May 31 – June 1, 2017

South-Central Monarch Symposium

All Symposia

Texan By Nature would like to thank the following speakers and poster presenters for taking part in our symposium.

Bill Bartush

Certified Wildlife Biologist

Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Bill Bartush is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with BS/MS in Wildlife Ecology, and has been in the wildlife profession for more than 30 years as a Certified Wildlife Biologist®. Bill has remained active in private lands management, providing technical advice for agricultural, forestry, and wildlife operations on lands east of the Rockies throughout his career. Bill believes landscape level planning has grown towards a more strategic delivery of conservation by bringing together partners – agencies, organizations, and private landowners – who have common landscape goals. ... Read More As a native of Muenster, Texas, he has had many opportunities to work with, and learn from, exceptional natural resources managers, research scientists, ecologists, and biologists across this country. Bill’s professional career has focused on wildlife populations and habitat management, and he is now concentrating on the evolving concept of strategic habitat conservation. Bill has been married for over 40 years to his wife Darlene; they have 4 children that all enjoy the outdoors, gardening, and cooking – especially Cajun cuisine, as taught by one of his mentors from Ville Platte Louisiana.


Kristen Baum

Associate Professor, Integrative Biology

Oklahoma State University

Dr. Kristen Baum is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Baum has been studying pollinators in the southern Great Plains for more than 20 years. Her current research focuses on the effects of land use and management practices on pollinators, including monarch butterflies and native bees. She is also actively involved with efforts supporting STEM education, preparing future secondary science and mathematics teachers, promoting undergraduate research, and making science accessible to the general public.




Claire Beck

Monarch Technical Coordinator

Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Claire Beck is the Monarch Technical Coordinator for the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA), working with multiple states in the Midwest and South Central regions as well as several partner organizations across the country to create a Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy. Prior to working on monarch conservation, Claire studied the pollinator habitat potential of utility rights-of-way at the Ohio State University, bringing together her background in urban planning, passion for wildlife, and particular fondness for insects.


David Berman

Graduate Student

I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. I gained an appreciation and love of monarchs early in life since nearly every year the milkweed out in my mother’s garden would be host to a few caterpillars. I got my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in Seattle in Fisheries Management with a minor in Microbiology. After college, I worked as a Fishery Observer going out with commercial fishing vessels on the Bering sea to do biological assessment of the catch for quota management. I did this for 4 years after which I had seen enough fish to last a lifetime and I decided to get back to my first interest which was insects and more specifically Monarchs. I am currently a graduate student at Oklahoma State University working on my PhD in the Integrative Biology program under Dr. Kristen Baum.


Steven Bradbury

Professor of Environmental Toxicology

Iowa State University

Dr. Steven Bradbury joined Iowa State University as a professor of environmental toxicology in 2015. Bradbury’s research and extension interests include pesticide resistance management, pollination services, monarch butterfly conservation and sustainable agriculture. He retired from the USEPA in 2014 after 30 years of public service, which included 4 years as the Director of the Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs. Bradbury has a BS in Molecular Biology (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and a MS in Entomology (Insecticide Toxicology) and a PhD in Toxicology and Entomology (Iowa State University). He has published over 75 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.


Carl Bunch


Private Landowner

Carl is a 3rd generation farmer and rancher located in Noble County, Oklahoma. Carl has participated in the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to enhance habitat on his property to benefit the monarch butterfly, his cattle operation and other wildlife species important to his family. Carl understands the value of quality rangeland production and factors that affect how native rangelands stay productive. His family also owns and operates a cedar cutting business. Carl is also the current President for the North Central Range Improvement Association (also designated as prescribed burn association) that serves Noble and Payne Counties. ... Read More Carl loves to share his experiences and knowledge using prescribed fire and rangeland restoration practices with other producers in Oklahoma. Carl is also sharing his property with Oklahoma State University for a monitoring site for the monarch butterfly research efforts. Carl’s mission from his website says “to restore each property allowing future generations to utilize and enjoy the land even more than we have enjoyed. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children-Proverbs 13:22” Carl is well on tract!

Janis Bush

Professor of Environmental Science

The University of Texas at San Antonio

Janis Bush is Professor of Environmental Science and the Director of the Environmental Science Academic Program at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Bush earned her doctorate at The University of Texas El Paso. She is a plant ecologist whose past research has concentrated on factors influencing the conversion of grasslands to woodlands. In addition, she worked on the puzzle sunflower, a rare species in west Texas. Dr. Bush is currently working to help the State of Texas determine the status of monarch butterflies in the state.


Wendy Caldwell


Monarch Joint Venture

Wendy Caldwell is the coordinator of the Monarch Joint Venture, a national partnership working to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. In this position, she works with over 60 partner organizations across the U.S. to protect and restore habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. Wendy has been working with monarch monitoring, education, and conservation programs since 2007. She works with a wide variety of landscapes, engaging many different audiences ranging from youth and teachers to land managers to agency directors. Wendy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she studied environmental science and entomology.


Emily Casper


My name is Emily Casper and I am currently a senior at Texas A&M University- Commerce working towards getting my bachelor’s of science. I am majoring in Wildlife Conservation with a minor in Environmental Science. I have always loved watching butterfly migrations and learning about them. Being chosen to help study the effects of RIFA on monarchs was an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad that I got to be a part of it. This study has definitely helped me gain useful skills that I will be able to utilize in future studies I take part in.


Russell Castro

State Wildlife Biologist


Russell has worked for SCS/NRCS for 37 years, beginning his career as a Range Conservationist, working in Zapata, Bandera and Tulia, Texas. He has worked as a District Conservationist in Edna, Texas, before becoming the Area/Zone Biologist in Terrell and Weatherford, Texas. Russell has worked as the Wildlife Biologist on the Water Resources Staff working primarily on the environmental permitting and issues associated with the NRCS Small Watershed Program. He moved to his current position as State Biologist for NRCS in Texas in 2005. ... Read More Russell provides the leadership and responsibility for all biological actions regarding NRCS conservation efforts in Texas. Russell is versed in all aspects of biological issues affecting wildlife species, including threatened and endangered species, pollinators, wetland conservation and habitat restoration.

Russell received his bachelor’s degree in Range Animal Science, with an emphasis in Wildlife Management, from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.

Russell is married with two daughters. His hobbies are traveling, diving, sailing, water sports, outdoor sports, and sporting events. He also enjoys cooking and, more recently, spending time with his four grandchildren.

Julian Chavez

UTSA’s Environmental Science Academic Program

Julian Chavez graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Texas San Antonio in May of 2015. While working on his undergraduate degree Julian volunteered with the Cibolo Nature Center as an outdoor field guide, and also interned with the US Forest Service where he studied the effects of fire severity and hillslopes gradient on herbaceous cover and diversity in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Julian Chavez is currently employed with UTSA’s Environmental Science Academic Programs where he works on the Monarch and Milkweed Project. Julian is devoted to his work, but in his free time he is a dedicated uncle and novice birder.

Poster Abstract: Julian Chavez Abstract

Karen Clary

Director of Plant Conservation

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Dr. Clary’s career spans two decades in natural resources conservation. She oversees the Center’s native plant conservation program aimed at preserving common and rare Texas plant species in the Wildflower Center seed bank for future use, managing aggressive, invasive plants and stewarding rare and endangered Texas plant species. With a strong commitment to education and public outreach, she regularly gives lectures about botany and native plants, and teaches with the Wildflower Center’s Informal Classes Program.


Jerry Cook

Executive Director

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Jerry Cook is currently the Executive Director of the Texas Invasive Species Institute, Professor of Biology at Sam Houston State University and Associate Vice President for Research at Sam Houston State University. He has served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, interim Dean of Graduate Studies, and interim Dean of the College of Sciences at Sam Houston State University. Jerry was appointed by the Secretary of Interior to serve on the Invasive Species Advisory Committee.


Bob Coulson


Texas A&M University

Robert N. Coulson is a Professor in the Departments of Entomology and Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. His research is transdisciplinary in approach and directed to investigations of the activities and impacts of insects and other taxa in forest, prairie, savanna, and agricultural landscapes. The research addresses issues of significance to ecological science as well land-use management. ... Read More He co-founded and directs the Knowledge Engineering Laboratory (KEL)  to facilitate research and development of computer applications for planning, problem-solving and decision making in environmental science and management. Focus of KEL research is directed to landscape-scale problems that require integration, interpretation, and use of different representations of knowledge. Special emphasis has been placed on ways and means of blending qualitative heuristic knowledge of experts, using methodologies from artificial intelligence, with quantitative information that results from scientific investigations.

Kelsey Deal

In May 2017 I received a Master of Science degree from the Department of Integrative Biology at Oklahoma State University. I completed my research on monarch butterfly-predator interactions under the advisement of Dr. Kristen Baum. I have presented these findings at several conferences including the 2016 International Congress of Entomology, the 2016 and 2017 Oklahoma Natural Resources Conferences, and the 2016 Oklahoma Biodiversity Network Forum. In addition to conducting research, I have participated in informal science education and outreach. ... Read More Notable accomplishments include serving on the outreach committee for the departmental graduate student society and securing a $1000 dollar Environmental Education Grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Furthermore, I completed over 300 service hours as a master’s student and was awarded the Science Communication and Outreach Award from the departmental graduate student society.


Cathy Downs

Conservation Specialist

Monarch Watch

Cathy grew up in New England on a farm in rural Maine. After 30 years owning and operating a retail business she and her husband, Scott, moved to Comfort, TX where they have 10 acres for wildlife. Cathy has provided over 75,000 children and 25,000 adults with Monarch presentations or school labs. Volunteer awards include: Texas Wildlife Association Volunteer of the Year, The President’s Call to Service Award, NPSOT President’s Award and Cibolo Nature Center Stewardship Award. Her current affiliations include Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Certified Trainer, Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist and Chair – Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas Committee.

Chad Ellis

Center for Land Stewardship Manager

Noble Foundation

Ellis manages the Center for Land Stewardship. He joined the Noble Foundation as a pasture and range consultant in 2012.

Previously, Ellis was a Regional Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) director for 15 central states at the Central National Technology Support Center (CNTSC) for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Prior to that, Ellis worked with NRSC as a rangeland management specialist in San Angelo, Alpine, Texas, and in Florida as the state rangeland management specialist. Ellis is also the chairman of the National Grazing Lands Coalition, a producer-led organization working to maintain and improve the management and health of the Nation’s grazing lands.
... Read More Ellis grew up in Lohn, Texas, a small farming and ranching community in Central Texas.


Hector Escobar

Hector Escobar graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science in December 2015. He was hired shortly after completing his Bachelor’s as a Research Assistant with the Environmental Science Academic Programs at The University of Texas at San Antonio. He enjoys volunteering for the Cibolo Nature Center and is an avid gardener. He has since been applying his knowledge in helping to research the monarch butterfly and native milkweed in Texas.


John Faraci

Chairman of the Board

National Fish & Wildlife Foundation

John V. Faraci, Jr. is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of International Paper. He served previously in the positions of president, as well as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Mr. Faraci joined International Paper in 1974 and held various financial, product management, planning and general management positions in the industrial packaging, consumer packaging, paper, wood products and forest resources businesses. He served also as chief executive officer and managing director of Carter Holt Harvey (a former International Paper majority-owned forest products company in New Zealand). ... Read More Mr. Faraci sits on the board of United Technologies Corp., PPG and Conoco Phillips. Mr. Faraci is a trustee of Denison University and the American Enterprise Institute, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a former board member of the Grand Teton National Park Foundation and the National Park Foundation.

Sergio Fernandez Lozada

Originally from a region just a few hours away from the Monarch wintering sites in Mexico, I have been passionate about wildlife and the natural world since a young age. I found a special interest in environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, which have motivated me to pursue a professional carrier that can lead to contribute to positive changes, not only for the environment but also for communities. ... Read More I did my undergraduate studies in Chemical/Environmental Engineering (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico), which provided me with useful quantitative skills. Simultaneously, during my studies I got involved in a diversity of outdoor activities that allowed me to witness how the interaction of communities shapes the conditions of the natural environment, and vice versa. Increasing my interest on understanding humans as key factors for the success of conservation strategies.

As a result, I decided to undertake my Masters in Resource Management (Simon Fraser University, Canada). For my degree, I focused on understanding the positive impact that protected areas have on urban areas. The project consisted in a valuation of ecosystem services from a National Park bordering a metropolitan area in Northeastern Mexico. I specialized on the implementation of choice experiments as tools to estimate preferences, and as a proxy of potential human behavior. I’ve been lucky to collaborate in research projects regarding tourism, demand of energy efficient technologies, housing preferences in leisure locations, outdoor recreation, as well as marine planning and values.

Following my goal of understanding better how the general public can be directly involved in conservation efforts; currently, I’m developing the research project for my PhD dissertation (Simon Fraser University, Canada). This project focuses on the potential participation of landowners in the restoration and preservation of Monarch Butterfly habitat. My goal is to draw lessons from different locations in North America, in an attempt to gain insight that help us face the challenges for the conservation of migratory species at international level.


Matt Fullerton

Threatened and Endangered Species Biologist

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Matt Fullerton is the Threatened and Endangered Species Biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Diversity Program. He has been in his position for 3 years and coordinates several research and conservation projects for rare and declining species throughout the state. Matt is ODWC’s representative on the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative, a group that formed in late 2016 to begin development of a statewide monarch conservation plan. When Matt is not working, he enjoys landscaping with native plants and spending time with his wife and two sons.


Jim Giocomo


Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture

Jim is the Coordinator of the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture, for the American Bird Conservancy. Jim earned a holds a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Tennessee. His work focuses on grassland bird conservation and monitoring in the Cross Timbers, Blackland Prairies, and Post Oak Savannah in Texas and Oklahoma as well as the Edwards Plateau in Texas. The Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture is a public/private partnership of agencies, organizations, and individuals working through science-based, voluntary conservation actions to improve habitat conditions for priority bird species within the OPJV geography.


Nick Groves


Shannon Harris

Program Manager

Texan by Nature

Shannon manages programs at Texan by Nature and facilitates their success for the prosperity of all Texans. She developed and implemented Monarch Wrangler in 2016 to include certification of monarch butterfly habitat recovery efforts among four sectors: residents, civic organizations, corporations, and landowners in Texas. She manages Conservation Wrangler which recognizes and supports innovative, transformational Texas-based conservation projects with tailored aid, resources, and visibility. Shannon is a native Texan with a background in program management at the Center for Sustainable Development and the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) and interned with the Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. ... Read More Shannon has a B.A. in Geography and an M.S. in Sustainable Design from UT Austin. She researched water conservation initiatives through the SWIFT Program in Texas, as well as the beautification policies of Lady Bird Johnson and the Johnson Administration and how nature in the city affects health, social issues, the economy, and the environment. She volunteers with Commons Ford Prairie, and lives in Austin with her husband, cat, and has a small butterfly garden.

John Hendrix

Wildlife Biologist

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

John Hendrix has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 11 years as a wildlife biologist in the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. In 2015, John was promoted to the State Coordinator for the Partner’s program in Oklahoma. John’s day to day activities include the management of the Partner’s program in Oklahoma which consists of two wildlife biologists, the Environmental Contaminant Program which consist of three wildlife biologist and one IT staff all located in the Ecological Service Filed Office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before the Service, John worked for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) for 10 years as the Private Lands Coordinator for the ODWC. ... Read More John is a member of the Oklahoma State Technical Committee, is responsible for program implementation for federal and state cost-share programs on private lands across Oklahoma and has developed a good working relationship with state and federal partners to help guide fish and wildlife conservation for over 20 years in Oklahoma. John holds a BS Degree from Oklahoma State University in Fish and Wildlife Ecology.

Todd Hogrefe

Central Regional Director

National Fish & Wildlife Foundation

Todd Hogrefe is the Central Regional Director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In that capacity, he leads the Foundation’s efforts to develop strategies and partnerships that address priority conservation issues throughout the Midwest. From 2008 to 2016, he served as the Foundation’s Great Lakes Program Director and Central Region Assistant Director. Todd also spent more than seven years as a wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Utah Department of Natural Resources. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and an M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Utah State University.


Kalynn Hudman

Graduate Student

Kalynn Hudman is a graduate student at Texas A&M University-Commerce studying the impacts of Red Imported Fire Ants on Monarch Butterfly eggs and larvae survivorship. She has been a part of this study since its start in the spring of 2016 and will continue until its completion in the spring of 2018. Kalynn hopes to eventually understand what role Red Imported Fire Ants play in monarch survivorship and whether their presence is beneficial or harmful to the butterfly.


Ben Hutchins

Invertebrate Biologist

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Ben Hutchins was born in Kentucky, and moved to Texas in 2009. He received a PhD in Aquatic Resources from Texas State University in 2013, studying groundwater invertebrates. Since 2014, he has been the state invertebrate biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Wildlife Diversity program. In his current position, he is responsible for data collection, management, and conservation of invertebrate species of greatest conservation need as outlined in the Texas Conservation Action Plan. He has been involved in the development of pollinator habitat management guidelines for private lands and the Texas monarch and native pollinator conservation plan.


Deborah January-Bevers

A native Houstonian, Deborah has been involved with public policy and civic projects in and around Houston and the State of Texas for over 35 years, currently serving as President & CEO of Houston Wilderness ( She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas in 1985 and her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in 1992. She has previously served as a policy analyst for the Greater Houston Partnership and Center for Houston’s Future, and Executive Director of the Quality of Life Coalition and Scenic Houston. Over the years, she has worked in and around the U.S. Congress and Texas Legislature, and with various regulatory agencies, county commissioners, city mayors and council members. ... Read More She has helped create, develop and implement a variety of policy initiatives to improve the Greater Houston Region’s quality of life, including: the Freeway Forestation Initiative; the Stop Trashing Houston Campaign;the Bayou Greenway Initiative, Get Out Here Houston ( and numerous local, state and federal funding projects to benefit the Gulf-Houston region. Deborah and the other Houston Wilderness staff are currently working with 100+ civic, governmental and business organizations to implement the 8-county Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan ( to promote, protect and preserve the 10 distinct ecoregions in and the Gulf-Houston Region by adding over 300,000 additional acres of land and water restoration and conservation, and the Tri-Regional Monarch Flyway Strategy, adding hundreds of acres of additional pollinator habitat throughout Texas. She also co-authored the Houston Wilderness Ecosystem Services Primer with Rice University faculty and graduate students.


Susan Kaderka

Regional Executive Director

National Wildlife Federation

As the Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s South Central Regional Center in Austin, TX since 1999, Kaderka developed and launched the Texas Living Waters project, which over the past six years has reformed Texas water law to better protect instream flows, improve groundwater management and foster aggressive water conservation. ... Read More She has also been a vocal advocate for the restoration of Louisiana’s deteriorating coastal wetlands, serving since 2003 on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Commission for Coastal Restoration and Conservation. More recently she has been involved in educating river advocates and watershed groups on how global warming is expected to impact river ecosystems in the U.S.

Kaderka has more than 15 years experience in environmental program management, in both the non-profit and state government sectors, as well as five years experience as a policy analyst and director of policy research for the Texas Legislature. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Texas.

Tuula Kantola

Research Associate

Texas A&M

Tuula Kantola recently started to work as a Research Associate in the Department of Entomology, Texas A&M. Her current research focus is on ecological modeling and risk assessment of the monarch butterfly and its host species. She received her B.Sc. in 2008 and M.Sc. in 2010, in Forest mensuration and management from University of Helsinki, Finland. She worked as a visiting research scholar in the Texas A&M in years 2012-2014. She is finalizing her PhD research in remote sensing and modeling of insect induced damage. Her specialties also include forest inventory, remote Sensing, forest health monitoring, and niche modeling.

Joe Knott

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)

Joe Knott’s last assignment in the military was the Sustainability and Energy program manager at the National Guard Bureau where he was responsible for Army National Guard sustainability planning in all U.S States and Territories. His previous assignments included managing the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, the Army’s premier land conservation and partnership program, which under his leadership conserved over 70,000 acres across the U.S. for permanent protection of habitat and green space. After retiring from the military in March 2012, having served over thirty-three years in uniform, Joe worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Basing Directorate supporting the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program. ... Read More Joe is now the Director of Military Partnerships for the Compatible Lands Foundation where he is leading several unique sustainability partnerships with federal and state agencies, NGOs, academia and industry, including: development of a first-of-its-kind Climate Change (carbon sequestration) project for the Department of Defense; establishing Compatible Industrial Use buffers adjacent to military installations that preserve military readiness while providing “green jobs” skills training and employment for veterans; and creating a Veterans’ Farming Education and Training Center within military buffer zones for Service men and women transitioning back into civilian life who are interested in a career in sustainable agriculture.
Joe has a Master of Science in Environmental Management and Energy Resources Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. He is a 2013 White House Champion of Change award recipient, a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and a 2008 Kinship Conservation Fellow. His military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Secretary of the Army’s Pace Award, and four Meritorious Service Medals. Joe is currently pursuing his PhD in Sustainability at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability.


Jeff Kopachena

Professor of Biology

Texas A&M University

Dr. Jeff Kopachena received a BSc in Zoology and an MSc in Behavioral Ecology from the University of Manitoba. Received a Ph.D in Behavioral Ecology with a minor in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Toronto. Currently serves as a Professor of Biology at Texas A&M University – Commerce where he is Director of the Wildlife and Conservation Science Program and serves as Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. His research interests focus on ecological processes in human dominated landscapes.


David Langford

Rancher/ Photographer

Private Landowner

David is a lifelong professional photographer and has been published worldwide. He was in leadership of Texas Wildlife Association from 1985 to present, including the CEO from 1989-2002. He operates part of his family’s seven generation ranch, where he and his wife Myrna live. In 2014, his family was chosen by TPWD as a Lone Star Land Steward. He is the author and photographer of two books for Texas A&M University Press, one if which is endorsed by Mrs. Laura Bush. He currently has a third book in production.


Myrna Langford


Private Landowner

Myrna retired from Trinity University to a life of ranching in Comfort, Texas. She served on the first board of Texas Master Naturalist, Hill Country Chapter, in 2003. She is active in several Chapter projects including Land Management Assistance for landowners, Old Tunnel State Park, Monarch Larvae Monitoring, and the Hill Country Archaeology Association.

She has a book Series at TAMU Press Titled: Myrna and David K. Langford Books on Working Lands.


Brenda Mainwaring

Vice President of Public Affairs

Union Pacific Railroad

Brenda Mainwaring is Vice President of Public Affairs for the fastest growing region in Union Pacific Railroad’s twenty-three state network. She and her team manage political, community and media outreach in six states. In her twenty years with Union Pacific, Mainwaring has managed legislative affairs, historical assets, trademark licensing and special activities including UP’s role as supplier to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. ... Read More Brenda is an Iowa native and served as a board officer on the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and a member of the Pottawattamie County Conservation Board. She is an Ambassador for the Bayou Land Conservancy in Houston.

Dennis Markwardt

Director of Vegetation Management


Dennis Markwardt is the Director of Vegetation Management in the Maintenance Division at TxDOT. He has 30 Years of experience in right of way vegetation management. His duties include: Mowing Program, Pest Management Program, Seeding Operations, Wildflower Program, Erosion Control Program, Pollinator Program, Pit and Quarry Program, and De-icing Operations. He has a B.S. in Range Science from Texas A&M and has been married 27 years to Maria and has two daughters, Gabby and Jessica.


Julie McIntyre

Endangered Species Biologist

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Julie McIntyre is an endangered species biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Albuquerque. Within Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, Julie endeavors to recover over 190 federally listed threatened or endangered species. She also serves as the Pollinator Coordinator and the Monarch Butterfly Lead for the Southwest Region. Julie works to scientific understanding with Citizen Science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and sustainable solutions to wildlife conservation. Moreover, Julie is passionate about sharing information on pollinator ecology, ecosystem services provided by pollinators, landscape practices beneficial to pollinators, and wild pollinator conservation in the Southwest.


Tom Melius

Midwest Regional Director

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius has brought more than 30 years of leadership and vision for fish, wildlife and plant conservation across the United States. As the Service’s national lead for the monarch butterfly conservation initiative, he is helping to ensure a future filled with monarchs.


Ray Moranz

Grazing Lands Pollinator Ecologist

Xerces Society

Dr. Ray Moranz is the Grazing Lands Pollinator Ecologist for the Xerces Society, an international non-profit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Hired in September 2016, Ray also serves as a Partner Biologist for the USDA NRCS, and is based at the NRCS Field Office in Stillwater, OK. His current focus is assisting the NRCS with planning and implementation of monarch butterfly conservation efforts in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.


Bill Neiman


Native American Seed

After 20 years operating Neiman Environments Nursery and Landscape Construction, Bill & Jan Neiman founded Native American Seed in 1988. Concentrating on harvest of 100% native wildflower and prairie grass seeds, Bill offers no alien plant species. The company name stems from Neiman’s high regard for the Native Americans’ relationship with the natural environment. Bill is at home with boots on the ground in the natural resource and ecological restoration community. Helping people restore land, Native American Seed has planted thousands of acres of native prairie. Neiman is a passionate practitioner from the field…preserving, protecting, harvesting and propagating a wide diversity of native species across Texas.

Misty Nixon

Graduate Student

Misty Nixon is currently a graduate student pursuing her MS in biological sciences at Texas A&M University Commerce. She attended A&M-Commerce for her undergraduate education as well, receiving her BS in wildlife and conservation science. She is a part of a team of graduate and faculty researchers studying varying aspects of monarch survivorship and ecology in northeast Texas.


Liza Parker

Project Manager

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board

Liza Parker is a project manager at the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board where she manages Nonpoint Source Pollution Grants, and the TSSWCB project, Enhancing and Restoring Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Texas, funded by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Liza has a B.S. in Agriculture from Cameron University and a M.S. in Environmental Science from Oklahoma State University.

Marla Peek

Director of Regulatory Affairs

Oklahoma Farm Bureau

Marla Peek is Director of Regulatory Affairs for Oklahoma Farm Bureau, where she has worked for 29 years. Marla works with state and federal agencies to achieve the goals of the Farm Bureau, the state’s largest agricultural organization. Farm Bureau’s mission is to improve the lives of rural Oklahomans. ... Read More Marla grew up on a farm in Custer County in western Oklahoma, where her family grew wheat and stocker cattle. She and her sisters raised registered Duroc hogs. Marla has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications from Oklahoma State University, and a master’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma.

Bill Reeves

Regulatory Policy and Scientific Affairs


Bill earned his B.S. in biology from the University of Missouri and his Ph.D. in toxicology from Texas A&M University. He has been with Monsanto for 10 years, first in the Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs group making and defending submissions for drought tolerant corn and insect protected soybean. In 2014 Bill joined Monsanto’s Regulatory Policy and Scientific Affairs team. As part of this role he is responsible for scientific outreach with academics, regulators, and the public about the safety of Monsanto’s chemistry products. Prior to joining Monsanto, Bill worked as a water quality regulator with California EPA and as a human health and environmental risk assessor for a private consulting firm.


Darla Reid

Laboratory Technical Assistant

UTSA Environmental Science Department



Darla Reid graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelors in Environmental Science in May 2016. During her time as an undergraduate she was an active volunteer on several research and educational outreach projects through the UTSA Biodiversity and Ecological Sustainability Laboratory. Following a brief absence from UTSA and her time as a student there, she was hired as a Laboratory Technical Asst. with the Environmental Science Department. She has since been enjoying the opportunity to utilize her knowledge and skills helping to research the monarch butterfly and native milkweed in Texas.


Eduardo Rendón Salinas


World Wildlife Fund Mexico

Eduardo Rendón Salinas is a Biologist and PhD candidate in ecology at National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). He has 24 years working with biology, migration, overwintering and conservation of the Monarch in Mexico. He has participated in the writing of conservation books and scientific papers about Monarch. He was professor of Ecology at UNAM and was Deputy Director of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and currently is the Deputy Director of the Transvolcanic Belt System and Monarch Butterfly Program of World Wildlife Fund Mexico.

Abstract: WWF abstract

Gene Richardson

Director of the Commodity and Regulatory Activities Department

Texas Farm Bureau

Gene Richardson has worked for the Texas Farm Bureau from January 1995 till the present. In March, 2016 he was named as Director of the Commodity and Regulatory Activities Department at the TFB State office and he resides in Waco. For the past eight years, Gene’s focus has been ESA as related to landowners. ... Read More Gene is a native of the Lubbock area. He attended Texas Tech University and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, Business and Economics from West Texas State University at Canyon.

He has also been a farmer and rancher in the South Plains and far western part of Texas.

He and his wife, Cristy, have three married daughters, four granddaughters, and four grandsons.

Naomi Rubal

Environmental Science Graduate


Naomi Rubal was born in San Antonio, Texas on October 13, 1981. She graduated from Jourdanton High School in 2000, and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Multidisciplinary Sciences from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2004. Naomi taught for nine years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. In 2015, she entered the Environmental Science Graduate Program at UTSA, and completed her studies in May 2017.


Ruth Russell


Private Landowner

My passion has always been preserving open spaces to preserve native habitats and wildlife as well as their watersheds and, ultimately, water flow. I have been lucky enough to inherit water properties throughout Texas and have been a cattle rancher since 1970. My deep love of the land has led me to attend as many seminars on best management practices as possible and to get on numerous conservation oriented boards. These include TWA, BRI,DRC, TNC advisory board in San Antonio and the Llano River Watershed Alliance. ... Read More I am also a big supporter of TALT. I have brought up my two sons, William and McLean, to have this same passion for conservation and I was able to pass on my Devils River ranch, Sycamore Canyon, to them by putting a conservation easement on the property using TALT as my land trust. Currently I am part of a new landowner group focusing on headwaters properties and protecting spring flow. Thank you for inviting me to tell my story and encourage other land owners to protect our valuable Texas properties.

Ellen Sharp


Butterflies and Their People

Dr. Ellen Sharp lives and works in Macheros, Mexico, with her husband Joel Moreno and his large extended family. She has a BA from Brown University and a PhD in cultural anthropology from UCLA. In 2012, Sharp and Moreno started JM Butterfly B&B, the first locally-owned hotel and ecotourism service in a Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve community. Their business quickly became one of the most highly rated lodgings in the region. Last year the couple founded Butterflies and Their People, AC, a non-profit dedicated to creating jobs for local people in forest protection. Her blogs about the challenges facing effective monarch conservation in Mexico can be found at She is also at work on a book about this issue.


Tim Siegmund

Regulatory Biologist

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Tim was born and raised in Giddings, TX. A bachelor’s degree and graduate research at Stephen F. Austin State University was followed by employment with TPWD in 2009. In College Station, Tim is responsible for 7 counties performing wildlife surveys, public outreach, technical guidance, prescribed fire assistance, public hunting opportunity, and other wildlife issues. Tim is the TPWD field lead for the Pastures for Upland Birds program that focuses on native grassland restoration. He has facilitated the planting of over 2,000 acres of native grasses and forbs since 2011. Tim resides in College Station with his wife and son.


Forrest Smith

Program Director

Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute

Forrest Smith is the Director of the South Texas Natives (STN) and Texas Native Seeds (TNS) Projects at CKWRI. He is 7th generation Texan from Mullin, TX. His education was a B.S. in Range and Wildlife Management from TAMUK in 2003. Smith has worked with STN since 2001 and led the programs since 2008. His primary work is in support of commercialization of native seed selections, thereby enabling restoration of tens of thousands of acres annually. Major work also includes collaboration with TxDOT and energy producers to improve restoration efforts. ... Read More Forrest’s article in Ecological Restoration entitled “Texas Today: A Sea of the Wrong Grasses” remains a top 5 read most-read article of the journal since publication in 2010. He has authored a wide range of publications and presentations on native plant restoration, including speaking at the 2015 World Conference on Ecological Restoration in the United Kingdom. He is a passionate advocate for native plant restoration in Texas.

Phil Smith

Dr. Smith is an environmental toxicologist with broad ranging interests in contaminant exposure and responses among ecological receptors. His research is focused on pathways of contaminant exposure among mammals, birds, aquatic organisms, and trophic transfer of environmental contaminants. Additionally, physiological and population-level responses to contaminant exposure in agroecosystems are of particular interest to Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith’s research is strategically aligned with his academic emphasis which is ecological risk assessment. Dr. Smith serves as Chair of the Texas Tech University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. He serves as Associate Editor for Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, and is on the editorial board for Environmental Pollution.


Chip Taylor


Monarch Watch

Dr. Orley “Chip” Taylor is an insect ecologist. His research projects have included studies of reproductive isolating mechanisms in sulfur butterflies, reproductive patterns in plants, comparative biology of European and Neotropical African honey bees and migratory behavior of Monarch butterflies. In 1992, Taylor founded Monarch Watch, an outreach program focused on education, research and conservation of monarch butterflies. Each year Monarch Watch enlists volunteers to tag monarchs during the fall migration. This program has produced many new insights about the dynamics of the monarch migration. In 2005 Taylor created the Monarch Waystation program and, in 2010, the Bring Back the Monarchs program in recognition that habitats for monarchs were declining. Last year 206,000 milkweed plugs were distributed through both programs to restore habitats for monarchs.

Benjamin Tuggle

Regional Director

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle is the Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region. He began his distinguished career in 1979. Since then he has served in key leadership positions throughout the nation, including field experience and time in the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters office. Dr. Tuggle began his tenure as Regional Director in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2005 and has successfully directed and overseen some of the nation’s most complex conservation issues. He has spearheaded many innovative partnerships and has created opportunities for the advancement of conservation across the Southwest. ... Read More Dr. Tuggle’s passion for monarch and pollinator conservation is evident. Under his guidance the Southwest Region has become a leader in monarch conservation through habitat restoration, innovative partnerships, and community engagement.

As the Regional Director for the Southwest Region, he provides policy direction for conservations activities in the region under key environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act, National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, Clean Water Act, NEPA, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Partnerships For Wildlife Act, Federal Power Act, Federal Aid, Emergency Wetlands Resources Act, Coastal Barrier Resources Act, Sikes Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and other related conservation laws under which the Service has specific trust responsibilities.

Beth Ullenberg

Refuge/Regional Outreach Coordinator

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Beth Ullenberg has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for over 20 years in the visitor services and communications arena. She spent a majority of her career in the field on several national wildlife refuges across the country. She currently serves as a Regional Outreach Coordinator in the External Affairs Program at the Service’s Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison and enjoys spending her free time riding and showing her horse.

Carolyn Vogel

Texas Conservation Connection LLC

Carolyn Vogel is a nationally recognized conservationist with thirty-nine years of combined leadership and management, operations, and organizational development experience, in the public, non-profit and private (for-profit sectors) in Texas. Ms. Vogel had a 31-year career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and spearheaded the development of the Texas Land Trust Program and the Texas Land Trust Council (TLTC) within the agency. After her retirement from TPWD, Carolyn and her board established TLTC as a 501(c)(3) organization and she served as the founding Executive Director. ... Read More In 2008, Ms. Vogel created Texas Conservation Connection (TCC), LLC, which works in the business areas of conservation real estate, conservation finance, conservation education and organizational development. In 2016, Ms. Vogel secured her real estate license to work as an independent farm and ranch real estate specialist in the Hill Country Division of her long time colleague, broker/owner, Cynthia Inman, Ranch Connection, LLC.

Ms. Vogel hails from and is a landowner near Stonewall, in Gillespie County, Texas, where her family continues a farming-ranching operation established in the 1840s. Ms. Vogel finds her roots in the land and water and the preservation and restoration of our history, heritage and culture. Ms. Vogel currently resides in Austin and offices in Bee Cave, Texas. Her daughter, Kassi Scheffer, works for the Texas Wildlife Association. Ms. Vogel and Ms. Scheffer own Harvested, a retail antiques and vintage business in New Braunfels, Texas.

Pat Ward


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Pat holds BS and MS degrees in Wildlife/Natural Resources Science and a PhD in Zoology, and has worked as a wildlife ecologist and research since 1981. Past employers include the Humboldt State University (HSU) Foundation, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, and Agricultural Research Service. Pat has served as affiliate faculty to Wildlife and Conservation Biology Departments at three western universities. ... Read More Currently, he provides guidance on planning and conducting inventory and monitoring activities for the National Wildlife Refuge System, and is actively engaged with the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership in developing a national monarch monitoring program.


Cyndee Watson

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Coordinator

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Cyndee Watson is a native Texan. She started with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003. She has worked on the recovery of the Mexican long-nosed bat, 16 endangered karst invertebrates, coordinated the Section 6 grant program for Texas, and she was named the 2014 Recovery Champion for Region 2. In 2016, she was promoted to be the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Coordinator for Texas. In that role, she coordinates the Partners Program among the three Texas offices and is the Texas Liaison to the Natural Resource Conservation Service on Farm Bill Programs. ... Read More Cyndee graduated from the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Geography with an emphasis in Resource Management with a Zoology minor. She later received her Masters degree in Biology from Texas State University where she conducted her thesis on estimating the probability of detecting golden-cheeked warblers. She enjoys spending time in the outdoors hiking, rock-climbing, and camping with her husband Rick and 4-year old daughter.

Dan Wiegrefe

Facilities Manager

BAE Systems

Dan Wiegrefe is the Western Region Facilities director for BAE Systems, responsible for all facilities west of Indiana. He possesses a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, a master’s degree in business from Texas State University, holds a Professional Engineer license, is a Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves in his 25th year of service, and is currently the commanding
officer of a SEABEE battalion. He has been with BAE Systems for five years.

Dean Williams

President of Douglass King Seed Co.

Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute

Dean Williams is President of Douglass King Seed Co having served in this position since 1997. Throughout his career, Dean has served the company in various areas from product development, production, quality control, sales and marketing of various crops, including grasses. Dean has served on the South Texas Native Technical Committee since 2001 and has been a licensed certified native seed producer since 2009. ... Read More Douglass King Seed Company established in 1912 is a privately owned and operated seed business located in San Antonio, Texas.

David Wolfe


Environmental Defense Fund

David Wolfe (M.S. Ecology, University of Georgia) is Director, Conservation Strategy with Environmental Defense Fund. Mr. Wolfe began his conservation career as a field ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in 1992. In 2000 he began working as a scientist with EDF to implement incentive-based programs for conservation of endangered species on private lands. This work involved the development and implementation of safe harbor and Farm Bill conservation programs to benefit endangered species, including the black-capped vireo and ocelot. Mr. Wolfe is currently taking a leadership role in development of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange.

Lori Ziehr

Landscape Conservation Planning Leader


Lori Ziehr is the Landscape Conservation Planning leader with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). During her career, she has worked in 5 different states in diverse positions. She’s been a rangeland conservationist, an agronomist, to working on farm bill programs, technology, and modelling. Lori currently manages watershed planning, landscape conservation efforts, and emergency watershed projects. She is enjoying looking at conservation from a landscape scale to tackle real conservation issues.

Robert Ziehr

Plant Materials Specialist


Rob Ziehr is a Plant Materials Specialist with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has over 20 years of service with NRCS. During his career with NRCS Rob has had the privilege to work in 5 states and serving as a Rangeland Management Specialist, District Conservationist, Regional Grazinglands Conservation Coordinator and Plant Materials Specialist. Currently, Rob supervises 3 NRCS Plant Materials Centers in Texas. He and his wife Lori have 5 children and live in Temple, Texas.