San Joaquin Valley Chapter: Board
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Chapter Board Members, 2019
Erin Whitfield is passionate about desert wildlife. At a young age her interest in wildlife and ecology was sparked on camping trips throughout the west. She has been actively involved in wildlife conservation work since leaving home and joining the California Conservation Corps in the 70’s. Erin holds a Bachelor in Biological Sciences from Humboldt State University. While in college, Erin was active in The Wildlife Society’s HSU student chapter called Conservation Unlimited. Since moving to Bakersfield she has been involved in the San Joaquin Valley Chapter. Professionally, Erin is the sole proprietor of the successful consulting firm, Bear Mountain Biological. Currently the majority of her work is within the California desert bioregions. Erin is an avid photographer and enjoys exploring the desert. Her favorite place is on a dirt road in the desert at sunrise with her camera in hand.
Larry worked as a wildlife biologist in the Bakersfield BLM office between 1985 and 2011 where he collaborated on studies that investigated the effects of livestock grazing, fire, and oil and gas activities on several San Joaquin Valley listed species. Other work has included monitoring kangaroo rat species distributions and abundance, evaluating kangaroo rat translocations, developing habitat management prescriptions, and restoring previously disturbed habitats in the San Joaquin Desert region. Larry is currently working part-time for the Endangered Species Recovery Program and McCormick Biological Inc., as well as serving on the Board of the Tulare Basin Wildlife Partners.
Tory Westall was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. She earned her B.S. in Biology in 2008 and her M.S. in Biology in 2015 from California State University, Bakersfield. Her thesis research was on parental care in San Joaquin kit foxes. She worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a few years and has worked for the Endangered Species Recovery Program for the last nine years. Tory has been an active member in the San Joaquin Valley Chapter for 10 years. She consistently assists with the Natural Communities Conference as well as presenting research every year.
Randi McCormick received her B.S. in Biology from California State University, Bakersfield in 1990, and has worked in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills as a consulting biologist for over 25 years. Her work experience outside of the San Joaquin Valley includes seasonal work with the Bureau of Land Management covering the Carrizo Plain, Piute Mountains and southern Sierra Nevada, and at Computer Sciences Corporation on Edwards Air Force Base. As the owner of McCormick Biological, Inc., she mentors staff and directs the efforts of the company, whose focal wildlife species are San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Tipton kangaroo rat, Nelson’s antelope squirrel, and giant kangaroo rat. She has worked with San Joaquin kit fox avoidance in the City of Bakersfield since the inception of the Metropolitan Bakersfield HCP, and has prepared documentation for hundreds of projects subject to CEQA/NEPA and CESA/FESA throughout central California. Ms. McCormick believes in learning for life and giving back to the community, fostering programs at her company that provide donation of services to Wind Wolves Preserve, Tejon Ranch Conservancy, Center for Natural Lands Management, and California Living Museum.
At the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Julie manages regulatory programs for activities proposed in CDFW’s Central Region, which includes the San Joaquin Valley, as well as in the Kern County portion of the Mohave Desert and San Benito, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo Counties. She has been at CDFW for the past 10 years, and prior to that time she worked for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) out of the Fresno Office. At DWR she spent much of her time conducting surveys for rare southern San Joaquin Valley species, such as blunt-nosed leopard lizard, kangaroo rats, San Joaquin kit fox, burrowing owl, and Swainson’s hawk. She has lived in the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno) since elementary school. She attended Fresno City College and CSU Fresno, where she obtained a BS in Ecology (1996) and an MS in Biology (2000). Her thesis was entitled “Instream Movements of the California Newt in an Intermittent Central California Foothill Stream.” Since 2001, she has continued to study PIT-tagged newts at the McKenzie Preserve in her free time. She also spends personal time gardening, cooking, hiking, camping, beach combing, and playing with her two young boys.
Ryan has been involved with The Wildlife Society for many years now, and is excited to help the San Joaquin Valley Chapter use its talent and resources for the benefit of the membership and our local environment. His involvement with local wildlife issues began in High School, continued as a Fresno State Presidents Scholar while receiving his bachelors and masters in Biology/Ecology, and continues today through his profession. During college, he worked in the Fresno State Forest Ecology lab on projects in the Sequoia National Park, the Sierra National Forest, and the foothills of Kern County. He worked with the NRCS mapping invasive vegetation on the Kaweah River, with the San Joaquin River Parkway as a canoe guide, completed over 600 hours of college level instruction for Fresno State and Fresno City College in science courses, and was an EPA Star-GRO Fellow from 2004-2006. After college he began work as a conservation biologist specializing in special status species surveys, mitigation development, entitlement, land acquisition, conservation budgeting and planning, and land management on multiple projects throughout California, as well as Oregon and Georgia. Ryan has been integrally involved with the permanent protection of ~40,000 acres of habitat for threatened and endangered species and habitat types. Ryan has experience with special status plants and animals including desert tortoise, vernal pool species, giant kangaroo rat, San Joaquin kit fox, salt marsh harvest mouse, and delta smelt, among others. Ryan currently works at the Natural Resources Group as a Senior Conservation Scientist.
Erin is a contract biologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and a wildlife biologist for the Endangered Species Recovery Program. She currently works on all sorts of different projects, from mitigation lands to status surveys for listed species. Erin completed her B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA in 2004. After graduation she joined an alumni scholars program to teach English at a University in China for two years. Currently, Erin is near completion on an M.S. degree from California State University, Bakersfield where she is studying kangaroo rat competition and optimal translocation conditions.
Granting Committee Chair
Lori Bono received her B.S. and M.S. in Biology from California State University, Fresno. During her undergrad, she worked on several research projects in the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests while her Masters research focused on identifying the flow of a land-based pathogen to sea otter populations off the coast of Morro Bay and Los Osos. While obtaining her M.S., she worked for Quad Knopf, Inc. and URS Corporation before being employed with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where she currently conducts CEQA and CESA review of renewable energy projects.
CSU, Bakersfield Student Representative
Nicole’s passion for wildlife biology started in Denali National Park, Alaska, when she was 11 years old and blessed with the rare experience of eating wild blueberries in the rain while watching the breeding pair of the East Fork wolf pack climbing a mountain as late biologist, Dr. Gordon Haber, explained to her how the wolves were tracked and monitored at the park. Since then, she received her B.S. in ecology and environmental biology from James Madison University, located in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, and she is currently working on her M.S. in biology at California State University, Bakersfield. She gained experience working in the field with an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife monitoring seabirds and marine mammals in Alaska, and a position with the U.S. Geological Survey in San Diego studying species of special concern in southern California. Currently, she is pursuing her passion for carnivore biology by working on a thesis project, under committee chair Dr. David Germano, focused on resource partitioning between coyotes, red foxes, gray foxes, and endangered San Joaquin kit foxes in Bakersfield, as well as helping to monitor the kit foxes in the San Joaquin Valley for Dr. Brian Cypher and the Endangered Species Recovery Program of California State University, Stanislaus. She is excited to use her passion for wildlife conservation as the Student Representative for the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of The Wildlife Society.
Skip is a conservation biologist whose personal and professional focus is on the development of land conservation projects. He received his B.S. in zoology from U.C. Santa Barbara and his M.S. in biology from Fresno State. The wildlife of the San Joaquin Valley has always been a major interest, and his Masters research focused on the wildlife habitat value of agricultural land in the Tulare Lake Basin. As the San Joaquin Valley Chapter’s Conservation Affairs Committee Representative, Skip keeps the Chapter informed about outreach and advocacy opportunities that are of interest to the Chapter and its membership. If you have a conservation affairs issue that you would like the Chapter to consider, please send Skip an email. Skip works for Natural Resources Group, Inc., as the President of its Mitigation and Conservation Division.
Webmaster, Newsletter Editor and Layout Editor for Western Wildlife
Howard O. Clark, Jr.
Howard is a Certified Wildlife Biologist® with more than 20 years of professional wildlife and research experience. His work as a wildlife consultant focuses on the fauna and ecosystems of Northern, Central, and Southern California, and the Mojave Desert provinces and includes extensive baseline mammalian inventories, surveys focused on rare animals, and habitat assessment. He regularly works with the western burrowing owl, San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the Mohave ground squirrel. He worked for H. T. Harvey & Associates for 10 years and Garcia and Associates for three years; he now works for Colibri Ecological Consulting. He completed his Master’s degree at CSU Fresno in 2001. His thesis studied the interactions between the endangered San Joaquin kit fox and the non-native red fox in Kern County, CA. Prior to his work as a consultant, he spent 7 years with the Endangered Species Recovery Program as a wildlife biologist. He is an instructor for TWS kit fox and small mammal workshops and was awarded the Raymond F. Dasmann Award for Professional of the Year in 2015 by The Wildlife Society, Western Section. He is the Layout Editor for the Western Section’s new journal Western Wildlife.
Renée currently works as an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where she reviews and analyzes projects pursuant the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and issues permits for species protected under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Prior to this, Renée worked as a biological consultant, contributing to projects in the San Joaquin Valley and the surrounding mountains and foothills. Prior to moving to the Fresno area, she worked as part of a team performing habitat restoration and monitoring for several seabird species at Channel Islands National Park. There she spent the better part of two years living 40 miles out to sea on Santa Barbara Island. Throughout her career she has also held positions with the US Forest Service and UC Davis, during each of which she contributed to data collection for long-term avian datasets. Renée completed a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Study in Geographic Information Systems at CSU Fresno in 2015. She earned both her Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees from UC Davis (UCD) in 2008 and 2012; respectively. While attending UCD she had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant, helping to teach undergraduates about field biology methods, systematics, evolution, and biodiversity. UCD was where she first was introduced to The Wildlife Society. She served as Public Outreach Officer for the University’s student chapter from 2009-2010.
Jeff is principal scientist at Colibri Ecological Consulting in Fresno. He previously managed a wetland sanctuary in the Sacramento Valley, ran a research and education center in Big Sur, and curated a natural history museum and helped teach classes at UC Santa Cruz. He received a B.S. in wildlife biology from U.C. Davis in 1992. Jeff has been a member an oil spill response team since 1995. In connection with that role, he conducts bimonthly aerial surveys of marine birds and mammals throughout California continental shelf waters through UC Santa Cruz under contract with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Jeff and other team members have responded to more than one dozen oil spill incidents along the Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coasts of the United States, providing response and natural resource damage assessment support to trustee agencies. Jeff’s perennial passion is birds. He is a Northern California regional editor for North American Birds, eBird editor for Fresno and Madera counties, and bird records compiler and science advisor for the Fresno Audubon Society.