Presenter Bios & Programs
Dr. Barbara Abraham earned her Ph.D. in Biology/Ecology from Utah State University investigating spatial and temporal changes in spider communities and received her MS in Animal Behavior at Iowa State University investigating acoustic communication in long horned grasshoppers. While at Hampton University, Dr. Abraham taught Introduction to Biology, Medical Entomology, Toxic and Venomous Animals, Evolution, and other subjects. Dr. Abraham is currently teaching as Adjunct Associate Professor at Christopher Newport University. Her recent research is on native bee pollination of native plants in the mountains of western Virginia’s Giles County.
• Medically Important Arachnids In Virginia with Emphasis on Tick Borne Diseases
Charlie Aller is a lover of mushrooms and an independent researcher of fungal roles in local ecosystems. He co-founded Mush Luv in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 with Nina O’Malley. Together they have worked to bring native fungi into the food, medicine realm and bring awareness of their community. Charlie also heads up mycology operations at Farfields Farm and recently helped form the cooperative Little Bluestem, a local genotype plant nursery focused on Albemarle County.
• Harvesting and Cooking with Local Culinary Mushrooms
Enjoy the scents and tastes of local foraged and cultivated mushrooms with this hands-on cooking demo! Learn about substituting mushrooms for meat in your favorite recipes as well as several specific recipes that center on the unique traits of whatever mushrooms are seasonally available.
Dr. Woody Bousquet, retired Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, Shenandoah University, grew up in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, where he learned to love the outdoors through his parents, his grandparents, and natural history programs at the Berkshire Museum and Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. As a professor, he has inspired many aspiring environmental scientists as well as any who have had the privilege of spending time with him in the field. His study and recent publication of the Abram’s Creek Wetlands is a multi- year project that yielded new county and state records in a relict wetland in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
• Discovering, Promoting, and Protecting the Abrams Creek Wetlands and Associated Wildflowers. Dr. Bousquet and his students carried out the research in collaboration with Gary Fleming, Vegetation Ecologist, Virginia Natural Heritage Program.
Doug Coleman, Field Botanist and Director of The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen, Doug has been a regional expert in Southern Appalachian ecology for over 25 years. While he has co-authored many books on the region’s flora, including The Vascular Flora of the James River Gorge and The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Rare Plant Management Manual, he is perhaps best noted as a speaker and designer of programs and preservation concepts for the resort development community of Wintergreen in Nelson County, Virginia as well as several other similar communities. These programs and concepts have been the recipient of national awards and have been published in many national magazines. Doug was instrumental in founding The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen in 1994, a non-profit organization with a mission to encourage the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
• Comparing Wildflowers in Different Ecosystems
Dr. Shawn T. Dash is an Assistant Biologist, Department of Biology at Hampton University. Shawn teaches a variety of courses including introductory courses, zoology, and research design. He also teaches specialty courses on medical entomology, toxic and venomous animals, conservation biology, and a field-based biodiversity class focused on the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed.
• Pollinators and Gardening for The Bugs and Birds
Dr. Dash will focus on the complex interactions and interdependence of birds and insects, from feeding and parasites to the importance of insects in yards and gardens.
Ben Kessler of Farfields Farm is a teacher, biologist, writer, gardener, and nurseryman. His fascination with the process of the food web from birds eating mammals to mammals as herbivores has fueled his interest in botany. Ben works for Little Bluestem, a worker self-directed nonprofit local genotype native plants nursery and education center in Afton. Little Bluestem specializes in Piedmont Prairie and Blue Ridge woodland ecotype species, and adjectives. Ben lives in Nelson County.
• Tending the Backyard Nursery: Small-Scale Propagation Strategies
Shawn Kurtzman is a biologist at the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech. There he conducts surveys focused on reptiles and amphibians, point count surveys for the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas, acoustic and aerial netting of Virginia bat species, and aquatic surveys of freshwater mussels and invertebrates. Besides hiking and birding for fun, Shawn helps lead a Virginia Tech student birding club, which provides opportunities for students to improve their birding and field survey skills.
• Blue Ridge Strategic Migratory Routes Used by Birds (and other living organisms)
Dr. Carole Nash, RPA, has 40 years of experience studying the archaeology of the Middle Atlantic region and is a specialist in the archaeology and historical ecology of the Appalachians. Her main research interests are the long-term environmental and cultural history of upland Native American cultures. She has taught at James Madison University for 31 years, where she is Associate Professor in the School of Integrated Sciences. University students and life-long learners have worked in the field with her on long-term field projects for the Shenandoah National Park and The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen. She is the author of over 175 technical reports, scholarly papers, and publications, including co-authoring Foundations of Archaeology in the Middle Atlantic (Routledge 2018). She is an appointed member to the Society for American Archaeology’s international committee on Climate Change Strategies and Archaeological Resources Committee. A practitioner of citizen science, Carole co-directs the Archaeological Technician Certification program for the Archeological Society of Virginia and the Department of Historic Resources.
• From the Ancient Woods: Archaeology in the Blue Ridge
Dr. Dennis Whigham holds the distinction of Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian’s Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland where he heads the Center’s North American Terrestrial Orchid research. He is a preeminent wetland scientist, author of the definitive international text on wetlands, and has been associated with The Nature Foundation for over 25 years.
• Unique Wildflowers: Orchid Ecology and Conservation
Dr. Whigham will share updates of the status of orchid populations today, their diverse ecosystems and current conservation efforts. Dr. Whigham will introduce educational opportunities on orchid conservation for students and educators.
Anne Witt is a Geohazards Geologist with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, focusing on earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes. As part of her work, she specializes in GIS mapping, LIDAR interpretation, and natural systems modeling. Anne has co-authored publications of debris avalanches, including the tract associated with Hurricane Camille.
• Laser Vision: Discovering Nelson County’s Geology using LIDAR