Bear Trust International is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, conservation organization governed by eleven board members. Bear Trust’s executive director works collaboratively with governmental and non-governmental organizations and businesses to pool resources, talents, and time for the purpose of bear conservation worldwide. In addition, Bear Trust mentors interns and hires specific talents to successfully complete Bear Trust program goals.
Executive Director: Dr. Melissa Reynolds-Hogland. Melissa has been dedicated to wildlife conservation for over 20 years. Melissa earned her PhD in Wildlife Sciences from Auburn University and graduated summa cum laude from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology. She was an EPA Fellow while conducting her doctoral research on wild black bears in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Utah State University. With a passion for long-term sustainable conservation of wild bears and other wildlife, she values habitat protection and restoration. Stateside, Melissa focuses efforts on educating youth about the important role that science plays in effective wildlife conservation and works to bring real-world data and science-based education to youth, educators, the public, and decision-makers. Internationally, she collaborates with several IUCN bear experts to help conserve threatened and endangered bear species, focusing efforts in areas where needs are high and capacity is low. Before becoming the executive director of Bear Trust in 2007, Melissa worked with USGS in Colorado and Montana on ecological projects ranging from riparian ecology to avian ecology.
Social Media Outreach Director: Arthur Smid. Arthur manages Bear Trust’s social media outreach on Facebook and Twitter. Arthur is a freelance writer and illustrator who has written short stories, songs, plays, and has performed in community theater. Arthur has traveled through the U.S., Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Canada, Japan, Spain, The Czech Republic, and Germany. His travels have expanded his understanding of world culture and led to work as a language teacher. He has worked with the Madrid branch of Foster Wheeler, written stories for a news/events website, and written several children’s books (arthursmid.com).x
PhD Student: Jarod Raithel. Jarod Raithel, PhD student at Utah State University, is leading research efforts to link bear demography with bear behavior using a long-term data set on black bears provided by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Dr. Lise Aubry (Utah State University) is PI, and Dr. Melissa Reynolds-Hogland (Bear Trust International) is Co-PI. Jarod is focusing his research to construct a matrix population model which incorporates bear demography, behavior and resource selection to quantify the effects of habitat availability and use on short and long-term population dynamics.
Jarod received his MS in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana in 2005, and his BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University in 2001. In the Blackfoot Valley MT, his crew radio-marked 121 newborn calf elk and 28 cows over 3 years to model the influence of calf survival and pregnancy rates on elk population growth. He also conducted field work on: the repatriation of the Louisiana black bear; wolf-deer predator prey dynamics in Southeast Alaska; the identification of stop-overs during pintail duck spring migration in California and Oregon; and the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in extinct, massive, flightless ducks from the Hawaiian Islands. Additionally, over the past seven years, he taught a number of science courses to 7-12th graders including Advanced Placement Biology, Physics, Hawaiian Flora and Fauna, and Anatomy and Physiology in middle and high schools ranging from South Texas to Maui, Hawaii.
Graphic Design: Tea Pavlek. Tea’s lifelong passions are animals, exploring nature, and backpacking. She has a MSc in biotechnology and is currently working for sciNote Open Source Electronic Lab Notebook company. During her years in business, she discovered her enthusiasm about graphic design and channeled her scientific background towards content marketing and graphics in the field of life sciences. She speaks 5 languages and travelled through most countries in Europe and Asia. Her latest trip (2015 – 2016) was a 12-month, independent backpacking journey through 14 countries in the Middle East and Asia. While in Nepal, Tea was attacked by a sloth bear in the middle of trekking through the wilderness of Chitwan National Park. Luckily, this attack ended up well, with scars and a broken arm from the sloth bear bite. It was in a hospital in Nepal that she realized that she wants to see the bears again and learn more about the on-going conservation work to help protect sloth bears. Currently, Tea is helping Bear Trust International with graphic design of printed and web materials.
Intern: Sierra Gillman. Sierra is helping Bear Trust with quarterly e-newsletters and the “We Brake for Bears” program. Sierra graduated from Florida State University with a BSc double major in Biology and Environmental Studies in 2013. She has since gained field experience in wildlife ecology and conservation, and worked closely with large carnivores in a captive setting as a zoo keeper including lions, cheetahs, tigers, black and grizzly bears. Her most recent field research position was with Oxford University’s WILDCRU department working as field site manager for one of their DPhil candidates in Menabe Madagascar examining the anthropogenic influence on resident fossa populations, the island’s largest endemic carnivore. Prior to this position, she completed a 6 month placement in Madagascar as a research assistant for Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership’s Greater bamboo lemur ecology program. She is currently volunteering with Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Bear Management Program, performing data entry and maintenance on their extensive bear database, updating incident reports and analysing data on human-bear conflicts. Sierra’s love and interest in bears developed and grew while working with bears in a captive setting, after experiencing first hand their highly intelligent and inquisitive dispositions. Her goal is to continue her studies with a research based masters. Her main areas of interest are wildlife management and conservation, and behavioural ecology.
Intern: Tori Frailey. Tori is finishing up her undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management with minors in both Biology and Writing from Grand Valley State University located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tori is helping Bear Trust disseminate STEM lesson plans in their Student Scientist Series to science teachers throughout the Great Lakes Area. Tori is also helping to author a new STEM lesson plan based on Bear Trust’s upcoming “Brake for Bears” campaign. Tori has gained prior experience by working with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park and also by working in a captive wildlife setting at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. Most recently she finished an internship with the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana where she was a naturalist for the center and conducted educational programs for the public. Tori’s passion lies with all large predators, but bears have always been at the root of that passion. After volunteering in multiple den checks through the Michigan DNR, she has decided to pursue research-based work centered around bears in grad school – which she hopes to attend out west. In her free time you will find Tori in the woods exploring with her young boxer, Maggie.