Our Presenters


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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.

 

Gwen Baluss

Based in Juneau, Gwen Baluss has been bird-watching for work and fun in Southeast Alaska since 1998. Before that she worked throughout the Western United states and Hawaii focusing on bird work ranging from forest habitat studies, to wildlife rehabilitation and endangered species recovery. She is most interested in songbirds, especially those that migrate south, and likes to travel where when she can observe them on their winter range. She is a certified bird bander and enjoys recruiting new birders by showing the public birds up close.

 

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. 

 

Mike Goldstein

Mike Goldstein serves the Forest Service Alaska Region out of Juneau, AK, working on long-term landscape level planning and monitoring.  Mike formerly led the formation of the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center at the University of Alaska, and served as the Centerís first director.  He aims to assist partners work with the Forest Service to develop climate adaptation strategies.  Mike has a background in environmental toxicology and systems ecology, with a focus on wildlife and fisheries sciences.

 

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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