Keynote Speaker

Richard Watson

Born in South Africa, raised in Great Britain, and naturalized as a citizen of the United States for the last quarter century, Rick’s mixed accent often elicits the question “…where are you from”?  “Triangulate from each of those countries, and that places me about mid-Atlantic,” is how he replies.  It’s a location that pleases his sense of global citizenship and speaks to his commitment to conservation around the world.  An adventurer at heart (he drove the length of Africa in 1976, climbed Kilimanjaro, and a few days later celebrated his 19th birthday on the shores of Lake Victoria) Rick has dedicated his life to solving wildlife conservation problems from Madagascar to Mongolia, and Panama to Pakistan.

Rick earned his Bachelor’s degree in Marine Zoology from the University College of North Wales in the UK, his Doctoral degree in Raptor Ecology from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and completed a Post-doctoral study on insect ecophysiology at the Desert Ecological Research Unit in the Namib Desert, Namibia.  He was hired by The Peregrine Fund in 1990, initially to establish the Madagascar Project to study and conserve three of the world’s most endangered birds of prey.  This work led to the rediscovery of two of these species, both were thought to be extinct, and the establishment of a 520,000 acre national park, Madagascar’s largest, to protect their rain forest habitat.   It also led to an innovative community-based conservation project to protect wetlands essential for the endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle; a conservation strategy that now serves as a model for many others in Madagascar and has been duplicated to protect habitat for the Madagascar Pochard, another species declared extinct only to be rediscovered by Rick’s Malagasy team.

From a focus on Madagascar, Rick expanded The Peregrine Fund’s operations to the African continent, establishing new projects across Africa.  This has included Bearded Vulture reintroduction to Kenya, Cape Vulture conservation in South Africa, raptor conservation and local capacity building in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, and Ethiopia, Crowned Eagle conservation in Ivory Coast, kite research in the Cape Verde islands, and many others.  By the turn of the Millennium, Rick’s influence had become truly global, with new projects under way in Asia (Philippine Eagles, diclofenac poisoning of Gyps Vultures in South Asia, Cinereous Vultures in Mongolia, and Javan Hawk Eagles in Indonesia) and the Neotropics (Harpy Eagles, Ridgway’s Hawks, and Orange-breasted Falcons among others) as well as Africa.

Rick’s accomplishments are never achieved alone; his life’s mantra “…give others the credit, build teams, and develop local capacity to continue work sustainably…” has served him well.  With over 30 graduate students and many more technicians shouldering the work, Rick is free to focus on the next species in need, and the next great adventure.   His adventures and life’s work have been shared and supported by his wife, Christine, and children, Ben and Heather, over three decades in pursuit of raptor conservation around the world.


Rick will speak about The Peregrine Fund’s global raptor conservation projects with images and stories from a lifetime of experiences to save endangered species, solve conservation problems and develop sustainable solutions. Highlights will include forest and wetland conservation in Madagascar by local communities, pharmaceutical poisoning in South Asia, retaliation for lion depredation in East Africa, emerging catastrophic parasitism in the Caribbean, tackling climate change in the Arctic, and a new opportunity to create a rain forest wilderness area in Panama.

Banquet: January 28, 2017 @ 6 pm

Presenters and Guides

NEIL PAPROCKI Conservation Biologist for Hawkwatch.  Has BS in Animal Behavior and a MS degree in Raptor Biology.   Helped co-found wildlife conservation film making, Wild Lens Inc..  Co-directed film, Bluebird Man.  Enjoys backpacking, hiking, photography, birding, skiing and working with people.

Field Trip:  Beryl
Unique Raptor Community of Southern Utah: Jan 27 @ 2 pm

BLAIR STRINGHAM Blair Stringham started working for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in 2007.  He obtained a masters degree from Utah State University, where he completed a thesis on greater sage-grouse.  After working as the Fillmore district wildlife biologist for a couple of years, Blair was promoted to the statewide coordinator for waterfowl.

Utah’s Incredible Waterfowl Resource:  Jan. 27 @ 10:30 am

LYNN BJORKMAN Lynn Bjorkman has a BA and MA in English from the BYU, teaching English for 37 years.  He was the adult leader of 11 year old scouts in three different cities.  He loved this for it took him out into the mountains to hike and instill the love of nature into his scouts.  You will find Lynn out biking the trails whenever he has free time.  Lynn and his wife served a two-year LDS Mission in Taiwan learning some of the Mandarin language and a whole lot about the people there.  Lynn and wife Donna moved to St. George in 2004.  He keeps busy volunteering at Zion National Park and with NAMI, and REACH4HOPE and currently busy with the St. George Family Search Library as well as the Winter Bird Festival.

Field Trip:  Biking, Birding, Binoculars

JOHN KELLAM John is the wildlife biologist for the BLM/St. George Field Office, administering Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas, and has a broad background in wildlife research/management working with threatened and endangered species in North America and the Tropical Pacific.

Field Trip:  Grafton/Springdale & Search for Vermillion Flycatcher

KERMIT EARLE Kermit Earle loves the many opportunities southern Utah offers to everyone who comes here.  He has become friends with mountain, desert, and birder bikers — enjoying each new found place.  Kermit (the Frog) Earle would like to share his experiences with others.

Field Trip:  Biking, Birding, Binoculars

JASON ROBINSON Jason Robinson started working for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in 2007.  He attained a masters degree from Utah State University, where he completed a thesis on greater sage-grouse.  After working as the    for      years, Jason was promoted to the statewide coordinator for upland game.

Struttin’ Their Stuff; Upland Game Mating Displays:  Jan. 27 @ 11:30 am

GORDON WARREN Gordon Warren has always been a guy on the go.  He was a teacher of speech, drama, debate, and English for 32 years, then retired and taught more around the world, including Japan, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates, with lots of side trips to interesting countries in those areas.  He enjoyed getting to know the people and the cultures of the different beautiful places in this big world.  Gordon and his wife, Judy, retired here to St. George in 2002 to enjoy the red rock country.  You can find Gordon out biking on paved trails or mountain bikes tracks all over the area, hiking, bird watching, camping, or playing his Native American flutes in canyons.

Field Trip:  Biking, Birding, Binoculars

JUDY SCHATTNER Judy Schattner has a background of birding in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and has led bird walks for the New River State Park.  Judy and husband Joe moved to St. George in May 2016 to be closer to family.  She loves identifying, discussing, and watching birds any time, even in her backyard.  Judy enjoys meeting new birders.

Field Trip:  Horse Park in Bloomington

SETH TOPHAM Seth Topham is an environmental consultant with Stantech Environmental Consulting Company.  He has degrees in Biology and Global Information Systems Operations from Southern Utah University.  He has been a resident of St. George, Utah, with a keen interest in wildlife since first grade.  His research on Desert Tortoises earned him a first place finish in the Zoology component at the International Science and Engineering Fair.  He was selected to share his research in London England, at the Youth Science Fortnight.  Seth has an acquired expertise in the identification of native plants and animals, and is sought after as a field biologist and naturalist.  He is also an accomplished photographer.  With an interest in birds since his youth, he has amassed an extensive image library of local birds in their natural habitat.

Field Trip:  Gunlock