Home : Biographies


Keynote Speaker: Greg Miller

Above:Greg Miller

We are thrilled to have Greg Miller join in our festival this year, and to feature him as our keynote speaker at the Gathering of Wings Banquet!

In 1998, Greg did a Big Year in an effort to see as many species of birds as possible in one calendar year. He and two other birders broke the 700 mark. Their individual stories, as well as the interactive competition, are documented in Mark Obmascik's book, The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession (Free Press, 2004, $25). The book made the USA Today's Best Books of 2004, New York Times Best Seller #35, and it was an Amazon Top 100 Seller for weeks.

In the newly-released movie, The Big Year, which is loosely adapted from the book, Steve Martin (center), Jack Black (right) and Owen Wilson portray friendly rivals who dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams. Black plays Brad Harris, a Miller-like character, in this 20th Century Fox film about extreme bird-watching.

The movie is "quite accurate, right down to the embarrassing details," said Miller, who was the movie's birding consultant for three weeks of filming last May in Vancouver. Miller read the script to check every bird reference and made some suggestions to the filmmakers.

Greg has been birding for almost 50 years and has birded in all 50 states. He was formerly on the board of directors for Southern Maryland Audubon Society and the board of directors for the Ohio Ornithological Society.

Greg is looking forward to coming to Chico and sharing his love of birding. He has offered to lead some of our festival fieldtrips, so watch for those and register early.

Please join us in welcoming Greg to Chico for OUR big year!


Leader Biographies

Jo Anna Arroyo

Jo Anna Arroyo is a Wildlife Biologist working for the US Forest Service since 2005. Her job includes advocating for wildlife populations and addressing ecosystem concerns. She participates on forest planning projects focusing on the protection and habitat conservation for wildlife species such as the California spotted owl. She enjoys watercolor painting, wildlife viewing, and hiking. Events:

Skip Augur

Skip Augur is publicity and webmaster of the White-Tailed Kite, the local Altacal Audubon Society's newsletter. Events:

Jon Aull

Jon Aull received his master's degree studying parks and natural resources in the recreation department at Chico State. He is the environmental education coordinator for the Chico Creek Nature Center, where he develops and implements nature programs for schoolchildren and families. Events:

Chris Barr

Chris Barr works for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service currently as the Deputy Project Leader for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Chris has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Resources Management from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and has worked on a variety of endangered species recovery programs including 16 years with the California condor. Events:

Jay Bogiatto

Jay Bogiatto is Station Manager at CSU, Chico's Eagle Lake Field Station, and Director of the Biology Department's Vertebrate Museum and teaches ornithology, waterfowl biology, and zoology at CSU, Chico. Events:

Carol Burr

Carol Burr, PhD, is Professor Emerita from Chico State, where she taught literature in the English Department for 37 years and served in a number of administrative positions. In retirement, she returned to a childhood love of drawing, taking oil painting classes. Married to Roger Lederer, an ornithologist, she learned about birds and became an active bird watcher on travels around the world. In 2009 she illustrated Dr. Lederer’s The Birds of Bidwell Park, using pen and colored pencils. Events:

Rex Burress

Rex Burress, a long time naturalist, wildlife artist, outdoor photographer, and nature writer, is retired from the Lake Merritt Refuge in Oakland. Events:

Ranger Zack Chambers

Zack Chambers has been a California State Park Ranger for 10 years. His current work location is the Valley Sector of the Northern Buttes District. Events:

Dick Cory

Dick Cory first became interested in the Teichert Ponds in 1965 when he assisted his wife in completing a comparative water chemistry study of Little Chico Creek to the Teichert Ponds. His interest continued as he taught a five week field biology course at the ponds in the late '60s for Chico Unified School District. Several field trips followed during the '70s. A continued interest in saving the ponds for a passive recreational and study area led to the formation of a group called the Little Chico Creek Educators Consortium in 1990. This group was instrumental in convincing the city to take over ownership in 1999. After 36 years of teaching secondary schools science, Dick retired in 1996. He continues to work with the city and a newly formed group, Teichert Ponds Restoration Advocates (TPRA), in generating interest and seeing restoration plans accomplished. Events:

David Dahnke

Dave Dahnke has been a birding enthusiast for over twenty years. He has sighted over 450 species of birds. Events:

Tim Davis

Tim Davis is a retired California State Park Ranger who has worked at a variety of parks throughout the state including Anza Borrego Desert SP, Emerald Bay/D.L. Bliss SP, and Hollister Hills SVRA. Local parks include Lake Oroville SRA, Bidwell Mansion SHP, and Bidwell-Sacramento River SP. As a Ranger he began leading hikes in the Sutter Buttes shortly after the State acquired Peace Valley and now continues as a State Park Volunteer. Events:

Michael Denega

Mike Denega began his teaching career at Humboldt State University teaching Biological Statistics, Human Anatomy, and Martial Arts. His love and enthusiasm for the biological sciences spread to El Dorado County where he has spent time since 1973 serving the science departments at Folsom Lake College (formally American River College) and El Dorado High School. Recently, Mike has spent 10 years as a researcher and wildlife photographer in Alaska. His work with the Migratory Bird Program and ecotourism projects in Alaska began in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge then spread throughout the state. His love for teaching, viewing wildlife, photography, and traveling is shared with his students wholeheartedly and with sincere passion. Events:

Dan Dugan

Dan Dugan is best known as the inventor of the automatic microphone mixer. He has been a technical mentor for the Nature Sounds Society for over twenty years. He has published six “relaxation CD’s” of nature sounds, so far. Events:

Dan Efseaff

Dan Efseaff is the Park and Natural Resource Manager for the City of Chico. He manages Chico's greenways, preserves, and some parks including Bidwell Park. He was formerly the Executive Director for the Yolo County Resource Conservation District, and he has worked for over 15 years as a restoration ecologist completing projects mostly along Sacramento Valley streams. Events:

Steve Emmons

Steve Emmons is a Wildlife Refuge Manager for the Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Willows, CA) since 1996. Events:

Festival Volunteers

Bio to be provided soon. Events:

Mike Fisher

Mike Fisher is the treasurer of the local Altacal Audubon Chapter. He is an avid birder and licensed bird bander. Events:

Dawn Garcia

Dawn Garcia works professionally as a wildlife biologist and is an active conservationist with the Altacal Audubon Society. She has had her federal bird banding license for 18 years and has initiated studies with songbirds and various owl species. Birding, bird-banding, and being in nature are three of her passions. Events:

Mela Garcia

Mela Garcia has been bird-watching for over a decade. She is a credentialed teacher and librarian with an affinity for environmental education. Mela lives on Dye Creek Preserve in Tehama County where she enjoys winter raptors such as Ferruginous Hawks, Bald Eagles, and American Kestrels from her front yard. Events:

Gaylord Grams

Gaylord Grams is an avid local birder and leads many field trips for the Altacal Chapter of the Audubon Society. Events:

Herman Gray

Herman Gray is a retired physician. While traveling the world in his profession, he has enjoyed viewing many bird species. He is also an active Gray Lodge Wildlife Area docent. Events:

Tom Griggs

Tom Griggs has designed and implemented riparian restoration projects along the Sacramento River for the past 19 years. He works for River Partners and is a plant ecologist by training. He knows where to find birds and other wildlife on the river floodplain. Events:

Bob Guzman

Bob Guzman has been active volunteer in the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Wood Duck Program for over ten years. Events:

Bill Haas

Bill is the Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Conservation Alliance, a non-profit conservation group that designs and manages wildlife preserves and conducts field research on threatened and endangered vertebrates. A small animal generalist, Bill’s primary focus is the study of riparian systems and the natural histories and ecologies of California’s declining amphibians, reptiles, and birds that reside therein. His interest in birds and birding was spawned in early childhood and culminated in his now 18-year study of the federally endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher along the upper San Luis Rey River in San Diego County, CA. Events:

Pricilla Hanford

Since 1959, when Priscilla Hanford and her late husband John purchased their first two parcels on Honeysuckle Lane, they dreamed of preserving a "corner" of the foothills. They built their home and raised their three children on the land which overlooked the West Branch canyon of the Feather River, gradually adding parcels as they became available. Over time, the property grew to a total of 120 acres, and the dream of preserving a significant portion of it in perpetuity came to fruition in 1999. Thanks to the guidance of the Northern California Regional Land Trust and its predecessors, the 88-acre "Hanford Family Land Trust" was recorded as a conservation easement. Priscilla's 30 years of appointive public service emphasized environmental affairs. Since the 1970's, she has served on Butte County's Planning Commission and Water Commission; on the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley; and on the State Planning Advisory and Assistance Council (advisory to the Governor's Office of Planning and Research.) Both she and her late husband John shared a deep lifelong connection to the natural environment, and viewed the final recording of the conservation easement as a proud achievement. Events:

Janice Hofmann

Janice Hofmann is the owner of All Fired Up! Ceramic Art Center. Events:

Leroy Hord

Leroy Hord, local birder, is actively involved in the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Wood Duck Program. Events:

Mike Hubbartt

Mike Hubbartt, author, CA State Park Interpreter, and a Middle Mountain Foundation board member has been actively involved in the preservation of the integrity of the Sutter Buttes for over twenty-five years. Events:

Scott Huber

Scott Huber has led field workshops and seminars on the subject of birding-by-ear as well as guiding bird-watchers and conducting bird surveys throughout the western U.S. and Alaska. He is the Education and Research Coordinator for CSU Chico Ecological Reserves, Altacal Audubon Chapter President, and is on the Board of Directors of Audubon California. Events:

Lin Jensen

Lin Jensen is founder and teacher of the Chico Zen Sangha. He also is Senior Buddhist Chaplin to the High Desert State Prison in Susanville. Lin is also a birder, served seven years as sub-regional editor for American Birds magazine, and has contributed articles to Bird Watcher Digest. He is the author of several books on what might be called "natural Zen." Events:

Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson has been a long time board member of the Altacal Audubon Society, and he has coordinated the Oroville and Chico Christmas Bird Counts. Events:

Jesse Jones

Bio to be provided soon. Events:

Raina King

Raina King spends much of her time on computers creating digital art. Birdwatching and camping provide her a great way of getting out of the house to enjoy the outdoors. Raina grew up loving nature and is the third generation of birdwatchers in her family. Events:

Steve King

Steve King became interested in bird watching about 35 years ago. Steve is the second of three generations of bird watchers. His favorite birding spots are Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, Upper Bidwell Park, and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Events:

Shelly Kirn

Shelly Kirn teaches field biology, ecology, and other classes at CSU, Chico. She is a faculty advisor to the honors biology student club (Omicron Theta Epsilon) and the Chico State Birding Club (CSBS). Shelly has been birding for 16 years and enjoys traveling throughout the US (and occasionally beyond) to see birds. Events:

Roger Lederer

Dr. Roger Lederer is Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at California State University, Chico. He has published over thirty scientific research papers, written books entitled Ecology and Field Biology, Bird Finder and Pacific Coast Bird Finder, Amazing Birds (in seven languages),

Birds of New England, and recently, Birds of Bidwell Park. Dr. Lederer has taught ornithology and ecology, consulted for governmental agencies, environmental organizations and schools, and presented hundreds of public presentations to a wide variety of audiences. He has been contacted by BBC, National Geographic, Weather Notebook, National Public Radio, National Canadian Television, Vanity Fair Magazine, the Guinness Book of World Records, The Weakest Link, Real Simple Magazine, the Detroit Free Press, Voice of America, ABC News, and many other organizations and individuals for authoritative information on wild birds through his popular website, Ornithology.com. He also writes a weekly blog on birds for the Chico Enterprise Record. Dr. Lederer has traveled to and birded in 90 countries, having seen 3000 species, and lectures on cruise ships on ornithology and ecology. Events:

Lundberg Family Farms Staff

Bio to be provided soon. Events:

Laura Lush

Laura Lush is a life-long Yuba Sutter resident, artist, middle school teacher, nature enthusiast, and avid birder. She has been active with Middle Mountain Foundation for over 7 years and is also on the Board of Directors. Events:

Ryan Luster

Ryan Luster works for the Nature Conservancy. Events:

Charlie Mathews

Charlie Mathews and his family have been farmers in the area north of Marysville for multiple generations. He and family members are leaders in the rice industry and waterfowl conservation. Events:

John "Mac" McCormick

John “Mac” McCormick is a retired high school biology teacher of 37 years and the co-director of the San Francisco State University (SFSU) Sierra Nevada Field Station Bird Banding Program. Mac has caught and banded thousands of birds that most people only hope to see. Events:

Margery McNairn

Marjorie McNairn had led wildflower field trips for Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society for over 25 years, and has compiled plant lists for several locations around this area. Events:

Greg Miller

Greg Miller has been birding for about 50 years and has birded in all 50 states. He was formerly on the board of directors for Southern Maryland Audubon Society and for the Ohio Ornithological Society. In 1998 Greg did a Big Year in an effort to see as many species of birds as possible in one calendar year. Greg and two other birders broke the 700-species mark in 1998. The individual stories of the three birders were documented in Mark Obmascik's 2004 book, The Big Year. The book made the USA Today's Best Books of 2004, and was a New York Times Best Seller. The Big Year has been made into a feature-length film, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson. Filming was completed in the summer of 2010 and released nationwide on October 14, 2011. Events:

Zach Miller

Zach Miller is a senior studying Environmental Interpretation and Education. His passion for birds, and specifically raptors, has found him all over North America. The only native accipitriformes he hasn't seen in the wild are Hook-billed Kite and Snail Kite (which we shouldn't expect in Chico!) Events:

Jeff Mott

Jeff Mott is the Director of Ecological Reserves at CSU, Chico. Jeff manages the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve which consists of 4000 acres above Bidwell Park on Big Chico Creek. In addition, Jeff manages the Butte Creek Preserve, 100 acres, on Honeyrun Road in Butte creek Canyon. The Ecological Reserves are managed to protect habitat, and to serve as a place to conduct educational activities and research. Events:

Mary Muchowski

Mary Muchowski has worked as a wildlife technician/biologist since 1988 with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and also works for the Butte Environmental Council. She has lived in the Chico area since 1983, and really enjoys the bird-life of the area, especially in the winter! Events:

Marvey Mueller

Marvey began sketching while living and hiking in the Eastern Sierras twenty years ago. She has continued to keep a watercolor sketch journal wherever she goes. Being able to sit with nature and enjoy its beauty through the act of sketching is one of Marvey’s greatest pleasures. She has taught sketching classes for Elderhostel and the Chico Art Center. Events:

Nancy Nelson

Nancy Nelson is the current Altacal Audubon field trip coordinator and has been active in Altacal for 5 years. Events:

Michelle Ocken

Michelle Ocken is a graduate student at CSU, Chico where she is working on her Master’s degree in biology while studying Western Burrowing Owls. She is the founder and President of the Chico State Birding Club and is a member of Altacal Audubon Society. She also volunteers throughout the year banding Northern Saw-whet Owls and passerines. Events:

Pacific Flyway Decoy Association

Bio to be provided soon. Events:

Sharon Perry

Sharon Perry has worked as an environmental educator. She is currently the chair of the Nature Sounds Society. Events:

Mike Peters

Mike Peters is the Refuge Manager for Colusa and Sutter Refuges, part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Events:

Sophia Pospisil

Sophia Pospisil went vegetarian at the age of 14 after learning about the deforestation of tropical rainforests for cattle grazing. With further research, she learned that being vegan was the logical extension of her decision to live as compassionately, sustainably, and healthfully as possible. Sophia now devotes her career to educating the public about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle: for farmed animals, native animals, the environment, farm workers, and personal and public health. In addition to speaking engagements, Sophia coordinates events and tours at Farm Sanctuary’s California shelter, introducing guests to the inspirational rescued farm animals who call the shelter home. Events:

Shane Romain

Shane Romain received his BS from CSUC in Parks and Natural Resource Management in 2005. Since 2006 he has worked for the City of Chico as full-time Park Ranger. He also worked at the Sacramento NWR as a Visitor Service Assistant, and has volunteered for the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program. He worked part time for Calif. Waterfowl Association, where he created the Outdoor Education program at Rancho Esquon. Since the creation of the Outdoor Education program at Rancho Esquon, and now through the generosity of Mr. Ken Hofmann and the Community Youth Center, over 3000 students have been able to visit and experience the wonders of wetlands. Events:

Frank Sanderson

Frank Sanderson is an avid birder, and considers his birding skills to be moderate/good. Since retiring in February 2010, Frank and wife Darliss spend three to five days a week in the field birding and/or kayaking. Lema Ranch ranks as one their favorite local birding locations, where their Lema list has grown to 106 species with the addition of a Brown Creeper during a resent Wintu Audubon outing. Events:

Peter Sands

Peter Sands is one of the landowners of the Dean Ranch in the Sutter Buttes. He is a naturalist for the Middle Mountain Foundation and an enthusiastic ornithologist. He has been the compiler of the Peace Valley Christmas bird count for the past 23 years. Events:

Ron & Nancy Sanford

Ron Sanford has been a professional photographer for over thirty years. Along with his wife Nancy, he has traveled the world taking photos for hundreds of calendars and magazines, including National Geographic, Audubon, National Wildlife and many others. Events:

Mauricio Schrader

Mauricio Schrader boomeranged back to birding in the last decade, and enjoys all aspects as an amateur. He was first introduced to birds by his 6th grade teacher in the Appalachian Mountains. He has a special interest in birding by ear and behavioral bird trivia. His favorite quote is: "Most of us who follow birds are partly scientist, partly sportsman, and partly poet." Leon Dawson, 1923 Events:

Julie Shaw

Julie is a Master's student at Chico State who is studying wintering Northern Saw-whet Owls using radio-telemetry. She works in the Vertebrate Museum on campus as a student assistant, preparing study skins, leading tours, and maintaining the collection. She also volunteers at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station 3 nights a week. Julie is also an avid runner who was a member of the Chico State cross country and track and field teams for 5 years. Events:

Jackson Shedd

Jackson Shedd is a biologist with a strong interest in herpetology. He is also a bird-watcher, wildlife illustrator and wildlife photographer. A past President of Altacal Audubon Society, Jackson is a Chico native. In 2005, he wrote and illustrated a field guide, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Bidwell Park. He has led field trips and birding tours for the Snow Goose Festival, Altacal Audubon, and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge for a number of years. He currently works for The Nature Conservancy. Events:

Joe Silveira

Joe Silveira is a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1990 and is currently stationed at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, where some of his duties include wildlife habitat programs at Llano Seco. Events:

Marty Steidlemayer

Marty Steidlemayer is a Sutter Buttes landowner and rancher. Marty has an intimate knowledge of the Sutter Buttes landscapes. Events:

Art Tawatari

Bio to be provided soon. Events:

Nani Teves

Nani Teves is the Watershed Coordinator for the Big Chico Creek Watershed Alliance, a local non-profit working to protect and restore the Big Chico Creek Watershed. Nani earned her Masters of Science in Watershed Science in 2005, and has been working to improve the health of local creeks ever since. Events:

Richard Thieriot

Dick Thieriot is a decendent of John & Abby Parrott who purchased Llano Seco Rancho in the 1860s. He is co-owner of Llano Seco Ranch, where he has implemented diverse riparian, freshwater wetland, ranching and farming conservation practices. Events:

Dave Tinker

Dave Tinker is a Biology and Natural Resource teacher at Corning Union High School and is very familiar with this area. He has been very active in this river area for the last 15 years. He has been involved in bird censusing, wildlife viewing, and the maintaining of bird nest boxes. Events:

Scott Toricelli

Scott Toricelli is an environmental educator for over twenty-five years. He currently teaches for the Chico Unified School District. Events:

Andy Wahl

Andy Wahl is a master falconer for fourteen years. Andy currently teaches biology at Chico Junior High. Events:

Jamison Watts

Jamison has called Chico and the North Valley home since 1998 when he moved here to pursue (and eventually receive) a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Chico State University. He has over 12 years of experience working as a wildlife biologist in Northern California's Sierra Nevada, Cascade, and Coastal Mountain Ranges, and the Sacramento Valley. While working as an environmental consultant in Chico from 2001 through 2006, he specialized in Endangered Species Act compliance and compensatory mitigation. When he’s not working to conserve and protect the region’s remaining special places, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, and being in the outdoors. Events:

Bruce Webb, Swarovski Optik

When Bruce Webb was a student at Chico State, he worked with Tim Manolis to write the "Annotated List of Birds of Butte County." Currently, he is the U.S. distributor of Wildlife Computing software products and is California’s Field Technician for Swarovski Optik, USA. Events:

Greg Weddig

Greg Weddig has sixteen years of experience in the professional audio industry, the last 8 or 9 have involved nature recording. He is a member of the Nature Sounds Society, a founding member of the Maryland Nature Recordists, and has taught field recording and editing classes. Greg is currently spending time scouting for recording locations near his home in Northern California. Events:

Dale Whitmore

Dale Whitmore is a Wildlife Biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game in Sutter, Yolo, and Sacramento Counties. Events:

John Whittlesey

John Whittlesey owns Canyon Creek Nursery & Design. He has served as the horticulture chairperson for the Mount Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and is a graduate of the California School of Garden Design. Events:

Rick Wulbern

Rick Wulbern started birding in 2004. Since then he has birded in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii, and Northern California. Joining Altacal in 2005, he has enjoyed going on many of their field trips and gaining knowledge from other birders. He looks forward to sharing what he has learned. Events:

Steve Zachery

Steve Zachary is a Park Ranger and the Education Specialist at Lassen Volcanic National Park for more than 17 years. He is an avid hiker and naturalist. Events: