BHI Conservancy Team
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
Beth Darrow Senior Scientist
Beth grew up in Northern Virginia, vacationing with her family in Delaware and Cape Cod as a child, where she participated in naturalist programs and developed a passion for coastal ecology. She holds a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, an M.S. in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Alabama. Beth has lived in Wilmington since 2014, and taught classes and led research projects in UNCW’s Department of Biology and Marine Biology for four years. Her research specialty is estuarine ecology; specifically, using bivalves such as oysters and clams as indicators of land-use change. She is interested in water quality, marsh ecology, and exploring how humans can sustainably fit into the coastal environment. When she is not at BHIC she can also be found at her sons’ baseball games or Cub Scout events, or gardening, kayaking, or cycling. Beth is looking forward to further developing the Conservancy’s research program, and strengthening relationships with scientific collaborators in the Cape Fear region and beyond.
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 Director of Education
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 Goetz AmeriCorps Community Outreach & Stewardship Coordinator
Emily grew up outside of Harrisburg, PA, and studied conservation biology at Middlebury College in Vermont. While she loves working outside in any capacity, she especially enjoys wildlife field research and coastal ecology. Emily interned at the Conservancy in the spring of 2017 and is excited to extend her time with BHIC through next summer as an AmeriCorps member with the Conservation Trust of North Carolina. She looks forward to applying her past work with shorebirds, oysters, and bats to expansion of the Conservancy's volunteer and community outreach opportunities in both education and conservation. Through this position, Emily hopes to facilitate even greater inclusion of Brunswick County residents and the BHI community in Conservancy projects.
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.
Catherine Kotarba Program Operations Coordinator
I grew up in a small town in Illinois but found my way to Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University with a major in Biology concentrating in Conservation Biology and Ecology and with a Minor in Sustainability. Being in conservation education I am really motivated by inspiring my surrounded community to be active outdoors and connect with nature so they can see the beauty it as to offer and encourage them to take action to help the environment. I am most excited to work with my team and engage with the community about conservation issues. In my free time I love to read and watch Harry Potter, be outdoors and take wildlife photos.
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, 21, and Louise, 20, 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 Director of Conservation
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.
Natalie Monnier Sea Turtle Program Coordinator
Natalie was born in Ohio and was raised in southern Virginia. She grew up enjoying summers at Apple Valley Lake with her family. Natalie recently graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, concentrated in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. Her sophomore year she worked as a Special Activities Intern for the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher helping out as a summer camp counselor. This was where she fell in love with marine life and education. Natalie has spent the last year working with the Bald Head Island Conservancy as a Spring Intern, a Sea Turtle Intern, and most recently, the Coastal Educator. She is excited to be back for the beginning of the summer working with the Conservancy's Sea Turtle Protection Program.
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.
G. Christopher Shank Executive Director
Chris was born in Maryland but has had a love for the North Carolina coast since he was a young kid. His family has been vacationing along Brunswick County beaches for more than 40 years and he also lived in Wilmington for a decade. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Marine Sciences from UNC Chapel Hill. He conducted his Ph.D. research on the Cape Fear River system with scientists in the UNCW Chemistry Department, and also worked for several years for the Lower Cape Fear River Program at the UNCW Center for Marine Science. Before joining the Conservancy, he was a faculty member in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Texas at Austin for 10 years where he ran a coastal research lab and taught numerous courses on marine conservation and coastal ecology. Chris also has considerable public education and outreach experience and is always excited to share his love for and knowledge of the awe-inspiring habitats and species of Bald Head Island.
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.
Heather Thornton Marketing & Online Support Associate • Turtle Central
Heather grew up on the coast of North Carolina where she spent her childhood combing the beaches for seashells and weather worn treasures to turn into jewelry. Her passion for design and all things coastal ultimately turned into a business called Patina Queen where she spends countless hours in her studio manipulating raw metals with custom patinas to use in her work. Her jewelry designs have been featured in numerous books, magazines, on TV and in movies. She currently designs jewelry for the TV show Good Behavior filmed in Wilmington, NC. Heather is a graduate of East Carolina University and enjoys contributing to BHI Conservancy's mission as a marketing associate, running e-commerce and social media.
Darice Voigt Finance Manager
Darice was born in Indiana but has lived all over the United States in places like New Jersey, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona with her most recent relocation to the South Carolina/North Carolina area. Having lived in the desert states for a number of years, her love of the ocean is what brought her to the coast, while her love of nature and sea turtles is what brought her to the Conservancy. She worked as the Controller for a growing company in Arizona and South Carolina for nearly 10 years, before joining our Team. She is an avid traveler and loves to explore different places in the world and has been to Thailand, Belize, Honduras, and Mexico, just to name a few. In her free time, she can be found near the water doing things like kayaking or parasailing but she also loves anything adventurous.
Micah Walker White-Tailed Deer Associate Researcher
Micah was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and knew from an early age that he wanted to work with wildlife. As a child Micah and his family vacationed by backpacking and canoe camping throughout many great North American wilderness areas and national parks; these experiences cemented his love of the woods and all the creatures that inhabit it. Micah earned a BS degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware. Since graduation, Micah has worked several seasonal wildlife jobs in places such as: Olympic National Park, Superior National Forest, and Ouachita National Forest, and has managed and studied a variety of animals such as American black bears, gray wolves, white-tailed deer, coyotes, Rocky Mountain elk, and mountain goats. In his free time, Micah enjoys nature photography, swimming, birding, and fishing. Micah has returned to the deer project this year as a graduate student at North Carolina State University. He is pursuing a master’s degree studying the immunocontraceptive project here on the Bald Head Island.
Amber Walters Marketing & Communications Manager
Born in West Virginia and raised in Pennsylvania, Amber spent her summers vacationing with her family in nearby Oak Island, NC. She received her B.A. in Communications Studies with a concentration in Public Relations from California University of PA. Her love of nature and the North Carolina coast, in combination with her creative skills, led her to working at the Conservancy in 2015. She enjoys spending her free time with her family, friends, dogs and cat, as well as anything that involves being outdoors/on the beach.
2018 Spring Interns
Allie Hayser Conservation/Education Intern
Raised on Tybee Island, a small barrier island of the coast of Georgia, Allie spent more of her time growing up on the beach and in the ocean than on the mainlands. She went to a small school on the island, then onward to Savannah Arts Academy for vocal music in high school, and most recently to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. She graduated with a B.A in Geology with a Minor in Geography and a B.S. in Biology. While she was attending Georgia Southern, Allie worked for Saint Catherine's Island Sea Turtle Program during the summers, where her love of conservation and field work began. After graduating college, Allie went out west to teach at an outdoor education school in Cambria, California and afterwards spent almost a year living in Nicaragua, teaching, exploring nature, and surfing. She is especially excited about working with the Conservancy this spring because of the research opportunities, field work techniques, and sharing knowledge with visitors and learning from her team. When it comes to science and conservation, she's into everything. In the coming years, Allie is looking to gain more knowledge about nonprofits, conservancies, oceanography, marine sciences, and coastal biology. In her free time, you'll find her surfing, skateboarding, hiking, drinking coffee, journaling, and enjoying music.
Clea Harrelson Conservation/Education Intern
Clea is originally from Middle Tennessee but spent many of her summers exploring nearby Southport and the Outer Banks with family. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Colby College in 2016 and spent the last year working in Oregon as an AmeriCorps environmental educator. She is excited to continue connecting people with their environment at the Conservancy this spring. In her spare time, you can find Clea hiking, kayaking, or trying to body surf ocean waves.
2018 Summer Interns
Liza Bucchin Education Intern
Liza grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and currently attends Dickinson College majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Creative Writing. She recently spent the summer studying wildlife conservation in Northern Tanzania with the School for Field Studies and the fall semester studying glaciology and climate change in Denmark. Liza is passionate about adventures, environmentalism, and cheese. She loves good company, good music, swimming, and hiking. This summer, Liza is excited to learn alongside new people and contribute to spreading community
Mariah Cox Communications Intern
Mariah, who was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, is heading into her senior year at the University of Missouri School of Journalism studying Strategic Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Biology. Mariah has always been interested in nature and the environment as she comes from a long lineage of biologists, zoologists, and botanists. Instead of following in her family’s footsteps, Mariah decided to combine her two loves, the environment and writing, to become an advocate for the environment and raise awareness of the needs of our planet. Following her internship at Bald Head Island Conservancy, Mariah will be studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium for the fall term.
Will Fruend Conservation Intern
Will Freund hails from the Tar Heel State of North Carolina. He graduated from the College of Charleston where he studied biology and environmental studies. The east coast has been his home for majority of his life and he wouldn't have it any other way. Growing up he took many trips to the beach and learning about all the amazing animals that lived there. Will has spent the past year working as an environmental educator in Georgia and worked as a hang gliding instructor on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during his summers in college. His hobbies include anything that gets him outside and exploring nature. He is so excited to be spending yet another summer on the beautiful North Carolina coast working with like-minded people.
Gussie Gertge Education Intern
Gussie was born and raised just outside of Boulder, Colorado. From kindergarten through high school, she attended local Waldorf schools, where a deep love of learning was cultivated. Recently, Gussie graduated with her B.A. in Education from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. In the near future, she will engage in a post-grad Waldorf teacher training program, and someday hopes to help inspire wonder and ingenuity in her students. In her spare time, Gussie enjoys singing, reading, drinking tea, and spending time with family and friends. Gussie is particularly excited about this summer on Bald Head, as it is where some of her happiest summer memories have been made, and she is looking forward to experiencing island life as an intern. She cannot wait to be by the sea again, to watch the baby turtles hatch, to hear the frogs croak, and to meet all of the wonderful people who live on, and come to visit Bald Head Island.
Erin Lyons Sea Turtle Intern
Erin was born and raised in Maryland. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Conservation. She spent her summers as a child on Cape Cod, where her love of the ocean began. Her junior year she studied Tropical Marine Ecology abroad on the Turks and Caicos Islands and confirmed her love for marine science and field research. After graduation, Erin completed internships with the University of Marylands Center for Environmental Sciences Horn Point Oyster Hatchery and with the New England Aquarium. She will be attending graduate school in the Fall of 2018 to study Marine Ecology. Erin loves playing ice hockey in her spare time. She is excited to work hands on with turtle hatchlings and nesting mothers, spend her spare time on the beach, and explore the Bald Head Island community.
Dario Marquez Sea Turtle Intern
I was born and raised in Miami, FL and went to Missouri Valley College, where I graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. I also played both football and baseball for Missouri Valley. I am now a first year veterinary student at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine with a focus in wildlife medicine and global health. I enjoy kayaking, running, watching sports, scuba diving, and eating pizza. This summer I look forward to the research and field experience with sea turtles, as well as becoming more knowledgeable on their overall anatomy and behavior. I am also excited about gaining more necropsy experience, especially with marine wildlife.
Danielle Meeker Sea Turtle Intern
Danielle recently graduated from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Organismal Biology and double minored in chemistry and leadership studies. Danielle is originally from Harleysville, Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia and spent her summers living in Wildwood, New Jersey. Last summer, she worked as an environmental education intern at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. She is most excited about the research opportunities at the Conservancy and the chance to educate people about their environment. In her free time, you can find Danielle hiking, reading, sitting on the beach or trying to make travel plans that hopefully include scuba diving.
Kyra Neufield Education Intern
Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, much of my childhood was spent exploring the northern forests and Lake Superior beaches. My family often spent quality time camping and adventuring, from day trips to the Porcupine Mountains and Sylvania Wilderness, to multi-week journeys in the Sierra Nevadas. In my daily life, I always knew that I’d be an educator, tutoring other students and helping friends expand their horizons and abilities. Midway through high school, I attended a semester-away ecological program known as Conserve School, where I learned that my passions for education and the outdoors could be combined in the professional world. A summer at Bay Cliff Health Camp, working with teenagers with disabilities, was my first professional experience connecting people with the outdoors in a casual learning environment. I am excited to increase my skills as an educator, learn more about barrier island ecosystems, and connect people with the natural world on Bald Head Island. In my spare time, I can be found writing poetry, engaging in nature photography, mountain biking, or playing tabletop RPGs with family or friends. I am currently a junior at Northern Michigan University, working towards a bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation.
Hannah Newcombe Retail Intern
My name is Hannah Newcombe, and I am a senior at NC State majoring in Fashion Textile Management and minoring in journalism. I am a Delta Gamma sorority woman, and I will be graduating in December 2018. I am originally from Gastonia, NC, but my parents moved to Thomasville, GA two years ago. I have lots of love for BHI, as my family has been vacationing there my whole life. I look forward to spending the summer on the island and to learning even more about the BHI Conservancy.
Ellie Phillips Sea Turtle Intern
My name is Ellie Phillips and I am a senior at Michigan State University studying Integrative Biology with a minor in Sustainable Natural Resource Recreation Management. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I plan on attending graduate school to study marine biology. I enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing and spending time on the beach. I am excited to learn more about sea turtles and help promote their conservation this summer.
Keara Sullivan Education Intern
I am a rising junior at Penn State University majoring in Environmental Resource Management. I enjoy playing ice hockey, hiking, and reading in my free time. I am so excited to spend the entire summer on Bald Head Island and I am eager to learn more about marsh and coastal ecosystems. I look forward to connecting with the community to spread my passion for conservation and nature.
Mallory Umling Education Intern
Mallory grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and developed a passion for wildlife at a very young age. She now attends Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina where she is acting on that passion to earn a degree in Wildlife Biology with a Concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation. She is also pursuing a minor in Math and will graduate in the Spring of 2019. She spends her time training Captain, a non-releasable Red-Tailed Hawk, for educational programs around the Banner Elk area, as well as working at the May Wildlife rehabilitation Center rehabilitating native injured and orphaned wildlife and instructing students as they learn rehabilitation techniques. This summer, she is excited to continue teaching people about the wildlife of North Carolina and spreading awareness for how people can help our conservation efforts everyday. In her free time, you can find Mallory birding, hiking, playing soccer, or training for the upcoming cheerleading season.
Lauren Weinstock Conservation Intern
Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Lauren adored spending her summers lakeside with family in Virginia. She recently graduated from Tufts University with a B.S. in Biology, focusing on environmental conservation. Lauren is excited to spend this summer gaining experience in conservation fieldwork and promoting environmental stewardship with the Bald Head Island Conservancy. In her free time, Lauren enjoys rock climbing, hiking, swimming, reading, and making art.
James Welch Sea Turtle Intern
I grew up near Boston, Massachusetts. I will be a senior animal behavior major from the University of New England. I am friendly and easy-going but also hardworking and meticulous in my work. I would consider myself to be health conscious and I enjoy exercising and eating healthy. In my professional career I have been involved in numerous research projects or internships that have driven my passion for research. I am also really passionate about conservation and protection of endangered species as well as overall biodiversity.
Carrie Zamonski Sea Turtle Intern
Carrie grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania and spent many summer weeks at either the Jersey Shore or the Outer Banks. She is now a rising senior at Penn State University studying Environmental Resource Management with minors in Marine Science and Watershed and Water Resources. Carrie has interned at the Philadelphia Zoo and at an Environmental Education Center which both helped deepen her love for the natural world, public outreach programs, and wildlife. At school, Carrie works for Penn State Adventure Recreation where she acts as an outdoor adventure guide for students. In her free time, you can find Carrie hiking or doing just about any other outdoor activity. This summer she is most excited to experience for the first time a sea turtle nest hatching!