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Our Presenters, Childrenís Activities, and Field Trip Leaders for 2017

Keynote Speaker:
Julia K. Parrish
is the Lowell A. and Frankie L. Wakefield Professor of Ocean Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, where she also serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of the Environment. For more than 30 years, Julia has conducted field research on seabirds, focused on the natural and human-caused factors causing population decline. In pursuit of Alaskan marine birds she has lived among storm-petrels on East Amatuli in the Barren Islands, tangled with a curious grizzly on Kayak Island, raced an Arctic fox to a beached bird on St. Paul in the Pribilofs, and deployed streamer lines to keep albatross away from longline gear in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska. Julia is also the Executive Director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a 17 year old citizen science program responsible for training more than 4,000 participants to collect monthly data on the identity and abundance of beach-cast birds from northern California north to the Arctic Circle. Julia has been honored as a NOAA Year of the Oceans Environmental Hero, and has received a Champions of Change award at The White House for her leadership in coastal citizen science.


Mary F. Willson

Mary F. Willson was born and raised in Wisconsin. She received her PhD from the University of Washington in 1964, and was a professor of ecology at the University of Illinois from 1966-1989. She conducted ecological research in Juneau, Alaska, starting in 1989, publishing numerous scientific publications and several books. Since 2008, she has contributed a regular natural history column to the Juneau Empire.



Liliana Naves

Lili Naves is a biologist with a M.S. in biological oceanography and a Ph.D. in biodiversity. She researched seabird and shorebird feeding and breeding ecology in tropical, temperate, and Arctic ecosystems. In the last decade, Lili has blended biological and social sciences researching subsistence harvest in Alaska, especially bird and egg harvest. She works for the Division of Subsistence of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage and coordinates the Harvest Assessment Program of the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. Her work relies on collaboration among Alaska Native, federal, and state entities integrating scientific and indigenous knowledge to protect sustainable subsistence uses of birds and to support bird conservation.

Presentation title
Subsistence harvest of birds and eggs in Alaska



Kayla Drumm

Kayla Drumm is currently a student at University of Alaska Southeast. She has participated in, helped coordinate, and written the reports of beach debris clean-ups since 2013 . She also worked with University of Alaska Anchorage on an archaeology dig based on Knight Island. Her favorite project she worked on was the Nearshore Marine project, that helped create baseline data for the marine diversity in Yakutat Bay, and also what sparked the idea of her book "Fishes of Yakutat Bay, Alaska." While not pursing her passions in science, Kayla enjoys painting both on canvases and large scale on the sides of buildings or picnic tables.




Don Lyons

Don is a professor at Oregon State University with an extensive background in avian ecology and a few current projects on the rarer Caspian Tern. Don works with Bird Research Northwest in the Columbia River Basin and Outer Basin studying Caspian Tern management and avian predation dynamics. He has a masters of science and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University as well as a bachelor's of science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and master's of science in Electrical Engineering from University of California-Berkeley. While not pursing his passions in science, Don enjoys hiking, telemark and cross-country skiing, canoeing, ultimate frisbee, and dog training.




Denise Yvonne Turley

Denise grew up in rural areas in the western states and always had a great interest in wildlife and nature. She went to school at Brigham Young University and obtained a BS degree in Zoology in 1994. Denise became especially interested in birds when she met her first mother in law who was an avid birder and introduced her to the pastime. She spent the next 16 years raising and homeschooling her two daughters in rural Alaska 6 months of the year and traveling for the remaining 6 months of each year. Seven of those winters were aboard their personal sailboat exploring the Bahamas and Central America. Throughout that time she "birded" for her personal pleasure and loved getting to see new species from new locations, but also grew very fond of the species she found every summer in Alaska. In 2010 she began volunteering for Fish and Game and Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near the Canadian border doing Rusty Blackbird, Waterfowl and Passerine Surveys. She was trained to mist net birds by Hank Timm and Bud Johnson who had been running the Tetlin NWR banding station for about 20 years (the second longest running mist netting station in Alaska). This was the year she began memorizing bird calls so that she'd be able to perform point counts in addition to other surveys. Denise spent the next five summers working for Tetlin NWR as a biotech doing bird surveys (waterfowl, passerine and peregrine falcon) and eventually becoming a lead bander at the banding station. During the winters I continued to travel, but also looked for bird work/volunteer opportunities during that time. She was fortunate enough to mist net birds on Maui and Kuaui and perform mammal surveys in Mojave National Preserve during some of this time. In late 2014 she moved to Sitka so that she could be near her youngest daughter who wanted to attend Mt. Edgecumbe High School (boarding school). Since she has moved to Sitka, she still travels to Tetlin NWR for a few weeks every summer to conduct bird surveys and occasionally does contract biology work when it is available. Denise travels at every opportunity, and has branched out to expand her skills to include emergency medicine, working as a naturalist and "guide" in various capacities, and volunteering with the Sitka Fire Department Dive Team. She recently married and has been having a wonderful time exploring the wild areas around Sitka with her husband Don Kluting.


Nate Catterson

Originally from the East Coast, Nate was lured to Alaska by the prospect of seasonal fisheries work and fly-fish guiding -- basically by wild salmon and trout. Twelve years later, he's still there working full time as a biologist for the U.S. Forest Service in Yakutat and supplementing his fishing with kayaking, birding and surfing.  Nate has been instrumental in the Aleutian Tern research being conducted in the Yakutat area. 


Teresa Swanson

Teresa Swanson has lived in Alaska most of her life, but grad school and a fisheries biology career drew her away to study fish in the Grand Canyon and Yellow Stone National Park.  While her earliest jobs were associated with the commercial salmon industry, most of her work experience has been studying fish in Wyoming, Arizona, and Alaska.  Teresaís outdoor experiences, growing up in Alaska, have shaped her recreational and biological points of views. She has worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a Fisheries Technician on the Chugach National Forest, and currently she works for the Tongass National Forest as a Resource Assistant on the Yakutat Ranger District.  Teresa is busily expanding her skills and interests to include birding!


Susan Oehlers

Susan Oehlers grew up in Minnesota, and has a bachelorís of science degree from the University of Minnesota and a Masterís Degree in wildlife biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Susan has worked with a wide variety of animals and birds, including wolves, moose, brown bears, small mammals, spotted owls, songbirds, Canada geese, and terns.  Susan is currently the wildlife biologist for the Yakutat Ranger District of the Tongass National Forest, and is involved in the Yakutat-based Aleutian tern research.  Susan enjoys learning more about birds and sharing her knowledge with local students.


Kris Widdows

Kris Widdows has lived in Yakutat for 40 years, and has worked in various capacities for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service over the years, while also running a charter boat company with her husband Geoff.  Kris is still learning her birds, and is anxious to share her extensive knowledge of the area with festival participants.


Jim Capra

Jim Capra is the Dry Bay Ranger for Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Jim began work in Yakutat in April of 1995, and began his career with the Park Service as a seasonal law enforcement Park Ranger in 1987 in Colorado at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP.  Jim is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys running, hiking, skiing, fishing, snowshoeing, hunting, trapping, and birding, and is also a small plane pilot. 


Lee Benson

Lee grew up in rural Minnesota and developed an interest in the outdoors while enjoying the wonders of farm life.  He received his education at Colorado State University where he earned a B.S. in Zoology and worked in graduate research in wildlife biology and range conservation, working for several years on prairie grouse and conducting passerine surveys in Colorado.  He has worked for the federal government for 20 years and is currently the District Ranger on the Yakutat Ranger District.  In addition to Forest Service work in Alaska and New Mexico, he has worked for both the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management in Arizona and Oregon, respectively.  His assignments have included working as a Range Conservationist and Wildlife Biologist.

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