BHI Conservancy Team
Will Benfield Coastal Specialist I
Will is a native of North Carolina and a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Geospatial Technologies. He recently completed a summer Education Internship with the Conservancy where he utilized his skills and shared his love of the coast and all aspects of it with the program participants and island residents. In his free time, Will enjoys surfing, fishing, and nature in any setting.
Jenny Bowden Assistant Manager • Turtle Central
Jenny grew up on a lake in rural Virginia. She spent her summers exploring her grandparent's farm and local parks, visiting relatives at the beach, and spending countless days out on the lake and Rappahannock river. It was through these experiences that her love for the water and respect for animals and nature began to grow. As a high school student she had the opportunity to take an ecotourism trip to Costa Rica, visiting local farms and watching over nesting Leatherback sea turtles on the small island of Parismina and life was never the same. She knew that she wanted to help these majestic creatures in anyway possible. Jenny graduated from Longwood University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a dual concentration in management and marketing. After graduation she began her own pet services business in Northern Virgina, however her heart was always with the water. In February 2016 Jenny and her husband Nick, along with their two dogs and two cats, decided to relocate to coastal North Carolina. She hopes to help others find the same passion for protecting the environment by combining her love of nature and business background through her new role at Turtle Central.
Pam Cunningham Operations Specialist
Raised in Boston, Pam moved to North Carolina from Houston, Texas where she raised her two daughters, Shannon and Caitlin, and owned and operated two Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Stores, enabling her to fulfill her mission “to bring people and nature together” in an urban environment. She is very happy to live in beautiful and serene Brunswick County and to help to continue her mission on Bald Head Island with the Conservancy
Sharon Eisele Sales Associate • Turtle Central
Sharon grew up on the north New Jersey shore where she spent many happy hours in and near the ocean, volunteering to plant grasses to slow dune erosion, watching osprey nest every season, documenting oral histories of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and just enjoying all the different beaches. When her husband Don’s job took them to Greensboro, NC in 2002 she was dismayed to discover the beach was 250 miles away! They quickly made their way to the Brunswick County beaches, bought a weekend place and finally retired full-time to Southport in 2012. She began working part-time at Turtle Central Gift Shop in July 2015 as a Sales Associate. She enjoys working for a non-profit organization with such a worthy mission and is looking forward to participating in the many Conservancy programs and contributing to the success of the gift shop. She is a graduate of Monmouth University and Fairleigh Dickinson University with a B.S. in Education and an M.A. in Psychology/Organization Behavior and had a long career in Human Resources and Training & Development. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, cycling, yoga, golf and reading.
Amy Eldredge Coastal Educator
A native of Pennsylvania, Amy graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a double major in Animal Behavior and Studio Art. Her experience as a non-formal educator, with skills in wildlife management and research has led her to the role of Coastal Educator here at the BHIC. She hopes to utilize her skills and knowledge to promote environmental stewardship and to engage community involvement in conservation issues. In her free time she enjoys reading, photography and exploring outdoors. She is looking forward to sharing her passion for coastal ecology with the local community and visitors to the island.
Emily Hardin Christine Briggs Sea Turtle Coordinator
Emily was born and raised in Richmond, VA. She attended the University of South Carolina where she studied Marine Science with an emphasis in Biological Oceanography and Coastal Resources Management. Emily was a sea turtle intern with the Conservancy during the summer of 2014, and returned to the Conservancy as the Sea Turtle Program Coordinator for 2015 season. After working for a while in sea turtle rehabilitation in Florida, Emily has returned yet again for another sea turtle season on BHI! When she isn’t at work, you can probably still find Emily on the beach! She loves swimming, reading, spending time with friends and family, and just being outdoors.
Charlotte Hundley Sales Associate • Turtle Central
Charlotte grew up in Richmond, VA where she and her husband, Dale, raised two children. She has always loved nature, animals and especially the ocean and discovered Bald Head Island in 1991. Every summer since, her family has visited the island for vacations. Her now grown children still love it there and will jump every chance they get to visit again. Seeing a turtle nest hatch 10 years ago was an amazing sight and started her love for turtles and all the other creatures that inhabit Bald Head. Charlotte and her husband recently moved to Southport and when asked “why Southport” her response was to be closer to Bald Head Island. She is very excited to work on the island and especially being a part of the BHI Conservancy that inspires the public to learn how to conserve and protect this special place. She looks forward to participating in the many programs offered by the Conservancy, and sharing these experiences with the visitors that come to Turtle Central. She is a graduate of Elon University with a B.A. in English and recently retired from a career in operations for an Investment Firm. In her spare time she enjoys gardening and traveling, and any type of exercise that gets her outdoors including hiking, bicycling and walking her two Goldendoodles.
Poul Lindegaard Assistant Director
Poul was born and raised in Denmark and graduated from the Danish Technical University with a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering. He is married to Dee from England and have two kids, Sebastian, 20, and Louise, 19, who were both born in the US. Poul worked for a Danish biotech company for approx. 25 years, primarily heading up technical organizations with responsibility for North America. He has been coming to BHI for more than 10 years, been a property owner and a life member of the Conservancy for approx. 5 years and have been a board member and volunteering in various capacities for the Conservancy for the last year. When he is not at the Conservancy, you will likely find him at the golf course or on the beach swimming and fishing!
Brooke Milligan Coastal Scientist
Brooke was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. She graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minors in Integrated Science and Technology and Studio Art. After completing her undergraduate degree she participated in internships with Mote Marine Lab, University of Southern Mississippi’s Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Lab and NC State University. Brooke then attended Columbia University where she completed a Master of Arts in Conservation Biology. In 2013, she relocated to coastal North Carolina where she currently lives with her husband and two kids. Her free time is spent with her family exploring the outdoors, riding bikes, playing at the beach, gardening and grilling out in the backyard. Brooke is excited to put her skills to use at BHI Conservancy and work toward fostering community-based barrier island conservation, education and preservation.
Carol O'Donnell Sales Associate • Turtle Central
Carol O’Donnell has been with Turtle Central Gift Shop for nearly 3 years now. She is our retail specialist as she grew up working in her mom’s children’s boutique, and enjoyed a career with a home interiors company. She is a vibrant, customer service oriented salesperson and enjoys interacting with our members and customers. She has two sons and two gorgeous grandchildren who she loves to dote on. She is married to Tod and enjoys walking her dog, reading and volunteering at the Southport Visitors center.
Sarah Poulin Coastal Specialist - Conservation/Education Coordinator
Sarah is from Ashland, MA. She is a recent graduate from Wake Forest University where she majored in Biology and minored in Environmental Science and Psychology. From a few months on Vancouver Island performing research with juvenile black rockfish, to a summer at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota doing sea turtle conservation work, and some time at the New England Aquarium in Boston interning with their sea turtle rehab and rescue team, her love for marine life has brought her many exciting adventures that she hopes to continue at BHIC this summer! In her free time, Sarah enjoys running, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and curling up with a good book.
Caroline Shepherd Chief Financial Officer
Caroline Shepherd joined the Conservancy in 2008 as Financial Manager. She feels this is the perfect opportunity to share her love of nature while using her professional skills to further our important mission in the effective stewardship of barrier island environments. After serving in the Charlotte area as a CPA in CFO positions for a variety of industries, she became an island girl to enjoy the benefits of sunny coastal living full time. She enjoys any free time spent on or near the water, walking, fishing, preparing the catch of the day for good friends, and reading.
Pam W. Smith Retail Manager • Turtle Central
Born in Elizabeth City, NC on the Pasquotank River, Pam was raised to love and respect the water and its inhabitants. Living near the Outer Banks of NC she spent many summers on the Northeastern North Carolina barrier islands including Hatteras and Ocracoke. She graduated with a degree in Textile and Apparel Management with a business concentration from NCSU in Raleigh, NC. She initially worked as a materials utilization engineer within the textile manufacturing industry in Durham, NC before following her dream of owning her own business. She ran and operated a Bridal and Formal wear shop for 10 years before moving to the Wilmington, NC area. Pam first travelled to Bald Head Island in ’99 while on a “Lighthouses of NC” tour. She fell in love with the island and was thrilled with the opportunity to work at Turtle Central marrying her love of Coastal NC with retail. Pam enjoys reading just about anything she can get her hands on, dancing and traveling with friends and family.
Mike Thomasen Campus Maintenance Director and Jr. Naturalist
Mike was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up on Long Island, NY. He has a lovely wife, three beautiful children, and four precious grandchildren. Mike first came to BHI in August 2003 joining the Transportation Department as a ferry mate. Prior to 2003, he worked for 30 years in Marine Transportation for an oil company in the north east. Mike looks forward to participating in the growth of the BHI Conservancy and getting involved with the preservation of the island.
Amber Walters Communications Specialist
Born in West Virginia and raised in Pennsylvania, Amber spent her summers vacationing with her family in nearby Oak Island, NC. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies with a concentration in Public Relations from California University of PA. Amber feels that working for the Conservancy is the perfect opportunity to combine her love of nature and the North Carolina coast with her creative skills. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dogs, as well as anything that involves being outdoors/on the beach.
2016 Summer Interns
Alex Alterman Sea Turtle Intern
I am originally from New Jersey where I attended Bergen Community College and obtained an Associates Degree in Biology. I have lived in Maine for about two and half years now and attended the University of Maine in Orono. I graduated from there in December with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology. During my last semester I interned wit NOAA and the University of Maine as a student research assistant where I helped study the role of Diadromous fish in the diets of Gulf of Maine Predators. In my free time I enjoy cooking, hiking, and playing volleyball. I am looking forward to meeting and working with new people this summer, and assisting with sea turtle protection as this has been a goal of mine since I was 11 years old.
Kelly Armstrong Education Intern
Kelly was born and raised in New Jersey and has grown up going to the Jersey Shore and Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire every year. She grew to love the water, nature, and all things in between. Kelly is a Marine Biology major and Psychology minor at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She also studied abroad at James Cook University in Australia in the spring of 2015 where she traveled and volunteered at a sanctuary for injured wildlife. While at school, she interns at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail, NC and volunteers at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. In her free time, Kelly loves spending time with her friends at the beach. She can't wait to meet new people and learn new skills at BHIC!
Liam Batchelder Sea Turtle Intern
My name is Liam Batchelder, I am a Wildlife and Fisheries major at Frostburg State University with a minor in Biology. Growing up outside of Annapolis Maryland I have always had a passion for the outdoors and anything that involves the water! In my spare time love to fish, hike, camp and just enjoy the outdoors with my friends and family. I am most looking forward to interacting with the wildlife at the conservancy and sharing what I learn with the public. I am also excited to meet new people who share my professional interests.
Elizabeth Bertolini Education Intern
Elizabeth was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She is going into her senior year at The Ohio State University, majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in Water Science. For the past two summers, she worked as an outdoor education camp counselor and loved teaching children the significance of being outside. She also is a research assistant at Ohio State, working on a project involving invasive species within Ohio wetlands. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, traveling, and simply being outside. She is excited to spend the summer at BHIC and looks forward to gaining new experiences!
Reuben Gilbertson Sea Turtle Intern
I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in the frozen north of England, and raised in Memphis Tennessee. After many trips to the North Sea I decided I wanted to become a marine biologist and study the oceans. To achieve my dream I enrolled at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2014 and am now majoring in marine biology with a conservation option. I love scuba diving, mountain biking, and of course English Football. I am most excited for the experiences with the turtles and the privilege to help conserve the local marine life.
Ansley Hamilton Communications Intern
Ansley is a rising junior at Elon University where she is pursuing a degree in Media Analytics with a double minor in Entrepreneurship and Information Science. At Elon, Ansley serves as the Marketing Director for the Center for Leadership and works on the Elon Volunteers PR Team. Ansley grew up vacationing on Bald Head and is looking forward to utilizing her communication skills to promote the Conservancy’s mission.
Alli Hough Sea Turtle Intern
I am originally from a teeny-tiny town in Eastern Nebraska called Mead, but now I live in Lincoln. I am currently finishing my degree in fisheries and wildlife with an emphasis in conservation biology. I have a great love of travel, chocolate, and any living thing that has between 0 and 4 legs (any more than that and they start getting creepy). Being a Nebraska girl, the most exciting thing about this summer is spending it by the ocean, even if most of my time on the beach will be at night! Working with sea turtles is a nice touch as well.
Emily Howard Education Intern
I grew up in Wilson, North Carolina and spent most of my summers wandering the beaches of Topsail Island. I will be starting my senior year in the fall studying Studio Art and Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University. When I'm not making trips between the Blue Ridge mountains to the beach, I spend my time painting, following politics, taking pictures, and volunteering at nearby farms and the school gardens. I'm so excited to wake up each day by the ocean and get to share the wonders of marine life with budding scientists and conservationists- and maybe see a sea turtle hatching or two!
Lauryn Kabrich Education Intern
Lauryn is from Clayton, North Carolina, and is a junior in the University Scholars Program at North Carolina State University. She is majoring in Biological Engineering with an Environmental Concentration and is pursuing a Business Administration minor. She has worked with children at NCSU's Science House for the past three years, helping to engage underrepresented populations in the STEM fields. Lauryn enjoys traveling, playing soccer, spending time with family and friends, and reading. She has vacationed at BHI for several years with her family and looks forward to furthering the work of the conservancy so that others may enjoy the island and all of its unique ecology for years to come!
Travis Leonard Education Intern
Born and Raised in Asheboro, North Carolina. I have always had a major affinity for water, especially the coast. As a result, I enjoy swimming, Scuba diving, and fishing. I am a rising junior at UNCW, and am majoring in marine biology, with a minor in botany. I was a camp counselor for a boys camp in Sophia, North Carolina, where I taught children survival skills, and led many group activities.
Sarah Lundy Conservation Intern
In the fall, I will be going into my senior year at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. I am working towards a bachelors in Conservation Biology with minors in Marine Science and Applied Statistics. I love being outside and enjoying nature. I also play soccer and enjoy hiking. In the future, I hope to study the human impact on aquatic systems. I am most excited to help conserve and gain skills to make me an effective researcher in the future. Spending the summer on an island is pretty exciting too!
Ashley Meade Sea Turtle Intern
Ashley is a Florida native and undergrad at the University of Florida majoring in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a minor in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Her main interests include coastal ecology and the conservation of marine megafauna. She spent last summer traveling around Queensland, Australia on a study abroad field course, and afterwards she backpacked in Tasmania. She has seen 6 of the 7 species of sea turtles including a flatback! In her free time, Ashley enjoys backpacking on the Florida Trail, scuba diving, and finding cool places to relax in her hammock. She is excited to work with nesting sea turtles and contribute to the research and conservation efforts at BHIC!
Meg Pritchard Education Intern
Meg was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, and currently attends Yale University, where she is studying Cognitive Science and English. Her experiences conducting field research and working with young students, as well as her time as an outdoor orientation leader, have sparked in her a passion for environmental education. In her free time, Meg is an avid runner, a voracious reader, a day-hiker, and a radio dj. She is excited to be a part of BHIC and is looking forward to exploring the island with the summer education programs!
Kelsey Ruehling Conservation Intern
I will be graduating in May from Guilford College in Greensboro NC, where I double majored in Biology and Environmental Studies and minored in Chemistry. I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, which fostered a love for hiking and backpacking. However my career interests lie in marine biology and coastal conservation. In my free time I enjoy swimming, SCUBA diving, playing volleyball and exploring natural spaces. I am excited to return to the island after visiting in 2014 for a photography course centered around the Cape Fear River basin. During the summer I hope to learn more about the island's conservation issues, assist with educational efforts of the BHIC, and share my passion for environmental stewardship with visitors.
Maria Weston Sea Turtle Intern
Born and raised in Illinois, Maria grew up in a small town outside of St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently attending Northern Illinois University and will be entering into her senior year as a biological sciences major in the fall of 2016. In the past, Maria has assisted in various field research projects including a mark-recapture study on small mammals, mist-netting and banding birds, and a comparative study on temperate and tropical forest diversity for the Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatory. She is also conducting her own research project on the effect of bison wallowing on seed predation in prairie environments. She has a passion for ecological conservation and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work as the sea turtle intern on Bald Head Island this summer. In her spare time, Maria enjoys hiking, canoeing, swimming, and snuggling up with her cat and a good book.