New Staff in Fall 2021
Leading the charge on invertebrate conservation is no joke: Earth's tiniest animals are also its most diverse and overlooked, which is why Xerces founder Bob Pyle called it "the biggest job in the world." Despite its challenges, 2021 brought a fortunate period of growth and Xerces was pleased to welcome several new staff this past season. Check out the newest members of the Xerces team below!
New staff joined the Xerces Society in Fall of 2021. Pictured clockwise from upper left: Kevin Burls, Isis Howard, Blake Wiltse and Deborah Seiler.
Kevin Burls, Endangered Species Conservation Advocate
Kevin’s efforts with the Xerces Society focus on protecting the hundreds of butterfly species that inhabit deserts, forests, and grasslands across the western United States. Many of these species are currently in decline or are threatened by habitat loss, insecticides, and the effects of climate change. Kevin’s work includes collaborating with land managers and scientists to understand the conservation needs of butterfly species, then advocating for their protection by crafting conservation guidelines and legislation with agencies and policy makers at the regional, state, and federal levels.
Before working with the Xerces Society, Kevin was the Integrated Pest Management Educator for the University of Nevada, Reno Extension program, with a focus on native pollinators and beneficial insects. In addition, Kevin and his wife co-founded the invertebrate science education nonprofit Nevada Bugs & Butterflies in 2012. As a part of this work Kevin has spent several seasons searching for some of Nevada’s endemic and at-risk butterflies in the mountains and deserts of the Great Basin. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno. In his free time, you can find him hiking with his son and two dogs or fixing the drip irrigation at his home in Washoe Valley, Nevada.
Isis Howard, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, Western Monarch Community Science
Isis works in California to protect and support the western population of monarch butterflies. She manages several community science projects, including the annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper, and provides support to land managers and the public on maintaining and restoring western monarch breeding habitat.
Prior to joining Xerces, Isis worked for a resource conservation district and the North Coast Soil Hub in California, advancing climate adaptation work in the agricultural sector, engaging diverse community partners, and expanding the RCD's western monarch and pollinator program. Originally from Sonoma County, California, Isis is an experienced outdoor educator and holds a bachelor's degree in environmental management and protection with a minor in biology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. In her free time, Isis enjoys listening to podcasts, trying new creative outlets, and advocating for diversity and inclusion in the outdoors.
Deborah Seiler, Director of Communications
Deborah joined the Xerces Society in 2021 as Director of Communications, bringing over ten years of experience representing environmental and research institutions. She has previously led invasive species campaigns in Wisconsin, coastal science communications with California Sea Grant, and served as CCO of Illinois Extension. Deborah attended University of California – Davis and University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she studied science communications, environmental behavior, and digital media. She is a proud AmeriCorps alum.
Deborah caught the bug for bugs back in 2005 after seeing armies of ants reshaping the forest in Panama, and remains a huge fan of any and all hymenopterans. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two dogs, and their invertebrate neighbors.
Blake graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015, where he fell in love with the nature and wildlife of Oregon. After moving to Portland and working with Umpqua Bank he joined Xerces as a Finance and Budget Analyst. He is excited to contribute to the work Xerces is doing to protect and revitalize the world's invertebrates.
Additionally, two of Xerces’ finest accepted new roles within the organization this past fall. Former Bee City USA Coordinator Molly Martin is now serving as Xerces’ Endangered Species Conservation Biologist for the Pacific Northwest. In her place, Laura Rost from the Xerces membership team has stepped in as the new Bee City USA Coordinator.
Molly Martin, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist – Pacific Northwest
Molly is a conservation biologist focused on the conservation of bumble bees and other invertebrate species in the Pacific Northwest. Molly's experience ranges from research, restoration, and conservation planning to outreach and education. Before joining the Endangered Species team, Molly ran Xerces' Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA programs. She earned her master's degree in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology from San Francisco State University, studying the impact of wildfire on plant-pollinator communities, and her bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies from Whitman College. Molly is based in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys gardening, making art, and exploring wild places by foot, bike, ski, and boat.
Laura Rost, Bee City USA Coordinator
Laura coordinates the Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA programs, helping support communities in creating resilient, healthy habitat for pollinators. Laura has been with the Xerces Society since 2014, previously working in development. Before Xerces, she worked for a variety of environmental groups on issues ranging from water resources to green building. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and a certificate in nonprofit management from Southern Oregon University (the first Bee Campus USA!). In her free time, she enjoys woodcarving, collecting too many seeds, and rockhounding around the Pacific Northwest.