Trip Guides 2017

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Field Trip Leaders and Presenters

We are pleased to introduce to you a few of our long-time field trip leaders and presenters. These talented and enthusiastic people are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with you.

Each Trip Leader has a short biography accessible with the link on their name or in the list of Bios below.

Kathe Anderson Tom Linda
George Andrejko Paul Lindberg
Rich and Nanette Armstrong Bob Miller
Randy Babb Randy Miller
  David Moll
Geoffrey Bland Eric Moore
Troy Blodgett Chiip Norton
Jim Burns Kristen Rothrock
Paula Burns Tice Supplee
Ryan Crouse Jeff Tanner
Dena Greenwood Carl Tomoff
Rob Gibbs  
Lisa Grubbs Don Singer
Jeanmarie Haney  Marceline VandeWater
Homer Hansen Doug Von Gausig
Kevin Harding Tim Webber
Brooks Hart Patty West
Dr. Ross Hawkins   Tom Whetten 
Holly P. Kleindienst  
Karen LaFrance Janet Wheeler
Lisa Langell Paul Wolterbeek

Kathe Anderson Trip Leader 2012

Kathe Anderson          Scottsdale, AZ

       As a volunteer, Kathe has led over one hundred bird walks for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Hassayampa River Preserve, Gilbert Water Ranch, and various Audubon societies. As a professional guide, she has led as many walks for clients from several states to a variety of sites in Arizona, New Mexico and California. She has also developed and taught a series of interactive birding classes designed for beginner and intermediate birders to hone their observation and identification skills


George Andrejko     Phoenix, AZ

       George Andrejko has been a professional photographer for more than 25 years. He’s been 23 years with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, a career that has taken him to many remote corners of the state to photograph wildlife. George has received national and international recognition for his photographic work. You can find his photography on the pages of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, the state’s official wildlife conservation magazine. George was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he developed an early love for the outdoors and watching wildlife. He moved to New Mexico to attend college and found photography to be his passion. Spending five years working as a photojournalist at a New Mexico newspaper, he then moved to the Phoenix area.



Rich and Nanette Armstrong

Rich and Nanette Armstrong    Sedona, AZ

Rich Armstrong is a retired PhD nuclear chemist and a retired Army Major nuclear and chemical  weapons officer. He and Nanette have been birding in Texas, Oregon, and now Arizona for 25 years. Rich has lead many field trips for Audubon Societies in all 3 states, is the coordinator of the Sedona CBC, is a birding pal for the Verde Valley area, and coordinates the North America Migratory Bird Count for the Verde Valley.
Nanette Armstrong is a retired nuclear medicine technologist. Besides being a mother and homemaker she has been birding for 25 years, done many CBCs, and has done many jobs in 4 different Audubon groups. Most think that she makes Rich the 2nd best birder in their house.


Randy Babb

Randy Babb                    Phoenix, AZ

Randy is the Information and Education Program Manager for Arizona Game and Fish Department. An Arizona native, he is an extremely talented writer, photographer, and artist. A worldwide herper, he is gifted in the field and has given workshops and seminars all over Arizona. We are very pleased to have him join us this year.

Geoffrey Bland                      Flagstaff, AZ

        In my opinion birds are the most awe-inspiring organisms in the natural world that constantly fascinates me. I can trace this love of birds to one individual that I saw high atop a canopy tower in Brazil while studying primates: a Pompadour Cotinga!  It is safe to say that I have been "birding" ever since that moment. After graduating from Antioch College with an Environmental Science degree, I moved here to Arizona. I have decided to follow my passion and focus on birds while working in the environmental field. My definition of conservation is literally "for the birds!" I am very happy to be returning to the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival and I look forward to some amazing birding trips.

Troy Blodgett trip leader for VVBNF.

Troy Blodgett                                   Flagstaff, AZ

After discovering birding at age 11 on the east coast, I spent my summers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire honing my skills on hikes and camping expeditions. In the late 80s I took the experience of a lifetime banding and researching birds of Puerto Rico before attending Brown where I enrolled in my first ornithology course.  However, my scientific interests would eventually turn toward satellite image technologies leading to a PhD at Cornell in 1998. In 2000, my family moved to Flagstaff where I continue to work as a research scientist. Business trips and other travel have permitted me brief opportunities to bird on nearly every continent, yet the Verde Valley festival trips have drawn me back for more than a decade.

Jim Burns

Jim Burns                                Scottsdale, AZ

Jim Burns is an outdoor writer/photographer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in English Literature and became hooked on birding while backpacking with his wife, Deva, trying to place proper labels on the birds they were seeing along the trail. He has been photographing birds and other wildlife for 22 years. Jim’s articles and photographs have been published in Birding, Birder's World, Outdoor Photographer, and Valley Nature, and he has written three books illustrated with his photography: A Beginner's Field Guide to Phoenix Birds, published by the Maricopa Audubon Society in 2004; North American Owls--Journey Through a Shadowed World, published by Willow Creek Press in 2004; and Jim Burns' Arizona Birds, published by the University of Arizona Press in 2008.

Ryan Crouse trip leader for VVBNF.

Ryan Crouse                            Prescott, AZ

I have been interested in birds from a very early age, ever since I watched an American Kestrel hunting in my Portland, OR front yard when I was a little kid. My parents always instilled an appreciation of nature and the outdoors in my three brothers and I and I have already begun that with my own little boy, Braeden. I really got back into birding in the past several years and through that hobby, had the opportunity to become the Manager at Jay’s Bird Barn in Prescott late in 2013. At Jays Bird barn, I have furthered my own education and also passed on my knowledge to many of our great customers. I have enjoyed leading bird walks through the store and also my interactions with all the great people I’ve met while in the very close knit birding community of Northern Arizona. I have become very familiar with all the wonderful species we enjoy in our area and many of the odd-balls we see from time to time. I am also very knowledgeable in the field of optics and believe that beyond a little education and the appreciation of the outdoors, the only thing you need to become a good birder is a good set of binoculars. This will be my second year as a leader and look forward to it immensely.



Dena Greenwood

Dena Greenwood                                                                 Rimrock, AZ

       Dena Greenwood, naturalist and educator, holds a master’s in earth science and is the manager of Jay’s Bird Barn in Sedona. She has taught classes including Natural History of the Southwest, Grand Canyon Perspectives, and Birds of the Region. She also excels in geology, birding, white-water rafting and backcountry hiking programs. Dena has also worked with various private and federal agencies conducting bird research. She illustrated a field guide for NAU's Plants of Northern Arizona Forests. Dena is a Northern Arizona Audubon board member as well as field trip coordinator for this annual festival. She invites you to stop by the "Aviary" to ask a bird question and review current festival bird sightings.

Rob Gibbs

Rob Gibbs                                 Cornville, AZ

         After decades of birding trips to Arizona, Rob Gibbs and his wife Denise moved to Cornville in 2016. A native of Maryland, he spent his professional career working as a Park Naturalist, Wildlife Ecologist, and Natural Resources Manager for the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Rob led natural history and birding field trips for over 35 years for The Audubon Naturalist Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Federation, and Peregrine Enterprises. He was a leader for birding and nature excursions to Alaska, Maine, Arizona, Nova Scotia, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba. His life-long passion is connecting others to the natural world, and in particular-- sharing his knowledge of birds and mammals.



Lisa Grubbs                                      Sedona, AZ

Lisa was introduced to birding as a child at her family cabin in Colorado.  She found her place in life and greatest joy in nature. Upon moving to Sedona in 2010 she began studying birds in the area, attended the Nature Guide Academy and began leading walks for Audubon and at the bird festival.

JeanmarieHaney trip leader for the VVBNF

Jeanmarie Haney                                            Cottonwood, AZ

    Jeanmarie is a Sonoran Desert native who has worked in water resources all her adult life. She lives in Cottonwood, AZ, and works for The Nature Conservancy on a variety of projects aimed at keeping some water in our remaining rivers. Jeanmarie spends her free time exploring wild places on foot, horse, bike, and kayak.

Homer Hansen

Homer Hansen                           Tucson, AZ

       Homer Hansen, the author of the G.I.S.S. Series bird identification guides, has been bird watching in the southwest since 1995. He especially enjoys the challenges and learning posed by the difficult groups of birds and continues to learn about the secrets to bird identification. Homer is a native of Willcox, Arizona and is chairman of the annual Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival (  He feels fortunate to have grown up surrounded by sandhill cranes in winter and Cassin's sparrows in summer. Homer has presented numerous workshops on sparrows, raptors, flycatchers, warblers, and bird ecology and is the course instructor for the Tucson Audubon Society's Moving to Mastery birding workshops. He is also a regular presenter and trip leader for other Arizona birding festivals. Homer earned his B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and now is the president and owner of Aplomado Environmental LLC ( providing services to characterize and remove contaminants from soil and groundwater.


Brooks Hart                             Flagstaff, AZ

         Brooks Hart is an outdoor enthusiast and nature lover who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Systematic Biology, Brooks spent 13 years working as a field biologist before starting his own consulting firm, Corvus Ecological Consulting LLC. Work related projects include studying the impacts of utility-scale renewable energy development on avian populations and studying Common Raven population dynamics and this specie’s impacts on desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California.
When Brooks isn’t working he is usually spending time with his two kids, riding his bike, or in pursuit of birds. On a good day all of these things are happening simultaneously.




Dr. Ross Hawkins leader for the VVBNF.

 Dr. Ross Hawkins                                                    Sedona, AZ

       Since the summer of 1988, Dr. Ross Hawkins has had a passionate interest in hummingbirds. When he learned after studying them that no organization existed to protect any of the thirty endangered species, he founded The Hummingbird Society in 1996. Since then he has devoted his life to learning more about hummingbirds, working to protect the ones at risk, and communicating their story. His knowledge of hummingbirds, leavened by his sense of humor, sets him apart as a uniquely qualified professional speaker. Audiences of all types have applauded the entertaining and educational nature of Hawkins’ talks, which feature eye-popping hummingbird images and engaging stories about them. Look for Sedona’s Hummingbird Festival in August.



Holly Kleindienst

Holly Kleindienst                                                 Camp Verde, AZ

"Holly is recently retired from the US Forest Service where she had a fulfilling career as wildland firefighter and fire manager.  Coming from a family of birders and nature enthusiasts, she has long been a lifelong backyard birder, and outdoor recreationist.  Upon inheriting her mother’s binoculars in 2012, Holly took up birding in the Verde Valley and greater Yavapai County in earnest.  Most every morning she can be found out walking and birding to increase her Yavapai Life List, and her knowledge of local birds. 

She is a great fan of the eBird database, the eBird app, and other mobile birding applications.  She is always willing to share how the use of these technologies can enhance the birding experience."



Lisa Langell

Lisa Langell                                                                         Scottsdale, AZ

Lisa is an award-winning wildlife photographer with an international following. She is known for her signature wildlife images that artfully capture breathtaking, split-second moments. Her images evoke both a visual and emotional connection for the viewer, offering not just a photograph - but an intimate experience with nature. Lisa's images have earned recognition and awards from the National Wildlife Federation, North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographer's Association, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Arizona Highways, Arizona State Parks, Photographer's Adventure Club, and more. Her work has been published in magazines that include Ranger Rick Magazine, Arizona Wildlife Views, Phoenix Home & Garden, and more. Her work has also  been featured on The Sportsman Channel, the "Born to be Wild" TV series in the Philippines, several juried galleries and is permanently hung in numerous restaurants across several southeastern states within the US as part of a special collaborative project.

Lisa loves teaching workshops and photography classes in Arizona, Alaska, Canada and beyond. Her participants rely upon her knowledge, humor, sincerity and supportive approach as they progress in their own journeys as photographers.



Leona Lansing                                                                      Flagstaff, AZ

Hello! My name is Lee Lansing and I have been birding ever since I was big enough to hold up a pair of binoculars. That pair of nesting Eastern bluebirds in the apple orchard of my family's dairy farm in southern Vermont just fascinated me and still does. I have worked with the Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy as a Naturalist/Guide for many years and I was a Sonoran Desert Naturalist in southern Arizona for ten years. Birds and nature provide me with never ending joy and entertainment and I hope that I can share my enthusiasm and my observations with you.


Tom Linda trip leader for the VVBNF.

Tom Linda                                                 Flagstaff, AZ

       During the first weekend of August 1982 I was cycling past Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens NY, when I noticed an odd bird flying overhead. I stopped and gawked at my first official "lifer", a glossy ibis. I went into the refuge that day, and the following, and every weekend in August until I moved north to Syracuse. I was completely hooked on birding after a single month in that great wildlife sanctuary, and have been an avid birder since. I moved to Arizona in 1992, and find that I'm no different here than I was back east, still an avid birder. I've been birding the Verde Valley and Flagstaff area for 15 years now and know it to be a wonderful spot where anyone can turn up a real gem at any time.


Paul Lindberg                                                                         Sedona, AZ

       I have been a geologist with a number of metallic mineral mining companies since graduation as a geological engineer from the University of Minnesota since 1956. From 1978 to the present time I have worked as a consulting geologist mainly working on structural geology of tectonically deformed Precambrian ore deposits. I continue to investigate the complex structural history of the basin and range faulting history of the southwest margin of the Colorado Plateau in north-central Arizona. I have over 56 years of active field experience in detailed geologic mapping of ore deposits, mineral exploration planning and execution, and the ability to convey in understandable terms complex geologic processes to professionals as well as lay persons.


Randy Miller                       Rimrock, AZ

Randy Miller's background has been a blend of environmental planning and design, natural building, art and outdoor education. He has taught courses and field sessions on natural and cultural history and has guided backcountry, hiking, birding, archaeological and river trips throughout the Colorado Plateau region. 

Randy is currently project planner for conservation and public education projects at Page Springs / Bubbling Ponds Important Bird Area. He has guided for the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival since its inception and is known for helping people in a quiet way to reconnect with the natural world.

Bob Miller Trip Leader 2012

Bob Miller                             Brawley, CA

Bob Miller is a birding guide with Southwest Birders and grew up exploring the desert southwest. He walks several hundred miles a year through the Algodones Dunes of Southern California doing bird surveys and considers the southwest deserts and the Salton Sea his “backyard”. His “never stop learning” attitude and enthusiasm for sharing what he has learned about the region and the wild things we share it with have made him a popular field trip leader for festivals in Arizona and California and with birding guests throughout the region.


David Moll                              Prescott, AZ

       Reverence and enthusiasm for nature resides with David Moll. To his 27 years in Central Arizona, David adds his lowland, east coast roots. Moving from New York, he attended Prescott College and has lived in Prescott ever since. From Arizona's borders with Mexico, New Mexico and California, to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, David has examined the more-and less-traveled areas for learning. Nature study in Hawai'i has been a tactical, yet reverent, diversion.

       While finding Arizona birds is his specialty, Mr. Moll places them within a context of meteorology, geography, topography, botany, entomology and interactions among each other and with other vertebrates. Methods for nature study may be mentioned as well.


Vic Nelson                                               Sedona, AZ

Vic has been an avid birder since 1984 bring years of experience to the field. He is a member of the Washington Ornithological Society, the Arizona Field Ornithologists, and the American Birding Association. He earned his Ph.D. in fisheries biology from the University of Washington. He was the owner/operator of a successful fishing resort in Washington State from 1977-2013 but has made his home here in Sedona since 2010.


Erica Nowak

Erika Nowak                                Flagstaff, AZ


Dr. Erika Nowak earned a BS in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University (1991), a MS in Biology (1998) from Northern Arizona University, and a PhD in Biology (2009) from Northern Arizona University. Dr. Nowak is currently a Herpetologist at the Colorado Plateau Research Station and a pending Associate Research Faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. Her graduate research focused on the management and predator-prey ecology of venomous reptiles in national parks, including investigating the effects and effectiveness of nuisance rattlesnake relocation. She did much of her graduate work in the Verde Valley, at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments. 

Dr. Nowak’s research interests are in the ecology, behavior, conservation, and science-based management of herpetofauna, particularly rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, and declining gartersnakes. Her current research team includes several undergraduate and graduate students and Verde-Valley based volunteers, and their focus is on understanding the distribution, ecology, and captive husbandry needs of federally threatened narrow-headed and Mexican gartersnakes. Dr. Nowak’s snake research has been featured in peer-reviewed journal and book articles, agency reports, and in local, national, and international media outlets.  

For more information see her website at:


Kristen Rothrock                                                   Cottonwood, AZ

         Although she watched her mother admire birds at the backyard feeder, Kristen’s bird watching enthusiasm exploded when she retired from teaching. Living and vacationing near the great birding corridors of the Southwest opened her eyes and ears to their intriguing habits and world. It was taking guided walks with Verde Valley’s local bird experts that truly ignited her love for birding.


Don Singer

Don Singer                                                Cottonwood, AZ

         Don Singer, grew up on the edge of the Mohave Desert and developed a love of nature and the outdoors.   Always an avid photographer he became a semi-professional photographer in 2000 in his off time while living and working at Grand Canyon National Park.  Retiring to Cottonwood, AZ after a 37 year career with the Federal Government Don began exploring the local State Parks.  It did not take long for him to realize the photographic opportunities that were available at Dead Horse Ranch State Park and at Page Springs Fish Hatchery.  With mammals, reptiles and the many species of birds to photograph it was the insects that really grabbed his attention.   Don spends almost as much time researching the various insects as he does photographing them.  He believes it is important to know the target at the end of your camera lens.



Tice Supplee                              Phoenix, AZ

        Vashti “Tice” Supplee has been an Arizonan since 1973.  She retired from the Arizona Game and Fish Department where she was the Game Branch Chief. Prior to that she was the Habitat Specialist in the AGFD Tucson office and an AGFD Research Assistant Biologist at the Three Bar Wildlife Area. Tice earned her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Cornell University in 1973 and her M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Arizona in1981. She has been recognized by The Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the Arizona Wildlife Federation for her contributions during her career in conservation.

       Tice is now the Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Arizona, the state office for the National Audubon Society. Tice is shepherding the Audubon Important Bird Areas program and working with local chapter members and other volunteers to protect, conserve and enhance birds and their habitats here in Arizona.


Jeff Tanner                               Sedona, AZ

Born and raised in Phoenix, I consider the Sonoran Desert my home. I moved to Sedona in 2010 and began birding shortly thereafter. I've always loved wildlife, and birdwatching is a wonderful way to experience it. I've led walks for Northern Arizona Audubon Society, Red Rock State Park, Montezuma Well, and various local festivals. I also participate in the area's Christmas Bird Counts. I enjoy photographing wildlife, especially birds and reptiles.


Carl Tomoff Trip leader for the VVBNF

Carl Tomoff                              Prescott, AZ

        Carl is Professor of Environmental Studies at Prescott College, where he has taught since 1974. He was founding president of the Prescott Audubon Society, Director of the Community Nature Center, and Yavapai Regional Coordinator for the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas project.  He
served on the Arizona Bird Committee for ten years and has been a regional compiler of bird records throughout his career.  His "Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Prescott, Arizona" is in its 5th edition.


Marceline VandeWater

      Marceline grew up in the Netherlands where she studied botany. Later she became interested in birds, then butterflies and now, natural history in general. She leads bird and butterfly walks for the local chapters of the Audubon Society and for Arizona State Parks. She also works on botanical illustrations at the Desert Botanical Garden and has provided photographs for several publications. She loves to spend time with her husband and 2 grown kids. Other hobbies include hiking, kayaking, skiing, cooking and traveling.

Doug Von Gausig Trip Leader 2012

Doug Von Gausig                         Clarkdale, AZ

I was born in Safford, Arizona. As a teenager I spent summers with my grandparents in their home in Cottonwood. I grew to love the Verde Valley and its small-town atmosphere and values, and especially the Verde River during those summers. I graduated from Prescott High School and Arizona State University with a degree in biology. I am currently an environmental consultant and professional photographer. My love for the natural environment, especially the Verde River, have helped form my philosophy of sustainability. I am a founding member of the Verde River Valley Nature Organization, and currently serve on the boards of the Verde River Institute and the Verde River Basin Partnership. I believe passionately that the future of water in the Verde Valley is the future of the Verde Valley’s people and economy, and I work virtually every day to encourage appropriate planning for a sustainable water future for the Valley.

 Doug is an expert birder and long-time naturalist in the Verde Valley. He is also a nature recordist and photographer who has catalogued the sounds and images of virtually all the bird species that inhabit the Verde Valley. Doug is an expert "ear birder" and concentrates on helping his trip participants recognize the songs and calls heard on his trips. His web site, devoted to natural sound and animal communication, is He is also the Mayor of Clarkdale, Arizona.



Tim Webber                  Flagstaff, AZ

       Tim grew up in the Northeast, hiking over the cranberry bogs, barrier beaches and sand bars of Cape Cod. As a student studying biology at Middlebury College in Vermont, he began to hike, bike and camp in the Green Mountains. Inspired by a flying squirrel and a hawk (seriously), he fell in love with the world of ecology and the potential for a career working out of doors. After a stint in the Colorado Rockies, he got the birding bug as an intern for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the Bay Area, where he felt extremely fortunate to be hooting for Northern Spotted Owls at night and trapping migrating raptors by day.
      He went on to earn a Master in Science in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University where he studied Northern Goshawk habitat in California. As a teacher’s assistant in ornithology, his passion for the avian world blossomed. Not only did he relish the opportunity to teach subject matter that inspired him, he also began to birdwatch daily utilizing the incredible resources that coastal California has to offer. Since then, Tim has spent the better part of the last 20 years working as a bird biologist with the government, private industry, and non-profit organizations.
      Since moving to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2004, Tim has had the opportunity to bird extensively in Arizona and the southwest for work and pleasure. As a biologist for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Tim recorded thousands of birds on the Coconino, Tonto, and Coronado National Forests. In his free time, he prefers birding the shady riparian areas of Oak Creek Canyon, Wet Beaver Creek and the century old cottonwoods at Page Springs. He visits the Sky Islands (the Mecca for spring migration in the western U.S.) in southern Arizona annually, and has been organizing birding trips with his friends to Texas, Florida and Costa Rica for many years. Since 2013 he has guided at the Verde Valley Bird and Nature Festival and led bird walks for the Arboretum at Flagstaff and the Audubon Society. In 2015, Tim’s professional field skills came full circle with the Flagstaff Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest where he surveyed extensively for breeding Mexican Spotted Owls and Northern Goshawks.
In 2016, Tim’s dream of starting a birdwatching tour company has been realized. His company, Birding Northern Arizona, received a Forest Service Outfitter’s Guide permit to lead educational hiking tours on the Red Rock Ranger District on the Coconino National Forest. He will be the only tourism company in Northern Arizona dedicated to birdwatching, and he looks forward to providing clients with tours of various lengths, equipment (day packs, binoculars and scopes, excellent food and drink), and everything one needs to have a fabulous day of birdwatching. He has access to numerous trails on the district, including the Bell Trail on Wet Beaver Creek, the West Clear Creek Trail in the West Clear Creek Wilderness, and the area around Stoneman Lake. Check out his website at Good Birding!

Tom Whetten

Tom Whetten                                           Tucson, AZ

Photography is Tom’s passion and he believes that Arizona is the place to do it. A native Arizonian, he travels all over the state to seek out unique species of wildlife to photograph. He leads photo tours for three Arizona birding festivals and is a member of several professional organizations including North American Nature Photography Association, Outdoor Writers of American Association, and Western Outdoor Writers



                      Patty West                                        Flagstaff, AZ                       

     Patty West has been a wild food forager since she could walk (maybe before that!) and remembers picking and eating dandelion heads before she could speak. Patty West has been a botanist and ethnobotanist for 18 years.  She has studied with many teachers, but her most treasured teachers are the plants themselves. Patty loves sharing her connection to and knowledge of plants and their uses with others in the spirit of playing with the plants.


Paul Wolterbeek trip leader for the VVBNF.

                      Paul Wolterbeek                            Globe, AZ                       

           Valentine's Day usually means “Love is in the Air;” but as an Audubon Society guest speaker on Valentine's Day, Paul Wolterbeek convinced his audience that love is sometimes lurking behind a tree, holding binoculars and a camera, and taking notes. No, he’s not a creepy stalker or a paparazzo – Paul's one of those dedicated staffers beloved by annual members over at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, where Paul coordinates BTA’s volunteer program and also the public event series. For more than a decade he has arranged guided bird walks and presentations by nature photographers; summer evening concerts and how-to-juice-prickly-pear-cactus-fruit classes. He’s one of those people who displays a love of his work, and has an infectious affection for birds, mammals and our Sonoran desert. As a BirdyVerde festival volunteer over the past decade, he shares anecdotes and ID tips for his favorite birds. Paul says his guided walk is ideal for novice-to-intermediate birders. Two more cool facts to know about Paul? March-through-August he's an unpaid "field tech" for his wife and owl research boss, Amanda, on spotted owl surveys - as such he's one of few people in AZ permitted by the USFS for such work (ask him to hoot his best four-note owl call). And #2: he was BirdyVerde's 2014 surprise winner of the vocal IDs challenge, and two years before that he won a bottle of wine with his spot-on imitation of a Greater Roadrunner ...rendered in the style of a Las Vegas lounge-singer.

Mission: The Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival provides a unique recreational experience to anyone interested in the natural world and fosters awareness of the importance of habitat for the enrichment of all life in the Verde Valley.
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