Holly Merker, Pennsylvania


Holly has been a professional birding guide and environmental educator for over twenty years, and continues to love guiding people into rewarding experiences with birds and the habitats we share with them.  Holly has worked extensively with young birders, from helping create a bird club at the local elementary school, to acting as Director for the American Birding Association’s Camp Delaware Bay (formerly Camp Avocet) since the camp began in 2013, and as an instructor for National Audubon’s Hog Island Camp in Maine.

Today her focus centers around the wellness benefits birds and nature provide our overall wellbeing, coauthoring two books on this subject and providing nature-based wellness programming around the US.

In 2022, Holly was awarded the Conservation and Education Award by the American Birding Association, recognizing her work in both areas of birding.

Mollee Brown, West Virginia


Mollee is the owner of Nighthawk Agency, which provides marketing and business development services exclusively to birding-related organizations. Nighthawk started in 2017 after Mollee spent several years working at Bird Watcher’s Digest, mainly focused on the American Birding Expo, and realized that there are specific needs for small businesses and organizations in birding that aren’t met by traditional marketing companies.  Mollee is also the founder and president of The Birding Co-op, a nonprofit devoted to bringing community around birding and opening up birding travel opportunities to new audiences outside of traditional birding tours.  She is a co-host of Life List: A Birding Podcast. Launched in 2020, Mollee joins George Armistead of Hillstar Nature and Alvaro Jaramillo of Alvaro’s Adventures.  Mollee has guided tours for several companies, including Bird Watcher’s Digest Reader Rendezous, Alvaro’s Adventures, and Hawaii Bird Tours, as well as at many birding festivals. She contributes regularly to magazines such as Bird Watcher’s Digest and Birding Magazine (American Birding Association) and online on websites such as Olympus Camera and Kowa Optics.

Mary-Therese Grob, Pennsylvania


Mary-Therese Grob (or “MT”) has a B.S. in Parks and Recreation and received her teaching certificate in bio/general science.  She was the youth director at a local YMCA before joining the State Park system as a park ranger and environmental educator.  MT began volunteering at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in 1994 and joined the staff as Visitor Service manager in 2007.  She established and coordinates the Young Birders Club, for all youth ages 6-18, who are interested in learning more about birds and the natural world.  Club events connect participants with mentors and conservation professionals and include activities such as bird identification, biological surveys, and service learning projects.  MT also guides bird walks and facilitates several public programs on the sanctuary’s event schedule.  When not on working on the mountain, MT enjoys walking her dogs, birding, hiking, and camping.

Seth Benz, Maine

Seth Benz has served as Assistant to the Curator at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, director of Hog Island Audubon Camp, and is the current director of Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park’s Bird Ecology Program. In his current role, Seth coordinates citizen scientists’ efforts to monitor bird migrations, pelagic seabird concentrations, and biodiversity and phenology observations in the Acadia Region. He is a current American Birding Association Youth Birding Mentor and has recently completed a three-year term on the Maine Bird Records Committee. Seth and wife Sue reside in Belfast, Maine with their Australian Shepherd rescue pooch, Beazie.

Melissa Hafting, British Columbia

Melissa Hafting founded the BC Young Birders Program for youth aged 11-18. The program aims to bring together youth of all races, sexual orientations, and genders to look at birds on fun excursions into the natural world. The program also helps teach youth about citizen science and the importance of the conservation of birds and their habitats. Melissa is also a biologist, bird guide, author and photographer. She is a judge for the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards and loves to travel the world looking at birds. She is passionate about making birding more inclusive for all, especially for BIPOC birders like herself.

Melissa was the 2021 recipient of the BC Nature’s “Daphne Solecki Award” for her work mentoring youth.  She was also a finalist for the 2021 Canadian Museum of Nature’s Adult Nature Inspiration Awards.

Laura Guerard, New Jersey

Laura facilitates and develops ABA’s celebrated programs that nurture young birders. Laura has a deep-rooted passion for environmental education that has grown from her own childhood exploring the Chesapeake Bay. She is driven to help young people develop a strong sense of place with the natural world and inspire environmental stewardship. Laura has worked with young birders for the majority of her career—she founded the Coastal Maine Bird Studies teen camp at the Audubon’s Hog Island Camp in Maine, coordinated the highly successful Ohio Young Birders Club, and served as a mentor for the Young Birders Network. Laura lives with her nature-loving family in Cape May, NJ.

Eva Lark, Maine

Eva Matthews Lark has a Masters of Science degree in Recreation & Parks Management and Bachelors of Science degrees in Environmental Science, Biology and Chemistry. She works year-around for Hog Island and manages the various social media channels, marketing, and camp registration, in addition to scholarships, contracts, and rentals. She is the director of all four teen camps including the  Costa Rica Teen Camp and the Mountains to Sea Birding for Teens session. Eva also runs most of the virtual programming for the Seabird Institute including Tern the Page: An Audubon Book Club, Making Bird Connections: A Lecture Series and many other events. She has been a birder for nearly two decades and credits the winter warblers of Florida as being her spark birds.  In her free time she enjoys traveling with her wife, young son, and two rescue dogs. She particularly enjoys birding competitions with friends and is an avid eBirder and recovering Fantasy Birder.

Patrick Maurice, Georgia

Patrick Maurice is a birder and nature photographer from Atlanta, Georgia. Patrick has been birding for as long as he can remember and carrying a camera with him for over a decade. While he is primarily a bird photographer, he also enjoys photographing nature and landscapes. Patrick also loves to travel and has a goal of visiting every continent—he’s already been to four of them! Patrick is currently pursuing his dream of being a bird guide with NatureScape Tours and also guides for the Biggest Week, Georgia Birdfest, and the Georgia Ornithological Society. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and watching soccer.

Matthew Young, New York

Matt has been observing and enjoying nature since a very young age. He received his B.S. in Water Resources with a minor in Meteorology from SUNY-Oneonta and his M.S. in Ornithology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry/Syracuse University in 2003. Matt did his masters research on avian diversity in restored wetlands of central New York at the Great Swamp Conservancy. He was a Regional Editor of the Kingbird for 10 years, the state ornithological journal in New York, was an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Studies at SUNY-Cortland, and currently teaches an Intro to Birding class for Cornell University and is the Board Chair at The Wetland Trust.

Over the last ~25 years he’s worked as a social worker (and is currently) with special needs adolescents for close to 10 years, and worked at the Cornell Lab across 15+ years where he did extensive field work for the Lab’s Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers atlas projects, and was project lead on the Lab’s first Finch Irruptive Bird Survey for Bird Source in 1999. He was the Collections Management Leader/Audio Engineer at the Macaulay Library ~12 years where he edited sounds for several Merlin packs around the world in addition to being the lead audio engineer on guides, the Songs of the Warblers of North America, Audubon Society Voices of Hawaii’s Birds, and the Cornell Lab’s Guides to Bird Sounds, the North America Master and Essential Sets. He’s been a tour guide leader for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, written finch species accounts for breeding bird atlases and Birds of the World, and has published several papers about the Red Crossbill vocal complex. He’s currently working on Finches of North America with Lillian Stokes and is also the President and Founder of the Finch Research Network (FiRN).