Staff

April Yancey

Land Management Technician

April Yancey

April Yancey is a Land Management Technician with The Orianne Society.  She worked as an Office Administrator and Bookkeeper with a local automotive repair business for several years before joining The Orianne Society.  A native of middle Georgia, she grew up on a small farm that fostered her love for animals and the outdoors at a young age.  She is currently pursuing these interests through a Wildlife and Forestry Conservation course with Penn Foster.  An avid outdoorswoman, she enjoys horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and camping.  She is looking forward to being part of The Orianne’s Burn Crew and learning the benefits of prescribed fire.

Ben Stegenga

Research Assistant

Ben Stegenga

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.

Blake Adams

Preserve Manager

Blake Adams

Blake serves as the Preserve 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 to help restore these beautiful habitats.  His hobbies include hunting, fishing, fabricating, and working on his family farm.

Caleb Goldsmith

Director of Fire Ecology and Management

Caleb Goldsmith

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. 

Charli Thompson

Program Manager

Charli Thompson

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.

Gary Baldaeus

Chief Financial Officer

Gary Baldaeus

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.

Heidi Hall

Director of Development

Heidi Hall

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.

Houston Chandler

Director of Science

Houston Chandler

Houston previously served as Species Coordinator and Director as part of the Longleaf Savannas Initiative.  Houston is also enrolled as a PhD student at Virginia Tech in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation under the direction of Dr. Carola Haas.  Houston works on a variety of research projects for The Orianne Society and oversees all of the science projects that we undertake.  Currently, he is working on understanding how a variety of environmental and anthropogenic factors influence the viability of Eastern Indigo Snake and Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander populations.  Previously, Houston completed a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science at Georgia College and State University.  While completing his undergraduate degree, Houston worked as an Aquatic Diversity Intern for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  He received his M.S. in fish and wildlife conservation from Virginia Tech in 2014 and continued working as a Research Associate after graduating.  His M.S. research was focused on identifying the effects of habitat change on aquatic invertebrate and amphibian communities in ephemeral wetlands in the Florida panhandle, with an emphasis on Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders.  Houston is broadly interested in the conservation and management of reptile and amphibian populations, especially in the southeastern United States.

Dr. Javan M. Bauder

Independent Researcher

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.

Kiley Briggs

Director of Conservation

Kiley Briggs

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 Lohrer

Research Technician

Mel Lohrer

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.  

Tracy Karplus

Director of Communications

Tracy Karplus

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.