Although I am only three years an Alaska resident, I can proudly claim life-long status as a herp-nerd. I have fond memories of growing up with reptile pets, including 18 years with a green iguana. It wasn't until 2008 (Year of the Frog), however, that I became aware of the global amphibian crisis. This is where my focus and passion has been ever since. Some of my prior experiences include volunteering for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program in Tennessee, co-coordinating the FrogWatch program in Nebraska, mapping species distribution and diversity in Nicaragua, and monitoring for the chytrid fungus in Costa Rica.
Currently I am enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I am
studying the northern range distribution of the wood frog in Alaska, which may be shifting in
response to a warming climate. As part of my research I am developing a method that will utilize environmental DNA as a method of wood frog detection. Environmental DNA is any genetic material which has originated from a living organism and becomes suspended in the surrounding water. These types of surveys are efficient and minimally intrusive, as well as cost, labor, and time efficient. I am also passionate about community education and outreach. As secretary and education & outreach coordinator, my goals for AHS are to increase our organization's presence and membership base in the Interior.
Amanda Gibson was born in Southern California but spent most of her childhood in Washington State, enjoying the great outdoors with her father who encouraged her love of nature by taking her and her brothers on long meandering walks through a variety of terrain. She moved to Alaska in 1999, and began attending UAA in 2007. She is currently finishing up her Bachelor of Science in Environment and Society with an emphasis in Biology. Biology has always been a particular interest to her, and understanding the inherent connections to all living things became a passion during her time at UAA.
This is her last year at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and she is anxiously awaiting graduation in May of 2014. Through school, she was able to find an internship with the National Park Service. Her duties include creating a spreadsheet for recorded Alaskan wood frog data to be used for analysis of peak call times during mating season and helping the NPS develop a citizen science and outreach program for communities in Alaska concerning wood frogs.
Her love of amphibians and reptiles began at three years old when she visited her great-grandmother in Michigan. Even though she was only three, she can still remember the absolute fascination at all of the frogs jumping around by her feet and the ishy-squishy feeling of them in her hands! She is very honored to be the new Secretary with AHS, and excited to have such a rewarding and educational opportunity!
Born in a small town in Northern California, Aaron grew up primarily in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the age of six, he began spending three months every summer in Anchorage, Alaska until finally moving to Alaska permanently in 2000. Being able to call two very different – climatically, geographically, and culturally – places home, Aaron has a great appreciation for natural beauty, vast open spaces, and simply getting away from every-day civilization. As a child, his father fostered this wanderlust spirit with frequent road trips all over the American Southwest, from Death Valley to Mesa Verde National Park. Most recently, Aaron’s father joined him in Alaska to visit “end-of-the-road” locations such as Manley Hot Springs, Circle, Eagle, and McCarthy – giving Aaron an even greater appreciation of Alaska’s immense scale, rugged landscape, and hardy souls.
Professionally, Aaron has had a large variety of experiences. Upon moving to Alaska in 2000, he began working for an animal hospital, where he remained for five years. Although this particular hospital didn’t treat amphibians with much regularity, he does remember a client bringing in their pet salamander after an unfortunate encounter with their cat – necessitating surgery – which was thankfully successful!
In 2005 he joined Credit Union 1 where the majority of his experience was in human resources until he moved into his current role, community engagement specialist, in 2013. He is responsible for overseeing and steering the credit union’s external community engagement activities which includes implementing community outreach efforts (volunteerism, fundraising, and corporate sponsorship requests), chairing their community service committee, administering all fundraising accounts, designing and providing community service training, preparing and releasing reports, studies, and publications to promote public understanding of and support for community outreach programs, driving press coverage, developing and executing media outreach strategies, and assisting upper management in organizing and preparing for public appearances, interviews, and speaking engagements.
Although Aaron’s knowledge about the different species of amphibians in Alaska is limited, he very much looks forward to learning all he can. As treasurer, Aaron brings his fundraising, account management, public outreach, and public relations experience and knowledge to AHS and will help ensure their sustained viability and growth. He is excited and grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to being a fellow Herper!
Vice President 2012-2013 / Charter Member
Allyssa grew up in Roswell, Georgia and graduated with a B.A. in Geography from Kennesaw State University. She resides in Fairbanks, AK and is employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Allyssa is currently pursuing a M.S. in Environmental Education and Interpretation through the University Wisconsin Stevens Point.
Allyssa enjoys being outdoors, new adventures, traveling, spending time with her dogs named Rocky and Frances, hiking, fishing, cooking, crafting of all sorts, and learning about new cultures. Her two favorite places in Alaska are Homer and Coldfoot. This year her goal is to learn a new language and hopes to do more exploration in the Philippines islands. She is privileged to be a part of the AHS team and hopes to reach out to all audiences on the subject of herpetology.
Gregory J. Cazemier
Secretary 2012-2013 / Charter Member
Joseph W. Morris
Treasurer 2012-2013/ Charter Member
Joe was born and raised in Oregon and moved to Alaska in 2009 after four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is currently a junior at the University of Alaska Fairbanks working on his undergraduate degree in Fisheries Management.Joe was first introduced to Alaska amphibians during the summers of 2011 and 2012 where he had the privilege of working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a biological science technician on a Wood Frog study on the Kenai Peninsula. Working on this awesome study allowed him to meet and learn from other herpetology experts and his knowledge and passion for amphibians was established.