Leadership

Dr. Chris Jenkins

Dr. Chris Jenkins is Chief Executive Officer of The Orianne Society. As CEO, Chris is responsible for providing strategic direction and overseeing day-to-day operations of the organization. Chris’ primary interests are in nonprofit management, land protection and stewardship and biodiversity conservation. He received a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Massachusetts in wildlife biology and wildlife conservation, respectively. Chris received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Idaho State University. Chris has also 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 wildlife in the Great Northern Forests. Chris founded and chairs the IUCN Viper Specialist Group and has served on many board and committees including the National Committee for 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.

Gary Baldaeus

Gary serves as The Orianne Society’s 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.

Science

Javan M. Bauder

Javan works as an Independent Researcher under the Great Northern Forests Initiative. He grew up on the Washington coast before earning 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. His graduate research examined the spatial and habitat ecology of Prairie Rattlesnakes in a mountainous landscape. Javan then worked for The Orianne Society as an Assistant Conservation Scientist focusing on multiple projects including Eastern Indigo Snake thermal, spatial, and habitat ecology, Eastern Indigo Snake and Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake occupancy monitoring, Gopher Tortoise translocation, and Timber and Western Rattlesnake population ecology. Javan is currently completing a Ph.D. in Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with the support of The Orianne Society. His dissertation uses individual-based population models and landscape genetics to evaluate the population viability and connectivity of Eastern Indigo Snakes in central Florida. Javan currently works for The Orianne Society on a multi-state project assessing the population status of Timber Rattlesnakes in New England. Javan’s research interests include landscape ecology, multi-scale wildlife habitat relationships, wildlife population modeling, herpetology, and just about anything related to statistics! 

Houston Chandler

Houston is the Director of Science. He 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.

Conservation

Haizel Allen

Coming from the upper northwest corner of Washington State (basically Canadian), Haizel fits the stereotype of a pacific northwestern. Haizel graduated with a BS in Environmental Science from Western Washington University (WWU) in 2019. While attending WWU she also got the opportunity to study abroad in South Africa where she worked with various researchers and took data from bird ringing in the Baviannskloof Wilderness Area to seine estuary data from the Groot River. Haizel has worked two seasons in fire suppression in Deschutes National Forest, where she gained a new perspective and interest in the different of types of environmental maintenance. This will be her longest time being on the east coast and she is looking forward to learning and exploring as much of Georgia as she can.

Kiley Briggs

After a childhood flipping rocks in search of salamanders in the southern Champlain Valley of Vermont Kiley graduated with a Bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from The University of Vermont in 2008 and a Master's degree in biology from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 2016. His work at UTRGV involved investigating how invasive grass species impact the threatened Texas Tortoise. Since 2008 he has traveled up and down the east coast working with various reptiles and amphibians for The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, The Orianne Society, and The Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Project, and has worked with species ranging from Mudpuppies and Wood Turtles to Eastern Indigo Snakes and Timber Rattlesnakes. His primary professional goal is to use imperiled reptiles and amphibians as tools to promote conservation efforts in New England. He returned to the northeast to work with The Orianne Society developing a Wood Turtle population assessment and conservation program in Northern New England. He also likes fish, fishing, eating fish, and keeps several pretty sweet aquariums.

Andrea Colton

Andrea is a field technician who will be working with Spotted Turtles this season as part of the Longleaf
Savannah’s Initiative. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Iowa State University in 2017. She has
had the opportunity to travel to South Africa, Guam, Arizona, California, Illinois, and now Georgia to
assist in a variety of wildlife projects. While the goal of earlier projects was finding ones that offered
experience with a wide range of taxa, later projects cemented a love of herpetology. Andrea hopes to
use her experience this field season to refine her research interests and enrich her knowledge of turtle
communities before she pursues a master’s degree this fall.

Ben Grunwald

Ben Grunwald is the land management technician crew leader under the Longleaf Savannas Initiative. He is from Durham, NC and got his bachelors in Biology from the College of Wooster in 2017. He has pursued a career in applied conservation following college, including doing stream restoration work in NC and a year with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps in NH. Ben fell in love with working around fire through his time on Orianne's 2019 crew. Since then he has been able to chase his passion by lighting fires in GA on the DNR crew and fighting fires in CA with two seasons on a USFS handcrew, before returning to The Orianne Society.

James Hunt

James works as a Seasonal Land Management Technician for The Orianne Society, where his primary duties are to assist in conducting prescribed fire. James earned his B.S. in Ecology in 2014 and his M.S. in Wildlife in 2019, both from the University of Georgia. His background is rooted in herpetology, with a focus on conserving and monitoring reptiles and amphibians of the Longleaf Pine ecosystem. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, and brewing beer.  

Tracy Karplus

Tracy Karplus is the Orianne Society’s Conservation Communications Coordinator.  Born in Singapore, she grew up within the Asia-Pacific region and travelled extensively.  Tracy 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 Southern California and earned a B.A. in Psychology and Fine Arts.  Tracy worked in television as an Associate Producer and Prop Stylist for a small advertising agency in New York City.  She is now based out of North Georgia, is also an artist - creating and selling linocut art prints, and enjoys cooking, hiking and wildlife photography. 

Conner Moore

Conner is a Land Management Technician for the Longleaf Savannas Initiative. He is a native of Alabama but has lived in the Smokies for two years and now calls that home. Conner attended Auburn University where he received his B.S. in Natural Resources Management in 2019. Upon graduating, Conner worked as a lead technician for Auburn University’s gopher tortoise survey for two field seasons. He has also worked as an AmeriCorps invasive species intern with Georgia DNR and taught environmental education with Georgia 4-H. Conner is hoping to gain valuable experience in prescribed fire with Orianne that will help him pursue a masters in Fire Ecology soon.

Ben Stegenga

Ben Stegenga is a Research Assistant for our Longleaf Savannas Initiative where he leads our species-based research and monitoring projects. Ben 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 also maintains many of The Orianne Society’s captive reptiles, as well as some of his own, for use in public outreach. Some of his other hobbies include kayaking, backpacking, wildlife photography, and fishing.

Operations

Heidi Hall

Heidi Hall Is the Director of Development for The Orianne Society. She is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of a strategic plan to broaden the reach of and raise funding for the organization. Heidi’s 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.

Charli Palmer

Charli Palmer is the Program Manager at The Orianne Society. She graduated from Rabun County High School in 2007 and worked as a receptionist and bookkeeper for a CPA firm for eight years before coming to The Orianne Society. She is currently pursuing a degree in business administration and enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, kayaking and volunteering at local schools in her spare time.