Young Professionals Advisory Council
The goal of Houston Audubon's Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) is to engage the next generation of conservationists and to build awareness of Houston Audubon’s mission among young professionals. YPAC members have the chance to make a significant impact in the world of bird conservation and play an important role in enhancing wildlife habitat.
The inaugural Young Professionals Advisory Council kicked off in 2019 during Houston Audubon’s 50th anniversary year with 17 dedicated members. This group of passionate young conservationists launched the first ever Houston Bird Week and successfully ran a contest to determine the official Bird of Houston – the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. In the second year, the YPAC tackled great challenges with a global pandemic, and helped organize a Bird Week that was mostly virtual. They also began preparations for several other community projects. The concept for the Young Professionals Advisory Council was started by Houston Audubon staff members Zineera Seth and Anna Vallery in late 2018. For any questions about YPAC, please email us at email@example.com.
Please sign up for our YP email list at the bottom of this page if you're interested in YP events or applying for the YPAC.
YPAC 2022 Members
Click on the member's name or photo for their bio.
Construction Manager, Pape-Dawson Engineers, Water Resources Division
Carl Nooteboom, YPAC Chair
Carl Nooteboom is a native Houstonian and graduate of Texas A&M University. He has built his career over twelve years in the Oil & Gas industry designing pipelines and associated facilities. In his spare time he enjoys camping & hiking while birding, playing Bocce ball, and is an avid DIYer.
Development Officer ― Southeast Region | Southwest Region | Government Relations for American Bird Conservancy
Branwen Ranck, CFRE, CVA, YPAC Chair-elect
Branwen’s 14-year career has been defined by building lasting partnerships and raising critical funds for local and international organizations. As a Development Officer for American Bird Conservancy, Branwen serves as the lead fundraiser for the international organization's Southeast Region, Southwest Region, and Government Relations--as well as provides key input to project planning and implementation to conserve wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a unique career that has straddled the intersection of conservation and philanthropy, she has served in key fundraising and environmental roles within both the non-profit and public sectors. In addition to holding a B.S. in Organismal Biology from Austin Peay State University and a Medicinal Plants Certificate from Cornell University, she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and Certified Volunteer Administrator. She splits her spare time between studying nature’s representation in mythology and folklore, being an avid gardener, and serving as Chair-Elect for Houston Audubon’s Young Professional Advisory Council, where she plays an integral role in the chapter’s DEI efforts, leadership development, and the planning of the region’s annual Bird Week.
PhD Candidate, Baylor College of Medicine
Alexander Kneubehl, Houston Bird Week Chair
Alexander Kneubehl is a PhD candidate at Baylor College of Medicine in Molecular Virology and Microbiology. Birding is his escape from work and the city, and lets him enjoy nature and meet interesting people. #teamprairiechicken
Environmental Field Technician, Harris County Engineering Department
Royce Daniels, Social Chair
Royce Daniels is a semi-native Houstonian. He graduated with a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University. Upon graduation his career took him to New York, Oregon, and Hawai’I before coming back to work as an Environmental Field Technician for the Harris County Engineering Department. In his free time he enjoys cooking, birding, biking, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Senior Environmental Operations Analyst, EDP Renewables
Kelsey Baird-Campos grew up in NE Scotland, where her love of wildlife, birds in particular, really started. After earning her B.S. in Environmental Science and Biology from University of Stirling, Kelsey moved to Maryland to complete her M.S. in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology at Frostburg State. She moved down to Houston six years ago, and during this time has thoroughly enjoyed working as an afterschool environmental engineering STEM coach and wildlife biologist. Kelsey most recently joined the environmental affairs group of EDPR where she helps oversee environmental compliance and permitting for operating wind and solar farms across the US, Canada, and Mexico. When she is not working or stealing some time to run down to the coast to bird, Kelsey spends much of her time running along the White Oak Bayou, working on one of several ongoing house renovation projects, and buying plants.
Upper School English Teacher, The Kinkaid School
Ryan Call teaches English to ninth and eleventh graders at The Kinkaid School. During the school's Interim Term, he offers--with a fellow teacher--a birding and nature-writing class, during which students learn about and practice birding basics as well as writing about nature, all while observing the winter residents of Piney Point Village. An alum of Rhodes College, Ryan has an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University, is the author of two story collections, and received a Whiting Award. Ryan and his wife and daughters enjoy taking road trips to natural attractions and parks. His favorite bird is the Mississippi Kite.
Teen Programs Supervisor, Houston Zoo
Colleen Cavanaugh is the Teen Programs Supervisor at the Houston Zoo where she works to cultivate the next generation of conservation heroes by mentoring teens at the Zoo and helping them connect to nature through adventure programs around Houston and internationally. Colleen is originally from Arizona but has lived in six different states in the US. She has an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Arizona and a graduate degree in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University. Colleen loves all things outdoors- hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, birding- and spends her days off exploring nature around Houston.
Danielle Cavender is a multi-faceted geologist with ConocoPhillips and holds an M.S. in Geology from the University of Missouri. She grew up in the Nashville area where she frequently visited the blue macaws and lorikeets at the Nashville Zoo. Her past volunteer efforts include the HA's Native Nursery and the Mizzou's Raptor Rehabilitation program. She loves adventuring and drawing birds in her sketchbook.
Program Officer, LISC
A Louisiana native, Madeleine is happy to call the Gulf Coast home (although her time in Texas has made the Great Tailed Grackle her favorite bird). Her current role as a Program Officer with LISC Houston allows her to work closely with community partners to support programs that provide direct services to vulnerable populations, connecting individuals with workforce opportunities and tools to reach financial stability. Her multicultural experiences studying, living, and researching abroad in southeast Asia and Latin America is supported by BAs in International Relations, French, Spanish, and Latin American Studies from the University of Arkansas, and a Masters of Public Service (MPS) from the Clinton School of Public Service. She is always searching for the next great historical fiction novel to accompany her on her travels (binoculars in tow).
Landscape Architect, SWA Group
Taran Jensvold grew up near Cypress, Texas. She has a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Colorado State University and a Master in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. She has lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Sweden, and Australia, and has been back in Houston since 2018. She was part of the team that managed the construction of Clay Family Eastern Glades in Memorial Park, where she fell in love with creating native habitat.
Project Engineer, Weatherford
Cameron is a Project Engineer at Weatherford, specializing in downhole tool design, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. A 2017 trip to bird-rich Everglades National Park reawakened a passion for birding originally fostered by his grandad, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has made up for lost time by birding all over the greater Houston region, as well as taking trips across North America, with his life list sitting at 340 and his Harris County list at 180. He also enjoys volunteering his time for conservation efforts at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. You can follow his birding adventures on Instagram @thetexasbirder.
Investment Officer, Hirtle Callaghan
Catherine Lee Clarke
Catherine advises families and nonprofits on their investment portfolios so they can meet their missions. Her favorite bird is the roseate spoonbill, and she loves to combine birding with kayaking and cycling around Houston and the Hill Country. A native Houstonian, Catherine holds a BA in Philosophy from Wellesley College.
Exhibits Supervisor, Senior Biologist, Moody Gardens
Clayton Leopold grew up in a small rural community just north of Victoria. Growing up in the country, Clayton was surrounded by wildlife, which cultured a deep appreciation of the natural world. Clayton received his degrees in Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries from Texas A&M University at Galveston. During that time, he volunteered at Moody Gardens, which led him to his current position. He currently works as a Senior Biologist/Exhibit Specialist at Moody Gardens in Galveston. Clayton and his wife have two amazing children, Laiken, 3, and Cassin, 1.
Texas Coastal Outreach Coordinator, American Bird Conservancy
Originally from Northern California, Kelly has always loved the outdoors, especially the ocean. This led to pursuing a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami (FL) and a Master’s degree from the University of Washington, both in marine science and policy. Her career has ranged from teaching marine ecology in The Bahamas to working as a marine policy fellow in the United States Senate, and she recently joined the bird world as the Texas Coastal Outreach Coordinator for the American Bird Conservancy. In this role, she’ll be working to reduce trash pollution along the coasts and waterways of the Houston-Galveston region in order to minimize threats to birds, as well as people and all other wildlife. As a new birder, she looks forward to getting her life list started while working with the Young Professionals Advisory Council!
Vice President, Institute for Spirituality and Health
Stuart C. Nelson serves as Vice President at the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center. He manages an interdisciplinary team that works within the intersection of spiritual/religious belief, practice, community life, and health. Stuart has completed bachelor’s degrees in cognitive science, psychology, and religious studies at Rice University, and went on to complete a master’s in religious studies at University of California at Santa Barbara. His work focuses on applying theories and methods from cognitive science of religion in the context of health systems to increase quality of care. Stuart is a musically-minded lover of hip-hop, classic rock, and classical Indian music, as well as impressionism, surrealism, and modern art. He is also an avid birder.
Naturalist 1 (Park Interpreter), Harris County Precinct 3
Bayard Nicklow is a park interpreter with Harris County Precinct 3 at Kleb Woods and John Paul Landing. He holds a B.S. in Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Management from Colorado State University though originally from the Houston area. He has a particular fondness for coastal salt marshes and prairies and enjoys exploring them through fishing, birding and photography.
Naturalist, Collections Manager, Birthday Party Manager, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Nikki Paranzino is currently a Naturalist at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. While she primarily likes to focus on mammals and reptiles, she does have hands-on experience working with numerous animals including different species of song birds, water birds, and raptors. Raptors being her favorite.
Crude Trading Analyst, Shell Oil Company
Kari Shearer currently works at Shell as an onshore lease crude trading analyst. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Southwestern University. When not at work, Kari enjoys playing board games with friends, rock climbing, camping and hiking (basically anything that can also be combined with birding). Her favorite bird is the rufous motmot.
Geophysicist, Hess Corporation
Abra Ziegler is an integrated exploration geophysicist with Hess Corporation and holds an M.S. in Geophysics from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Before the hydrocarbon industry, she worked for the USGS and NGA and was involved in varied climate and conservation science projects including for wind energy, threatened and endangered species, and carbon sequestration. She loves categorizing and cataloging, loves knowing things, loves searching (and of course finding); thus a birder she became.
This birder was born in the high desert in the American West; her topography was formed over geological time. Begin in the Colorado Rockies where the Laramide orogeny built the very mountains that built her own foundation, also solid, also metamorphic. Move next into the Rio Grande Rift, its widespread extension manifesting her own broadening, of place and of mind. Quickly run through the Basin and Range, its parallel faults leveling out below the surface (she'd like to think hers did too, as graben linking to her horst). Finally now in the Gulf Coastal Plain, formed from the weight of accumulation and the breaking of boulders into sand, she too was deposited here. The days left in front of her will watch her get older as the sediments now surrounding her grow younger.
She hopes the birds she has searched for and found through all of her own time, first as constant, then as augury, will be there still to herald the next epoch and the next and the next.
YPAC Emeritus Members
Thank you to our past YPAC members that have helped us make a difference in bird conservation through hands-on conservation work and public engagement.
|Ian Wesley Gapp||2019-2020|