Living With Nature Speaker Bios
Rosie Bennett got her start in Indiana as a raptor rescuer, helping out with Ziploc-packing dead mice and cleaning cages. She also helped a bat rehabber and will never live down dropping all the wriggling meal worms her first time feeding the bats! She’s so grateful for her love of birds – their behavior will never stop amazing her. She’s very proud that her son Andy is a birder and much better than her.
Laura Cotter is a 4th generation Arizonan; the first 18 years in Phoenix and the rest here in Tucson. She’s only considered herself a birder for the last 10 or 12 years, but she’s always been interested in birds & other wildlife. She remembers spending hours as a girl laying quietly in a wash trying (unsuccessfully) to lure vultures down. Now that she has binoculars, she’s much better at getting good looks!
Jenise Porter began trying to identify ducks in 1978 when she moved from the California Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area. She wishes she could say that 30+ years of looking at birds had made her an expert but she’s still working on it.
Deb Vath is a retired educator and birder who enjoys sharing her love of birds with anyone who will listen. She’s been traveling the world and birding on a pension for the last 6 years…there are so many birds and so little time (and money)!
John Yerger has worked as a wildlife biologist since 2001, though he currently organizes and leads birding tours for a living. He has served as a Board Member for the Arizona Field Ornithologists and the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon, as a member of the Arizona Bird Committee, and volunteers with the Tucson Audubon Society as often as time permits. John particularly enjoys birding at his home in Portal, AZ.
Karen Krebbs worked at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for more than 26 years and has extensive knowledge of birds, mammals, deserts, and animal adaptations and behavior. Her passion for hummingbirds has resulted in a book, book chapters, scientific papers, and also a husbandry manual for captive hummingbirds for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She is writing a second book on hummingbirds and her experiences with these flying jewels. Her research on hummingbirds includes migration, nesting biology, behavior, song development, and longevity. Karen regularly advises zoological institutions and aviaries on the proper care and husbandry of captive hummingbirds. She has conducted educational workshops and seminars on birds for various organizations, schools, yearly bird festivals, and local bird groups. Karen has also studied bats for more than 30 years and carries out lectures and workshops for bats. She has led and co-led natural history trips in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, Baja, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Galapagos, and Africa. Karen has a B.Sc. degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Science from the University of Arizona.
Born and raised in Oregon, Rich Hoyer earned his bachelors degrees in German and Zoology at Oregon State University. Following a few years as an itinerant biologist and summer guide on Saint Paul Island, Alaska, he moved to Tucson, Arizona and has been working as a professional birding tour leader for WINGS for the past 19 years. He leads tours to such exciting locations as Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize, and Jamaica, but he also looks forward to his annual tours that explore the beauty and diversity of his home state.
Renée Duckworth is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. She has worked for over a decade throughout the western United States studying avian ecology and evolution, with particular focus on how competition for nest cavities among bluebirds in fire-affected landscapes is leading to subtle but measurable changes.
Raised in rural south-central Pennsylvania, Troy Corman moved to Arizona in 1980 to pursue higher education and explore the natural wonders of the Southwest. During the mid- and late 1980s he conducted avian and herpetological inventories on the upper San Pedro River for the Bureau of Land Management. This unique area would later become the well-known San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. He has worked for the Nongame Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department since 1990, primarily conducting bird surveys for species of concern, and currently coordinates many long-term, statewide bird monitoring projects with various federal, state and private entities.With a keen interest in the natural history and distribution of birds, Troy coordinated the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas project (1993-2000) from its inception. As the primary author and editor of the Atlas, he coordinated its publication by the University of New Mexico Press (2005). Following the Atlas, Troy worked with a strong core group to establish the Arizona Field Ornithologists (AZFO), for which he was the founding President for eight years. This progressive state organization was the first to establish the concept of field expeditions, where most planned outings are to little known areas where knowledge of the seasonal status and distribution of birds is poor or lacking. AZFO also has begun using the talents of its members to conduct much needed avian surveys.
After more than 20 years of general birding and hawkwatching, Sheri L. Williamson’s life got hijacked by hummingbirds when she and her husband and colleague Tom Wood moved to Arizona to manage The Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve. A quarter century later, Sheri is still obsessed with these rainbow-hued warriors, feeding them year round, maintaining a hummingbird garden, writing about them in her blog, and banding hundreds of them each year. She currently serves as Director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and is working on a revision of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America in the Peterson Field Guide Series, originally published in 2002.
The first woman to graduate from the University of Arizona Hydrology program, Kristine Uhlman recently retired from the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center where she constructed groundwater flow numerical models to assess water resource sustainability in Arizona, as well as directing outreach across the state on watershed health. Over her 40-year career, she has worked across the United States and in the Middle East on projects addressing groundwater contamination and cleanup. Her expertise includes expert witness testimony, most recently representing the groundwater users in the adjudication of the San Pedro River. As a Research Scientist at the University of Texas in Austin, she investigated the impact of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on the water supply aquifers across the state. She is currently working with her co-authors on the second edition of the “Arizona Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply.
Laura McHugh grew up in Tucson, AZ. She attended the University of Arizona for her undergrad and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Management Conservation and Management. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Arizona in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. She is investigating how migrating raptors utilize topographic features in central and southeastern Arizona and how raptor migration in Arizona compares to migration throughout North America.
Susan Wethington envisioned and is building the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN), a science-based, project-driven hummingbird conservation program. She is the Executive Director of HMN, one of three co-founders of HMN, and has a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and an MA in Mathematics from the University of Arizona. HMN is a network of collaborators, communities, and citizen scientists dedicated to the conservation of hummingbird diversity and abundance throughout the Americas. We investigate what hummingbirds need to survive, successfully reproduce, and maintain thriving populations through science-based monitoring, research, education/outreach and habitat restoration/enhancement. HMN is actively working with partners in Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and throughout western USA.
Robert Mesta spent most his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service career working to protect, conserve, and recover threatened and endangered North American bird populations. He directed national and international-level programs to recover the California condor, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and the masked bobwhite quail. In the 1980’s Robert established the Arizona Bald Eagle Nest-Watch Program. In 1992, he directed the first reintroduction of captive-bred condors back to the wild and in 1996 he led the successful release of condors into the Grand Canyon. From 1999 to 2015 he coordinated the Sonoran Joint Venture, a bi-national bird conservation program between the United States and Mexico. The Sonoran Joint Venture received the Partners in Flight Conservation Award for leadership in creating international partnerships for land bird conservation. Robert is currently coordinating the Liberty Wildlife Non-Eagle Feather Repository Program; its mission is to provide Native Americans with a legal source of non-eagle feathers for religious and ceremonial purposes.
Larry Weigel is a Supervisor in the Outside Services Department and has worked at TEP for 30 years. He manages the utility’s construction contractors and line construction. Larry leapt at the opportunity to help manage the raptor protection efforts and spends many hours outside his regular work week attending to the program. Even his family gets involved. Larry used his own money to pay his 9-year-old grandson Austin to monitor a Red-tailed Hawk nest on a power pole. He notes that ravens, falcons, and even bobcats benefit as well. “After seeing the positive impact our work has on wildlife, this has become my favorite activity.”
Jim Bennett is in charge of Vegetation Management for TEP, ensuring safe and reliable service for customers by preventing trees and other vegetation from making contact with power lines and other electrical equipment. He has been with TEP for 11 years. Jim gladly works evenings and on the weekend for the program. Like Larry, he was chosen for the job because of his strong interest in the outdoors. “My skills in bird identification have really grown along with my knowledge of and interest in birds.”
Starlight Noel-Armenta is a Research Assistant at the UA’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, where she has been doing field-work for TEP’s Raptor Protection Program since Jan. 2013. Prior to working with the program, Starlight worked as a raptor trainer with ASDM’s Raptor Free Flight department. She has a Master’s degree from the UA in Environmental Learning.