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.
Katie Knapp is a recent high school graduate and will attend UC Berkeley to study Molecular Environmental Biology within the College of Natural Resources in the fall of 2019. Whether it be visiting wildlife reserves, whale watching, or walking her dog Cookie, Katie's experiences and love for animals have led her to pursue a life advocating for the protection and conservation of wildlife. She has served in leadership positions for community service organizations, participated in a summer program for marine biology, and started a club to raise money and awareness for marine mammals. Katie interns with the Fearless Advocacy in Sacramento and has worked on projects with Cal Nonprofits and Defenders o f Wildlife. With two cats running her household, she looks forward to helping protect their larger cousins in the wild! Katie is currently tracking media as it relates to our petition to list mountain lions as Threatened under the California Endangered Species Act.