Ben leads our species-based research and monitoring projects. He grew up at Table Rock State Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina, where his parents fostered a love of wildlife in him at an early age. He spent much of his childhood helping his dad and local biologists survey for wildlife in the park and caring for the animals in the park’s nature center. Ben received a B.S. in Biology at Southern Wesleyan University in 2011, and then went on to earn a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University in 2014. After graduation, he taught herpetology as an adjunct professor at Southern Wesleyan University, then he spent a term with the Great Basin Institute studying Mojave Desert Tortoises. Ben maintains many of The Orianne Society’s captive reptiles, as well as some of his own, for use in public outreach. His hobbies include kayaking, backpacking, wildlife photography, and fishing.
Longleaf Stewardship Center Manager
Blake serves as the Manager for the Longleaf Stewardship Center. As part of the prescribed fire team, he also leads the groundcover restoration efforts in the Longleaf Savannas. Blake earned an Associates’ Degree in 2021 for Land Management, Wildlife Management, Timber Cruising, and Surveying. With his past experience in prescribed fire, he found interest in working within the Longleaf Savannas to apply conservation actions and help restore these beautiful habitats. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, fabricating, and working on his family farm.
Director of Fire Ecology and Management
Caleb grew up in Blacksburg, VA and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Conservation from Virginia Tech in 2014. He worked with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural resource specialist assistant where he got his introduction to fire as a management tool. His knowledge in fire ecology and forest management was enhanced while employed for the Department of Military Affairs at Fort Pickett, Blackstone, VA as a natural resource specialist, where he helped manage forest and wildlife resources on 41,000 acres of federally owned land. Curiosity and interest in fire ecology and science brought him back to academia where he completed a Master of Science degree from Mississippi State in 2021 while conducting numerous research projects for the Forest and Fire Ecology lab. His first study investigated upland oak and mesophyte response to single and multiple dormant seasons prescribed fire and the impacts on seedling growth, stand structure and species composition. The second investigated the impacts of the invasive species, Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass), on seedling growth and survival of three common hardwood species. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, traveling, and various types of music.
Gopher Tortoise Management Technician
Callahan is a Gopher Tortoise Management Technician with The Orianne Society. He is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst who studied abroad at the University of Otago in New Zealand and spent time there working as a ranch hand between travels. During his undergraduate studies he worked as a research assistant studying macro-invertebrate population recovery after dam removal in south shore Massachusetts as a marker for stream ecology health. He also spent his last summer working with a non-profit on Cape Cod promoting the protection of waterways around Massachusetts. He's excited to be apart of The Orianne Society's team and learn more about habitat recovery through fire restoration.
Gopher Tortoise Management Technician
Carolyn is a Gopher Tortoise Management Technician with The Orianne Society. Growing up on the coast of Georgia, she developed a passion for wildlife and natural resources conservation. She received her B.S. in Ecology and Field Biology from Shorter University in May of 2023; during her undergraduate career she completed independent ecotoxicology research regarding aquatic plant ecotoxicology. Carolyn also worked at the Rome Floyd E.C.O. Center, promoting education on native species to the Coosa River Shed and Georgia. After graduation, she worked as a Sonoran Desert Tortoise technician for Arizona Game and Fish, surveying for and processing herpetofauna. Carolyn is interested in wildlife research, specifically keystone species and environmental chemistry.
Charli is the Program Manager for The Orianne Society. Her responsibilities include accounting and administrative tasks. She worked for a CPA firm as a bookkeeper for 8 years before coming to The Orianne Society and graduated in 2016 with an associate’s degree in accounting. In her spare time you can find her outdoors with her husband and dog, or reading or crafting on her front porch.
Dr. Chris Jenkins
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Chris Jenkins
Chris received a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Massachusetts in wildlife biology and wildlife conservation, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Idaho State University. He has worked with Wildlife Conservation Society, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Massachusetts, University of British Columbia and National Geographic. Chris’ current projects include land protection in Longleaf Pine ecosystems, ecology and conservation of Timber Rattlesnakes and the conservation of Giant Tortoises. He founded and formally chaired the IUCN Viper Specialist Group and has served on many board and committees including the National Committee for Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, University of Georgia Press, and the Indian Ocean Tortoise Alliance. 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, Venomous Snakes of the Southeast.
Gopher Tortoise Management Technician
Emma Richards is a Gopher Tortoise Management Technician with the Orianne Society. She received her Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University in April 2023 and majored in Wildlife Biology and Natural Resource Management, with a minor in Biology. During her undergraduate studies, she had internships in which she conducted bird banding, breeding bird surveys, tracked the federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee, and participated in the reintroduction of native orchids in Wisconsin. She also contributed to a graduate research project that involved tracking/locating head-started Eastern Box Turtle individuals in Michigan. Since graduating, she has worked with the US Forest Service in Idaho as a Forestry Technician (fire), focusing on wildfires and prescribed burns. Emma grew up in Wisconsin and is super excited to see species specific to the southern U.S. as well as learn about introducing fire into ecosystems to help improve habitat for species.
Chief Financial Officer
After completing eight years of military service during the 1960’s, he obtained his B.B.A. in accounting from City University of New York-Baruch College. Upon graduation, he joined Ernst & Young and retired after 30 years with the firm. While with Ernst & Young he served in numerous capacities as an audit and consulting partner including, among other things, as a specialist in the healthcare and nonprofit industries. He is a practicing CPA and a member of the AICPA, NYSSCPAs, and other professional and social organizations. He has presented to a broad array of professional organizations on all aspects of accounting and operating matters and has served as an adjunct professor at New York Medical College.
Director of Development
Heidi is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of a strategic plan to broaden the reach of and raise funding for the organization. Her interests include 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. She studied fisheries and wildlife management at Hocking College in Ohio where she earned a degree in fisheries and wildlife management and continued her education at the University of Idaho, studying wildlife management, earning degrees in biology.
Dr. Houston Chandler
Director of Science
Houston leads our science-based conservation projects. He previously served as Species Coordinator and Director as part of the Longleaf Savannas Initiative. Houston has a PhD and MS degree in Fish and Wildlife Conservation from Virginia Tech, where he worked with Dr. Carola Haas. His graduate studies focused on understanding how a variety of factors influence Eastern Indigo Snake and Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander populations. He also completed several projects examining the ecology and hydrology of ephemeral wetlands. Previously, Houston completed a B.S. in Biology at Georgia College and State University and worked as an Aquatic Diversity Intern for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Houston is broadly interested in the conservation and management of reptile and amphibian populations, especially in the southeastern US. He has particular interests in understanding responses to global change, population biology, wetland hydrology, and using creative techniques to fill important data gaps in our natural history knowledge for rare herpetofauna. While at Orianne, Houston has worked on a wide variety of species, including Eastern Indigo Snakes, Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders, Spotted Turtles, Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnakes, and Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles.
Dr. Javan M. Bauder
Dr. Javan M. Bauder
Javan Bauder is an Assistant Unit Leader at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Javan earned his B.S. in Wildlife Resources from the University of Idaho and M.S. from Idaho State University. Javan joined The Orianne Society in 2009 as an Assistant Conservation Scientist and worked on multiple projects. Javan returned to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where his dissertation work examined landscape effects on Eastern Indigo Snake movement, population viability, and genetic connectivity. Javan then worked as a post-doc with the Illinois Natural History Survey studying population trends in mammalian carnivores in the Midwest before joining the Arizona Coop Unit in 2021. Javan continues to collaborate with The Orianne Society on Eastern Indigo Snake research focusing on habitat, connectivity, and population modeling.
Director of Conservation
As the Director of Conservation, Kiley oversees The Orianne Society's landscape-based conservation programs. After a childhood flipping rocks in search of salamanders in Vermont, Kiley first came to Orianne as a field technician in 2011, a few years after graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in Wildlife Biology. After some time away, during which he studied the habitat use of Texas Tortoises in pursuit of his Master’s degree at the University of Texas, Kiley returned to The Orianne Society in 2017. With experience working on research and conservation projects with many species, including Wood Turtles, Timber Rattlesnakes, Indigo Snakes, Gopher Tortoises, and Mudpuppies, Kiley strives to protect and restore critical habitat for imperiled reptiles and amphibians, especially on private working lands where farmers form the backbone of local farm-to-table economies. Outside of work, Kiley is an amateur photographer and aquarium hobbyist in Vermont where he also enjoys hiking and kayaking with his wife and dogs. Kiley is also a member of the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.
Mel is a graduate student in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England, where she is focused on conservation for threatened and endangered turtle species. For her thesis she is looking at habitat use by Wood Turtles in agricultural settings using GPS trackers. She received her Bachelor’s degree in ecology from Sterling College in 2020. From a young age Mel has loved amphibians and reptiles and enjoyed running through the woods near her Massachusetts home. She enjoys hiking, being outside, photography, working out, and being a coach at her local CrossFit gym. Mel has been with The Orianne Society in the northeast since 2018.
Peyton Niebanck is a seasonal wildlife technician for The Orianne Society. She is from Alpharetta, GA and graduated from University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources with a Bachelors of Science specializing in wildlife sciences. Since graduating, she has worked on a variety of projects. She was a Gopher Tortoise and Eastern Indigo Snake technician for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, trapped invasive Black-and-White Argentine Tegus for the National Park Service and University of Florida, and tracked freshwater turtles with radio telemetry for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Recently, she’s been involved in game camera and bioacoustic monitoring for the Florida Wildlife Corridor and worked on a Giant Garter Snake project in California with the U.S. Geological Survey. As part of the Orianne Society, she’s excited to play an important role in conserving Eastern Indigo Snakes and other imperiled herp species.
Director of Communication
Tracy is the Director of Communication for The Orianne Society. Born in Singapore, Tracy grew up within the Asia-Pacific region and travelled extensively. She spent many of her younger years keeping various reptiles and amphibians and nurturing a fascination with marine biology as an avid scuba diver. She attended Pitzer College in Claremont, California and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Fine Arts with a focus in photography. Tracy worked in television advertising as an Associate Producer and Prop Stylist for SoloVision Productions, Inc. in New York City, whose clients included the Food Network, HGTV and the CBS Evening News. She is now based out of North Georgia, and enjoys cooking, hiking, pyrography, printmaking and wildlife photography.