Speaker & Guides Information

2021 Keynote Speaker Information Coming Soon!


Presenters, Workshop Leaders & Field Trip Guides

Taylor Abbott has become an avid birder after begrudgingly being roped in by a family member. He's been traveling the U.S. ever since looking for birds, visiting each of the 50 states. Taylor has a Zoology degree from North Carolina State University, and currently teaches science in Layton, Utah.

Tim Avery has worked for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Utah DWR doing bird surveys.  He currently holds Utah's Big Year record. (timaverybirding.com)

Ian Batterman

John Bellmon
 is a life-long birder. He helped organize the 1st Ogden Christmas Bird Count 30 years ago.  He is founding president of the Wasatch Audubon Ogden Chapter-1981, and founding chairman of the Audubon Council of Utah-1985.  He served on the board of Directors of the National Audubon Society as representative of the Rocky Mountain Region from 1998-2004.

Jeff Bilsky is one of the few individuals that have seen over 300 birds in the state of Utah in the span of one year.   Jeff is entertaining, as well as informative; his trips are bound to leave you stimulated.  Jeff has a vast knowledge of birds, habitats, and migrant traps in and throughout the state of Utah.  Birding with Jeff is an unforgettable learning experience. See Jeff's Birding Profile to learn a bit more about Jeff, his accomplishments and his enthusiasm for birding.

Yae Bryner

Jaimi Butler
 is the coordinator for Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster college.  Since 1999 Jaimi has been working in and around GSL as a field and lab biologist for a variety of organizations.  As coordinator of GSLI she manages undergraduate research, K-12 outreach and does anything she can to spend as much time at the lake as possible.

Dr. Randy Chatelain is a recently retired professor at Weber State University and avid bird watcher. He loves the outdoors and is an accomplished wildlife photographer. He regularly attends the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival and has previously helped lead the raptor field trip.

Kathy Donnell is the Park Naturalist at Rock Cliff State Park.  She is also a volunteer for HawkWatch International and serves on the Utah Society for Environmental Education Executive Committee.

Billy Fenimore is owner of the Wild About Birds Nature Center in Layton, Utah.  He also guides birding tours to Deseret Ranch. Billy was recently hired as the new Eccles Wildlife Education Center Coordinator.

Valerie Frokjer discovered her passion for birds after an Ornithology class at Weber State University, while obtaining her Bachelor's degree in Zoology. She then went on to work for Dr. John Cavitt doing a Colonial Waterbird Survey all over Utah.  She is currently employed at Rocky Mountain Power.

Brian Ferguson is retired from the U.S. Forest Service.  He has worked in diverse ecosystems and promotes quality habitat for many species of wildlife.  He volunteers at Antelope Island State Park and Bear River National Migratory Bird Refuge.  He is also a nature photographer.

Dave Ghizzone is the owner operator of Gonzo Tours.  His kayak and pontoon boat business is located at the Antelope Island State Park marina.  His birding tours spotlight birding along the shores of Antelope Island and Egg Island (but not close enough to disturb the nesting birds.

C. Val Grant is president of Bio-Resources, a company looking for environmentally friendly solutions for industries.  He has served three years as president of Bridgerland Audubon.

Annette Hansen After years of serving as a dedicated volunteer, Annette Hansen joined the HawkWatch International (HWI) staff as an Educator in 2016. Annette presents in high school biology classes across the state, helping to reinforce STEM concepts and a passion for raptors and our shared environment. She also provides local community programs and assists with HWI research projects whenever possible. Prior to joining HWI, Annette studied biology at Portland State University. Although she started birding late in life, Annette loves identifying, discussing, and watching birds. She believes in the need for everyone to be conservationists of our planet and its resources.

Chris Haramoto is the park manager at East Canyon State Park.

Mike Hearell has grown up as an avid waterfowler and has a passion for learning about and finding ducks. This background was easily converted to the world of birding.

Dallin Henderson is an avid bird watcher and outdoorsman.  Teaching and working in Scouting as a Scout master, Cub master, Varsity Coach, and Round Table Trainer for more than 25 years.  He first fell in love with bird watching while attending college in eastern Idaho and enrolling in a Western Bird Study class and has been watching birds ever since.  Contractor by trade, bird house builder by profession. He is joined at the Festival by his wife, Carol.

Heidi Hoven, is the new National Audubon representative to Utah.  She is working with Ella  Sorensen at the Gillmore Sanctuary.

Dr. Frank Howe is the liaison between DWR and Utah universities. He develops, conducts, and consults on wildlife related research of interest to DWR. Lead DWR biologists and managers in developing applied research questions, communicate research questions to university faculty and researchers, and communicate research results to biologists and managers.

Bryce King
started birding in grade school- painting and sketching and learning the names of birds. James Audubon became a teacher for me as I looked at his plates and art work.  As I got older the love for birds was still there.  I was in a trance when a man came to my school with raptors and flew one over our heads in an auditorium.  I learned everything I could.  I was fourteen when I trapped by first bird.  I met other falconers that took me in to help me further my love for raptors.  I have been a falconer for forty-six years.  I would look to identify other birds while flying my own birds.  I love to paint birds and other animals in different mediums.  I have been imployed with the Ogden Nature Center for 9 years as a wild life specialist.  I enjoy teaching people about birds and nature.

Ellen Labotka
 is a park ranger on Antelope Island State Park.  She is a transplant from Illinois and has worked for Utah State Parks for over twenty years.  She received a BA in Forestry focusing on natural resource recreational management.   Her passion for the wilderness arose from visiting many national parks and meeting lots of awe inspiring rangers. 


John Luft graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology.  He has worked for DWR since 1994 at Ogden Bay WMA and Farmington Bay WMA as assistant superintendent.  He is now the Project Coordinator for the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Project.


Keeli Marvel discovered the wonderful world of birds while taking ornithology and world bird families courses at Brigham Young University.  She has a Master's degree in Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation and has been the Natural Resource Specialist at Dugway Proving Ground for the last two years. She love spending time outdoors and currently serves as the president of the Utah County Birders.

Tom Matthewson is a wildlife photographer from Davis County Utah.

Andrea Nelson started carrying a bird guide on her runs down the Provo River Trail to Utah Lake after noticing birds she didn’t recognize. The spark was ignited, and she has incorporated bird ecology into her environmental education work at Red Butte Garden, the Natural History Museum of Utah and FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake. She currently heads the volunteer, education and outreach programs for the Utah Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and serves on the education committee of Great Salt Lake Audubon.

Janet Nelson's love of the natural world began with her grandparents, who were both biologists.  Her appreciation and fascination for nature deepened through family camping vacations and many outdoor experiences with the Girl Scouts.  Janet then started volunteering with HawkWatch International in August 2007, and in September 2013 joined the HWI staff as an Educator.  Janet loves caring for the raptor ambassadors and looks forward to continuing to educate school students and the general public about raptors, HWI's mission, and their scientific studies that effect conservation change.

Ann Neville
 works for The Nature Conservancy of Utah.  She is also the North American representative for Birdlife International.

Ogden Nature Center: Located in the heart of Ogden, you'll find a 152-acre nature preserve and education center open to the public year-round. Visitors enjoy 1.5 miles of walking trails, picnic areas, tree houses, bird blinds and an exhibit of live birds of prey.  Two of Utah's greenest buildings are on site to teach about sustainable structures. A unique gift shop is located in the Visitor Center. The Ogden Nature Center offers a wide variety of classes & workshops for all ages including art, photography, birding, wildlife in Utah, outdoor recreation, conservation, sustainability, summer camps and more.  

Bryant Olsen has been a bird lover since he picked up an 'Audubon Society Guide to Birds of North America' when he was 19 and has been actively studying and seeking out the company of birds ever since- almost 20 years now.  Really more of a naturalist than a 'birder', he focuses on the way birds interact with their environment.  Besides birds, he also has an interest in no-feathered wildlife, botany, geology, astronomy, as well as gardening.  He works at the Salt Lake City Public Library.

Charity Owens is the Naturalist and park ranger at Antelope Island State Park. She first became interested in birding as a park ranger at Utah Lake 13 years ago. Antelope Island has given her great opportunities to learn about new birds, especially burrowing owls.  She loves to share insider knowledge about Antelope Island State Park with visitors.

Don Paul
 is president of AvianWest Inc., a bird and habitat conservation business. He currently serves on the Shorebird Science Team for the Intermountain West Joint Venture. He is also President of the Linking Communities, Wetlands and Migratory Birds, Utah Committee. He also consults for a variety of organizations interested in conservation. He is a career wildlife biologist having served 34 years in several positions for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and four years as the Great Basin Bird Conservation Region Coordinator. Don is also a founding member of the GSL Bird Festival planning committee.

Terri Pope has worked as a biologist for the Division of Wildlife Resources since 2012.  She is currently the Sensitive Species Biologist in the Central Region.  Terri earned her Master's degree from Northern Arizona University and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.  Her research focused on how differences in habitat conditions affect avian behavior.

Vivian Schneggenburger began doing river trips many years ago and has been enthralled with the bird life along our Western river corridors.  As a nurse she has a flexible schedule and spends time birding while hiking, river running and skiing.

Bret Selman and his family are the owners of 4-Mile Ranch.  They have been caretakers of this unique land for generations and are avid birdwatchers.

Arnold Smith has been interested in birds, especially their nesting behavior since he was eight years old.  He is a long time active member of Wasatch Audubon.

Dickson Smith graduated from high school in Louisiana and attended USU. He's lived in Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska and Utah. Dickson has always had a love for the outdoors and especially for birds - "I envied them that they could fly and I couldn't. I remember as a boy running across the front yard flapping my arms trying to take off and fly." Dickson's cousin introduced him to birding when he was 6 living in Oklahoma, showing him a pair of nesting Killdeer and how they did the broken wing routine. He was hooked.  He started photographing birds years later while a police officer in Alaska. Dickson also enjoyed falconry - " I loved the relationship of being able to be a part of a hunting partnership with a hawk or a falcon." He still lives in Utah and enjoys the beauty the outdoors has to offer. 

Weston Smith grew up watching birds with his father, Arnold.  As a lifetime resident of Morgan County he has spent countless hours bird watching in different areas of the county.  Weston also enjoys feeding birds and has counted approximately 124 species of birds in his yard over the past 6 years.  Weston is a new member of the Board of Directors for Wasatch Audubon Society.


Ella Sorensen is a well-known Utah birder and author and has worked and spoken avidly to protect bird habitats in the state.  Ella is manager of the National Audubon Society's Gillmor Sanctuary on the south shore of Great Salt Lake.

Kyle Stone graduated from Weber State University in 2006 with a bachelors in zoology. While there he discovered his love for birds while taking an ornithology class and began working for the Avian Ecology Lab. In 2009, after 4 years with AEL, he was hired by UDWR as a biologist on the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program.. 

Les Talbot is a retired Biology teacher, and has been an avid birder for the last 10 years. He is the fieldtrip chairman for the Wasatch Audubon, and sits on their Board of Directors. He currently volunteers at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge teaching Environmental Education classes, and leading bird tours.

Tracy Aviary: 589 East 1300 South Salt Lake City This newly remodeled site is open to the public for events, guided visits and self-guided visits to see birds. Tracy Aviary inspires curiosity and caring for birds and nature, in and out of the classroom.

Utah County Birders- members including Dennis Shirley and Suzi Holt lead the Utah County Hotspots birding trip.

Jim Van Leeuwen assists John Luft with the Great Salt Lake boat tours.

Bob Walters is retired as the DWR's Watchable Wildlife Program Coordinator. He initiated Bald Eagle Day in 1990 and has led/hosted myriad Watchable Wildlife Program Field Trips for years. He instigated and continues to maintain, nurture and sustain the famous Salt Lake City peregrine falcon family in downtown SLC.  With the cooperation of the LDS Church and SLC Peregrine Falcon Watchpost Team volunteers, Bob informs, educates and showcases the falcon family to passersby, spearheads the annual vigil to safeguard the first flights of the young-of-the-year birds and, since 2006, makes possible real-time, worldwide web coverage of the family via the SLC Peregrine Falcon Cam.

Jesse Watson is a Research Biologist who has been with HawkWatch for one year.  He co-manages HawkWatch's migration network and is significantly involved in their American Kestrel Study.  He also assist in a variety of other raptor related research projects focusing on species ranging from Rough-legged Hawks to Golden Eagles.  Jesse is also in the  process of completing his M.Sc. research studying Ferruginous Hawks through the University of Alberta.

Nikki Wayment received a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Utah State University. Her non-profit experience comes from her tenure at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Ga, where she served as Curator of Science and Education.  She has been with HawkWatch International for 5 years and loves sharing her passion for raptors, the environment, and the important work that they do.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah executive director is DaLyn Erickson.  She has over 13 years of experience training and working with species of raptor as well as most non-raptor species native to Utah.  Throughout these years DaLyn has also provided wildlife education programs for groups of all ages.  Address 1490 Park Blvd, Ogden UT 84401

Ben Woodruff is wildlife artist, falconer, and former Director of the Hutchings Museum.

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