Jerry Keir is the co-founder and Director of the Great Basin Institute. Born and raised among the tall oaks and open fields of northern Illinois, Jerry migrated south for his formal education, earning a BA at the University of Texas in 1990 and an MA at Southwest Texas University in 1993. Between graduate programs, he¬†wandered, lived,and taught throughout Japan and Mexico before returning to the US in 1996 to continue graduate work at the University of Nevada, Reno. While studying experimental field ecology at a Sierra Nevada field station, Jerry met the Institute’s co-founder, Sanjay Pyare, and began developing and implementing environmental field course curricula and service programs for the University, which eventually led to the formation of the Institute.

In 1999, Keir founded the Nevada Conservation Corps, a direct service program funded by AmeriCorps. In 2001, Jerry returned to Mexico to establish an academic field studies along the central pacific coast, the Costalegre. With added Earthwatch Institute funding in 2003, the program engages internationals from around the world in community-based coastal conservation and restoration, a project which now extends to Costa Rica’s¬†National Parks. When not running programs or dreaming up new ones, Jerry enjoys exploring the Great Basin and Lake Tahoe region with his spouse, Maria, their two children, Alejandro and Amaya, and their happy dog, Birdie.