With an MA in Educational Linguistics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Ximena has nearly two decades of teaching under her belt. Melding this with her research in marine debris, she created an informative series of presentations which she took on the road for one year, educating thousands of people of all ages, on the east and west coasts, about the devastating effects that plastic pollution is having on the oceans and marine life. As former Chair of the Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter, Ximena began a marine debris outreach campaign that has since morphed into the Surfrider Foundation’s international RAP (Rise Above Plastics) campaign. Ximena currently teaches Marine Debris and ESL at California State University Monterey Bay.
Stephen Torbit earned his Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Colorado State University specializing in ungulate nutritional ecology. Since earning his doctorate, Steve has worked in every aspect of wildlife conservation. He not only has been an academician, by continuing on the faculty of Colorado State as an instructor and researcher, but he has also worked as a biologist for two state wildlife agencies (Colorado and Wyoming). While with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, he was presented with the “Wildlife Professional of the Year” award by the Colorado Wildlife Federation. He has managed wildlife habitats, wildlife populations and served as a wildlife advocate to development proponents, federal and state agencies.
In 1993, Steve brought his research, agency and management experience to bear on wildlife conservation issues in the west for the National Wildlife Federation. He assisted NWF in their policy development concerning the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act. Steve has also served as an expert witness in many legal forums including federal district court. In addition, Steve has served as technical advisor for over 10 NWF wildlife films broadcast on PBS and the Turner Broadcast System and large format (IMAX) films. Steve has served as technical advisor, writer and on-camera commentator.
Steve’s duties with NWF also included oversight of NWF operations in an 8-state region that included assisting the indigenous tribal people of the western U.S. in the restoration of wildlife and guidance on energy development for their reservations. He remained intimately involved in conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat on public and tribal lands. Steve led both the public and tribal lands programs including working on behalf of wildlife in the face of massive energy development on public lands.
For his work on behalf of bison restoration, Steve was presented the first annual “Friends of the Buffalo” award from the InterTribal Bison Cooperative. Steve also works with tribal governments to restore other components of their prairie ecosystems, serving both as a technical consultant to the tribes and as an advocate to the federal government for the tribes. He has assisted with the reintroduction Black-footed ferrets on the Ft. Belknap and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations and with the management of wolves by the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho and Mexican wolves on the White Mountain Apache reservation. Steve served as the Regional Executive Director of NWF’s Rocky Mountain Natural Center in Boulder, Colorado. Steve retired from the National Wildlife Federation in 2011 after nearly 19 years on the NWF staff. Steve returned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now serves as the Assistant Regional Director for Science Applications in Region 6 at the Denver Regional Office. He continues to be involved in nearly every aspect of modern wildlife conservation in his new role.
Michael Pelton is Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Science, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, The University of Tennessee. For 32 years he conducted research on black bears and various other mammals (raccoon, deer, cottontail rabbits, European wild hogs, red wolves, river otter) in the southern Appalachians.
He and his graduate students have delved into numerous aspects of the ecology and life history of black bears and assisted private and public organizations and agencies on management issues regarding this species. Michael is currently technical advisor to a variety of bear projects and wildlife organizations and agencies regarding bear issues. The black bear research project he initiated in 1968 is Great Smoky Mountains National Park just completed its 40th consecutive field season and is the longest continuous research project of any bear species in the world.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Valley Conservation Council and is an Associate Director of Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District. Michael has 4 grown sons and 3 grandchildren. His wife Tamra is on the faculty of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. They reside on their mountain farm in Augusta County, VA.
Carl Lackey is a wildlife biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1990 obtaining a degree in renewable natural resources with an emphasis on wildlife management. He has been with the Nevada Department of Wildlife since 1993. From 1996 to present he has been the predator and furbearer biologist for the western Nevada region, and has conducted research on black bears and mountain lions in their geographic range in this part of the state. He is a member of several sportsmen’s conservation organizations involved with augmenting numerous species of wildlife in the state and conducting habitat improvement projects. Carl is married with two sons and they enjoy hunting, fishing, camping and hiking together.