Presenter Biographies 2021
Ryan Burnett bio forthcoming
A nature lover since he can remember, Darren Cook was born in Ft Dix, New Jersey in 1968. Being the son of a military officer, he was exposed to many cultures and countries while growing up. Time spent in Monterey California, England, Ireland, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and Hawaii afforded him opportunities to explore the diverse natural environments that he was always drawn to as a child. He spent many days from sunrise to sunset observing and documenting the animals that he found. Later in life Darren was involved professionally in acting and art and after starting a successful business in the wine industry, he has recently found time to turn his focus back to the wildlife that he loves. His nature photography has been published in online science journals and he recently published his first wildlife calendar entitled "Wildlife of the West". A book is in the works for 2022. His images can be seen on his Instagram page @blackbirdman_.
Lisa Fields is a California State Parks ecologist based in San Diego but works in parks extending from the Mexican border to central California. Her passion is raptor management, particularly the Osprey at Mono Lake. She initiated the Osprey nest monitoring program at Mono Lake in 2004, the nestling banding program in 2009, and the use of GPS transmitters to track migration in 2013. In San Diego, she manages the San Diego Osprey Project to document and monitor Osprey nesting in San Diego County.
Maya Khosla is a wildlife biologist and writer. Her books include All the Fires of Wind and Light, poetry from Sixteen Rivers Press (2020 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award), Keel Bone, poetry from Bear Star Press (Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize), and Web of Water: Life in Redwood Creek (Golden Gate Parks Conservancy). Sonoma County Conservation Council (SCCC) selected Maya as one of the 2020 Environmentalists of the Year. She served as the Poet Laureate of Sonoma County (2018-2020), organizing a series of filmed readings to bring Sonoma's communities together after the 2017 fires. Her poems have been featured in documentary films and journals including River Teeth, California Quarterly, and Nomadic Coffee Press and nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Field work grounds her writing: thousands of hours spent in untouched post-fire forests that grow full of life.
John (Jack) Muir Laws is a principal leader and innovator of the worldwide nature journaling movement. Jack is a scientist, educator, and author, who helps people forge a deeper and more personal connection with nature through keeping illustrated nature journals and understanding science. His work intersects science, art, and mindfulness. Trained as a wildlife biologist and an associate of the California Academy of Sciences, he observes the world with rigorous attention. He looks for mysteries, plays with ideas, and seeks connections in all he sees. Attention, observation, curiosity, and creative thinking are not gifts, but skills that grow with training and deliberate practice. As an educator and author, Jack teaches techniques and supports routines that develop these skills to make them a part of everyday life.
Stephen Shunk rode his first Mono Lake Bike-A-Thon without ever having seen the lake itself. After his first view of Mono Lake, Steve became a Monophile for life. Since then, Steve has become an accomplished professional birder, leading birding tours from Alaska to Peru and speaking at birding festivals across North America and beyond. In 1997, Steve landed on the east slope of Oregon's Cascade Mountains, where he co-founded the East Cascades Bird Conservancy and the Oregon Birding Trails program. Over the last 20 years, he has become a pathological woodpecker fanatic, and has recently published the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America, Steve's infectious enthusiasm for birds and the outdoors will leave you with many fond memories and a new appreciation for the nature that surrounds us. • paradisebirding.com