Bear Trust International is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, conservation organization governed by ten 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.

MJRHInterim Executive Director:  Dr. Melissa Reynolds-Hogland Melissa served as the Executive Director of Bear Trust during 2007-2017. It was her honor to serve the Bear Trust Board of Directors on mission-driven conservation programs during the past decade. Melissa stepped down as executive director in late 2017 so that she could pursue wildlife research.

Melissa is serving as the Interim Executive Director while the Bear Trust Board of Directors spends the necessary time to identify the right person to serve as the new Executive Director. If you have any questions about Bear Trust, please contact Melissa any time:; 406.523.7779.

A bit about Melissa:  She 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.


Arthur-3Social Media Outreach Director:  Arthur Smid  Arthur manages Bear Trust’s social media outreach on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  Arthur is also helping Bear Trust with its online fundraising campaigns to help fund projects like the “Survival of the Sunbears” documentary. A bit about Arthur: He 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 (



Intern:  Tori Frailey  PHOTO COMING SOON! 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 and she’s providing our Bear Trust Telemetry Program to 225 kids in Michigan. 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 in which she hopes to attend out west. In her free time you will find Tori in the woods exploring with her young boxer, Maggie.

Intern: Cathline Dickens  PHOTO COMING SOON! Cathline graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2015. She majored in Natural Resources at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Cathline is helping Bear Trust disseminate STEM lesson plans from Bear Trust’s Student Science Series in New York State. Her primary areas of interest are wildlife conservation, education, and rehabilitation. Cathline has worked with domestic and exotic animals in various venues Her most recent experiences include working with marine vertebrates, hoofstock, and psittacines. She completed two internships at the Aquarium of Niagara where she worked with sea lions, seals, penguins, sharks, and other marine vertebrates. She also interned with the hoofstock department at the Buffalo Zoo where she worked with bison, reindeer, gemsbok, addax, antelope, and zebras. Currently, she is volunteering at a wildlife center in Buffalo, NY where she is helping rehabilitate baby songbirds. In her spare time she can be found playing with her rescue dogs, hiking, and eating Mexican food.

Intern:  Rochelle Hart  PHOTO COMING SOON! Rochelle holds a BA in Anthropology/Archaeology from Portland State University, a MA in Archaeology from University of Liverpool, and undertook two years of PhD-level research with the University of Reading and Museum of London. Rochelle is helping Bear Trust by providing content and articles for our e-newsletters. After spending 12 years living abroad, she is currently back in her hometown of Portland, Oregon working on post-graduate studies in wildlife biology and zooarchaeology at Portland State University. Rochelle is a Zoo Guide at the Oregon Zoo, where she works as a keeper assistant with the black bears and river otters, chairs and project manages the Western Pond Turtle survey project for the Environmental Conservation Outreach (ECO) team, and is an interpretive talker for the polar bears and black bears. She is also co-chair of the field trip committee for the Oregon Archaeological Society, and office manager at Cascade Forest Conservancy. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping, photography, digging in the dirt, reading, and playing guitar.

Intern:  Jay Cooney  PHOTO COMING SOON! Jay Cooney is currently an undergraduate student at Canisius College where he is pursuing a degree in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation with a minor in Anthrozoology. Jay is helping Bear Trust by providing content and articles for our e-newsletters. He has been an active research assistant with the Canisius Marineland Orca Research Project since August of 2016, studying captive beluga whales under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Noonan. Through this opportunity, he has recorded data on seasonal sexual behavior and individual differences in swim pattern. During the Spring of 2017, Jay was chosen to be part of a select group of Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation who conducted field studies along the Salish Sea ecosystem. In the summer of 2017, he was employed in the Education Department at the Erie Zoo where he taught young visitors and was trained in small mammal handling. For the past five years, Jay has been the author of a blog titled Bizarre Zoology which has garnered over 450,000 international views. His current writing platform, Animal in the Mirror, explores topics in the research and conservation of wildlife, while reflecting on our human-centered relationship with the biosphere. His future goals are to obtain a PhD in Conservation Behavior and enter Academia, with a special focus on the behavior and ecology of cetartiodactyls (even-toed hoofed mammals including whales). It is Jay’s hope that his writing can both educate readers regarding the breadth of our planet’s biodiversity, and inspire them to live consciously in accord with the preservation and well-being of our nonhuman animal kin.

Project Initiatives

Bear Trust focuses on 4 primary project initiatives: 1) Conservation Education 2) Bear Research & Management 3) Habitat Conservation 4) Conservation Policy

Contact Info

PO Box 4006
Missoula, MT 59806
Phone: (406) 523-7779