Meet our Bloggers
During working hours (far, far too many) Gene Walz is a Professor of Film Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. When he can sneak away, he is an avid birder, chaser of rarities and lifers, and member of Nature Manitoba. He has written and edited books on Canadian Film but has increasingly turned his attention to nature writing, including editorial and writing contributions to The Birds of Manitoba and Finding Birds in Southern Manitoba. He has written books on Francois Truffaut and Charlie Thorson and edited two anthologies of essays on Canadian Film — Flashback: People and Institutions in Canadian Film History, and Canada’s Best Features: Critical Essays on 15 Canadian Films. He recently edited a long-lost memoir of the early days of the National Film Board of Canada by writer, director, producer Graham McInnes called One Man’s Documentary. Walz is also a writer and filmmaker.
Pete was raised near the Everglades at the Florida Monkey Sanctuary with hundreds of other primates. Owned and operated by his parents, the sanctuary took in unwanted monkeys for over 20 years. This experience involved caring for hundreds of animals while surrounded by Sandhill Cranes, Wood Storks, Indigo Snakes, River Otters and other native wildlife. He left the subtropics for colder climates and received his BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont in 1994. Pete worked as a naturalist for the Vermont State Parks and an educator for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. With heat and humidity thawing his blood, he traded snowshoes for sandals, returning to the “sunshine state” as a guide for the Everglades Day Safari and a board member of the Society for Ethical Ecotourism. He currently blogs about nature and environmental issues of south Florida.
Everglades Day Safari
Kent McFarland received his Masters degree in Biology from Antioch University New England in Keene, NH where he studied the effects of roads on the bird community in a Belize rainforest with Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. He completed his undergraduate degree in environmental studies at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. He was a Peace Corps volunteer working with rural farmers in Caazapa, Paraguay from 1989-1992. It was the bright birds of Paraguay that attracted Kent to ornithology. After a few months in the country he bought a cheap pair of binoculars and an Argentinian bird guide and became addicted.
Kent is a research biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies where he has studied mountain ecosystems in the Northeast for over 15 years, mostly focused on Bicknell’s Thrush. He also directed the first ever statewide atlas of Vermont butterflies. He is the Vermont and Hispaniola eBird manager and he helps coordinate the Vermont Bird Records Committee. From butterflies to birds and even bats, stretching from South America to Canada, Kent is interested in how it all ties together and and how we can keep it that way.
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
Sheri Williamson and Tom Wood are natives of the Southwest with more than seventy years of combined experience in natural history, conservation, and environmental education. They met and married in their home state of Texas, where Tom was director of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. An opportunity to work as stewards for The Nature Conservancy lured them to Arizona in 1988, and they fell in love with the deserts and “sky island” mountains along the Mexican border. In their current positions as directors of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, Tom and Sheri conduct conservation-focused scientific and educational activities in Arizona and northwestern Mexico. They are internationally known hummingbird researchers, and Sheri is the author of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America in the Peterson Field Guide Series. They live in Bisbee, Arizona.
Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory
Lu Giddings is a chemist and a teacher, but he would love to be a field biologist when he grows up. His interest in birding began a few years ago as a volunteer monitoring raptor nests for the Bureau of Land Management, followed by a second volunteer stint with Idaho Fish and Wildlife Service’s trumpeter swan release project. He usually carries a camera in the field and enjoys photography. Lu’s passion lies in trying to add to current understanding of avian distribution and frequency in the seldom visited and rarely birded wild places of the Colorado plateau and Great Basin. He has spent much of his spare time over the last four years trying to further understanding of bird populations in Utah’s southeast counties. His life’s ambition is to win the Utah lottery and retire to a beautiful and isolated spot, emerging only sporadically to add to his personal library, to replenish his stash of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream, and to share important sightings and data with the rest of the birding community.
Birds. Nature. Travel. These send Laura Kammermeier over the moon. Naturally, she’s chosen to blur the line between life and work by bringing them into focus as a writer and web consultant. When not advising nature organizations and small businesses on their website and social media presence, Laura is an avid birder, traveler, photographer, and an oft-published writer with credits in magazines (e.g., Bird Watcher’s Digest, Birder’s World), newspapers, and online publications. Her latest writing endeavors have focused on birding, nature travel, and mobile birding technology (Birding, iPhone Life). Find more of her photos and writings at BirdsWordsWebsites.com. Laura holds a B.S. in biology and an M.S. in aquatic ecology from Kent State University. She served as founding officer of the Ohio Ornithological Society and is a former project leader for Project FeederWatch at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She lives with her husband and two young boys in a sleepy village south of Rochester, NY, and is always looking for the next great place to chase birds.
Lisa Densmore is a 3-time Emmy winning producer and host for her work on “Wildlife Journal” (PBS) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Lisa spent much of the last ten years bringing the natural world and various backcountry pursuits to the general public. For the last two decades, Lisa has produced and hosted programming for a variety of networks, including NBC, CBS, A&E, VERSUS, CNN, OUTSIDE TV, FOX, THE WEATHER CHANNEL, THE TRAVEL CHANNEL and PBS. A multi-sport athlete and avid hiker, paddler and angler, Lisa also photographs and writes about her various adventures and observations in wilderness areas for a number of regional and national magazines, such as Wyoming Wildlife, Backpacker and Adirondack Life. Nature photography is one of her great passions. She contributes images to over 30 magazines, exhibits in galleries, gives slide shows and workshops, and markets a line of greeting cards through DensmoreDesigns.com. She is the author of 6 books: Ski Faster! (McGraw-Hill, 2000), Best Hikes with Dogs: New Hampshire (The Mountaineers Books, 2004), Hiking the Green Mountains (FalconGuides, 2009), Hiking the Adirondacks (FalconGuides, 2010), Hiking the White Mountains (FalconGuides, 2010) and Backpacker Magazine’s Predicting Weather (Globe Pequot, 2010). When not on a mountain side or on a river, Lisa hangs her backpack in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Rosemary Allen still climbs trees, kayaks and walks through the natural habitats of Florida with a camera and sketchbook. After a successful career as an elementary Montessori guide and teacher, Rosemary has taken the best of her outdoor classroom experience and is reinventing herself as a consultant for businesses and homeowners wishing to green up their landscapes with native plants. As a landscape consultant, she impresses on her clients the joy of learning about their local habitats and larger ecosystems. She designs environmentally friendly yards that are both beautiful and easy to maintain, while providing a habitat for the variety of animal life that the seasons in SW Florida bring. She paints and writes about her experiences as a tour guide at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and as a volunteer in her community, building a nature park and butterfly garden at the edge of mangrove forest next to the Gulf of Mexico. She is an avid naturalist and holds three Florida Master Naturalist certificates through the University of Florida; Coastal Systems, Upland Habitats and Wetland Systems.
Jack Ballard, a third-generation Montanan, grew up on a family ranch near Three Forks. A professional writer/photographer, he specializes in outdoor recreation, conservation and wildlife natural history, providing article/photo packages for numerous national and regional magazines. His natural history writing and photography have won numerous awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Look for his work in: Wyoming Wildlife, Petersens Hunting, Northwest Fly Fishing, Colorado Outdoors, Montana Headwall, Camping Life, Adirondack Explorer and many others. He now lives in Red Lodge, MT. www.jackballard.com
Since 1992, Julie Craves has run the Rouge River Bird Observatory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in metropolitan Detroit, her lifelong home. Julie’s research focuses on the importance of urban areas to birds, especially migrants. The resilience of urban ecosystems intrigues her, and she has a keen interest in the interactions of native and invasive species, and how insects (especially dragonflies) can be used as bioindicators in urban systems.
Julie’s work has been published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology, the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology, Great Lakes Entomologist, and other scientific journals. She is also a contributing editor to Birder’s World Magazine; the author of a book on local birds and a number of book chapters, including an essay in the book Good Birders Don’t Wear White: 50 Tips From North America’s Top Birders (Houghton Mifflin 2007); and a prolific blogger on several sites.
When she’s not in the urban jungle, Julie travels to areas of Latin America where she combines her love of the tropics with her passion for sustainable coffee production. She’s performed bird and insect surveys on coffee farms and consulted with industry professionals. She writes about the connection between birds, biodiversity, and coffee at her website Coffee & Conservation (www.coffeehabitat.com).
Zoë grew up on a sheep farm in Vermont’s Champlain Valley but has now migrated, for a time, to the wilds of San Francisco. She holds a bachelor’s degree in conservation biology from Middlebury College and a particular love for the shorebirds of the world. When she’s not at work (her experience includes writing species listing petitions at Center for Biological Diversity and filleting gerbils at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science) she can often be found sampling the incredible diversity of San Francisco’s gastronomic offerings, wandering nearby hills and beaches with a camera, and wishing she had a real garden. Zoë is interested in communicating the glories and complexities of conservation science to a broad audience and in the possibility of integrating wildlife conservation into large-scale land use planning.