Keynote and Spotlight Speaker Bios

George Armistead (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures)

A birder since the age of 9 years old, George has a long history in connecting people with nature through ecotourism and expedition travel. Currently he is chief network officer at Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, which operates birding tours, photographic tours, and wildlife safaris to over 100 countries. A professional wildlife guide with 20 years of experience, George has led trips to all continents, and has authored two books on birds including Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field (2015, Princeton University Press) and The ABA Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania (2016, Scott & Nix, Inc.). Based in Philadelphia, he received a Masters degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and spends much of his free time outdoors, studying birds and nature around Philly and beyond.

 

 Jason Guerard (Black Swamp Bird Observatory)

Jason is the Outreach Director at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and event coordinator for The Biggest Week In American Birding. He is a native Floridian who grew up exploring the woods and family farm in the Tampa area. He earned a degree from Northland College in Ashland, WI, majoring in Outdoor Education/Natural History. Jason spent a number of summers working at the Audubon Camp in Maine on Hog Island, where he was instrumental in delivering ornithological programs along Maine’s mid-coast to teens, families, and adults. While working with the University of Maryland, he studied Grasshopper Sparrows on a restored grassland on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Jason has spent more hours than he can count scanning the skies atop hawkwatch platforms such as Braddock Bay in Hilton, NY and Cape May, NJ and is a US Army Corps of Engineers certified bird monitor. He returned to Cape May years later to live and bird year-round while working for the Cape May Bird Observatory as the Sale Manager of the Northwood Center nature store. He has led a World Series of Birding team to victory (more than once). Jason has extensive experience guiding and educating other about birds and was a guide for the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival from 2010 to 2016 (and very happy to be returning for the 2020 festival!). He is an eBird reviewer in northwest Ohio and enjoys photographing nature, and loves to share his passion for birds with the community he surrounds himself with. Most of all, he enjoys spending time outside with his family.

 

Catherine Hamilton (Wildside Nature Tours)

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College, but is currently walking a bit off the beaten path, “on the road drawing and studying birds,” as she puts it. Translated, this means she is properly homeless and focusing on dubious pursuits. In her previous life, Catherine exhibited paintings while she was teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design, but that career ended abruptly when she developed severe allergies to the chemicals used in painting studios. Since that time, she has been wandering farther and farther afield in pursuit of all things avian. Today, Catherine works in mediums that do not contain the toxic chemicals that caused her allergies. Pencil, color pencil and watercolor are some of her current choices with which she creates her amazing studies of birds and wildlife. Visit http://mydogoscar.com/birdspot/ to see more of her work.

 

Kevin Loughlin (Wildside Nature Tours)

See the Photographer Bios section.

 

Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours)

Known as “The Real Life Birder from the Movie THE BIG YEAR,” Greg has been birding since… umm… well since before he can remember, as he was so young. He does not remember getting his first pair of binoculars or his first birding trip with his dad. Contrary to the movie “The Big Year” it was Greg’s father that got him into birding at that early age. Birding for over 50 years, Greg has birded in all 50 states and much of Canada. He has always been smitten by the birding bug and loves to get outside. Every trip out is an adventure! In 1998 Greg zigzagged across the continent–traveling 130,000 miles—while trying to hold down a full- time job at a nuclear power plant—to try to see as many species of birds in one calendar year as possible. It was an incredible experience passing the 700-species mark—an achievement many birders aspire to in a lifetime. But there was competition. Two other birders, Sandy Komito and Al Levantin also did “Big Years” the same year as Greg and also broke the 700 mark. Their competitive quests are documented in the 2004 non-fiction book, The Big Year, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Mark Obmascik. And unbelievably, Twentieth Century Fox made a full feature motion picture inspired by the book! The movie has A-list actors Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson plus a strong support cast. Worldwide release date was October 14, 2011. Greg had the fortunate opportunity to be the Bird Consultant for the movie, The Big year, which was filmed in spring & summer of 2010. He was on the set for 3 weeks with many of the actors and crew and got to meet the stars! Greg is currently on many bird-related boards and committees and has been instrumental in decisions on listing and conservation. His blog at GregMillerBirding.com has lots of great information on bird identification, migration and distribution in the USA.

 

Aiden Place (ABA-Leica Subadult Wheatears)

Aidan Place is a sophomore biology student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. His love of birds started at a young age on the Pennsylvania farm where he was born. Since then, his passion for birding has taken him everywhere from the steaming jungles of Panama to the barren steppes of Kazakhstan. In addition to birds, Aidan has a great love of travel as well as history, particularly that of the Balkan Peninsula and former Ottoman Empire.

 

Steve Shunk (Paradise Birding)

Steve has been obsessed with woodpeckers since 1997, when he moved to the eastern slope of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Here, in the region’s ‘Woodpecker Wonderland’, eleven woodpecker species can be found breeding annually in an area less than one-tenth the size of Brevard County. Steve’s woodpecker fanaticism eventually led to the 2016 release of his Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America—which he will gladly sign for you at the festival. Before reaching Oregon, Steve had been birding for nearly 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. He founded his tour company, Paradise Birding, in 1997 and he currently leads natural history tours to 11 countries on four continents, including a spring tour to southern Florida and the Dry Tortugas. When he is not traveling for tours and bird festivals, Steve can be found writing, skiing, hiking, and watching woodpeckers at home in lovely Bend, Oregon.

Contact

321 268 5224

festival@brevardnaturealliance.org

Eastern Florida State College, Titusville, Florida

Adjacent to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
and near the Canaveral National Seashore and Kennedy Space Center

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