His career in the zoo field began as an Elephant Keeper at the Central Florida Zoo, Reptile Keeper at the Dallas Zoo, and Research Assistant at the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Wildlife Research Lab, where he worked with the critically endangered Dusky Seaside Sparrow. In 1979 Fred joined the staff of the Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo, and as Zoo Curator taught students in the Biological Parks Program who were pursuing careers as keepers in the zoo field. Fred returned to the Central Florida Zoo in 1989, where he was Director of Operation/General Curator prior to joining The Orianne Society in May, 2009. Fred has served the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as Population Manager for the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Vice Chair for Studbooks and Population Management Plans for the Wildlife Conservation Management Committee (WCMC), and is currently a Steering Committee member of the AZA Snake Advisory Group. Fred's interest in the Eastern Indigo Snake began early in his career when he successfully reproduced indigos at Central Florida Zoo and Santa Fe Teaching Zoo in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2008, he published the first AZA Eastern Indigo Snake Regional Studbook and Population Management Plan to scientifically manage the captive population and continues this work today managing the AZA Species Survival Plan for the Eastern Indigo Snake. New construction groundbreaking at the OCIC commenced in July 2011 and in January 2012 the Health Care Center and the Herpetarium were completed. By June, the first set of outdoor enclosures were also finished signaling the close of Phase One construction at the OCIC. Fred's planning, design, and execution in creating this unique breeding and research facility establishes new and significant programmatic elements building on The Orianne Society’s mission of success.
Courtney received a B.S in Zoo Science from Delaware Valley College in 2007. While in school she was drawn to classes and internships that incorporated captive animal husbandry with wildlife management and conservation. After school she worked for several years in AZA accredited institutions as a reptile keeper, with a special interest in pythons, and venomous animals. Working with the captive Indigos and breeding them for our Initiatives is unique in snake husbandry, and she is enjoying the challenge of raising and breeding these amazing animals to support wild populations.
Wayne Taylor earned a B.S. in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida in 1994 with a major in wildlife ecology. Following graduation, Wayne served in AmeriCorps on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, where he received initial wildland fire training and his first fire experience. Since, he has led or participated in nearly 500 prescribed fires involving more than 200,000 acres while working for the St. Johns River Water Management District, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Air Force, private contractors, and volunteering for private landowners. Additionally, Wayne has wildland firefighting experience from Florida, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming. He has been a host and mentor to the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center for 10 years by instructing and providing prescribed fire opportunities for U.S. and international wildland fire professionals. Wayne is fortunate to have directly experienced recent significant disturbance events on public lands he was managing, the ‘98 Florida wildfires and the ‘04 hurricanes, and directly observed their effects on shaping natural communities. He has applied this experience to upland and wetland natural community restoration and restoration logging in the context of ecologically-driven prescribed fire programs. Wayne is currently a co-principal investigator on a long term fire-climate study in central Florida. Wayne is able to dedicate long hours working fire through the support of his wife and son.
Jeff Brewer is the Field Operations Coordinator for The Orianne Society's Land Management Team. He was born in California and has lived in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. He graduated high school in Prattville, Alabama, with vocational forestry training. Jeff has attended timber cruising workshops at the University of Georgia and numerous short courses on Rare and Endangered Species, Water Shed Protection, Georgia Master Timber Harvester, Georgia Certified Prescribed Burner and is a member of the Georgia Prescribed Fire Council. His 20 years of forestry work in south central Georgia consists of cruising timber, buying timber, marking timber, timber sales preparation, logging supervision, reforestation and prescribed burning. He has an extreme fondness for the outdoors and is an avid hunter and fisherman.
Javan Bauder received his B.S. in wildlife resources from the University of Idaho in 2007, and his M.S. in biology from Idaho State University in 2009. For his master's research, Javan studied prairie rattlesnake movements and habitat selection in the Frank Church Wilderness of central Idaho and how mountainous topography and prey availability influenced those movements. Javan works on multiple projects within The Orianne Society's Indigo Snake Initiative, including a project on the effects on non-natural landscapes on indigo snake population viability in Florida and the thermal ecology of eastern indigo snakes in southern Georgia to understand how alterations to their thermal environment may have contributed towards their declines. Javan also works on The Orianne Society's Indigo Snake monitoring program in the Altamaha River drainage. Javan's primary research interests are the spatial ecology and conservation biology of reptiles and amphibians. He has previously studied amphibian use of man-made wetlands, and used genetic techniques to determine the source of a potentially introduced population of salamander in northern Idaho. Javan has also worked on a variety of wildlife research projects including amphibian landscape genetics in northern Idaho, southwestern willow flycatcher nest monitoring in Arizona, prairie falcon surveys in southern Idaho, and raptor monitoring on the Washington coast. Javan currently lives in northeast Georgia.
Patrick grew up in Missouri camping and growing a lifelong passion for the outdoors through the Boy Scouts. He received his Eagle Scout award at 16, where he organized a landscaping project around a tiger enclosure at a local animal sanctuary where he also volunteered on weekends. After high school, he went to the University of Missouri-Columbia. Here he started as an Animal Science major, hoping one day to become a veterinarian. However, after working in a vet hospital for two years as a technician, he realized he was more interested in a natural landscape. So he changed his degree to Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. He graduated in December 2010, hoping to further use what he had learned in the classroom, in the field. From here he got an internship at the Bald Head Island Conservancy in North Carolina where he worked as part of the wildlife team doing nightly deer surveys, working with the sea turtle crew, and doing public education. After finding he enjoyed working in the field, and went on to work several field tech positions working with a wide range of threatened and endangered species, doing many different habitat management projects, and working with a variety of places and organizations including the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and the Savanna River Ecology Lab. Currently he is working in Highlands County, Florida on The Orianne Society’s Eastern Indigo snake radio-telemetry project. His main interests include herps and the effects anthropogenic changes to the landscape can have on them.
Brent graduated in 2000 with a BS degree in wildlife biology from West Virginia University. He has worked on several field projects that include the spatial distribution of southeastern bat species, and a study of nutritional effects on ruffed grouse egg production. For the past few years, Brent has worked as a research associate in conjunction with the Great Basin Institute, and USFWS radio tracking translated desert tortoises, an endangered species. He hopes to continue his work with endangered species and their eventual recovery. In his spare time, Brent enjoys kayaking and is an avid fisherman.
Dr. Stephen Spear received his B.S in Biology at the University of Richmond in 2001, his M.S. in Biology at Idaho State University in 2004, and his Ph.D. in Zoology at Washington State University in 2009. Both his master's and doctoral research focused on understanding how landscape configuration influenced the population genetic structure of amphibians. For his master's research, he studied tiger salamanders across the northern range of Yellowstone National Park to understand how cover type, topography and moisture gradients correlated with population connectivity and trends in population size. His dissertation research focused on the tailed frog, an endemic forest amphibian of the Pacific Northwest, and he investigated the relative effects timber harvest, large forest fires, and the Mount St. Helens eruption had on tailed frog gene flow and genetic diversity. In addition he has also worked on projects investigating giant salamander response to timber harvest treatments, and describing Tasmanian devil gene flow to predict how a deadly communicable disease might spread. Currently, he is working with researchers at Idaho State University, Clayton State University, and University of Idaho to use demographic, genetic, and modeling approaches to predict how energy development might affect the persistence of midget faded rattlesnake populations in southwest Wyoming. He is also working on projects investigating the response of hellbender populations to recent fragmentation due to hydrologic alteration and loss of forest cover. Steve lives in eastern Washington with his wife and an assortment of adopted reptiles and amphibians.
Dirk attended Southern Illinois University where he studied zoology (B.S.,1988). He has over 20 years of professional experience working as a field zoologist—primarily conducting field studies and surveys of reptiles and amphibians in the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States. Beginning in 1996, Dirk has conducted intensive mark-recapture studies and distributional surveys of eastern indigo snakes throughout southern Georgia. Prior to his position with The Orianne Society, Dirk worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and The Nature Conservancy, and for the Department of Defense at Fort Stewart, Georgia. In addition to these positions, he has conducted status surveys for declining amphibian species through contracts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He has extensive experience surveying and translocating gopher tortoises, and is a long-time member of the Gopher Tortoise Council and the SSAR (Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles). Dirk has published a number of technical and popular articles relating to eastern indigo snakes, flatwoods salamanders, rare dragonflies, bark scorpions and other animals. Many of his photographs appeared in Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia (2008, University of Georgia Press). His popular articles have appeared in Wildlife Conservation, Alabama Wildlife, South Carolina Wildlife, Illinois Audubon, Herp Nation and Georgia Backroads.
Kevin Stohlgren grew up in central Missouri and received his B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri in 2007. He has worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation on a reptile and amphibian monitoring project in the Ozarks and has also worked at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Southwest Georgia. Kevin is currently working on his master's at the University of Georgia. His master's research focuses on the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on the distribution and abundance of eastern diamondback rattlesnakes on the coast of Georgia.
Kiley Briggs grew up in Vermont and earned a B.S. in wildlife biology in 2008. Since then he has worked as a field and office assistant for the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Project and as a technician on a project aimed at developing an adequate sampling method for Mudpuppies in the northeast. In addition to working with reptiles and amphibians he worked as a technician in a field study looking at the nesting success of grassland birds and spent a summer working with a graduate student studying the population dynamics of Rainbow Smelt in Lake Champlain. Since the Fall of 2010 he has been working for The Orianne Society as a technician on Gopher Tortoise, Eastern Indigo Snake, and Timber Rattlesnake studies in Georgia and Vermont. His primary interests lie in the conservation and restoration of rattlesnake populations in New England and he hopes to soon be pursuing a master's degree in that field.
From an early age I was interested in herps, snakes especially. I owned my first python at the age of 6. I now have 5 snakes that I have used in multiple outreach programs in the NC Piedmont. I graduated with a BS in animal science from NC State University in 2011 with hopes of returning to further my education to get a Masters in herpetology. As an officer in the Herpetology Club at NC State, I helped organize trips that would expose current and incoming students to wild reptiles and amphibians all over the southeast. I always seek to educate the public as to the beauty and complexity of the herps in their area. I assisted with copperhead research and radio track of eastern box turtules while attending NC State. Finding herps in the wild is my passion. I am always excited anytime I find a wild reptile of amphibian. After graduating I took 5 months off to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. I would like to focus my efforts on studying venomous snakes and wildlife photography in the future. I currently live in Cary NC with my girlfriend and 5 snakes and take every opportunity to get outside and explore the natural world, the wilder the better.
Karen McLain serves as The Orianne Society’s Accountant. She spent her early years in northern New Mexico camping, hiking, and enjoying the wilderness, including observing and tracking snakes in the mountains. Karen also lived in UT, NY, IL, and Okinawa. Her parents worked for the U.S. Department of the Army, so she was able to travel all over the world. Karen received her degree in Natural Resource Conversation from SUNY (Finger Lakes, NY), but pursued an accounting career in nonprofit agencies. Her past positions in nonprofit companies include Executive Director for a builders’ association, the business administrator at a church, and an accounting analyst for a church denomination. She and her husband live with their dogs and horses in north Georgia.
Heidi Hall studied Fisheries and Wildlife Management at Hocking College in Ohio where she earned a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management. After a little globe-trekking, she continued her education at the University of Idaho, studying Wildlife Biology, earning a B.S. in Biology in 2003. Upon graduating, Heidi began her career as a consultant, working primarily with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act; studying various species ranging from sage grouse to salmon. Heidi has conducted and written numerous Biological Assessments, Environmental Impact Statements, and Habitat Assessments. Her current interests are determining and implementing effective ways to communicate the need for reptile and amphibian conservation, educating the public about the importance of these species, building strong partnerships with private, non-profit, and state and federal organizations, developing and implementing strategic fundraising campaigns, and organizing citizens to participate in necessary and useful research on reptile and amphibians that enhance The Orianne Society's conservation efforts. Heidi currently resides in the Southern Appalachian Mountains with her husband and dog; where they enjoy an active life full of motorcycle riding, fly fishing, and hiking.
Polly Conrad received her B.S. in biology from Truman State University (Missouri) in 2001. She wrote her first grant proposal as an undergraduate, which funded her graduate project assessing wildlife community responses to an oak-savanna restoration in northeast Missouri. After completing this study, Polly received her M.S. in Biology from Truman State University in 2003. She moved out west and became a Staff Research Associate in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, then went on to work as the Herpetologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. During that time, Polly worked closely with agency biologists and administrators, non-government organizations, zoos, museums, researchers, educators and private individuals to plan for, promote, fund and implement conservation for reptiles and their habitats. She has written numerous grants and developed fundraising mechanisms that have contributed significant funds towards reptile conservation needs. Polly lives in Logan, UT, and currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Joint National Steering Committee.
A longtime Rabun County, Georgia resident, Kevin Croom's life experiences include over twenty years active radio station ownership and operation. Kevin got his start in the communication field as a part-time radio announcer while attending Rabun County High School in Clayton, Georgia. Most recently, Kevin helped manage and develop Rabun County Habitat for Humanity's "ReStore," which greatly supports Habitat's home-building efforts. Kevin lives in Lakemont, Georgia, and loves walking and hiking with "Bongo," a rescue dog who helps in spotting and picking up roadside litter. It's rumored a very healthy rat snake lives rent-free in Kevin's attic. Kevin's travels have taken him to Israel, Denmark and Iceland, but "home," with its unparalleled family, friends and beauty, will always be Rabun County, Georgia.