Forestry Program Manager
Research Associate Program Coordinator, Southern Office
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
Ecological Restoration Coordinator, Galena Creek Field Institute
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.
Keith Beam has more than 22 years of experience and brings significant expertise in private and governmental accounting and financial management. Keith oversees the accounting, budgeting, auditing, compliance, and financial planning functions of the GBI. Keith earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems. He is a certified public accountant (CPA) and a certified fraud examiner (CFE – inactive license). Keith enjoys spending his free time fishing, hiking, and OHVs.
Bill Buckley is originally from the Detroit area. During a 6-month road trip in the 1990’s, Bill’s love of the outdoors grew as did his love of the western US. He ultimately landed in Northern California to study at Humboldt State University, where he earned his Forestry degree concentrated on Hydrology. Bill then spent two years with Six Rivers National Forest as an AmeriCorps member in the Fisheries/Hydrology department. Bill worked with City of Portland Parks and Recreation in their Natural Areas Management program before going on to study at Oregon State University, where he received his Professional Science Masters degree in Environmental Science focusing on riparian restoration.
Prior to joining the GBI team, Bill worked in forestry and invasive species management on Hawai`i Island for 10 years. There he focused his efforts on managing the albizia tree (one of the fastest growing trees on earth) and the native ʻōhiʻa tree, implementing early detection and rapid response to the fungal pathogen, ʻOhiʻa Death, which is killing many of these culturally and ecologically important species. Bill, along with two of his collaborators, were honored with receiving the Hawai`i Tourism Authority Conservation Legacy Award for their work in combating Rapid ʻOhiʻa Death.
Bill is excited to be back on the mainland with his family and enjoys spending time in the Sierra Nevada hiking and snowboarding. He also enjoys surfing, music and good food!
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.
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.
Alissa Gardner (Demmer) grew up in the Twin Cities, earning her B.S. in Natural Resource Economics from the University of Minnesota in 2009. She truly fell hard for the wild outdoors while working in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming as an AmeriCorps trail crew member in 2010. She has great appreciation for nature and all it provides, which led her back to school to complete her M.Ed. in Environmental Education in 2014. After wrapping up grad school, Alissa headed to Nevada and took on a position as a Research Associate with GBI in the Spring Mountains. Since then, she has held training and volunteer coordinator positions in Southern NV related to conservation and environmental work. Outside of her work with GBI, Alissa adores hiking, yoga, learning about nature-based therapeutics, her incredible family, partner and two very affectionate senior cats.
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.
Catherine is the Recruitment Coordinator for the Nevada Conservation Corps. Originally from Atlanta Georgia, Catherine first came to Nevada to join a Nevada Conservation Corps Forestry crew. She went on to work for GBI’s Desert Tortoise Program, GBI’s Ecological Monitoring Program, and the Lassen National Park Wilderness Fuels Module. Catherine enjoys skiing, climbing, fishing, and murder mysteries.
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.
Tucker Herbert is the AmeriCorps Grants Coordinator for GBI. Originally born and raised in Maryland, Tucker migrated West in 2008 to obtain a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Northern Arizona University. After graduating college in 2010, he first began a conservation career serving as an AmeriCorps trail crew member with the Coconino Rural Environmental Corps in Flagstaff, AZ. His experience and excitement for all things corps work related over the following years led him to positions as a crew leader, field supervisor, and program coordinator. Tucker started his new role with the Great Basin Institute in January 2020 after spending the last three years as the Individual Placement Program Director for Arizona Conservation Corps in Tucson. AZ. In his free time Tucker enjoys skiing, backpacking, running, and reading, and is excited to explore all that the Tahoe basin has to offer.
Alejandro Keir studies conservation biology and evolutionary ecology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Born in the mountains of central Mexico, and raised locally on Mount Rose, Alejandro is an avid fly fisherman, mountain biker, and snowboarder, and his passion for the outdoors keeps his heart centered on the landscape. While serving as ecological restoration coordinator for Galena Creek Field Institute, he enjoys connecting teachers and students to the forest, and working to support the recovery of our local watershed.
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.
Rick A. Sweitzer, M.S., PhD, University of Nevada, Reno (1990, 1995) is a Wildlife Biologist with over 35 years of research experience, compliance, and teaching experience in the Western United States. Rick has held professional positions at the University of California Davis (Postdoctoral Research, Adjunct teaching), University of Alaska, Fairbanks (Visiting), the University of North Dakota (Assistant and Associate Professor), and the University of California, Berkeley (Research Professional/Associate Professor). Rick first joined The Great Basin Institute in 2013 when he spent several years working on data analyses, and completed multiple important publications on the population biology and conservation-associated aspects of Pacific fisher ecology in the Southern Sierra Nevada, California. In addition to experience with NEPA and Endangered Species Act compliance (Biological Assessments/Evaluations, Management Indicator Species Reports, etc.), Rick has over 50 peer-reviewed publications in science journals including the Journal of Wildlife Management, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Forest Ecology and Management, Oecologia, Journal of Mammalogy, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Journal of Wildlife Diseases, and others.
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.