Speaker and Guide Information

Keynote Address 2023

Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 6:00pm MT

Keynote Speaker will be announced soon!

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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