HRM Alumni

Sam Lisak

I began working at HRM following the completion of my master’s degree at the University of Michigan. I was looking for a position that would allow me to gain experience in the field of wildlife biology, and the focus on herps was an added bonus as I have always loved reptiles and amphibians. I worked at HRM for two years starting in 2022, first serving as a field technician and then a field lead. This time has been invaluable for my development as a biologist and I have had the chance to partake in many amazing projects that support Michigan’s herpetofauna. The experiences and knowledge I have gained at HRM have bolstered my passion for wildlife conservation and management. I hope to bring these values to my next position working as a wildlife biologist for the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

Aidan Navarre

I began my time at HRM with an internship in 2020. The internship proved to be an invaluable start to my professional career as it contained both elements of field work and a dedicated GIS research project. I returned to HRM full time the following year upon graduating to continue to pursue my passion of both herpetology and GIS. Through a challenging and rewarding three years of working at HRM, I developed technical skills in a variety of GIS applications and workflows and developed leadership and communication skills, of which I will carry throughout the rest of my career.

I am now working as a GIS Specialist for Monroe County, Michigan to further refine and develop my skills within the GIS field. I hope to once again merge both my knowledge and skillset in GIS with the field of wildlife conservation in the future. Without my years spent at HRM, it is very possible I would not have had the opportunities to obtain a foundation in both fields and have the opportunities to grow as a leader and as an individual.

AJ Fetterman

I started working for Dave and HRM in early 2020 and immediately starting gaining knowledge that would prove to be incredibly useful for the growth of my career. I was hired on to care for the collection of Turtles and Tortoises and found it very rewarding to care for such rare and incredible animals. My favorite of the chelonians to interact with were probably the pancake tortoises, although it’s hard to pick a favorite. After leaving HRM I worked with wildlife rehabilitation and care at the Howell Nature Center, and recently have began a new job working at the Turtle Survival Alliance in South Carolina working to provide daily care for some of the rarest and most beautiful Turtles and Tortoises in the world. I would not have made the connections needed to find this job or had the knowledge necessary without my time spent at HRM.

Anthony Beals

“Since my time working at HRM the summer of 2015, I did one more internship with the Michigan DNR. The next field season it was thanks in part to my season at HRM that I started my first non-military federal position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency. I was told after my interview that they wanted me specifically because of my knowledge and skills that I learned while surveying herps in Oakland County. Since then, I moved on to the U.S. Forest Service for 3 seasons before finally landing a permanent position as an Administrative Support Assistant. While it may be an office position, I know that the skills and experiences I took from that one season will help me be a better advocate for herpetofauna to the many visitors in my district.”

Tony, your hard work, dedication, and passion were always something that impressed me. You have stayed strong and determined even when there were setbacks. It was wonderful having you as part of the team and seeing your professional growth and success!

Anthony Beals

Amanda Bryant

“I started working for HRM in 2015 and stayed until the end of 2016. I learned so many things in those two years and I’ve carried that experience with me throughout my career. Since leaving HRM, I’ve been able to work with reptiles and amphibians across the globe from the deserts of Nevada to the jungles of Guam. Most recently, I started my PhD at Texas State University studying the effects of different types of agriculture on amphibian physiology and immune function. All of my field work takes place in Michigan and I have been able to incorporate so many aspects of what I learned at HRM into my research, from how to identify frog calls, to the best ways to dipnet for tadpoles. I wouldn’t be half the biologist I am today without those experiences and I am so grateful to have had Dave’s support throughout my career as a biologist.”

Amanda, we are so very proud of your achievements and your continued focus on amphibian and reptile conservation. We are so excited that you have been conducting your graduate work here in Michigan to help understand the impacts we can have on herps. While we miss you, we are so pleased to see you continue growing and following your dreams!

Patrick Walker

“My employment with HRM sparked my current professional and personal interest in amphibians and reptiles. Before then, I never realized the diversity of these cryptic fauna that lie under logs and in vernal pools. Since then, I have traveled the country in search of herpetology-focused jobs, taking my professional experience to Kansas, Nevada, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, and California. After HRM, I first tracked gopher tortoises via GPS technology in Florida. Then, I tracked desert tortoises via radio telemetry in the Mojave desert. For a time, I became a desert tortoise biologist for the U.S. Army, tagging and assessing over eighty desert tortoises, before moving away from the desert. Eventually, I made it to the Central Valley of California, where I obtained a wildlife biologist position with a State agency. I currently hold several state and federal permits for rare amphibians and reptiles throughout California. Due to the interest sparked by my time with HRM, my current position has become herpetofauna-focused in a manner that fulfills my interest. Lastly, I currently conduct salamander research on the side and have discovered new populations of cryptic species. Thank you HRM for guiding me!”

Pat, your energy and passion were appreciated and are missed! We are so very happy to see you not only working in this field, but thriving and remaining passionate about what you do! While we always miss staff leaving Michigan for more herp-rich pastures, we are always thrilled to see other organizations and states benefit from such good people!

Sarah Matuszak

“I had the opportunity to intern with HRM in 2008. The experiences I had in the field with Dave, Sean, and other interns there was a learning experience that I will never forget and often refer back to when teaching nature programs and exploring on my own and with my family.These firsthand experiences are what bring my nature programs to life, and inspired many herp themed presentations and adventures continuing today. The most amazing experience I had was when we were surveying for salamanders at a mitigated wetland, and there were buckets full of spotted salamanders waiting to be measured and tagged and that night really sparked my interest in conservation and habitat preservation. I’ve continued in the field as a naturalist, and by creating habitat for herps in my backyard. I have also started a non-profit focused on turtle rehabilitation and conservation to which Dave thoughtfully donated two reptibators for incubating turtle eggs laid by injured turtles in my care.”

Sarah, it was wonderful working with you and we have so greatly enjoyed watching you grow professionally to fill a much-needed niche helping rehabilitate our native turtles!

Robert Primeau

When Robert started working for HRM in 2003 he had little field experience but an intense desire to understand and lend aid to the natural world. A field season spent observing turtle behavior and surveying for herpetofauna helped him dive deep into the world of herps and wetlands and impressed upon him the importance of habitat restoration. Following his internship Robert pursued a Masters degree in landscape architecture in order to better understand how to restore ecological systems. Following several private commissions, Robert managed several restoration and capital improvement projects at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, including forest and understory plantings, boardwalk construction and helping manage the completion of a 700 foot long fishing pier in the Detroit River. Today, Robert regulates the natural world as an analyst at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), where he regulates activities within the wetlands, lakes, and stream of Southeast Michigan through the review of permit applications and investigation of unpermitted activities.

We’re so very proud of you, Rob, and glad we get to continue working on projects together! Those days back on the Rouge River and removing Snapping Turtles will remain some of our favorite herping experiences!

Hunter Craig

“After interning with HRM, I went on to earn my MS in Biology at Oakland University studying the effects of forest change on wood frog tadpole development and predation. Without the experiences I had with Dave and the HRM crew, I doubt I would have had the confidence to pursue a herp-related degree. I then switched gears a bit and started my PhD work on amphibian and chytrid fungus thermal disease dynamics with a focus on the Metabolic Theory of Ecology. I have also found ways to incorporate my research into a classroom setting, developing interactive online activities for undergraduate students to learn about endotherm (human) and ectotherm (frog) metabolic rates. Once I receive my degree, I hope to enter a teaching-centered career at the college level.”

Hunter, thank you for being part of our team and for continuing to serve as a champion of amphibians and reptiles! We are so proud to see so many folks continue to pursue advanced degrees and careers in order to help understand and research threats and conservation of herpetofauna!

Chris Woodley

“I first interned at HRM back in 2007. It is hard to believe that it has already been 15 years since that first summer working with Dave, Sarah and Sean. I was able to intern during a time in which I wasn’t sure what the next steps would be and by the end of the summer had lined up an opportunity to study box turtles in grad school. I will always be grateful for my time with HRM and credit the experience with where I am today. On the herp side, since that first summer I have completed my master’s degree where I had the opportunity to study spring emergence in Eastern Box Turtles and work with HRM on surveying throughout Michigan and especially in the Saginaw Bay. And certainly, will never forget rescuing turtles on the Kalamazoo River after the oil spill near Marshall. Since about 2010 I have also worked actively on the Herp. Atlas database and am very excited to see what we can do with MARC! I am also working on my PhD in science education and working to explore how herpers become herpers, to hopefully contribute that understanding to expanding citizen science with herps. On the husbandry side my Russian tortoises have been consistently producing between 5-10 eggs for a few years now and my first group of F1s is likely getting close to starting to produce (I hope). My oldest has also discovered a growing interest in snakes so we are likely going to start a ball python project this year. Outside of herps Vanessa I married in 2011 and somehow, she has gracefully tolerated my eccentric interests and obsessions for all the time we’ve been together and now have two kids who are already 7 and 9. We moved to northern Michigan shortly after I finished my master’s so that I could start teaching full-time for Baker College back in 2013. I also have become much more involved with coaching wrestling which has just finished for the year. Pictured is my youngest and I before his match. It’s hard to believe it has already been 15 years, and I’m excited to see what the next 15 will bring. With any luck it will include a lot more great herp experiences.”

Chris, thank you so much for all the years of help and support building what HRM is today. You and Sean have been with HRM almost from the beginning and I would not be where we are today without incredible people like you! We are so proud of all you have achieved, most of all your dedication to making sure future generations have the same love and passion we do for herps!

Megan Schildberg

Intern: March 7, 2014- January 1, 2015
Employed: January 1, 2015- September 2016
“My time at HRM gave me valuable insight into this sector of the wildlife research field, and I would not be where I am today without my experiences with HRM and the lessons I learned in working for Dave. Since leaving HRM I have focused my career more on nature education and field research, and I enjoy teaching and creating lessons that help people understand the value of what can be accomplished with the right combination of research and ecological management. I am also currently pursuing a Masters degree in GIS.”

Thank you, Meg! We are appreciative of your time with HRM and all you did at Oakland County helping manage field teams. So happy life brought you to HRM and that project and all the wonderful opportunities that came about from it!

Hailey Brown

I began my experience at HRM as an intern in 2012. After graduating from MSU in 2013, I went on to work full time as a field technician, and eventually accepted a role as lead wildlife biologist. During my six years at HRM I was very fortunate to play a role in several large projects including the development of the Amphibian and Reptile Best Management Practices manual and the creation of the Kinixys Conservation Blueprint. I also had the pleasure of participating in a wide range of field based tasks throughout the state. My favorite projects included comprehensive inventories of the Beaver Island archipelago and assessment of Mudpuppy populations along the Huron-Erie Corridor. Thanks to Dave and his mentoring, I developed numerous professional skills that I continue to utilize to to this day. Since my time at HRM, my career has shifted to the medical field with a focus on administration. Although I no longer work directly in conservation, my passion for herpetofauna and the values instilled during my time at HRM remain strong. I am grateful for the experience I had working with Dave and other colleagues. I truly believe it helped shaped me into the professional I am today.


David Zailo

I began working at HRM as an animal husbandry intern in 2011. HRM was my first foray into working for private industry in the herp conservation field and served as a foundational experience that provided me the opportunity to work with many unique chelonian species in both captive and native environments. I later worked for Dave and HRM as a Wildlife Biologist in 2018 before relocating to Georgia for graduate school. Working with HRM impressed upon me the importance of on-the-ground conservation,stakeholder buy-in, and the potential conservation benefits of public-private partnerships.

Currently, I live on the Georgia coast and am employed by the state of Georgia as a Research Specialist at the Jekyll Island Authority’s Georgia Sea Turtle Center. In my role I coordinate all turtle research and conservation efforts on Jekyll Island from long-term sea turtle beach tagging and nest protection programs, diamondback terrapin conservation, box turtle tracking, and island-wide freshwater turtle mark-recapture programs.

Maegan Stapleton

Maegan began working with HRM in 2012 where she started off as an intern. She was hired on later that season as a field Technician. Maegan worked with HRM until 2019 and in that time was a critical part of the HRM team helping produce several products including the Amphibian and Reptile Best Management Manual and the Kinixys Conservation Blueprint. She was also a key team member for several projects including a collaboration with Eastern Michigan University studying Mudpuppies Funded through the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.

Max Carne-Mason

Max Carne-Mason

Max interned at HRM in the summer of 2009 between his Sophomore and Junior years at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. As a field technician he gained a lot of experience in surveying, the rigors of field work, and care and maintenance of captive herpetofauna populations. After receiving his B.S. in Biology in 2011, Max spent several years interning with various conservation projects in Africa, Asia, and Central America. In 2015 he moved to Arkansas and earned a M.S. degree in ecology focusing on the relationship between Timber Rattlesnakes and the abundance of their prey in the Ozark Highlands. Currently, Max is pursuing a Doctoral degree at the University of Arkansas. His research focuses on the metabolic costs of growth, reproduction, and ecdysis in the Timber Rattlesnake. He hopes to become a professor at a University after completing his degree.

“Working at HRM was invaluable for my professional development. Dave taught me a lot about what it means to be a working biologist in the real world. He helped me fine tune my resume and taught me a great deal about the different ways that you can turn a passion for biology into a full-time job. We spent a lot of good days in the field catching snakes and chatting. My time at HRM gave me the confidence to pursue other internships and ultimately a fulltime career in biology. The field work I did that summer helped me develop the field skills that allow me to be successful in my current research. Thanks, Dave!”

Zac Wigington

Zac worked at HRM in 2023 and is a graduate from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology. Growing up in central Ohio, he spent a lot of time as a teenager outdoors and was able to travel around the country camping, hiking, and backpacking. This is where he fell in love with wildlife, specifically reptiles and amphibians. Zac’s love for reptiles has allowed him to work with Lake Erie Water Snakes for a genomics project conducted by a Master’s student at Ohio University. He hopes to continue working in the field with herpetofauna and contribute to conservation efforts in his home state of Ohio.

Macy Jackson

Macy began working with Dave and Missi at the beginning of 2020. I had just finished my undergrad and hadn’t yet had a job working outside full time, so HRM was my introduction into fieldwork. Dave not only fostered my love and knowledge of Michigan herps but my ability to problem solve and adjust to the ever changing circumstances that fieldwork brings. Since leaving HRM, I’ve focused my efforts on restoration and preventative maintenance of reptile and amphibian habitat. I’m now a licensed pesticide applicator and International Society of Arboriculture certified. While I no longer work hands on with herps directly, the time I spent at HRM fueled the passion I have for protecting essential habitat and continues to provide me with valuable knowledge of fieldwork and Michigan’s natural communities.