Bob grew up in a family that shared with cats, turtles, fish, and tortoises. His parents took action on causes of civil rights and environmental issues as a matter of course, usually without pointed discussion: action, not words was their example. Several of Bob's fellow fighter pilots in the US Navy had degrees in Biology, or Ecology, and they recommended reading that furthered his understanding of the environment and need for maintaining the interrelationships of species and for a landscape approach. Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac" was a seminal recommendation that generated insight into the need for what are now called apex consumers. Bob discovered Mountain Lion Foundation as part of his research to learn about America's lion, and found fellow travelers in his belief that we need to protect these magnificent cats to maintain their biological effectiveness to preserve our own well-being. Bob lives in Sammamish, Washington, close enough to the Wildland-Urban Interface that coyotes, deer, and occasionally, black bears visit. His four cats are indoor only, both for their protection, and also because they are efficient hunters that constitute an invasive species. Bob has a BS degree, an MBA, and a bad attitude toward those who value dollars over environment.
Robin Parks retired from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in 2004 after a 25 year career in federal law enforcement. Robin's work required he work and live in various locations in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and on U.S. Navy ships at sea. A life long admirer of the great cats, he began doing volunteer work at animal sanctuaries in California and elsewhere in 1999 where he first encountered captive mountain lions. This later led him to the Mountain Lion Foundation (MLF) where he has been a field volunteer on several projects. He now is very much involved in reaching out to law enforcement agencies who are so often the first responders to cougar incidents. Robin's presentations provide basic cougar biology and general safety tips, and address the "myths & misinformation" that surround cougars. He also discusses various "shoot/don't shoot" considerations and scenarios geared toward law enforcement personnel which show that killing a wayward cougar simply because it has wandered into human territory is rarely necessary and is often the wrong decision.
Julie West is a big cat advocate and digital media artist with an MFA in Video-Film from the California Institute of the Arts (CALARTS), where she produced From the Root Up, an award-winning documentary on stewardship and food. Julie joined the Mountain Lion Foundation team in March 2010 as a volunteer broadcaster and editor with MLF's ON AIR podcast program. She has worked as a writer, photographer, photo-editor and video producer/editor to facilitate personal and professional projects primarily for conservation and higher education organizations. She is currently a communications specialist for the Natural Sounds & Night Skies division of the National Park Service in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she raises awareness about natural viewsheds and sound resources. She is developing a project begun as a 2014-15 Fulbright Scholar in India on the subject of tiger conservation, which examines wildlife science and forestry management in tandem with cultural customs, folklore and Vedic teachings to draw out connections between ancient and contemporary eco-knowledge.
Kathryn is a California kid from the get-go. She was born in rural NorCal, and remembers being able to see both Shasta and Lassen from her grandparents' back pasture on clear days. She has three degrees in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, with specializations in California Native languages (especially Chumashan) and Celtic languages, is on the editorial board of The Journal of California Archaeology, and taught at UC Berkeley (as a Lecturer) for over 30 years. She can't recall a time when she didn't think of mountain lions as a wondrous part of the world, and though she has never had a wild encounter with one, assuring that they're out there in sustainable habitat and a healthy ecosystem, and that trophy hunting becomes a thing of the past, are goals worth working for. After retirement from UC in 2012, she began volunteering for MLF as a research assistant and outreach person. Thanks to her longtime university research background, she has a knack for tracking down difficult-to-find publications that MLF needs for its programs. Being able to be part of a community of individuals working together to make a real difference for the lions is an unexpected retirement blessing. At home, she lives with an elderly Abyssinian cat, whom she refers to as a "mini-cougar" thanks to the uncanny resemblance to his wild distant cousins.
Raj is an activist for MLF, campaigning for the protection of wildcats. Back in elementary school, a mountain lion found its way to his school. Ever since that incident, he has been quite intrigued by the felines and has followed up with his own research, attempting to find practical ways to circumvent these territory issues and prevent such encounters. His ideas, in the form of projects and essays, have won many prizes. He has successfully convinced people to write letters to senators, and campaigned to help pass Senate bills. He volunteers at events, and enjoys hearing people's unique stories. A man once told him that his grandson brought home a mountain lion cub, thinking it was a kitten! The family, worried that the mother lion would attack, rushed to keep the cub back in the woods. Another man donated for the cause, in spite of being jobless! Raj also educates people on how to protect their livestock, and shows them why wildcats have so much more to fear than we do. While he may have come a long way from that fateful day in elementary school, now heading into college, he continues to campaign for the cause. The joint victories in accomplishing goals at MLF are part of his best memories.
Leah Sturgis is a predator friendly rancher and a passionate voice for peaceful co-existence with predators. From the insights she gained growing up on an 800 acre ranch in Nevada, Leah has seen the benefits of predator friendly ranching first hand. Over the years she has become an advocate for peaceful co-existence between predators and ranching communities. With a background in Communications and over 15 years experience in the film and television industry, Leah has extensive experience in the visual arts and has produced and directed videos, commercials, live television programs, and a feature film. As her awareness grew about the atrocities being done to her local wildlife, Leah took action and became a Lobbyist in the Nevada State Legislature lobbying for trapping and predator management reform. She also holds a seat on the board of directors for the Nevada Wildlife Alliance, a pact working toward democratizing wildlife management in Nevada.
Chuck is an avid mountaineer, outdoorsman and wannabe naturalist. He has a life-long affinity for nature and wildlife. Chuck loves cats, from the smallest kittens to the largest tigers, and marvels at the remarkable scale over which they all commonly exhibit such particularly felid characteristics. An honored veteran, CSU graduate and practicing electrical engineer, Chuck enjoys volunteering his time and resources as his busy working life allows. Some of the organizations he enthusiastically supports are the Humane Society of the United States, Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation, Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary, and of course, Mountain Lion Foundation. Chuck says, "These are just some of the organizations that are making a difference for animals everywhere, and at all levels. And that's what it takes — support and a voice at the international, national, state, and local levels. I highly recommend folks who are considering lending their support to do so, in whatever capacity they are comfortable with, to help make a difference. Every dollar donated... every hour volunteered... every voice expressing support... is a welcome, meaningful contribution. And, it just makes you feel great!"
Jane always knew she would grow up to be a cat lady it just wasn't until fairly recently that the passion came to include a much larger feline, our local mountain lion. With a deep concern for their declining genetic diversity and a substantial increase in lions being killed on depredation permits in her area Jane began the Julian Mountain Lion Project. She was only on her own for a few short weeks before the Mountain Lion Foundation offered it's support and expertise and took the project under it's wing, greatly enhancing and expediting it's potential effectiveness. Although Jane is an advocate for mountain lion conservation she is simultaneously promoting safety for our neighborhoods, families, pets and livestock. She states that there are solutions to the unique challenges that living with mountain lions present and by working closely with the community through public events and individual home visits we can all win a safer environment for ourselves AND our mountain lions. She firmly believes that given the importance of our lion population to the survival and sustainability of all of Southern California's lions that Julian could become a model community of predator tolerance. Jane lives in Julian California with her husband, three dogs, several chickens, eleven cats, and an occasional puma visitor. She is also an artist who's favorite subject is, you guessed it, cats.
Brandi is a senior at UC Davis from San Diego, majoring in Environmental Science & Management with an emphasis in Natural Resources Management. Aside from taking classes, she is a Student Manager at the UC Davis Conference Center and the Marketing & Communications Manager for Wild Campus: a non-profit student organization dedicated to local environmental stewardship. Before and during college, she has spent time helping both disadvantaged people and animals in and out of state—even abroad! Brandi's first experience with undomesticated animals such as big cats, birds, and a variety of monkeys, was at the ARCAS Wildlife Rescue Center in Guatemala. Her experiences volunteering and exploring across the nation and abroad inspired her passions for social and environmental justice, as well as environmental policy. After graduation, Brandi plans to move back to San Diego to continue working with the County, volunteer in the community, and live a zero-waste lifestyle.
Lisa DiNicolantonio is a 5th year Environmental Science and Management major at University of California, Davis. Aside from taking classes at Davis, she also works for the university as a peer advisor, where she helps her classmates decide which classes they want to take based on their major and their interests. Some of her favorite activities are cooking, reading, photography, and hiking/backpacking. She grew up very close to Mt. Diablo, and began hiking and exploring the outdoors at a very young age! When she was younger, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, a wildlife rehabilitation center near her house, rescued a mountain lion from a man's back yard, where it was being kept as a pet. Unfortunately, the lion could not be released back into the wild since it was raised in captivity, but the wildlife center kept her there, giving her the best life they could and Lisa was able to see a mountain lion in person. This experience triggered her love for wildlife and activism to ensure that mountain lions are not kept as pets, but are able to live a natural life. After she graduates in June, she plans to move to Oregon, and continue working to preserve and restore the amazing planet we call home.
Mason is a third-year Field and Wildlife Biology major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His first foray into wildlife advocacy was as a keeper for Zoo To You in Paso Robles California, where he is involved in the care for many different wildlife species, including large felines; and in educating the public about the plight of wildlife worldwide. He was later elected president of the Cal Poly Wildlife Club, a student chapter of the Wildlife Society. Mason grew up in the Los Padres National Forest; he loves being outdoors, his favorite pastimes being tracking and photographing wildlife, and getting lost in the wilderness. In the future he hopes to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge surrounding mountain lions and other wildcat species, in order to aid in their conservation and management.
Elisa Fernandes-McDade is an aspiring ornithologist, so she has mostly done bird-centric internships with hunting and conservation organizations in the past. Working with the MLF is a departure from working with birds, but she really likes the idea of streamlining the research process for mountain lion researchers. While living in Brazil, Elisa once stood 10 feet away from a mountain lion guarding a freshly-killed rhea (she was defending it from a king vulture) — but she hasn't seen another since then! Elisa's dream is to work with seabirds in Maine because, she says, "having grown up in Hawai'i, the Northeast is very exotic to me."
Dylan is a senior in high school and has a passion for wildlife. She loves being around all kinds of animals and she volunteers for Classroom Safari and the Wild Cat Education and Conservation Fund handling exotic animals for the purpose of conservation education. She's acquired a broad set of skills and knowledge regarding veterinary medicine from her father who is a vet and has been willing to teach her throughout her life. Because of these wonderful opportunities and experiences, her dream career is one that involves the protection of wildlife. In her spare time, she really enjoys drawing, reading and writing as well as hiking, kayaking and snoozing in the sun.