BAMW 2018 Class List


Beginner Birdwatching
with John Michael Imhof
An introduction to some of the skills, resources, and tools used in birdwatching, presented through a short lecture, an interactive slide show, a question-and-answer session, and a moderate walk to apply knowledge from class to the observation and identification of a number of bird species.
What to bring: binoculars and birding guides, if you own them (additional binoculars will be available for those who can’t bring their own)
Physical expectations: moderate hiking on established trails

Canyon Biology with Jack Johnston
A visit to Little River Canyon, with an emphasis on the geology, vegetation, and animal life of this interesting riparian habitat.
What to bring: good hiking shoes and a water bottle
Physical expectations: strenuous hiking over rough terrain

Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama with Jimmy and Sierra Styles
This workshop will consist of a talk on the reptiles and amphibians of our state, featuring live animal demonstrations.
What to bring: nothing
Physical expectations: none

Leaves of Flowering Plants with Michelle Blackwood and Henry Hughes
This program will cover the structure and function of flowering-plant leaves and their role in capturing the sun’s energy to sustain life on earth. The class will include discussions with indoor, hands-on demonstrations and field observations. Topics will include: microscopic views of leaf surfaces; internal leaf anatomy; the physiology of photosynthesis and respiration; leaf shapes and the structure and arrangements on twigs; leaves as crops and products; and the unique leaves of several invasive plants. Books on leaves for adults and children will be featured in the workshop library in the lodge.
What to bring: outdoor walking shoes and gear for light rain
Physical expectations: gentle field hiking

Photographing Birds and Wildlife with Paul Franklin
There has been a revolution in wildlife photography. Good wildlife photography has until very recently required extremely expensive and relatively exotic equipment, gear that was generally very heavy and not easy to get, transport, or set up. All this has now changed: a new generation of affordable and easier-to-use cameras and lenses has made quality bird and wildlife photography accessible to almost anyone. Come learn what is available and how to make best use of your equipment to take outstanding bird and wildlife photos. We’ll spend considerable time on the “how-to”—optimizing settings and options on your equipment—as well as on techniques, tips, and tricks to make your photos better.
What to bring: camera and associated gear may be helpful, but are not required.
Physical expectations: none

Single-rope Technique with Cherith Herdt, Luke Weishaar, and Fennigan Spencer
Through this course, you’ll be introduced to the newest and safest ascending and descending systems used in vertical exploration. We will go over the types of systems used and their functions, take questions, and view a slide show of some cavers doing the vertical work. Then we’ll suit you up! Your certified instructors have many years of experience and many miles on the rope. Please note that this is an introductory class only. Each student will be able to rappel with an instructor at least once off the rock wall at camp.
What to bring: fitted clothing without excessive loose material; a bandana to tie up long hair; a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and sturdy shoes (preferably hiking boots)
Physical expectations: students should be in good physical health; vertigo or other height-related issues may present problems
Note: This course is offered twice, once on Friday morning and again on Friday afternoon. 

Building Better Neighborhoods for Pollinators and People (all-day course) with Bashira Chowdhury and Charles Ray
Participants in this day-long workshop will learn about pollination as an ecosystem service and the ways they can build better habitat that enhances pollination delivery to their areas. Land-use changes like urban development and intensive agriculture may disrupt the pollination process, especially if plants rely upon animals to transfer pollen. Smarter habitat amendments for pollination that are cost effective and scientifically informed will be critical for guaranteeing that Alabama can preserve its native flora.
What to bring: nothing
Physical expectations: none


Scientific Watercolor with Allison Ciamarra
This is an introductory course that teaches individuals new watercolor techniques. We’ll focus on organic shapes, forms, and textures that can be found in the natural surroundings around the camp. This course will be used to capture nature in its true form, and will be fun and easy for all age groups. Participants will paint shapes of organic matter including native flora. Among the watercolor techniques taught in the course will be glazing and gradation, basic tools used in almost all watercolor paintings and which can be mastered by anyone. This course will encourage participants to explore ecology through their own, unique visions. 
What to bring:
clothing appropriate to walking outdoors
Physical expectations:
light walking around camp

Alabama’s Amazing Migratory Birds with Anne Miller
From majestic Sandhill Cranes to tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Alabama’s migratory birds are on the move during every season, and new technology has revealed amazing details of bird migration that were mysteries only a few years ago. The class will cover some of these discoveries, focusing on birds that spend at least part of the year in Alabama. It will also show how using eBird—a citizen-science project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society—can help you to find out where to look for birds at different times of the year. This huge database is easily accessible, and now is used by birders to understand the movements of birds as they travel through the seasons. The goal of the class is to inspire beginning and intermediate birders to understand and appreciate the amazing phenomenon of bird migration, and to enjoy Alabama’s birds and birding throughout the year.
What to bring: nothing
Physical expectations: none

Roadside Wildflowers and Arthropod Communities with Ellen W. McLaughlin
Last year, we found between thirty five and forty flower species within fifty feet of the entrance to Alpine Camp. This year, we’ll take an easy field trip to identify the common roadside wildflowers, then learn about floral structure through examining some of the more beautiful blooms using a dissecting microscope. The emphasis will be on the mint, composite, and parsley families. We will also learn how to use a sweep net to collect insects or spiders that live on the flowers, and will use the microscopes to identify these, as well. 
What to bring:
simple digital camera and walking shoes
Physical expectations: easy hiking through nature

Single-rope Technique
See description above.
Note: This course is offered twice, once on Friday morning and again on Friday afternoon. 

Turtles of Alabama with Andy Coleman
This course will discuss Alabama’s rich turtle diversity, the methodologies used to study its species, and the issues that could threaten its future. Participants will travel to a freshwater spring and assist in a project to document the turtles that inhabit it.
What to bring:
comfortable field clothes and sturdy shoes that can get wet
Physical expectations:
moderate walking through varied terrain 

Nature in Prehistoric and Current Pottery with Tammy Beane
This course will explore nature themes found in pottery created by prehistoric artists in Alabama. These effigies reflect what these people saw in their lives and through the lens of their belief systems. During the course, you’ll see reproductions of some of the pieces found here in the state, and enjoy hands-on instruction with clay and other materials to allow you to create your very own work of nature art.
What to bring: nothing
Physical expectations: none

Land Navigation with Charles Yeager
Explore the basics of land navigation, geocaching, and orienteering. We’ll begin with a discussion on the use of topographic maps, plotting, compasses, and Global Positioning Systems. We will then break up into small groups to use these skills to locate a few control points (orienteering) and geocaches at DeSoto State Park.
What to bring: clothing appropriate for off-trail hiking, such as long pants and ankle-supporting footwear (preferably hiking boots)
Physical expectations: moderate hiking on uneven terrain.

Building Better Neighborhoods for Pollinators and People (all-day course)
See description above.


Birding by Ear with Paul Franklin
Learn to identify birds before they’re seen. We’ll discuss song “families” and learn to differentiate the individual songs in those families. Learn easy-to-remember mnemonic devices to enable easy recognition of songs. We’ll tour the area around the camp, and visit several “hot spots” to listen and look for many of the region’s signature species.
What to bring: binoculars and field guides; comfortable shoes and clothing
Physical expectations: easy walking

Microscopic Aquatic Life in Litter River Canyon and DeSoto Falls with Ellen W. McLaughlin
We will take an easy field trip to Little River Canyon and DeSoto Falls to take water-sample collections for microscopic examination. Participants will train in the proper use of the microscope and learn the basics of microphotography. We’ll use a simple key to identify aquatic organisms and learn their places in the aquatic ecosystem. A syllabus will be provided, and each person will have access to a microscope.
What to bring:
simple digital camera and walking shoes
Physical expectations:
easy hiking to DeSoto Falls for sampling

Field Herpetology with Andy Coleman
Together, we’ll sample sites around Alpine Camp and other nearby locations to observe the spring reptile and amphibian fauna. We will sample within a variety of habitats to examine differences in biodiversity and species presence. 
What to bring:
sturdy shoes that can get wet
Physical expectations:
some sampling in local streams with questionable footing

Bird Behavior Up Close with Herb Lewis
We’ll take a look at a broad range of bird behaviors that are difficult to observe during typical birding tours in the field. The success of attracting a wide variety of birds to a backyard wildlife-habitat garden has provided opportunities to observe exceptional behaviors up close. This workshop will illustrate the techniques incorporated by the author into his own backyard habitat that set the stage for observing these intimate bird behaviors. The goal is to create a heightened sensitivity for observing bird behavior at home and in the field. 
What to bring:
Physical expectations:

Organic Cyanotype Printmaking with Allison Ciamarra
Using the sun as the main form of exposure, any organic material can be used for cyanotype printmaking. Participants will be led on a guided walk to collect material for this course. The materials gathered around camp will then be arranged on the cyano paper to be exposed to the sun—depending on the variety and balance of the materials placed on the paper, the sun will burn white shadows into the print. Cyanotypes thus capture delicate aspects of nature’s biological material, like organic veins, shapes, and transparencies. 
What to bring:
clothing appropriate to walking outdoors
Physical expectations:
light walking around camp

Fish Collecting with Bernie Kuhajda
Alabama has more freshwater fishes than any other state in the U.S. We’ll be collecting fishes and other aquatic critters in streams off Lookout Mountain. These will include minnows, darters, sunfishes, aquatic insects, salamanders, and much more. We’ll see fishes with vivid colors and unique adaptations for life in a stream. 
What to bring:
clothing appropriate for getting wet (neither flip-flops nor bare feet will work); a towel and dry clothes for the drive back up the mountain
Physical expectations:
wading in streams with rocks and flowing water

Plant-Insect Interactions at Little River Canyon (all-day course) with Tom Diggs and Evan Lampert
This all-day course will examine several aspects of plant and insect interaction in and around Little River Canyon. The class will participate in lecture and data-gathering activities centered on pollination, herbivory, and, if possible, fruit dispersal in several environments unique to the canyon, including glades, prairies, woodlands, and riparian habitats. This class will be an opportunity for workshop participants to learn about vascular plants, insects, their ecological associations, and coevolutionary relationship, as well as to participate in the gathering of scientific data regarding the flora and fauna of the canyon. Lectures will be conducted in the field, with a minimum of classroom time. Students should expect to spend the entire day out in the field. 
What to bring:
sturdy walking shoes, walking stick, water, snacks, insect repellant 
Physical expectations:
long hikes and long periods of systematic, outdoor data gathering; squatting, kneeling, bending at the waist for extended periods
Note: This course will keep participants away from camp for all of Saturday. As such, adult campers responsible for checking Young Naturalists in and out will not be eligible.

Intro to Caving with Cherith Herdt, Luke Weishaar, and Fennigan Spencer
This course will introduce participants to the recreational activity of caving.  Instruction will go over the equipment needed as well safety considerations.  A tour of Manitou Cave will be included.  Manitou Cave is local cave in Fort Payne, Alabama, and has significance with its role in Native American history.
What to bring: camera, water, and sturdy hiking boots
What to expect: moderate hiking


Meditation with Jack Johnston
Learn meditation techniques for remaining relaxed and mentally alert, for stress reduction, and for mental focus. Together, we’ll examine the nature of consciousness and spiritual awareness, share brief sessions of meditation practice, and provide opportunities for feedback from participants.
What to bring: a cushion for sitting
Physical expectations: the ability to sit quietly

Exploring Native American Alabama with Mairin Odle
This course provides a brief introduction to Alabama’s Native American history. The first portion of the course will be classroom based, with an overview of the thousands of years of rich Native history in the Southeast. We’ll discuss important sites in the region, like the stunning Mississippian city at Moundville, and major historical turning points, like the initial European incursions into the area. We’ll then jump forward to discuss a more recent and crucial event in Alabama history: the era of the Indian Removal Act. The second portion of the course will continue our discussion with a quick trip off-site to Fort Payne, where thousands of Cherokees began their forced removals to the west in the 1830s. We’ll visit a few sites on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, then conclude class and return to camp. I’ll provide a packet for course participants with recommendations for additional readings and information on selected Native sites in the region.
What to bring: nothing
Physical expectations: gentle outdoor walking

Edible Wild Plants with J.T. Dabbs, III
Participants will learn how to identify, gather, and prepare edible wild plants commonly found in the South. In addition, each participant will have the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes from locally foraged plants.
What to bring: clothing appropriate for light hiking around the camp
Physical expectations: moderate hiking for forty-five minutes to an hour

Fly Fishing 101
 with Charles Yeager and Grant Gentry
Explore the exciting world of fly fishing through an introduction to the sport, fly selections, casting techniques, as well as a trip to Little River to practice these skills. The course is designed for beginners with no previous experience beyond an interest in learning. We’ll provide extra tackle, rods, and waders for those who need them.
What to bring: If you have your own fly fishing gear, you should feel free to bring it, although we will have extra equipment (including waders) for those who don’t.
Physical expectations: moderate hiking on uneven terrain; wading over slippery rocks and through flowing water

White Oaks and the Pioneers with Jim Brown and Denis Kiely
Class will begin with a retrospective on some general enthusiasms of the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the new take on regional planning in Ian McHarg’s 1969 Design with Nature and the 1971 publication of the first Foxfire book, which generated the instructors’ original interest in the subject. It will rough in some general pioneer uses of different types of wood, and why, and then spend most of the time on white oak in particular, its properties and its uses (among them anything for which you needed a hardwood strap, such as net needles, spinning wheel rims, clapboards, watertight cooperage, but most especially weavers/splits and ribs for sturdy baskets). Class size is limited to twelve.
What to bring: clothes and footgear suitable for short hike on grounds;  a non-serrated, heavy pocket knife, if you have one and are comfortable using it
Physical expectations: group activities including splitting a small white oak log to demonstrate the process by which splits are rived; individual detail work including a chance to weave a (very) small white oak basket of their own.

Longleaf Pine Needle Basket Making with Brittney Hughes
The art of coiling—a technique for creating baskets and art from pine needles or other vegetative material—is universal among indigenous peoples, and was a major part of pre-Columbian Native American craft.  Today, pine needle baskets and art are made primarily for decorative purposes. All materials (pine needles, thread, and small center for basket) will be furnished.
What to bring: nothing
Physical expectations: dexterity sufficient for classroom-based crafts

Fossils of Little River Canyon (and Beyond) with Larry Beane
An introduction to northeastern Alabama’s ancient life, beginning with a brief lecture and a hands-on exploration of a local fossil collection, and culminating in a visit to a collection site (road cut or chert quarry) located near DeSoto Falls.
What to bring: hammers if you have them; gloves and goggles provided
Physical expectations: walking in quarry areas may be over rough terrain

Plant-Insect Interactions (all-day course)
See description above.


Field Entomology with Granty Gentry and Malia Fincher
Field Entomology will introduce the student to the taxonomy, natural history, and ecology insects found in the southern Appalachians. The course will take a field approach, starting with a brief introductory talk covering the common families of insects and the ecological relationships, both with one another and with the surrounding plant and animal communities. This will be followed by an excursion where multiple methods of collecting and/or live capturing insects for study and photography will be demonstrated in vivo. Live-captured and collected insects will be taken back to the “lab” for further discussion and study. 
What to bring:
close-toed shoes, long-sleeved shirts, long pants (i.e., hiking-in-the-woods clothing); optional items include cameras with macro lenses, a good walking staff, insect net, gloves 
Physical expectations:
an hour or so of moderate walking in the local terrain; insect phobias may pose difficulties

Butterflies of Alabama with Vitaly Charny
Participants in this class will enjoy a butterfly-based field trip through several different local habitats, with plenty of opportunities to observe and identify Alabama butterfly species.
What to bring: binoculars and butterfly field guides, if you have them
Physical expectations: moderate hiking on established trails

The Ins and Outs of iNaturalist with John Friel
This course will provide an overview of the iNaturalist platform, and how it can best be used for existing projects or new projects designed by the participants in the course. It will combine an introductory presentation about iNaturalist as well as a hands-on session where participants will make and share their own nature observations using the iNaturalist app on their own smart devices. In addition to learning about the nuts and bolts of the iNaturalist platform, participants will also receive instruction on best practices that will facilitate identifications of unknown plants and animals, and improve the quality and utility of their iNaturalist observations.
What to bring: a smart device that can run the free iNaturalist app (available for iOS and Android) and/or a digital camera
Physical expectations: field hiking

Alabama Folk Pottery with Joey Brackner
This course will cover the historical pottery traditions of post-contact Alabama. Regional differences in pottery making and how these relate to national pottery traditions will be discussed. This includes the use of glazes and decorative techniques. There will also be a discussion of how pottery forms were used and how this changed over time, as well as an examination of some of the prominent families of Alabama folk pottery. 
What to bring:
Physical expectations:

Birding by Habitat with Paul Franklin
Birds are inextricably tied to their habitat niches. You can maximize the number and variety of birds you see by understanding the bonds between species and habitat. We’ll describe several habitat types, then visit example sites to sample the bird life found there.
What to bring: binoculars and field guides if you have them; comfortable shoes and clothing
Physical expectations: easy walking

Rare Plants of Lookout Mountain with Chris Oberholster
Learn more about the many state and globally-rare plants that occur in the rich variety of habitats in the Appalachians of northeastern Alabama. The class includes a slide presentation to introduce participants to the physiographic regions, geology, and natural habitats of the area, as well as some of the rare plants species. We will also spend some time exploring the forests and sandstone glades in the vicinity of the camp.
What to bring: comfortable hiking shoes, hat, water
Physical expectations: moderate hiking

Writing Biodiversity with Heidi Staples
In The Poetic Species, preeminent biologist E. O.Wilson urges creative writing to “colonize science.” This course will take up Wilson’s charge, applying expressive language and imagination to naturalist know-how. Genre explorations will include the personal essay, the Chinese rivers-and-mountains tradition, and the walk poem; writing devices will include description, narration, figuration, juxtaposition, superimposition, antithesis, chiasmus, and zoomorphism. Texts provided will include: “Weasel,” by Annie Dillard; excerpts from Mountain Home: The Wilderness; Poetry of Ancient China, translated by David Hinton; and Mountains and Rivers Without End, Gary Snyder. A notebook to personalize and a pencil will also be provided.
What to bring: sense of adventure
Physical expectations: easy walking

Meet the faculty 

  • Larry Beane holds a BA in Anthropology and Archaeology, with a minor in Geology, from Catawba College (Salisbury, North Carolina). He is passionate about both the past and the present life of northeastern Alabama. Larry has been collecting rocks and knowledge for over fifty years, and has been interested in archaeology for almost as long. His current hobbies include kayaking, flint-knapping, botany, geology, nature, and sharing knowledge.
  • Tammy Beane is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild, a life member of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, and a Dana Teaching Artist. Tammy has been reproducing prehistoric and early historic Southeastern Indian pottery for museums and archaeologist for twenty-seven years. During that time, she has worked with UNC and The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (North Carolina), The Cherokee Heritage Museum (Tahlequah, Oklahoma), and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (Durant, Oklahoma) to help in the revitalization of traditional Southeastern pottery. Tammy also produces Southern Mud Pottery, a line of nature inspired art pottery using the same prehistoric techniques as her reproductions. 
  • Michelle Blackwood is President of the Board at Friends of Shades Creek, an organization devoted to protecting and preserving the cultural and biological heritage of Shades Creek, where she leads the organization’s monthly educational programs, annual Salamander Festival, and annual series of field and river trips. She was the 2011 recipient of the Cahaba River Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and is the immediate past president of its Board of Directors. Originally from Kansas, she is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her day job is Marketing Specialist and Community Liaison at America’s First Federal Credit Union.
  • Joey Brackner is a folklorist and the director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, a division of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He is the author of Alabama Folk Pottery (UA Press, 2006) and host of the APT series “Journey Proud.”
  • Jim Brown taught European, Asian, and World History at Samford University from 1971 to 2016.  During that time, he took students to more than a dozen countries on five continents, usually in the company of a biologist with whom he could explore interactions between cultures and the environment. Jim began teaching a “Europe-to-America” folklore class in the mid-1970s.
  • Vitaly Charny is a butterfly-monitoring enthusiast who has conducted regular butterfly counts in Alabama for more than twenty years, accumulating more than 50,000 butterfly records and pictures of more than 130 species of Alabama butterflies.  He co-authored the first book of Butterflies of Alabama with Samford University’s W. Mike Howell.  Vitaly is a member of the Southern Lepidopterists Society.  He is one of the initiators and creators of the Alabama Butterfly Atlas that include his observations and photos.  His other interests include damselflies, lichens, cacti, lizards, tropical-fish breeding, philately, genealogy, and photography.  Vitaly has a degree in Nuclear Physics from Belarus State University in Minsk, Belarus, and currently works in the information-technology field.
  • Bashira Chowdhury co-leads the Auburn-based Bee Biodiversity Initiative, a statewide network of ecologists, botanists, and entomologists working together to protect Alabama’s native pollinators.
  • Allison Ciamarra completed her undergraduate degree in Fine Art at UAB, and will receive a Masters of Education in Art there in May 2018. Since 2012, she has taught at several summer camps throughout Alabama, and especially enjoys bringing arts education into the camp setting. Allison is an avid hiker who has tackled trails in the Blue Ridge, the Shenandoah Mountains, and here in Alabama on Mount Cheaha, and loves incorporating nature into her art.
  • Andy Coleman is the Program & Science Director at Birmingham Audubon. His research focuses on the natural history and conservation of aquatic and marine turtles in Alabama, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and Mexico.
  • J.T. Dabbs, III, is the Scout Executive and CEO of the Greater Alabama Council Boy Scouts of America. A former student of Dan Holliman and a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, he is the author of Alabama Edibles and Southeastern Edibles. This is his twenty-first year teaching at Birmingham Audubon Mountain Workshop. Find out more at
  • Tom Diggs was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and grew up in the woods and waters of that state. He earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Auburn University at Montgomery, a masters in biogeography at the University of Alabama, and a doctorate in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has done a wide variety of work all over the country related to science and biological inventories, including with the World Wildlife Fund on studies of North American freshwater ecosystems; with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on toxicity studies of Alabama waters; and with the National Park Service on plant, fish, and mammal inventories. He has also taught courses at UAB, Birmingham-Southern, and Samford, as well as at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. He currently teaches and does research at the University of North Georgia.
  • Malia Fincher is a biologist at Samford University. Her expertise is in tropical forest ecology, but her love of rain forests is matched by her love of tasty food and the science behind it.
  • Paul Franklin has photographed professionally for thirty years, during which time his work has appeared in major magazines and on websites, album covers, and television. He continues to work with private clients to produce professional images for magazines, modeling portfolios, commercial enterprises, and political candidates. Paul taught photography for over twenty-five years at UAB, Samford, and Montevallo, and continues to mentor and assist amateurs and professionals alike. An avid birder and an expert on Alabama’s birdlife, he has written and photographed extensively for the Alabama Birding Trails project.
  • John Friel is the Director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama, and was previously the Curator of Fishes, Amphibians, and Reptiles and a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. He received his BS in Zoology from the University of Central Florida, and his PhD in Zoology from Duke University. John has been a professional ichthyologist for over twenty years, and has conducted field research on freshwater fishes throughout South America and Africa. Since moving to Alabama, he has been developing the biodiversity and citizen science initiatives at the museum, including the Biodiversity of Alabama project on iNaturalist.
  • Grant Gentry is an ecologist who received his degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied ant-plant mutualisms. Over the last several years, he has worked in Costa Rica, Louisiana, and Ecuador, using interactions among plants, caterpillars, and parasitic insects to study how communities of organisms arrange themselves, what kinds of biological or physical conditions alter those arrangements, and how biological diversity changes as a result. Grant has a particular interest in the ecology and natural history of caterpillars, and in the animals and insects that eat them. 
  • Cherith Herdt is a native of Louisville, Kentucky and is now living in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  She is an avid vertical and horizontal caver and member of the Louisville grotto. Cherith is a certified member of the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians. Her passion for caving conservation and geology has taken her to many palaces below ground that the rest of the word will never see.
  • Brittney Hughes has been the Park Naturalist at DeSoto State Park—where she oversees the interpretive program, the Doyle Benefield Interpretive Nature Center, DeSoto’s Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, volunteers, and special projects—since 2005. She is trained in horticulture, and is an amateur photographer and wildflower enthusiast with interests in medicinal and edible plants, ethnobotany, rare and endangered plants, carnivorous plants, and gardening with native plants.
  • Henry Hughes was a founding member of the Friends of Shades Creek in 1998. He is interested in riparian-forest restoration, and co-chairs the Stewardship Committee of the Cahaba River Society. For the last ten years, he has been Director of Education at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, where he initiated Centennial Trees, a unique educational program that grows and plants locally sourced native trees for the restoration of parks and rivers. Originally from Kentucky, Henry studied forestry and botany at Sewanee: University of the South, and plant and soil science at the University of Kentucky and Texas A&M University.
  • John Michael Imhof has had a special interest in ornithology dating back to his earliest memories. As a child, he was fascinated by nature, and birds in particular, as he accompanied his father, Thomas Imhof (author of the classic Alabama Birds), on endless excursions into God’s Creation. For a number of years, John has served as a party leader for several bird counts conducted by Birmingham Audubon, including Christmas counts and spring and fall counts.  He is also an observer for the U.S. Geological Survey Breeding Bird Survey, and has been an instructor at the Birmingham Audubon Mountain Workshop for many years.
  • Jack Johnston is a naturalist who specializes in bird study and watershed biology. He grew up in northeastern Alabama, and has extensive field experience in the area. Jack’s interest in meditation began in 1985, at which time he began studying with Roy Eugene Davis. He has since provided numerous meditation workshops for health care professionals, at yoga retreats, and for other interested groups. 
  • Denis Kiely taught English, mythology, and humanities at Chattanooga State Community College from 2000 to 2017. He has also previously served as a regional folklorist for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and for the Tennessee
    State Parks Folklife Project. Denis’s areas of long term interest include basketry and vernacular architecture in rural communities.
  • Bernie Kuhajda studies freshwater fishes and other aquatic animals, primarily in the southeastern United States, but also in Mexico and Central Asia. He concentrates on threatened and endangered species, performing status surveys, assessing threats, and using morphology and genetics to determine similarities among populations within a species. Bernie works in large rivers, creeks, headwaters, springs, and caves, and is currently an Aquatic Conservation Biologist at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute in Chattanooga. He was previously a researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alabama.
  • Evan Lampert was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of an entomologist at North Carolina State University. He grew up in Wimbledon, North Dakota, and earned his undergraduate degree in zoology and his doctorate in entomology at North Dakota State University. He then pursued postdoctoral research in insect ecology at the University of Colorado before his hire at Gainesville State College, now the University of North Georgia (UNG). Evan has taught a variety of non-major, introductory, and upper-level courses at UNG, including environmental science, ecology, and biodiversity courses. He has traveled over much of the U.S. for research and insect collecting, and has mentored over thirty undergraduate student researchers; he also enjoys teaching children and adults about insect diversity and the ways that insects benefit humans.
  • Herb Lewis is a retired engineer who has developed a second career in designing and teaching effective techniques to attract many species of birds to the backyard. Over the last fourteen years, he has shared his experiences through workshops, presentations, and yard tours to diverse groups. His yard was featured in the July/August 2016 issue of Alabama Gardener magazine, and was included in the June 2007 Tour of Huntsville Gardens sponsored by the Huntsville Botanical Garden.
  • Ellen W. McLaughlin, Professor Emeritus, retired from the Samford University in August 2007 after forty years of teaching embryology, histology, and introductory courses in zoology and botany for majors. She currently coordinates and teaches courses in the Natural History Rewards program at Samford After Sundown. Even in retirement, Ellen continues to conduct studies on dandelions and aquatic habitat analysis, and is an active member of Birmingham Audubon and the Alabama Wildflower Society. She enjoys her summer home on a lake in Maine, as well as traveling to more remote areas of the world. A Long Island native, she holds degrees from the State University of New York at Albany (BS), the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (MA), and Emory University (PhD).
  • Anne Miller founded Alabama’s first wildlife rehabilitation program—which eventually became the Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park—in 1977. (The organization currently cares for more than 2,500 individuals of over a hundred species annually.) Since her retirement in 2008, Anne has continued to train wildlife rehabilitators across the United States to reunite young wild animals with their parents. For her leadership in the field, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association in 2017. An enthusiastic birder, Anne led Birmingham Audubon’s partnership with the Alabama Tourism Department to create birding trails throughout Alabama. She also recently completed a two-year term as President of the Alabama Ornithological Society (AOS), and remains an active member of the AOS board of directors.
  • Chris Oberholster has more than 25 years of experience working to conserve the rich biodiversity of Alabama, including several years as Botanist & Community Ecologist for the Alabama Natural Heritage Program.  He is currently the Partnership & Policy Director for Birmingham Audubon. 
  • Mairin Odle is an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama, where she teaches courses in Native American Studies and early American culture.
  • Charles Ray, Curator of Entomology at Auburn University, is a co-leader of the Bee Biodiversity Initiative, a statewide network of ecologists, botanists, and entomologists working together to protect Alabama’s native pollinators. 
  • Fenn Spencer is a native of Birmingham, Alabama now living in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He is a life-long adventurer, explorer, and lover of all things outdoors.  He was born into a caving family and have been venturing underground since he was six years old.  As a member of the National Speleological Society, Fenn proudly engages with the general public in all areas concerning caving as a sport and or lifestyle. Promoting safety first, leave no trace, education and having fun in Mother Nature’s playground is his passion.
  • Heidi Lynn Staples’ debut collection Guess Can Gallop was selected by Brenda Hillman as a winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the author of three other collections including A*A**A*A* (forthcoming from Ahsahta, 2018). With the poet Amy King, she co-founded Poets for Living Waters [], an international poetry initiative currently collaborating with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s inaugural ARTSealab; and Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change (BlazeVOX, 2017). She teaches at the MFA Program at the University of Alabama.
  • Jimmy and Sierra Stiles are currently working on graduate degrees at Auburn University. Together, they’ve conducted studies on reptiles and amphibians across Alabama, with current projects surveying Black Warrior River Waterdogs, conducting herpetofaunal surveys of watersheds of Alabama’s high-conservation-concern watersheds, and exploring the reintroduction of Eastern Indigo Snakes into Conecuh National Forest (which they also call home).
  • Luke Weishaar is a Tennessee native living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and working at Nissan North America while pursuing a B.S. in Geology from Middle Tennessee State University.  He has been a vertical caver since early 2017.  His first introduction to vertical training was during a class, taught by the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit.  Since then, he has been getting in to a harness with every opportunity, both above and below ground.
  • Charles Yeager, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Environmental Studies from Birmingham-Southern College in 2010. Since 2012, he has managed the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve (TCNP) in Pinson and, in addition to the day-to-day maintenance of the Preserve, directs the Preserve’s Environmental Education Programs, which reach over 6,000 participants every year. While at TCNP, Charles has worked to champion environmental awareness through restoration projects, municipal partnerships, and community outreach development. He has also worked to improve the visitor experience at TCNP through the expansion of the Preserve’s hiking trails and public programing.