2023 Presenter Bios
*Subject to change*
Al DeMartini - Al DeMartini has been a nature lover since early childhood and was bit hard by the birding bug over 35 years ago. Al worked seasonally in Alaska doing mostly Fish & Game remote field work, then later in California deserts with desert tortoise for a 'career' that allowed for much travel on the cheap and plenty of nature study. Al actively birds all 58 counties in California, with a special attraction to the east side of the Sierra and the remote northern Mojave Desert spots. Al is known to play with words and ray guns. He is an active Audubon CBC compiler (multiple counts) and participant (nearly 100 counts in California over the years) with a more recent dive into butterflies & NABA counts.
Ane Carla Rovetta - Ane Carla Rovetta is a multi-talented presenter. She holds the Renaissance belief that art and science are kindred disciplines, each supporting and enhancing the other. She has illustrated seven books, and illustrates natural history stories in front of live audiences throughout the west. She also creates her own art supplies using local soils, stones, seeds, and roots. Ane Carla was named Environmental Educator of the Year in 2015 by the Terwilliger Foundation and has received numerous grants to make non-toxic art installations with children. She lives in Sonoma County where her pastel chalks are rolled in a "funky little outbuilding that used to be a chicken coop." Ane Carla's playful spirit makes each of her gatherings a joyful learning adventure.
Ann Howald - Ann Howald first visited the Mono Basin at age eleven, fishing June Lake with her family. Now a retired botanist, she lives in Mono County each May-October in her used Airstream/mobile botany lab, and is well on her way to completing a book on Mono County plants. For many years she has led botany field trips throughout Mono County for the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. She taught High Sierra field seminars for the Mono Lake Committee for 25 years, retiring in 2019. She still pulls weeds wherever she finds them, with help from her friends.
Asher Perla (he/him) - Asher Perla is a teenage bird maniac from the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. He started birding in 2019, the year he attended his first Chautauqua! Since then, he has done a big year in his home county, travelled across the U.S. and abroad, and started a nesting study of a local colony of Purple Martins; all in the name of birds. Although the oppressively hot and bitterly cold days may make him wonder why this could possibly be a good idea, and the stench of water treatment plants, eyestrain of scoping far-off birds, and sweaty hikes may seem like a special kind of torture at times, he somehow believes that as long as there are birds, everything is worth it.
Bob Steele - Bob Steele is a professional bird photographer from Inyokern. He has been involved in birding and bird photography for over 30 years. Inyokern is in the bird-rich Kern County, an area centrally located at the convergence of multiple bio-regions, providing the opportunity to photograph many avian subjects. Bob has also traveled around the country, to Central and South America, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Southern Ocean, photographing birds along the way. Bob's photos can be seen in many publications: Birding, Wild Bird, Birder's World, Ducks Unlimited, National Geographic Traveler, and National Wildlife magazines; books include: multiple National Geographic field guides, the Smithsonian Field Guide to Birds of North America, the American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America, and the Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America.
Chris Spiller (she/her) - Chris Spiller works for the Bodie Foundation, the non-profit organization that supports Bodie State Historic Park, Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and Grover Hot Springs State Park. She guides private tours for the Foundation in Bodie and Mono Lake and edits the Foundation's biannual newsletter for members. She worked for California State Parks from 1997 to 2015, and spent 15 of those years at Bodie, presenting history talks and stamp mill tours. Her State Park career includes interpretation at Monterey State Historic Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. At Big Basin, she helped Junior Rangers learn about park birds and remembers the day that Mama Quail and babies crossed the group's trail, and hopes those kids still remember too.
Chris Howard - Chris and Rosie Howard begin and end most days sitting on the love seat, staring out the living room window at all the birds in the field behind their house.  Bishop residents for 29 and 49 years respectively, their yard is listed as 11th in California for number of species on eBird yard lists. In addition to birding their patch of the planet, Chris and Rosie have sought feathered friends in Central America, mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Thailand, Bhutan, Australia, Africa, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. Chris has been the compiler and organizer of the Bishop Christmas Bird Count for over two decades and is the Vice-chair of the California Bird Records Committee. Rosie is a retired educator who taught Birds in the Classroom for twelve years in Bishop Schools. She completed the California Naturalist Program transect of the Sierra in 2017. Chris and Rosie are the Inyo County subregional editors for North American Birds (NAB). Their greatest accomplishment is that two of their nine grandchildren want to be Yosemite National Park Interpretive Rangers.
Chris McCreedy (he/him) - Chris obtained his B.S. from the University of Michigan and headed west after graduation to work on Bell’s Vireos in the New Mexico desert. Before joining the American Bird Conservancy, Chris worked with Point Blue Conservation Science for over 20 years, implementing research projects that address a wide array of avian conservation issues. He worked at Mono Lake from 2001 - 2013, conducting a long-term demography study on Willow and Dusky flycatcher populations at Rush Creek. He is fascinated by drought impacts on bird populations, the focus of his M.S. research at the University of Arizona. He spends much of his free time searching for bird nests.
Colin Dillingham (he/him) - Colin Dillingham has spent his entire 34-year career working with the US Forest Service, first for 13 years on the southern coast of Oregon, and for the past 21 years on the Plumas National Forest out of Quincy, California. He has traveled widely, always in search of birds, to Europe, Central America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Colin's research interests revolve around goshawks, spotted owls, peregrine falcons, and rough-legged hawks as well as Foothill and Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frogs.
Dave Shuford - Dave Shuford, a retired wetland biologist formerly with Point Blue Conservation Science, became immersed in avian studies at Mono Lake in 1983 when he began research on California Gulls nesting on the lake’s islands. Dave has conducted breeding bird atlas projects in Marin County and the Glass Mountain region of Mono County and has surveyed shorebird and waterbird populations throughout the interior of California. He has spent countless hours exploring the hinterlands of the state and has a passion for understanding and adding to knowledge on the status and distribution of California’s diverse avifauna. He regularly teaches classes with the Mono Lake Committee and with San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus at Yuba Pass.
David Wimpfheimer - David Wimpfheimer worked for the Mono Lake Committee in the mid-1980s, accomplishing a variety of educational, lobbying, and promotional objectives. On eleven 350-mile fundraising Bike-A-Thons pedaling from Los Angeles to Mono Lake, he was known to pedal off-course to pursue birds and bird habitats. As a professional nature guide, David educates and interprets all aspects of the environment, not just birds. For almost forty years, David has led tours and taught classes for organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution, Point Reyes Field Institute, Mono Lake Committee, Oceanic Society, Road Scholar, and Wild Wings.
Forrest English (he/him) - Forrest English lived in the Mono Basin as a kid and seems to keep coming back. He is a biologist primarily doing bird survey work for science non-profits and consulting companies. Prospective employers are frequently confused that yes, he spends the majority of his time off birding as well. There is no housing in Lee Vining, so he lives in Bishop when not in the field.
Gena Wood (she/her) - Gena Wood lives in Bishop, California and works for the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association. She moved to Yosemite National Park after college, became entranced and has been living in the Sierra Nevada for nearly a decade. Her obsessions with natural history and art have inspired her to study birds more closely through the medium of watercolor.
Geoff McQuilkin (he/him) - Geoff McQuilkin is the Executive Director of the Mono Lake Committee. Geoff ’s goals are ensuring Mono Lake’s continuing protection, restoring Mono Lake’s tributary streams, enhancing the Committee’s education program, and continuing the strong tradition of scientific research at Mono Lake. Geoff has worked for the Committee since 1992, and he’s happy to live close to the lake with his wife Sarah and their daughters Caelen, Ellery, and Cassia.
Greg Stock (he/him) - Greg Stock is the first-ever Yosemite National Park geologist. He received a degree in Geology from Humboldt State University and a PhD in Earth Sciences from UC Santa Cruz. A near-lifelong resident of the Sierra Nevada, Greg has studied and mapped the geology of the Sierra Nevada and Mono Basin for more than 30 years. He resides in Yosemite Valley with his wife Sarah and daughter Autumn.
John Harris (he/him) - John Harris' interest in the Mono Basin's mammals began while he was working as an undergraduate assistant in a study of chipmunks in 1975. He went on to study small mammals on Mono's dunes as a graduate student and has worked on small mammals in the Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley of California. John is the author of Mammals of the Mono Lake--Tioga Pass Region and recently retired from teaching at Mills College in Oakland.
John Wehausen (he/him) - John Wehausen is an applied population ecologist who has studied bighorn sheep populations in California since 1974, beginning with the Sierra Nevada. He was instrumental in petitions that led to federal and state endangered status for Sierra bighorn, then wrote most of the recovery plan for those sheep. He also helped draft the recovery plan for desert bighorn sheep in the Peninsular ranges of California. More recently he drafted a conservation plan for desert bighorn sheep in southeastern California across the large region from the White Mountains to the Colorado River. In 1995 John helped found the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation and serves as its president. In 2012 John retired as an Associate Research Scientist with the University of California’s White Mountain Research Station, but continues to work full-time on bighorn sheep conservation issues in California, including the Sierra Nevada.
Jora Fogg (she/her) - Jora Fogg is a long time resident of the Mono Basin and has led the Bird of the Bodie Hills tour since 2015.  She was previously the campaign coordinator for the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership whose efforts protect the Bodie Hills for future generations. She is a trained wildlife biologist who studied birds around the west for over a decade and is an avid birder. Jora also enjoys time skiing, hiking, and cycling with her family.
Karen Amstutz (she/her) - Karen Amstutz lives on the edge of Yosemite National Park with her husband and their three daughters. Like many mountain creatures, Karen and her family undertake a seasonal migration upslope to Tuolumne Meadows where she works each summer as a Ranger-Naturalist. Karen earned her MA from Humboldt State University and her BS from UC Davis. She has been fortunate to have worked as a naturalist in beautiful places for most of 30 years. With her binoculars always around her neck, Karen has traveled extensively in Asia, Central America, and Europe in search of new adventures and feathered life forms.
Karyn "Kestrel" O'Hearn (she/her) - Karyn "Kestrel" O'Hearn began following birds around during UC Santa Cruz's Natural History Field Quarter program while earning an Environmental Studies degree. Those experiences inspired over two decades teaching science at several northern California outdoor schools, teaching middle school science, and working in Yosemite National Park as a seasonal interpretive ranger-naturalist. When not working, her love for birds and natural history have inspired her to be a docent and trip leader for Yosemite Area Audubon, designing and leading programs for Sierra Foothill Conservancy, and co-instructing two California Naturalist courses. In 2021 she completed a master's in Avian Sciences at UC Davis where she investigated differences in winter bird species communities in areas with different fire histories within a Giant Sequoia forest.
Katie L. Smith (she/her) - Katie, a UC Davis alumna, has been researching birds in the Eastern Sierra for the past few years. Her primary areas of interest are sexual selection and reproductive physiology, with a strong focus in conservation. During the previous year, Katie worked for the Mono Lake Committee, where she gained a greater appreciation for saline lakes and the birds that inhabit them. Hoping to pursue a career in field biology, potentially in the realm of saline lake ecology, Katie currently works as a bird banding apprentice for Point Blue.
Kay Ogden (she/her) - Kay Ogden saw Mono Lake for the first time when she rode in her first of three Bike-A-Thons, and her heart never recovered. She worked for the Mono Lake Committee for four years before leaving to ride her bike around the world for a year. After returning, she became the Associate Director for the Sierra Nevada Alliance, and is now home, working as the Executive Director for the Eastern Sierra Land Trust. Kay is thrilled to be back to the Eastern Sierra, and has recently celebrated her 10 year anniversary of returning “home”.
Keith Hansen - Keith Hansen is a wildlife artist who specializes in the imaginative and accurate portrayal of birds. Coming from a large family of artists and naturalists, Keith began birding in the sixth grade. While following his older brother through the woods of Maryland, a single Cedar Waxwing changed his life forever. He began to illustrate birds in 1976 and has not looked back. He has illustrated some 13 books, innumerable birding articles, logos, and even a 128-foot-long mural. He and his wife Patricia lead tours to Mexico and Central America. After over 20 years of painting and writing, Keith released a book called "Hansen's Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada" in 2021. Keith's new book entitled "Birds of Point Reyes" will be out in June.
Krista Fanucchi (she/her) - Krista Fanucchi is a former Mono Lake Committee birding intern and currently spends her time coasting along the Pacific Flyway, where she works as a biological Technician for the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. She feels lucky to have worked on passerine and raptor banding/migration research projects with the Institute for Bird Populations, Point Blue Conservation Science, and HawkWatch International. Krista is fascinated by long distance migrants, Northern Harriers at dusk, non-hierarchical ways to exchange knowledge, and the complexities in which people experience sense of place.
Kwasi Wrensford (he/him) - The son of Caribbean immigrants, Kwasi Wrensford was born in the islands but raised in South Georgia. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, he began his PhD studies in Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkeley. Kwasi has done extensive fieldwork in both the Colorado Rockies and our own Sierra Nevada studying animal behavior, ecology, and more recently, how animals are coping with climate change. Having spent most of his grad school years exploring the Eastern Sierra, this beautiful and unique landscape here has him thoroughly hooked, and he hopes to keep returning for many years to come.
Lacey Greene (she/her) - Lacey Greene loves deserts and mountains. She is an enthusiastic observer who has spent more than twenty years working locally on species management and conservation. She feels lucky to have worked with yellow-legged frogs, Phainopepla, desert tortoise, pupfish, speckled dace, willow flycatcher, pika, and greater sage-grouse. She is currently a board member for the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society and works for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program out of Bishop.
Lisa Fields (she/her) - Lisa Fields worked for California State Parks for over 20 years, including 11 years in the Sierra Nevada. She initiated the osprey nest monitoring program at Mono Lake in 2004 as part of her work and has continued to be involved as a volunteer as her career took her elsewhere. Lisa’s passion is raptor management, particularly the osprey at Mono Lake. She currently works for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in the North Central Region, based out of Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County.
Lisa Murphy (she/her) - Lisa Murphy is a lifelong naturalist and adventurer. Her love of the night sky and the flying mammals that emerge at dusk has driven her to invite others to engage in nature in the "off hours". She strives to help others understand, protect, and monitor the local bats. Lisa was a naturalist Ranger in the high country of Yosemite for two decades. She currently teaches at Columbia College in Sonora and manages the Gold Country Bat Project.
Marcela Castellino (she/her) - Marcela is native to the Córdoba province of Argentina, where she grew up in a small town on the shore of Mar Chiquita Lake, one of the very first Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WSHRN) sites. She joined the WHSRN Executive Office team in 2019 as a Flyway Conservation Specialist, focused on the conservation of saline lakes. Marcela studies Wilson's Phalaropes at Mar Chiquita, and she also works to strengthen the connections between communities and conservation efforts at inland salt lakes, with a primary focus on existing WHSRN sites (including Mono Lake).
Marina Castellino (she/her) - Marina Castellino is the Youth Engagement and Education Specialist for the Executive Office of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) and for Manomet's Flyways team, a US-based NGO that uses science and collaboration to strengthen bird migration routes, coastal ecosystems, and working lands and seas across the Western Hemisphere. She is also the Executive Director and founder of the Leaders of Ansenuza Foundation and the coordinator of Ambientalia Experience, an educational program that connects students and teachers from Mar Chiquita, Argentina, with communities and partners from other saline lakes; especially Mono Lake and Great Salt Lake, US.
Mary Clapp (she/her) - Mary Clapp is an East Coast vagrant who, in 2010, found herself blown across the country to the Eastern Sierra, and decided to stay. She received her PhD in Ecology from UC-Davis in 2021, in which she studied how trout introductions to historically fishless alpine lakes alter bird diversity at their shorelines. She prefers the edge habitat where science, storytelling, and awe meet, and looks forward to seeing you there.
Maya Khosla (she/her) - Maya Khosla is a wildlife biologist & writer focusing on forest biodiversity. She served as Sonoma County Poet Laureate (2018-2020), bringing Sonoma’s communities together through poetry gatherings and field walks after the 2017 wildfires. Sonoma County Conservation Council (SCCC) selected her as one of the 2020 Environmentalists of the Year. Her poetry books include “All the Fires of Wind and Light” from Sixteen Rivers Press (2020 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award), “Keel Bone” from Bear Star Press (Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize), and “Web of Water: Life in Redwood Creek”. Her writing has been featured in award-winning documentary films including “Village of Dust, City of Water,” about the water crises in rural India.
Michael Elsohn Ross (he/him) - Michael Ross lives with his wife in El Portal at Yosemite’s western boundary, perched on a bluff overlooking the Merced River where they hear dippers sing and watch herons hunt. For more than 30 years he has led field classes and custom hikes for the Yosemite Conservancy, including many programs for children and families. He wrote and illustrated his first two children’s books in 1979 and has written 40 more since then. Rolypolyology, Become a Bird and Fly, Snug as a Bug, Bird Watching with Margaret Morse Nice, and Baby Bear Isn’t Hungry are a few of the titles inspired by his life and work in the mountains. His penultimate book, Plantology, includes information on bug, bird, and plant interrelationships and his newest title, John Audubon and the World of Birds for Kids, tells to the story of Audubon's adventures and pioneering artistic feats. Michael graduated with a BS in Conservation of Natural Resources with a minor in Entomology from UC Berkeley and earned a teaching credential in early childhood education from Fresno State University.
Paul McFarland - Paul McFarland has pushed dirt, paper, politics, broken vehicles, dead trees, a few too many rocks and the bounds of rationality while working on and for the public lands and wildlife of the Eastern Sierra. Paul lives in Lee Vining with his wife, Yvette, and children Solomon, Henry, and Lydia dreaming of a future where Highway 395 is a railway, but not much else has changed on the landscape
Robbie Di Paolo (he/him) - Robbie grew up in San Francisco and received a degree in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University. He first heard about Mono Lake in an environmental policy class, became a Mono Lake Intern in the summer of 2014, and hasn’t left since! He is now responsible for monitoring Mono Lake’s tributary streams, measuring the level of Mono Lake, coordinating annual aerial Eared Grebe surveys, leading the invasive plant removal program, and working on restoration programs in the Mono Basin. In his free time you might find him fishing, hiking, skiing, or playing board games.
Rodd Kelsey (he/him) - Rodd Kelsey is a native Californian who spent two summers studying White-crowned Sparrow breeding ecology at Tioga Meadow and completed his PhD studying Red Crossbills across the western US. Rodd is currently the Associate Director of the Water Program at The Nature Conservancy, where they are actively working with farmers and other partners to secure habitat for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway, and working with communities to restore river flows for salmon across California. Prior to The Nature Conservancy, Rodd was the Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon California.
Rosie Howard (she/her) - Chris and Rosie Howard begin and end most days sitting on the love seat, staring out the living room window at all the birds in the field behind their house. Bishop residents for 29 and 49 years respectively, their yard is listed as 11th in California for number of species on eBird yard lists. In addition to birding their patch of the planet, Chris and Rosie have sought feathered friends in Central America, mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Thailand, Bhutan, Australia, Africa, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. Chris has been the compiler and organizer of the Bishop Christmas Bird Count for over two decades and is the Vice-chair of the California Bird Records Committee. Rosie is a retired educator who taught Birds in the Classroom for twelve years in Bishop Schools. She completed the California Naturalist Program transect of the Sierra in 2017. Chris and Rosie are the Inyo County subregional editors for North American Birds (NAB). Their greatest accomplishment is that two of their nine grandchildren want to be Yosemite National Park Interpretive Rangers.
Roy Poucher - Roy Poucher has been a Sea & Sage Audubon Society (Orange County) bird surveyor, trip leader and field trip assistant in their birding classes (including aural birding) for 28 years. For them he has led trips throughout the US. Roy also is an international bird tour leader via his company Bird Odyssey Tours. He has led tours to Central and South America, Africa and Asia, as well as throughout the US. Tours to Peru and Argentina (birding plus the total solar eclipse!) are upcoming. His passion is bird vocalization, and has received personal aural birding mentoring from Dick Walton (author of the Peterson birding-by-ear audio series), Luis Baptista (late of the California Academy of Sciences), Tom Hahn (UC Davis), Nathan Pieplow (author Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds series) and Sylvia Gallagher (renowned Southern California educator). Roy has taught aural birding for the Monterey Bay Birding Festival and has been an annual presenter at the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival.
Ryan DiGaudio (he/him) - Ryan DiGaudio was born and raised in the Bay Area, and currently lives near Point Reyes, where he is a senior ecologist for Point Blue Conservation Science. Ryan has enjoyed studying birds and their habitats throughout California and beyond. And though he spends most of his birding time at lower elevations west of the Pacific Crest, Ryan finds the Mono Basin landscape and its birds particularly alluring and magical.
Ryan Carle (he/him) - Ryan grew up at Mono Lake and has made it his life's work to research and protect the migratory birds that need Mono Lake to survive. He is the Science Director at Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge and is based out of Santa Cruz, CA. He is currently studying the two phalarope species that stage at Mono Lake in summer before their long migrations to their winter grounds. Ryan has been instrumental in forming an international phalarope working group to bring scientists together along the migratory pathways of these iconic birds.
Santiago M. Escruceria (he/him) - Santiago M. Escruceria is a Colombian-born American citizen residing in California for the past 44 years. He graduated with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University. He has taught environmental education, in Spanish and English, for the past 32 years, 24 of which he has spent with the Mono Lake Committee. At Mono Lake he manages the Committee's Outdoor Education Center program for Los Angeles youth. Santiago is an avid birder and bird photographer, leading birding adventures in Colombia during the winter and walks for school groups in the Mono Basin during the rest of the year.
Sarah Hockensmith - Sarah Hockensmith leads a very active lifestyle but will always find time to slow down to watch the birds sing. After working for various governmental agencies in the natural sciences, Sarah settled down her migration and spent the last 8 years working for the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science. With a smile on her face and her binoculars in hand, Sarah leads folks on bird tours throughout the Tahoe region and beyond.
Sarah Stock (she/her) - Sarah Stock is the wildlife ecologist for Yosemite National Park, where she has overseen the program for land-animal biodiversity since 2006. Early in her career as a field ornithologist, she explored bird populations in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, and the South Pacific. She earned her graduate degree at the University of Idaho with a research focus on the migration ecology of forest owls. In Yosemite, in addition to birds, Sarah studies bats, fisher, bighorn sheep, and Sierra Nevada red fox. With her family she lives in Yosemite Valley, where she enjoys birding, scrambling on steep cliffs, and naturalizing.
Steve Shunk - 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 naturalist, leading birding tours from Alaska to Borneo and speaking at birding festivals across North America and beyond. In 1997, Steve 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 his first book, Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America, will be available for signing at the event. 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.
Sue Jorgenson (she/her) - A long-time visitor and veteran of many Mono Lake Committee workshops, Sue Jorgenson is combining her love and knowledge of art, field journaling, and Sierra nature in these workshops. She lives and works in Southern California and can be found spending her vacations roaming in the canyons, meadows, and shores of the Mono Basin. At home, she can also be found teaching herself art, journaling and watercolor techniques.
Susan Steele - Susan Steele's interest in birds began as a child in Idaho with evenings spent on the porch listening to meadowlarks. This interest blossomed into a passion when she moved to the California desert more than 30 years ago. An accomplished birder with many state and county records, she spends her free time birding, hiking, and enjoying the flowers in the Eastern Sierra.
Ted Beedy - Ted Beedy has spent most of his life birding in the Sierra, including the Mono Basin. He authored the wildlife chapters of the Water Rights Environmental Impact Report for Mono Lake, and spent three years doing field work in the Mono Basin. Along with Ed Pandolfino, he is co-author of Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, which includes color illustrations of about 270 species by Keith Hansen. He is also a co-author of Hansen's Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada. Ted received his Ph.D. in Zoology from UC Davis in 1982 and did his dissertation research on the birds of Yosemite.
Tom Hahn (he/him) - Tom Hahn is a field biologist with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biology from Stanford University and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington. He has been studying crossbills, White-crowned Sparrows, and other songbirds all over the west since the mid-1980s and has spent countless hours in the field around Tioga Pass. He enjoys observing animals in their natural habitats, exchanging observations with fellow naturalists, and learning from his students. Tom is currently on the biology faculty at UC Davis, and lives in Davis with his wife Julie and his son Lyle (when he's home from college and not off fishing someplace).
Will Richardson - Will Richardson has been birding and conducting field research in the Sierra Nevada since 1994, including several seasons working for the organization formerly known as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in the Mono Basin and elsewhere in the Eastern Sierra. Will received his PhD in Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno, studying bird communities in Sierra Nevada aspen habitats. He resides in Truckee and focuses most of his attention on the natural history of the Lake Tahoe region. He is slowly chipping away at authoring a status and distribution guide for the birds of the Lake Tahoe Basin and is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science.
Janice Gardner (she/her) - Janice Gardner is a Certified Wildlife Biologist at Sageland Collaborative, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Salt Lake City. They provide science-based strategies for wildlife and land conservation, and community science is at the heart of their work. Janice designs, funds, and implements conservation programs in a variety of partnerships. An east-coast transplant, she has lived in Utah for nearly 20 years and is passionate about the Great Salt Lake and birds. Each spring and fall migration, she leads over 100 people on Utah's portion of the Intermountain West Shorebird Survey.
Ellie Neifeld (she/her) - Ellie Neifeld is the Lead Naturalist at the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association. After hatching in Oakland and subsequent migrations around the West which included a season as a Mono Lake intern in 2019, Ellie is excited to be back on the Eastside. In addition to watching and listening, she also expresses her love for birds through painting.
Amy Sturgill (she/her) - Amy Sturgill grew up in the Central Valley, graduated from CSU Chico, and has been living in Bishop since 2013. With a decade of Eastern Sierra conservation experience, Amy holds a deep understanding of the region’s ecological challenges, and has built a diverse network of conservation partners. Her prior work spans biology, botany, data management, and communications. She is now the Land Conservation Program Director for Eastern Sierra Land Trust. In her free time, she can be found trail running in the Sierra, backpacking with her partner Jeff, or hanging out on the porch with a cup of coffee and her dog, Obi.
Emmie Snead (she/her) - Emmie grew up on a farm in Virginia where her love of the natural world and conservation took root. She has worked as a horseback trail guide in Wyoming, as an Invasive Plant Technician in Nevada, and as a Land Steward and Natural Resources Program Manager with Mojave Desert Land Trust in Joshua Tree. She is now the Land Stewardship Program Director for Eastern Sierra Land Trust. In her free time, you can find Emmie hiking, biking, or climbing with her dog, Boo.
Jaimi Butler (she/her) - Jaimi Butler can barely remember a time when she was not using airplanes, boats, OHV’s, airboats, and stand-up paddle boards to get around one of Utah's most amazing ecosystems. Over the past 24 years, Jaimi has helped increase knowledge and shape perceptions of Great Salt Lake through work in the private sector, government, and academia. Jaimi is the co-author of a children’s book about the lake and co-edited the first book devoted entirely to the biology of Great Salt Lake. She is currently the Board President of Sageland Collaborative and holds other advisory roles to help influence balanced wildlife and wildland management. In her spare time Jaimi collects brine shrimp artwork and co-ops at her neighbor’s farm.
Nora Livingston (she/her) - Nora is a passionate naturalist who spent her childhood immersed in nature from day one. As the Mono Lake Committee's Lead Naturalist Guide, it is her utmost joy to share her love of birds and nature with anyone and everyone to help foster a deeper respect for this unique planet.
Ryan Garrett (he/him) - Ryan Garrett is the Education Program Manager for the Mono Lake Committee. He first came to the Mono Basin as a senior in high school by participating in the Mono Lake Committee's Outdoor Education Center (OEC) program. He was inspired to study Environmental Ethics in college, and after graduating, he returned to work for the MLC and became entranced by birds. When not birding, he educates visitors about the Mono Basin and oversees the Committee's slew of education offerings.
Bartshé Miller (he/him) - Bartshé has lived and worked in the Mono Basin since 1993. A former educator, he works on Mono Basin policy issues, protecting and restoring Mono Lake and its tributary streams. After years in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, Bartshé migrated to Lee Vining to become a front-row fan of the Public Trust, outdoor education, adventure-gardening, roadkill ecology, and pursuing ephemeral phenomena around Mono Lake.
Laura Dodyk - Laura Dodyk was born in Buenos Aires City, Argentina. She became the Flyways projects coordinator in Aves Argentinas in 2020 and worked on different bird conservation projects since 2016. Birding is her passion and she is a specialized birdwatching guide.
Laura Josens - Laura, a PhD in Biological Sciences, has been working monitoring bird communities in several regions throughout Argentina. Since 2018 she has been the Territorial Coordinator for the Ansenuza National Park Project for Aves Argentinas One of her challenges now is to develop Ansenuza as a nature tourist destination.
Hernán Casañas - Hernán is Aves Argentinas' executive director. He has been a naturalist and conservationist since he was very young. He worked creating several conservation projects throughout Argentina. Today his main focus is to promote the collaboration and cooperation of partners and stakeholders for increased impact on nature´s protection.
Russell Kokx (he/him) - Russell has worked over 30 years as a field biologist in California and has over 20 years of experience working in the Eastern Sierra. His passion for the Eastern Sierra finally prompted him to move here 16 years ago. Russell has worked on nesting bird surveys, point counts and banding of raptors. He has organized and lead birding trips both locally and abroad. He has also conducted numerous botanical and rare plant surveys throughout the Eastern Sierra and deserts.
Eric Rios-Bretado (he/him/él) - Eric is a recent arrival to Mono City, California, having moved here for a career with the Inyo National Forest. He works out of the Mono Lake Ranger District as a recreation management specialist and occasional volunteer coordinator. Growing up in Texas, there was limited public land to explore and immerse in nature, and he remembers watching the remnant black land prairies replaced with shopping malls, parking lots, and neighborhoods. He studied wildlife management in college with a goal of pursuing a career in the outdoors where he could make a difference. Working on the first National Scenic Area in the country has provided a unique opportunity to develop his skills in land management and coordinating with local communities and nonprofits to work together to protect and enhance the resources of the Mono Basin. His background includes river management and policy, developing sustainable recreation plans, surveying visitors at national wildlife refuges, silviculture management, and coordinating volunteer projects. He enjoys birding, reading, hiking, and connecting to his heritage by cooking traditional Mexican dishes for friends and family.
Tamara Zalewski (she/her/ella) - Passionate about nature and finding solutions for today's challenges to protect it, Tamara Zalewski is coordinating Aves Argentinas Special Project department. Having studied Fine Arts, she has been leading for the past 4 years the communication and outreach work of Aves Argentinas' Patagonia Program and has now taken on the challenge of furthering other projects throughout Argentina by strengthening relationships with Aves Argentinas partners and identifying new opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.
Matías Carpinetto - Matías is a University Technician in Management of Protected Areas. He has been a National Park Ranger for more than 20 years working for the Administration of National Parks of Argentina. He has served as Mayor of the Río Pilcomayo National Park, the Formosa National Reserve, and the Calilegua National Park. Currently, he manages the recently created Ansenuza National Park that protects the wetland of Laguna Mar Chiquita, which has been twinned with Mono Lake for more than thirty years.
Nathan Van Schmidt - Dr. Nathan Van Schmidt is Director of Waterbird Science at San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. After getting a B.S. in Zoology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, his dissertation at University of California-Berkeley researched how human irrigation created wetlands in the Sierra Nevada foothills that allowed rails to persist through California's droughts. He also worked at the U.S. Geological Survey, where his work included a review of the staff of waterbird populations and threats to their persistence in Saline lakes of the Great Basin. Most recently, his team has focused on estimating and understanding the collapse of Phalarope populations in San Francisco Bay, which once rivaled Mono Lake in size but have since dwindled to a few thousand individuals. His research focuses on analyzing long-term field monitoring datasets and using them to parameterize simulation models that forecast coupled changes in habitats and the species that depend on them into the future, with the aim of identifying effective long-term conservation strategies.
Jon Dunn - Jon Dunn has had a near life-long interest in birds. He leads tours for Wings (since 1977) and has authored or co-authored numerous articles on the identification and distribution of birds. He co-authored Birds of Southern California, Status and Distribution (1981) and Warblers (1997) with Kimball L. Garrett, and Birding Essentials and the National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America with Jonathan Alderfer, now in its seventh edition. He serves on the Board and is vice-president for Western Field Ornithologists and the AOS Committee on Taxonomy and Nomenclature. Jon lives in Rovana, near Bishop, CA. In addition to birds he considers history his hobby and the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen his favorite sedative.
Recent News
Introducing Bobolink

Wednesday, June 14: This year, we re-designed birdchautauqua.org to incorporate a webapp called Bobolink that will improve your user experience before, during, and after the festival. Using Bobolink is completely optional, but we hope you will try it out! The webapp allows you to view your itinerary, create support tickets, get directions to meeting locations, evaluate trips, post and comment on the blog, view the bird list for the festival, and see which trips certain bird species were seen on. 

Watch this 10-minute tutorial video or view the step-by-step user guide to get started. 

As always, feel free to swing by the registration/check-in table at the Lee Vining Community Center or email Chautauqua@monolake.org for help. 

Chautauqua event check in begins Thursday

Sunday, June 11, 2023: Please remember to check-in before attending your scheduled Chautauqua events. At check in you will receive your agenda, event packet, button, and T-shirt. We cannot guarantee you a spot on a field trip if we don't know you've arrived.

Check-in will be available at the following times at the Lee Vining Community Center (296 Mattly Ave):
Thursday, June 15: 3:00pm–7:30pm
Friday, June 16: 6:00am–7:00pm
Saturday, June 17: 6:00am–6:00pm

See you soon!

Campgrounds and Highway Information

Sunday, June 11: Sonora Pass (108) is open! To view up to date road information go to roads.dot.ca.gov and enter the highway number or quickmap.dot.ca.gov and click "options" dropdown menu, then select the road conditions you want the map to show.

To view campground information, go to www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd486882.pdf and click on the campground you'd like to view the status of. Many will be closed for Chautauqua due to flooding.

Camp Like A Pro is a great tool for locating disperse camp sites: https://www.essrp.org/camping. Please note that a permit is required for all fires – even a propane camp stove--while dispersed camping. The link for a permit is here: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/permits/campfire-permit/. Although it is a wet year, fire danger is still present.

Phalarope Festival June 18, 2023

Sunday, May 21: Join us for an enchanting afternoon at Hess Park in Lee Vining on Sunday, June 18th from 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM, as we celebrate the migratory connections of Wilson's phalaropes. This event follows the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, adding an exciting continuation to the birding festivities. Witness the unveiling and dedication of captivating new phalarope murals showcasing the migratory connections between Mono Lake, Great Salt Lake, and Laguna Mar Chiquita in Argentina. A team of visiting researchers, park rangers, educators, and conservationists from Laguna Mar Chiquita and Great Salt Lake will share their valuable insights and experiences regarding saline lake conservation. Learn about their work in Argentina and Utah and discover the similarities and challenges faced by these globally connected habitats. Participate in a lively bird call contest and showcase your creativity with a phalarope costume contest. Prizes will be awarded to the most authentic bird calls and the most imaginative and well-crafted phalarope costumes. Immerse yourself in a vibrant atmosphere filled with live music, dancing, and an array of delicious food. Engage in meaningful discussions and cultural exchanges with fellow attendees and international guests. Share stories, insights, and ideas surrounding the importance of saline lakes and migratory connections, fostering global understanding and cooperation.

Donate Binoculars to Students in Argentina

Saturday, April 8, 2023: During registration, you'll be given the opportunity to donate used, good condition binoculars or $25 to a fund that will provide binoculars to students at Laguna Mar Chiquita, a sister lake to Mono Lake, in Argentina. These students attend a phenomenal, free education program called "Experiencia Ambientalia", which translates to Environmental Experience. The program works with over 200 highschoolers who live near Laguna Mar Chiquita and teaches them about conservation education, research, and entrepreneurship as it relates to the lake and the ecosystems around them. If you would like to learn more about the program, sign up for 369 *Saline Lakes: Science and education panel discussion from 3:00 to 5:00 pm on Saturday of the Chautauqua. During this panel discussion Marina Castellino, founder of Experiencia Ambientalia, will give a short presentation about her work on this innovative and effective program.

Twentieth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua update

Saturday, April 1, 2023: Registration for the twentieth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is just two weeks away, beginning at 6:30am PDT on Saturday, April 15, 2023.

The full schedule of field trips and outdoor workshops is now online, including the grid schedule, which shows how trips may overlap. Please note that we are still working on this schedule and additional programs may be added prior to registration day.

We highly recommend finding several alternate programs for each time slot, as many programs fill quickly—some fill just minutes after registration opens.

Updated presenter biographies are also online, so you can learn more about everyone leading trips this year.

We will have another update next week with more details about practice registration and we will unveil our new t-shirt design.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to email or call (760) 647-6595 and ask for Andrew or Nora.

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