Presenter Biographies

Below are bios for the speakers for the upcoming Conservancy programs.  To register for an event, visit the Upcoming Events page


Presenter Biographies

Dead of Night Paranormal Investigation-

B OCT 15 Belmont Ghost Hike Saturday 10am  FREE


  With a collective experience of over twenty years in the paranormal Dead of Night    Paranormal Investigation's mission is to provide the most comprehensive and detailed  investigation. They offer private and public investigations as well as public events and  workshops including the interactive after hours tour of the Patapsco Female Institute.  Follow the link below to join them in October for exclusive access to the 179-year-old  ruins in Ellicott City.


 Olen Prince, Founder and Lead Investigator

 Turn on JavaScript!


Paula Becker-

M APR 9- Powerful Pollinators and People: Build Bee Boxes Saturday 10am  FREE

Paula Becker is an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program.  Over her 20 years with the Department, her duties have included vegetation and rare species mapping, database management, and natural community restoration. Her current duties include Volunteer Coordination and Outreach for the State's non-game and endangered species program as well as species surveys and habitat restoration.  Prior to joining Maryland DNR, she served as a naturalist for New Jersey State Parks and Forests, provided Integrated Pest Management at a native plants nursery, and trained as a wildlife rehabilitator in Seattle, Washington.  She holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Biology and Resource Management, with concentrations in wildlife biology and plant ecology from the State University of New York - College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.
Turn on JavaScript!

Greg Mort

M MAR 11- The Art of Stewardship Juried Art Show- Opening Friday 7pm  $

Greg Mort , internationally acclaimed artist , is president of the Board of Trustees of The Art of Stewardship Project a private foundation established by the Mort Family to encourage stewardship of the earth and environmental awareness through the arts. The Art of Stewardship Project assists arts communities by organizing and providing forums for interaction and dialogue offering resources and opportunities to artists in their role as Stewards of our Earth. It initiates and hosts exhibitions and discussions for artists, environmental and educational organizations to explore creative ideas, alliances and partnerships which support sustainability of the environment. provides local, state, national and global information and resources to individuals artists and arts and environmental organizations that wish to interface on this issue.



Allie Bays- Park Service Naturalist

M OCT 27- Fantastic Vultures Thursday 7-8pm  $

Allie Bays is a Naturalist with the Park Service at Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area; a part of Patapsco Valley State Park. With a B.S in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation from Kansas State University, Allie has a background working in zoos, field biology and non-profits.

Gina Bonomo-Recycling Coordinator with Howard County Environmental Services

 B FEB 20- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink Saturday 10am  FREE

Gina is the newest addition to Howard County’s Recycling Division. She previously worked for Baltimore County’s Bureau of Solid Waste Management. As the Recycling Coordinator in charge of Outreach and Education for Howard County, I make frequent visits to schools to help promote and encourage recycling both in the school and at home.

Joel Goodman DDS

M AUG 12- Perseid Meteor Shower Friday 10pm-1:30am  FREE

M DEC 13- Geminid Meteor Shower Tuesday 10pm-2am  FREE

Joel Goodman (Stardoc) is a retired family dentist who now devotes his time to promoting astronomy and space education in Howard County.  He heads up a youth club, the Celestial Searchers, and presents school programs on various astro topics.  Besides teaching astronomy at Howard Community College and coordinating planetarium programming at the Robinson Nature Center, he is also the Observatory Chair of the Howard Astronomical League.  He is thrilled to announce that this publicly accessible observatory is breaking ground in early 2014 at Alpha Ridge Park (2 miles west of the Conservancy).  We look forward to the “first light” star party sometime in 2014.  Stay tuned!




Jennifer Holland- National Geographic Author

M NOV 10- Animal Stories: From Heroic Pups to Imperiled Pandas Thursday 5pm  $

Jennifer S. Holland is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom, Unlikely Loves: 43 Heartwarming True Stories from the Animal Kingdom and Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom. She has written for, among others, National GeographicThe Discovery ChannelNPR, and The Washington Post, specializing in science and natural history. She lives with her husband, three dogs, and dozens of snakes and geckos, and divides her time between Silver Spring, Maryland, and a cabin in the woods near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Stephanie Holzman

M MAR 12- Nature-Inspired Writing: Family Hike Saturday 10am FREE

Stephanie is a graduate of the Hahnemann University with a Master's degree in Creative Arts Therapy and a graduate of Lynchburg College with BA degrees in both Studio Art and Psychology. She is a creative arts therapist, educator, Master Gardener, wife and mother of three, who enjoys working with adolescents and children. Sharing her love of the outdoors with children has just come--naturally! As an Outdoor Educator and naturalist, Stephanie leads groups of preschool, elementary-, middle-, high-school, homeschool and special needs students to explore and study in nature's classroom. She is also a talented artist and musician and skillfully weaves these gifts through her storytelling and lessons. With jobs, committees and organizations over the years, Stephanie has had varied opportunities to foster creativity and the love of learning for many, both indoors and out of doors. She has watched the power of play, love and laughter flourish in gardens, shelters, forts and hiking trails like it is possible nowhere else! She firmly believes nature is the best teacher and therapist any of us will ever have!

Kevin Loughlin- President of Wildside Nature Tours.

M FEB 18- All Who Wander Are Not Lost Thursday 7pm  $

Kevin Loughlin, president of Wildside Nature Tours, was raised to appreciate nature while exploring the woodlands of Pennsylvania as a child. At age six, during a family trip through the American West, Kevin became fascinated with photography as well seeing the new and different birds throughout North America. Instilled with a love for travel and seeking new, exciting destinations he felt a desire to share his experiences with others and in 1993 he founded Wildside Nature Tours.

Kevin’s photographs and articles have appeared in publications such as WildBird, Audubon, Nature Photographer and Philadelphia Magazines, as well as many natural history books including the latest Peterson Reference Guide: The Owls of North American and the Caribbean by Scott Weidensaul. Kevin has also authored a Pocket Guide to Digital Nature Photography and currently has two additional book projects on his plate.

Sue Muller-

M FEB 13- Seeking Salamanders: Where Are They? Saturday 10am  FREE

Sue Muller grew up in upstate New York and had a passion for the environment from a very young age. She graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in Wildlife Management. She has worked for the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks in the Natural Resources Division for 29 years. The highlight of her career was serving as the Howard County Coordinator for the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas (2010-2014). She spends her free time travelling around the world volunteering her time to work on conservation projects for endangered species.

Bonnie Ott- Naturalist

M JUL 28- Mt. Pleasant's Diversity Through a Naturalist's Eyes  Thursday 7pm  FREE

Bonnie is a passionate naturalist. She has spent decades observing and documenting the natural world of Maryland. Over the decades Bonnie has led Birding and Dragonfly field trips for a variety of organizations. A major contributor to many bird, reptile and amphibians atlas projects along with the Maryland Biodiversity Project. Her photos have been featured in museum displays, scientific publications and many internet articles.

Jeffrey Pettis- Biologist and Entomologist

M MAR 3- Bats, Birds, Butterflies & Bees: What Me Worry? Thursday 7pm  FREE EVENT

Jeffery Stuart Pettis is an American born biologist and entomologist known for his extensive research on honeybee behavior. With the United States Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Bee Laboratory his work focuses on queen and colony traits as well as managing bees for pollination. He works collaboratively with the beekeeping community to reduce the impacts of stress and disease on bees including Colony Collapse Disorder.  He is currently working on a United Nations sponsored effort to assess pollinator health and serves as the President of the Bee Health Commission of Apimondia, a worldwide organization to promote better beekeeping and science.

Sue Probst-

 B MAY 21- Blue Birding Basics Saturday 10am  FREE

Sue Probst is a 2012 graduate of the Maryland Master Naturalist program. Sue has been a birdwatcher and member of the Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS) for over 25 years. As a member of MOS, she was the graphic designer for the MOS newsletter The Maryland Yellowthroat, for eight years, as well as the designer for the Howard County Bird Club’s newsletter The Goldfinch, for four years. Prior to that, she was the art editor of Sialia, a quarterly publication of the North American Bluebird Society, from 1988 until 1998. Suzanne’s particular “birding passion” is the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), and has been a bluebird trail monitor for over 15 years at Belmont Manor & Historic Park in Elkridge, MD.    

Dr. Michael J Raupp-
 Professor & Extension Specialist, Ornamental Horticulture, IPM, Entomology

M AUG 20- Monarchs and Mojitos Thursday 7pm  FREE EVENT ($ for drinks)

Mike is a professor and extension specialist at the University of Maryland at College Park and Science Channel Expert.  As internationally recognized expert, Mike has more than 200 publications and has made more than 900 presentations on the ecology and management of insects and mites. He is has appeared on all major television networks and has been featured on The Science Channel, National Geographic, Dr. Oz and Jay Leno. His “Bug of the Week” website,, an information source on the natural history of insects, received more than one million visits since its inception. Mike has received a dozen regional or national awards for excellence in extension programming and media communications including the Secretary of Agriculture's Award for Environmental Protection. His most recent book “26 Things that Bug Me” introduces youngsters to the wonders of insects and natural history using pictures and rhymes while “Managing Insect and Mites on Woody Landscape Plants” is a standard for the arboricultural industry.


John Schratwieser- Executive Director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts

M MAR 11- The Art of Stewardship Juried Art Show- Opening Friday 7pm  $

John joined MCA as Executive Director in June 2010. John has nearly 25 years experience in the field of arts and non-profit management. In his six years with MCA, funding has increased from $13.2 million in 2010 to $16.7 in 2016, and MCA is currently leading the charge to secure a record $20.3 for the arts in Maryland in 2017. Prior to joining MCA, John spent five years as the Executive Director at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Historic Prince Theatre in Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He has also worked at Lincoln Center Theatre in New York and Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. John received a B.A. from Fairfield University in 1991 and an M.P.A. from The George Washington University in 2005.

As the lead advocate for public funding for the Arts in Maryland, John is a true believer in the transformative power of the arts. He has seen first hand, the role the arts can play in changing lives and changing communities for the better. John has also performed, as an actor and singer, for most of his life, rounding out his understanding of, and affinity for artists and arts organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Bob and Jo Solem-

M JAN 9- Wildflowers of Howard County Saturday 10am  FREE

Bob and Jo Solem are native Wisconsinites and both graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Bob retired from a career in the federal government; Jo was a teacher and an editor. They have been residents of Howard County for more than 40 years. Most of their spare time has been (and continues to be) spent studying the natural history of the county especially its birds, wildflowers, dragonflies, and fungi.  They have participated in bird and herp atlases as well as wildflower and butterfly surveys, have an extensive database of county dragonflies and, for much of the last decade, have been cataloguing the local fungi. Bob is the webmaster for the Howard County Bird Club; Jo maintains the county bird records.

Dr. Alex Storrs - Astrophysicist

M AUG 12- Perseid Meteor Shower Friday 10pm-1:30am  FREE

M DEC 13- Geminid Meteor Shower Tuesday 10pm-2am  FREE

Alex Storrs is an associate professor in the department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at Towson University. He did his undergraduate work in X-Ray astronomy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, getting a B.S. in Physics in 1982. He then went to grad. school at the University of Hawaii, getting a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1987 with a dissertation on Halley’s comet. He has probably seen more of that comet than anyone else in the human race. After postdocs at Goddard Spaceflight Center and the University of Texas, he worked at Space Telescope Science Institute for nine years, becoming known as “Mr. Moving Targets”. He started at Towson University in the fall of 2000 and got tenure in 2004. He is director of both the Watson-King Planetarium and the Observatory at Towson Univeristy.





Ann Strozyk- Environmental Educator at the Howard County Conservancy

M JUN 11- Geocaching: Get Outside for Nature Quest Saturday 10am  FREE

HCPSS Environmental Educator works with middle and high school students to engage, energize and educate about environmental literacy. She has been teaching in Howard County for 16 years and holds a masters degree in Earth and Environmental Science

Audrey Suhr- Naturalist and Board Member

M JUL 23- Building Woodland Fairy Houses Saturday 10am  FREE

Audrey helps to plan all the public programs at the Conservancy, where she has volunteered since retiring as the Aquarium's Director of Staff Development and Volunteer Services in 2006.  Active on the Conservancy's Board, she also delights in leading elementary students on nature walks in springtime and fall.  She is one of the coordinators of the Legacy Leadership Environmental Institute (formerly HoLLIE) and a Steering Committee member for the Maryland Master Naturalist program.   She built fairy houses as a little girl, introduced that magic to her own daughter and son, and now delights in creating miniature woodland dwellings with her 3 grandsons and 2 granddaughters. 

Ned Tillman- award-winning author and environmental advocate

M APR 28- Celebrating the Places We Love Right Here in Howard County  Thursday 7pm  FREE

Ned Tillman is an award winning author, naturalist, and environmental advocate. He has led dozens of interpretive walks and blogs on the “best kept secrets” of Howard County ( Ned has been involved with the Conservancy since 1993.  He serves on the boards of the Howard County Sustainability Board, Horizon Foundation, MD Academy of Sciences, and the Izaak Walton Conservation League of America.

Leigh Tillman-

M FEB 26- The Power of Storytelling: Sharing Stories for a Stronger Community  Friday 2-9pm  Workshop: $75/person, Evening Event: $10/adult

Leigh Tillman works with groups facilitating decision-making, group processes, and trainings. Her work focuses on:

• Helping groups craft meetings to make realistic, innovative, and informed decisions

• Supporting organizations in the ever-unfolding element of team engagement and collaboration

• Offering trainings in telling impactful stories, conflict transformation, team engagement, and communication

For more information please visit Leigh’s website or contact her directly, (207) 801-1496, Turn on JavaScript!.

Scott Weidensaul- New Peterson Reference Guide Author for Owls of North America

M JAN 21- Owls: Soul of the Night  Thursday 7pm  $10/person; $20/family

Scott Weidensaul is the author of more than two dozen books on natural history, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist "Living on the Wind," about bird migration.  He is a contributing editor for Audubon and writes for a variety of other publications, and lives in the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, where he studies the migration of owls and hummingbirds.

Van Wensil- Naturalist

 B MAR 19- Spring Zing! Spring Equinox Hike Saturday 10am  FREE

Van has spent a lifetime living close to the land. Currently a partner in a small farming enterprise, she is a naturalist with vast knowledge of wildlife. She hunts and prepares local mushrooms, grows her own vegetables and forages delicious edibles from the woods, is a talented potter, and gifted artist. For years she taught art to pre-school and elementary school children in Elkridge. When her son and daughter were young, they created fantastic fairy houses. She brings that joy now to children of friends, neighbors, and visitors to the Conservancy.

Natalie Zacharin-

M JUL 9- Perspectives on Nature Photography for Hobbyists  Saturday 10am

Natalie Brewer Zacharin has over 10 years’ experience in capturing images of the natural world.  Her photography, lectures and writing specialize in the relationship between local wildlife and the native plants that they depend on.  Her goal is to showcase the resplendent, overlooked beauty of native flora and fauna.  She is the sole proprietor of Weeds and Wildlife Photography.