Speaker and Guide Information

Keynote Address 2021

Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 6:00pm MT

Rob Clay, our 2021 Keynote Speaker, will be joining us virtually from Paraguay. His presentation will illustrate the network of linkages that connect Great Salt Lake to the rest of the hemisphere through shared migratory birds, underline the interdependence that exists between these networks of sites, and report on the conservation successes throughout the hemisphere that have occurred thanks to the pioneering efforts at Great Salt Lake. We are also excited to hear from Marcela Castellino and Don Paul during this presentation.

2021 Keynote Speaker: Rob P. Clay, Ph.D

Rob Clay is the Director of the Executive Office of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) Executive Office, housed by Manomet, Inc. WHSRN is a science-based, partnership-driven, conservation initiative for protecting the ecological integrity of critical habitats for shorebirds throughout the Americas.

The Executive Office is focused on building the capacity of local site partners for site conservation and habitat management, good governance, community engagement, research and monitoring. Prior to joining Manomet, Rob worked for BirdLife International as Senior Conservation Manager in the Americas Secretariat, where he led the development of conservation and monitoring programs for grassland birds, migratory birds, and globally threatened birds.

He received his B.A. in Zoology and his M.A and Ph.D. in Behavioral Ecology from the University of Cambridge. A native of the UK, his interest in Neotropical birds and conservation began during an undergraduate expedition to Paraguay in 1992, which led to Ph.D studies of manakins in Costa Rica and Panama.

Since 1997 Rob has called Paraguay home. He is a member of the steering committees of the Atlantic, Pacific and Midcontinent Flyway Shorebird Initiatives, the Americas Steering Committee of the Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative, and a Conference of the Parties Appointed Scientific Councilor for Birds to the Convention on Migratory Species.


Marcela Castellino

We will be following the Wilson’s Phalarope journey through saline lakes of America. Through this talk we will be visiting some of the most important sites for the species, we will find commonalities between them and we will talk about some ongoing projects related to the conservation of the species and its habitats in South America.

Marcela is native to Córdoba, Argentina, where she lives in Miramar de Ansenuza, a small town on the shore of Mar Chiquita Lake. She has a degree in Biology from the National University of Córdoba (UNC). Marcela joined the WHSRN Executive Office team in 2019 as a Conservation Specialist, focused on the conservation of saline lakes. Among her activities, Marcela is working on strengthening the connections between communities and conservation efforts at inland salt lakes, with a primary focus on existing WHSRN sites. In recent years she has been involved in many education and outreach activities in central Argentina, with the goal of involving her community in conservation activities and raising awareness of the importance of WHSRN sites for shorebirds preservation.

Don't miss Marcela Speak on Saturday, May 15th during the virtual keynote address event.

Marcela Castellino

Don Paul

Don Paul is scheduled to speak during the virtual Keynote Address event, where he will explain how the GSL became a "hempisheric" site within the WHSRN family. 

Don is a career wildlife biologist having served 34 years in several positions for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. For four years he was the Great Basin Bird Conservation Region Coordinator for the Intermountain West Joint Venture. As part of his Joint Venture responsibility he served on the Intermountain Shorebird and Waterbird Science Team. He also served as a member of the Waterbird Conservation Council of the Americas. He is a founding member of the Linking Communities, Wetlands and Migratory Birds initiative that embraces the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) idea of building conservation relationships between WHSRN sites that share the same species of shorebirds. His career emphasis took two directions: conservation biology with emphases in international community conservation linkages and avian conservation with experience in large-scale landscape bird monitoring. One of these monitoring experiences provided the data that put the Great Salt Lake on the WHSRN map as a site of hemispheric importance.

9478 Don Paul 2 (1)

Cost and available options to watch:

The Keynote Address is included in the $25 Festival registration fee. Attendees can chose to watch virtual or join us for an in-person viewing event. The live Q&A section of the address will be available to both virtual and in-person attendees. Keynote address will be recorded and shared after the Festival if you cannot attend live. Please note that the in-person option for the keynote address will have limited seating to adhere to safe social distancing rules in place by our local health department. 

Location for in-person Viewing Watch Event

Megaplex Theatre at Legacy Crossing 

1075 West Legacy Crossing Boulevard

Centerville, UT 84014

The Megaplex Theatres at Legacy Crossing will be providing socially distanced seating for those wishing to attend in-person. Face masks will be mandatory and temperature checks will be conducted before entering the theatre. 


Richard Crossley & Holly Merker


Past, Present, and Ornitherapy 

Richard Crossley & Holly Merker

Tales of lessons learned while growing up in the wild British birding scene, from travels around the world, to living in Japan and America. This fast-paced story will help you understand Richard’s thoughts on reality birding and Ornitherapy. We must learn to understand our connections with birds and other wildlife to get the full rewards for mind, body, and soul. His newly published books, The Crossley ID Guide: Western Birds and Ornitherapy will show you a new and more rewarding world of birds and nature.

Learning the bird and its personality, not its name, are key to making birding more enjoyable-- it’s imperative that we change the way we look at birds, books, conservation, and ourselves.

As the world changes, so must we. Come learn who Richard really is, through his different world of birding. You might be relieved, surprised, and excited by what lies ahead for you. It could change your life, and maybe even save it.

The Crossley ID Guide - Western Birds Cover


Richard Crossley is an internationally acclaimed birder, photographer and award-winning author of ‘The Crossley ID Guide’ series. Born in Yorkshire, he also lived in Japan, and birded worldwide before settling down in his beloved Cape May, NJ. 

After one of his frequent mid-life crises at the turn of the millennium, Richard decided it was time to spend less time obsessively birding and to focus on paying it forward. Sometimes called crazy (his badge of honor), wildly passionate, and driven, Richard’s focus is youth birding, and connecting people to a fuller appreciation and understanding of nature; its benefits to mind, body, and soul. 

Richard’s latest book, The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl, continues to push boundaries. Self-published, the new guide encourages all outdoor conservation groups to view each other as one. 

Richard’s next books The Crossley ID Guide: Western Birds and Ornitherapy (co-authored with Holly Merker and Sophie Crossley) will be published in March, 2021. Both books continue to connect us all to nature with a stronger appreciation and understanding of our common ground and its many health benefits.

Richard also co-founded the global birding initiative Pledge to Fledge, Race4Birds and The Cape May Young Birders Club. He served on the board of directors at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. He has contributed to most major birding publications, is frequently heard on radio, and is a sought-after public speaker. 

Holly Merker has co-authored the forthcoming book Ornitherapy: For Your Body, Mind, and Soul along with Richard Crossley and Sophie Crossley, available early spring 2021. Holly has a background in art therapy, but today employs birds and nature toward the same goals of wellness in her work as an environmental educator and birding guide. Holly has worked as a professional birding instructor for National Audubon, the American Birding Association, and many other organizations. Passionate about connecting young people to birds, she co-founded the Frontiers in Ornithology Association, and has facilitated many young birder groups and teen birding camps. Dedicated to bird conservation, she has been state coordinator/reviewer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Pennsylvania since 2005. In her free time, Holly spends every possible moment practicing Ornitherapy, which she credits with helping her defeat breast cancer, restoring her health mentally and physically. 

Join Richard and Holly during the festival! 

Thursday, May 13

Field Trip #1- Past, Present, and Ornitherapy (A Speaking and Book Signing event)

Friday, May 14

Field Trip # 7- Learning to Look: High Elevation

Saturday, May 15

Field Trip 16- Learning to Look: Wetlands



Guides and Leader Bio's

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jim Van Leeuwen assists John Luft with the Great Salt Lake boat tours.
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.
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 since 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.
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.
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. 
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.
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)
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.
DaLyn Erickson is the Executive Director for Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. 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
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.
Chris Haramoto is the Park Manager at East Canyon State Park.
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 National Audubon representative to Utah. She is working with Ella Sorensen at the Gillmore Sanctuary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Utah County Birders- members including Dennis Shirley and Suzi Holt lead the Utah County Hotspots birding trip.
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, Georgia 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 and Birding Centers

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.  
Tracy Aviary: Inspires curiosity and caring for birds and nature, in and out of the classroom. Newly remodeled and open to the public for events, guided visits and self-guided visits to see birds. Tracy Aviary

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