Ashley started her interest in conservation and the Pine Bush early with Farnsworth Middle School’s butterfly house. Learning about conservation at a young age piqued her interest in wildlife, ultimately leading to a degree from SUNY Oswego in zoology. Throughout college she participated in several internships abroad, including monitoring the population of the endangered Anegada rock iguana in the British Virgin Islands, working with dolphins and conducting fish diversity surveys. When not working in the Discovery Center she works at DEC’s Wildlife Health Unit assisting in necropsies and disease surveillance of wildlife found throughout NYS. Ashley also enjoys hiking, riding her motorcycle, travelling and playing with her cats. She have travelled all over Europe and even lived in Berlin for a short time. Someday, she hopes to travel the world!
Lisa is the Director of Finance & Operations for the Commission. Lisa manages the fiscal, human resources and grant operations for the organization. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance from the University of Albany and has more than 15 years of experience in the financial management field. Lisa lives in Guilderland with her two daughters and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.
As Outreach Coordinator, Grace creates content for online and printed media outlets, assists with outreach and onsite events, manages Volunteer Naturalists, and leads educational programs. Grace started working for the Commission in 2011 as a seasonal conservation science technician. She then studied ant diversity at the Preserve and in other inland pine barrens through 2014, and has been working as an educator for the Commission since 2015. Grace has worked as an environmental educator in Maine; a neuroscience lab technician California; and an ecological research assistant at the Harvard Forest in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. from Bard College and a M.S. in environmental conservation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In her free time she creates visual art and continues to study local ants.
Tyler is the Fire Management and GIS Specialist for the Preserve. He coordinates all aspects of the Commission’s fire-management program, including planning and implementing prescribed fire; he also assists with the management of the Commission’s GIS data and supervises seasonal fire staff. Tyler holds a Master’s degree in Geography, with a Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis from the University at Albany. Additionally, he has a BS in Geography from SUNY Oneonta, is a certified all-position structural steel welder and is a NOLS Alumni. Tyler previously worked as a seasonal Fire Management and Stewardship Technician for the Commission. Prior to that he worked as a GIS Specialist for Orbis, Inc., in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a Junior Planner for the Syracuse (NY) Metropolitan Transportation Council and as a Graduate Assistant GIS Analyst for the NYSDEC’s Bureau of Lands and Forests. Tyler is a native of Cuylerville, NY where he attended York Central School.
Steve Campbell holds a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), M.S. degrees in Biology and Experimental Statistics from New Mexico State University, and a Ph.D. degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. During his time as an undergraduate and graduate student he was involved with a number of research projects: hybridization of Mallards and Black Ducks in the Adirondack Park of New York, behavioral and nesting ecology of geese in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta of Alaska, plant hybrid zones as centers of bird and reptile diversity in New Mexico, statistical programming at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota, assessing monitoring efforts in endangered species recovery plans, bird-banding in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest of Kenya, long-term numerical and spatial responses of birds to timber harvesting in Maine, and dispersal ecology of juvenile amphibians in Maine. Upon completion of his Ph. D., Steve taught undergraduate and graduate courses in wildlife ecology, statistics, and population ecology while serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University. He returned to SUNY ESF as a postdoctoral research associate for which he evaluated the population size and habitat use of an endangered snail and its competitive interactions with a non-native snail and investigated the suitability of willow biomass crops as habitat for birds, small mammals, and amphibians. Steve continued his postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona where he examined the demography and population viability of the desert tortoise. This wide array of experiences combined with his interests in biodiversity conservation and wildlife ecology make him well suited to take on the diversity of research projects being conducted in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.
Jackie has worked as environmental educator at the Pine Bush for many years now. She has been involved in education for over 25 years starting in the medical field, and then moving to more formalized classroom education with learning disabilities/gifted & talented. For the past 16 years, she has found her passion as a naturalist and environmental educator and truly enjoys exciting all individuals, young and old, to connect with the natural world around them.
With a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry, Wendy began her conservation career with the Pine Bush in 1995 as a Conservation Science Technician and Prescribed Fire Crew Member. She later moved into the Administrative and Outreach department where she headed up the Volunteer program to match volunteers up with ongoing education, conservation, and research projects in the Preserve. Wendy also spent more than ten years as the president of the Wildlife Institute of Eastern NY, a non-profit that brings live wildlife and natural science based education together in a classroom like setting. Today, Wendy enjoys using her science background and creativity to encourage people to visit and support the Pine Bush through public relations, outreach and marketing to the Capital District.
Julie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English at SUNY New Paltz, a Master’s Degree in Teaching English at Sage Graduate School, and teaches at a local private college. She is a passionate educator and enjoys working with the public and introducing them to the Pine Bush and Discovery Center. She enjoys writing plays, hiking, camping, gardening, and spending time with friends and family.
Growing up in farm country in northern central New York, Dillon has always been an outdoors girl, catching salamanders and collecting cicada skins. Her love of nature carried over into her career earning her a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Natural History and Interpretation and a Master’s of Science degree in Entomology. Dillon has conducted research in many areas but her specialty is insects including dragonflies and damselflies, and native solitary bees and wasps. At Albany Pine Bush Preserve she has continued her work with insects studying Karner blue butterflies and inland barrens buckmoth while fostering her newfound love of birds. As both an ecologist and educator at the preserve, Dillon gets to marry her two favorite things in life: learning about the natural world and sharing that knowledge with others.
Blake Etchison has been with the Commission since the spring of 2008. She graduated from Earlham College with a BA in Biology. Blake has worked on many important research and education projects across the country including Spotted owl research, Palila restoration project, Mad Science, Raptor Inventory Nesting Survey, Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center and most recently as the Education Program Assistant for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission. Most of the time you can find her supervising the animal care program, managing two volunteer programs: the Docent and Jr. Docent and coordinating and leading public and school education programs for the APBPC Discovery Center.
Conservation Director Neil Gifford is a “Swampy” from Paul Smith’s College (AAS 1989) as well as a graduate of Plattsburgh State University (BA 1991;MA 1994). A volunteer and seasonal APBPC employee in 1994 and 1995, he’s been a full time Commission employee since 1997. As Conservation Director he provides supervision and oversight for all aspects of biological research and management in the preserve. He’s served on the NY State and Federal recovery teams for the endangered Karner blue butterfly since 1997, coordinates Commission review of development projects within the 13,000 acre Pine Bush Study Area and is an accomplished Field Ornithologist.
Chris Hawver has been the Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission since 2000. He started with the Commission as a seasonal ecologist in 1993. As Executive Director, Chris is responsible for all fiscal, legal and administrative aspects of the Commission and its staff. He implements the decisions of the board and conducts the day-to-day business of the Commission. He works closely with Commission members and counsel, state, county and local government agencies, elected officials, conservation groups and landowners to raise and promote support for the management and protection of the Albany Pine Bush. Chris holds a BA in Environmental Science and MA in Natural Resources from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
Joel coordinates on-the-ground management of the Preserve. Management includes oversight of all wildlife habitat restoration and all public use. This includes coordination of contracts for wildlife enhancement habitat work such as invasive plant treatments, boundary surveying and archeological work. Specific areas of responsibility also include all public use such as multiuse trail design and maintenance, Preserve regulations and enforcement, and hunting, trapping and fishing in the Preserve. Wildlife habitat management includes restoration planning and planting, boundary posting and monitoring, management equipment and facilities maintenance oversight, GIS mapping and participation in the prescribed fire program. Joel has served with the Pine Bush Preserve Commission since 1994 and has a background in biology and earth sciences as well as environmental education and land management.
Jesse has a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University where he focused on applied ecology. He is a lifelong botanist and is in charge of much of the on the ground conservation and recreation work at the Albany Pine Bush. Jesse supervises seasonal staff and coordinates several groups of long and short term volunteers who help him in ensuring that the trails system is maintained, boundaries are posted, native seed is collected, invasive species are located and eradicated, and habitat is restored throughout the Pine Bush.
Erin coordinates all aspects of the Commission’s Education Program including educational programming for the public, schools, community groups and special interest groups. She also supervises three education staff, a team of education volunteers and participates in the operation of the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center. Erin earned her Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in natural resources from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in secondary science education from the State University of New York at Albany. Since the start of her career with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve in 1998, Erin has worked to create a variety of opportunities for people to discover Albany’s unique inland pine barrens.
Jodi Nash holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Otterbein University. She has served as a Research Assistant at The Ohio State University’s Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research and as a Program Support Assistant at the Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery. She is an active volunteer at her children’s elementary school, and also serves as a Cub Scout den leader and Girl Scout Daisy troop leader. Jodi enjoys traveling and exploring the outdoors as well as reading and knitting.
Sara earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of New Hampshire before serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria for three years. She has worked as an environmental educator in a variety of locations, including on the coast of New Hampshire, on whale watching boats in the Gulf of Maine, in schools in Bulgaria and in nature centers in Southern Oregon. She went on to receive a Master’s of Science in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University and is dedicated to exploring, learning and teaching in nature. She started working at the Albany Pine Bush as an Environmental Educator in 2011.
As the Community Engagement Coordinator, Ericka works to build a broad-based support network for the APBPC through community outreach and events. In addition, she coordinates the Volunteer Program including recruitment, training, support and recognition efforts. Her previous experience includes: Deputy Director with Habitat for Humanity of the Capital District; Development Officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters; and Outreach Director at Environmental Advocates of NY. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Siena College. In her spare time, Ericka enjoys tennis, summer days waterskiing with her husband Danny and winter weekends snowmobiling.
Margaret is the Office Manager and helps with finance and office administration. She is proud to come from a family of ecologically conscious people and have a Master’s of Science in Environmental Management from Antioch New England. Her passion for protecting and promoting the Albany Pine Bush has grown especially in more than ten years of employment. Her favorite things to do with her partner and child are singing, hiking, reading, and cooking.
Vicki has worked as an educator for over twenty years, teaching computer classes and workshops and running award-winning STEM programs in area schools. She loves learning, long walks, snowshoeing, and whitewater canoeing. She grew up on Long Island, hiking and camping in the Pine Barrens. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from SUNY Albany and did graduate work in elementary education at Sage College. She is excited to help visitors experience all that the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center has to offer.
Jazmin grew up in Niskayuna, New York and currently lives in Albany with her hairless cat, Vida. Growing up she had always taken an interest in wildlife and the outdoors so naturally she was thrilled to be offered a position on the Albany Pine Bush team! Along with a lifelong interest in the outdoors, she has also been drawn to the arts (specifically photography) and cooking. She loves traveling with friends and hopes to spend some time on every continent! During her free time she loves to hike, bike ride, practice yoga, try new recipes, and has recently started Rosetta stone in an effort to perfect her Spanish. She is an absolute lover of music and listens to literally everything but mostly jazz, folk, jam, funk, various kinds of EDM, reggae and country. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge of this incredible and rare ecosystem while also getting to know the Pine Bush’s staff, volunteers and visitors!
Amelia Tramontano graduated from the University at Albany in 2012 with a degree in Studio Art. She has since worked as a mural artist and has volunteered to assist with the Empire State Plaza Art Collection. Amelia also has extensive professional experience, having worked for seven years at an insurance provider. In her spare time Amelia enjoys cooking, art, yoga and the outdoors. She lives in Colonie with her two young children, her husband and her dog, Rigby.