Grants & Contracts Manager
Trail and Restoration Operations Coordinator, Nevada Conservation Corps
Southern Operations Coordinator, Nevada Conservation Corps
Director of Operations, Nevada Conservation Corps
Recruitment Coordinator, Nevada Conservation Corps
Forestry Operations Coordinator, Nevada Conservation Corps
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Jerry Keir is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Institute. For the past twenty two years, Keir has taught and directed interdisciplinary research and field studies throughout the Intermountain West, Central Pacific Mexico, and Costa Rica. Keir has extensive experience managing diverse research and monitoring initiatives, as well as leading collaborative conservation projects at a landscape scale. As a skilled fundraiser and project lead, Keir has overseen $100 million in grants and contracts for the Institute. When not running programs or dreaming up new ones, Jerry roams his backyard forest and desert with his spouse of 25 years, Maria, and their daughter Amaya and son Alejandro.
Kevin Dose is the Deputy Director at the GBI. After graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Health from Purdue University (2002), Kevin traveled west to join GBI’s Nevada Conservation Corps program as a Trail Crew Leader stationed at Great Basin National Park. His experience at GBNP had such a profound impact on his life that Kevin continued serving with the NCC as a Crew Leader for the following year, before taking on the role as NCC Crew Coordinator, a position he held for two years.
In the spring of 2010, Kevin returned to serve as Program Director for the NCC, a position he held for the following three years. As Program Director for the NCC, Kevin enjoyed the opportunity to lead and continue developing the program that provided him so much joy and opportunity to make a positive impact on Nevada’s public lands. As GBI’s Deputy Director, Kevin supports all programming at the institute with an emphasis on continuous improvement. Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife Dana and daughter Reya hiking and skiing, but no matter the season, you will more than likely find him outdoors enjoying the Lake Tahoe Basin where he calls home.
Chris Warner has been professionally involved with the national service movement and environmental stewardship for more than two decades. After graduating from Villanova University with a BA in Sociology (1998), Chris coordinated environmental education activities for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region for two years when he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. As an Environmental Management Fellow with EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, Chris supported several multi-jurisdictional committees whose mandate is to establish policies that aim to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay and to manage the Program’s congressionally appropriated annual budget. After relocating to the mountain west in 2002, Chris received his MA in Political Science (Environmental Policy) from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2005. Since graduating from UNR, Chris has spent the entirety of his career at Great Basin Institute, collaborating with colleagues to develop and enhance resource management direct service programs. Chris served as the Institute’s first Research Associates Program Director and presently serves as Director of Development. In his current role, Chris is primarily focused on developing federal and state grants and agreements, and conducting government relations and policy development at the national level on behalf of GBI. In July 2011 Chris moved back to the mid-Atlantic with his family. When he isn’t playing with his two daughters, Chris enjoys cooking, gardening and bird-watching with his wife, as well as exploring the mixed conifer and hardwood forests and rolling hillsides of the surrounding farm country that south central Pennsylvania offers.
Associate Director, Terry Christopher, is proud to be from the great state of Texas, just ask him! He was born in Wichita Falls and spent most of his childhood in north Texas. His love of animals and wildlife was ingrained early on, and some of his fondest memories are of running around catching ornate box turtles and horned lizards (horny toads) on the farm. Living in El Paso, Texas for four years and spending three years in northern Alberta, Canada only strengthened his love of the outdoors and vast open spaces. (Those who know Terry find it hard to believe he lived in Canada; he’s way too much like the ectotherms he works with.) Terry attended Texas A&M University and, while at the campus on Galveston Island, he became involved with the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a non-profit recovery organization, and the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Head Start program. For four years, he coordinated volunteers to recover whales and dolphins stranded along the Texas coast. Although he loved these programs, his first love was tortoises, and he continues to strive for their conservation.
In 1994, Terry migrated westward to run the Smithsonian Institution’s Desert Tortoise Nutrition program. Over the next 11 years, Terry conducted nutritional research on desert tortoises in Nevada, California, Utah and Arizona. He said he never planned on being a botanist but studying a desert herbivore quickly changed his mind. After a brief stint running a turtle and tortoise conservation center in California, Terry came to GBI as a Research Associate helping to run the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and coordinating the USFWS Desert Tortoise Line Distance Sampling project. In fall 2008, he stepped into the role of Associate Director, overseeing GBI operations in southern NV. He brought his knowledge of the southwest and strong relationships with project partners in the south to GBI. He continues to run the desert tortoise monitoring program, refusing to give up that which brought him to the west. While in Nevada, he fell in love with his future wife (not only the desert), had three kids, and has made southern Nevada his home.
Dr. Lynn Zimmerman is the Director of Research at GBI and specializes in physiological ecology and conservation biology, particularly including habitat requirements, environmental resources, and ecophysiological consequences of environmental modifications. Her formative years were spent observing local habitats from tree height and roaming the fields and forests of western New York, wanderings that eventually led to the Mojave Desert and studies of the thermal and nutritional ecology of herbivorous reptiles for a Ph.D. in Biology. Lynn’s first experience with hypothermia was on the summit of Long’s Peak in the Colorado Rockies, and brushes with hyperthermia have accompanied reptile sampling in the deserts of southern California and Nevada. She enjoys testing her thermal tolerance limits while backpacking, hiking, snow shoeing, running and biking. Lynn has an abiding fondness and respect for animals, and is happiest when among them in their natural habitats. Dr. Zimmerman taught and conducted research on animal physiological ecology for 25 years before joining GBI in 2007. In the Research Associate program, Lynn is principally involved in oversight and implementation of projects involving wildlife monitoring and habitat assessment. She has served as Principle Investigator on a rangeland studies related to fire disturbance in the Great Basin and the Desert Southwest that improves understanding of adaptive management practices. She has been involved with AIM since its inception at GBI in 2011 to support aspects including design, training, data management, and reporting.
Scott Scherbinski’s career in Conservation Corps work began when he served as Crew Leader and Field Operations Manager for Northwest Youth Corps & Youth Corps of Southern Arizona. More recently, Scott held a position as a Biologist and Outreach Specialist for the National Park Service, building partnerships to work toward the recovery of the endangered California Condor. Scott holds a BS in Biology from Western Illinois University. Scott brings his passion for conservation and youth development to his leadership role as NCC Program Director.
Rachel Durben joined GBI in August 2021, with over a decade of conservation program management experience in the Sierra Nevada. She has served as the Director of the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) program with the Sierra Nevada Alliance, as School Programs Director for Gateway Mountain Center, and as Training Program Coordinator with Sierra Streams Institute. Rachel brings her dedication to collaborative project development as well as skills in fundraising, management and environmental education to her role with GBI. She is looking forward to utilizing her passion for conservation and education to sustainably build GBI’s offerings and to connect people with meaningful projects that protect the natural world.
Prior to living in the Sierra, Rachel attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, earning a BS in Zoology and an MS in Biology. Her research interests include community ecology, riparian ecosystems and species interactions, which she continues to pursue with the Cottonwood Ecology Group at NAU. She is also a yoga instructor with a dedicated practice, who has been teaching for 7 years in the Truckee area and virtually. Rachel enjoys hiking, running, skiing, paddling and traveling with her partner, Ryan and adventure pup, Piper.
Richard comes to GBI by way of Texas, completing his Bachelor’s from Texas State University, and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2018. Richard has worked extensively in the private sector supporting industry management, most recently with Verizon in the greater Reno area. He is an avid traveler, having explored all 50 US states, 10 different countries, and has lived and explored in the Sierra foothills for the past 8 years. His combined passion for conservation and outdoor sports keeps him engaged in the organizational management at the Institute. When not working to support GBI administration, you can find Richard hiking, camping, or skiing with his spouse, Kristen, of 8 years.
Ahmad comes from our neighboring state of California with life experiences across the state, from San Diego to San Francisco. He earned a degree in Accounting and Finance from California State University at East Bay in 2000. He has extensive experience managing funds for midsize companies and offers GBI a unique perspective in assessing fiscal strategies and optimizing accounting operations. Ahmad enjoys time with his two daughters, Ariel and Ava, while exploring the vast natural and cultural learning opportunities in our region. He is new to Reno, and eagerly pursues his passions for healthy living, active sports, and his love for the outdoors here in the Great Basin.
Tina Howard moved to Reno in 2020 from the SF Bay Area. She earned a BS in Social Science from SFSU as well as earning an Accounting certificate from UC Berkeley Extended Learning and an HR Certificate from UCLA Extended Learning. She has extensive experience working in nonprofits helping to develop financial and operational efficiencies and processes. Tina enjoys spending time with her husband Jon and son Mateus, hiking in the great outdoors, gardening, rockhounding and traveling.
Zoe Greig grew up in the California foothills, often traveling throughout the Great Basin and enjoying its immense beauty. She moved to Reno in 2016 to study at UNR and graduated in May of 2020 with a BS in Finance. She worked a few corporate accounting jobs before landing at GBI, and she loves giving back to the area she’s loved her whole life. In her free time, she enjoys camping, kayaking, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Marc Oxoby was born and raised in Northern California. He labored extensively over books to acquire a PhD in English from the University of Nevada Reno, where he currently teaches in the Core Humanities Program. Marc provides analytical overview of programmatic scope while also supporting document deliverables. His hobbies include music, comics, craft beer, and rare film, and he (and he alone) considers himself a connoisseur of fine joke telling. Marc is happily married with three kids and a pile of dogs.
Cassandra Hughes was born and raised in Reno Nevada. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in 2015. Since graduating, she has worked for a few state agencies doing various kinds of seasonal field work. Her journey with GBI started in 2017 as a Nevada Conservation Corps restoration crew member, and shortly after that season ended, she continued with the Great Basin Institute in the Ecological Monitoring Program, one season as a technician and one season as a Crew Lead. After some time as the Recruitment Coordinator for the NCC she moved into her current position as one of the Ecological Monitoring Project Managers in 2021. In her free time, Cassandra enjoys hiking, camping, swimming, going on adventures and seeing new things, Latin dancing particularly salsa, and spending time with friends and family. She enjoys working for the Great Basin Institute because she believes the institute’s mission, enjoys the culture, and knows she is making a difference.
Tara graduated from Appalachian State University with a BS in Cell/Molecular Biology and Chemistry. Then after college she realized she did not want to be stuck in a lab all day and wanted to explore other options. She then proceeded to join the Peace Corps and served as high school science teacher in Tanzania, Africa. Finally, after yet another career move she landed in the conservation world. She served a 1700 hour AC term with Heart of Oregon Corps in Bend Oregon as a Land Stewardship Trainer. This encompassed her passions of mentorship and natural resources management. After her term was up she came on staff as program coordinator in order to support the next waves of AC members coming into the program. Which then brings her to this position as Forestry program coordinator with GBI where she is excited to continue to provide member support and help get proposed projects up and running. Outside of work, Tara loves anything that gets her outdoors and allows her to explore this beautiful new landscape such as trail running, snowboarding, hiking/backpacking, climbing, and reading a good book in a hammock.
Kyle Shepherd comes from the great state of Tennessee, where he graduated with a Degree in Wildlife Sciences. Participation in various AmeriCorps programs solidified his interest in conservation work, and led him on adventures across Arizona, Texas, Tennessee and Nevada. Before joining GBI as a Forestry Coordinator, Kyle worked on a trail crew, as a natural resources technician at a national historical park, and as a forester for private lands and an electrical utilities company in Nashville. The Basin and Range Forestry program at GBI allows Kyle to utilize his previous experience in both the private and public sectors of forestry. Kyle hopes to hone his project management skills and one day would like to manage land for upland game species. His interests include hiking, kayaking, hunting and cooking.
Vince LaPlante is an established trail builder having constructed some of the most complex multi-use trail systems in the intermountain west. Before joining GBI in 2013, he worked over two decades with the U.S. Forest Service and four years with the National Park Service, inventorying, designing, and constructing some of the most scenic trails in the Western United States. As Trails Coordinator for the Nevada Conservation Corps he finds satisfaction in teaching the next generation of trail builders how to construct recreational trails in a sustainable and durable manner. When not at work, you can find Vince enjoying the remote backcountry of the Sierra Nevadas.
Bri is a Las Vegas native who grew up outside, basically, hiking, camping, mudding, and fishing. Originally on a completely different career path, Bri ran away and joined NCC as a crew member in 2017, and realized that all she cared about was how humans are impacting the environment. Bri went through the Leadership Development Program (LDP) and became a crew leader in 2018, falling in love with trail work, especially tread construction and dry masonry. Bri became a Project Manager in 2020, helping with more logistically complex projects, became more involved with project development and running LDP, and is now heading up Southern Ops as of January 2022. Bri’s favorite tool is a Cobra Combi (gas powered jackhammer) and/or pulaski. When not moving rocks you can find her moving rocks. Or shredding the gnar gnar on her bike. Or dirtbagging it in some other type of way.
Courtney is the Director of Operations for Nevada. She was born and raised in the Northern California area, receiving a B.A. in Sociology from Sacramento State University in 2013. After graduating she began her career in conservation by serving as an Americorps crew member with Americorps NCCC Pacific Region for a 10 month term. A year later she enlisted for another Americorps service term with Northwest Youth Corps based out of Eugene, Oregon. This opportunity eventually led to Courtney connecting with people in the U.S. Forest Service, where she was able to spend 6 summers working as a wildland firefighter. Seeking to expand her conservation experience further, Courtney started her role with Nevada Conservation Corps in January 2022. In her free time she enjoys road-trips, running, hiking, climbing, cycling, and game nights.
Sara is the Recruitment Coordinator for the Nevada Conservation Corps. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in English Studies from Illinois State University, Sara used her love for travel to give back to communities across the country. She served as a Corps Member with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in Iowa, then Construction Crew Leader with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity and closed her service chapter as VISTA Leader with Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. She went on to work for another Reno based nonprofit, Envirolution, as Finance and Operations Coordinator.
Sara comes to GBI to share her knowledge of and experience with AmeriCorps service to continue advocating that there is a place for everyone in the professional fields of service and conservation. In her spare time, Sara enjoys hiking, yoga, reading, podcasts, and spoiling her cats rotten.
James was born and raised in New York. He has been doing a mixture of conservation and forestry related jobs for the majority of his adult life. In 2017, James joined GBI as a crew member and first learned to use a chainsaw. James has spent time as a volunteer forestry technician and was deployed to a number of wildfires in 2021. He most recently spent time as a Field Boss at the Utah Conservation Corps prior to joining GBI as the Forestry Coordinator. Environmental Stewardship and education is very important to James. In his free time he loves to rock climb, hike and explore.
Kaelyn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a minor in Rangeland Management (2020) from the University of Nevada, Reno. Kaelyn started her career with GBI back in 2018 when she served with NCC, following with a Research Associate position in 2020 as a Bat Monitoring Technician. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Kaelyn moved up to Reno in 2013. Since then, she has explored the many joys of being outside and growing her family. She enjoys hanging out with her husband and watching their baby grow crazy fast, as well going on hikes, backpacking trips, and spending time with their friends and family.
In 2010, Erin earned a B.A. in journalism from Penn State University. After graduating, she decided to explore and moved to Mexico, where she lived for a year teaching English. Erin then began a career in adventure travel, working as a North and Central American tour guide for eight seasons. During that time, she was also a freelance writer, English teacher and wildlife educator, and chose Reno as her homebase in 2015. In 2019 she moved to New Jersey to oversee the east coast operations for a destination management company. Two years later, she returned to Reno-Tahoe and worked for the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Tallac Historic Site in South Lake Tahoe. In 2022, she joined GBI as visitor services administrator of those sites. Erin also completed her M.S. in park and resource management in 2022, and is hopefully done moving back and forth across the country.
Gabriel, originally from the Pacific Northwest, fell in love with Nevada in 2008, when she moved to Boulder City, NV. After graduating from Southern Oregon University, her outdoor career started as an Oregon State Park Ranger and grew when she became a seasonal National Park Ranger at Lake Mead NRA. In 2013, she worked with a nonprofit organization – partnering with the National Park Service – as an Operations Manager, overseeing retail and visitor center operations in 10 National Parks, covering California and Nevada. Then, she worked with Clark County Wetlands Park, in Las Vegas, to open a Nature Center with a retail store.
Joining GBI in 2021 as the Visitor Center Administrator, completes the circle; she worked with GBI in 2013 as a Research Associate and looks forward to helping GBI expand their outreach. Gabriel, her husband, and their dog enjoy exploring nature and enjoy cheering on their favorite team, the Las Vegas Raiders.
Sean Simpson, MA University of Nevada, Reno, Reno (2010) is the Institute’s Senior Consulting Archeologist and has expertise in NEPA compliance inventories for mining, gas, oil and communication infrastructure on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service public lands across Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Mr. Simpson has performed archaeological inventories and architectural assessments of irrigation and bridge features for the Army Corps of Engineers and has expertise and extensive experience in completing district evaluations of historic mining districts in central and northern Nevada, including Manhattan, Kinsley, Rochester, Yerington, Pine Grove, Rockland, Fairview, and Bell Mountain mining districts.
Kate Walker, a graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, started her career in the Great Basin and Sierras with the Forest Service in 2001. Her experience working with multiple land management agencies over her career ranges from writing environmental planning documents, to surveying for and managing rare and invasive plant populations in support of projects such as forest health, hazardous fuels reduction, and developed recreation. She has experience collaborating with interagency teams on ecological restoration projects, and writing rapid habitat assessment protocols for state-wide management planning. Kate is excited to be working with the Great Basin Institute in supporting their mission to protect the natural and cultural resources essential to sustaining our health and quality of life.