Who We Are

Mike DeBacker showing youth how to use field equipment
Mike DeBacker

Mike DeBacker
Network Program Manager

Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Mike joined the park service's I&M team in 1996 with the Prairie Cluster Prototype Monitoring Program. Over this time, Mike has served in several capacities including botanist, ecologist and most recently as network coordinator for the Heartland I&M Network. Mike's primary research interests lie in the prairies of the Great Plains. He is currently involved in several projects examining spatial structure in species distribution, and the influence of fire and grazing regimes on plant community composition. Mike earned a BA degree in Political Science from The Colorado College and a MS degree in Biology from Missouri State University.

Jordan Bell
Exotic Plant Management Team Crew Leader (WICR)
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Jordan serves as the Exotic Plant Management Team Crew Leader at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. He is responsible for planning and project management for invasive plant control projects in 9 parks. In addition, he assists with long-term monitoring of these plant populations. Jordan began his work with the network in 2010 as a Student Conservation Association intern following graduation from College of the Ozarks with a B.S. in biology. Jordan has also completed a graduate certificate in restoration ecology through the University of Idaho.

Sonia Bingham
Wetlands Biologist

Cuyahoga Valley NP, 417-732-6438

In June 2007, Sonia joined the network as a wetlands biologist to continue developing the network's wetland monitoring protocol for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Sonia will also implement invasive plant monitoring on the park. Sonia has extensive professional field experience assessing, monitoring, and restoring streams and wetlands in Northern Ohio, as well as other locations throughout the Midwestern U.S. In this work, Sonia has conducted wetland delineations, developed restoration plans, and surveyed plant, fish, macroinvertebrate, and freshwater mussel communities. Sonia received a B.A. in Biology from Hiram College, Ohio and will graduate with a M.S. in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University in 2008.

David Bowles in the field wearing an NPS cap
David Bowles

David E. Bowles
Aquatics Resources Monitor Leader
Missouri State University, 417-836-4702

David is the Aquatic Program Leader for the Network. Prior to his present position, he worked 11 years as an aquatic biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He serves as a member of the recovery teams of several endangered species including the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, Barton Springs Salamander, and the Southern Edwards Aquifer Recovery Team. David is a retired U.S. Air Force (Colonel) Medical Entomologist. He also serves on the adjunct graduate faculty of the Department of Biology, Missouri State University. He has published extensively on a variety of topics including taxonomy and ecology of aquatic insects and Crustacea, aquatic plants, fisheries biology, and medical entomology. His education includes a B.S. in Biology and Natural Resources from Ball State University, an M.S. in Aquatic Biology from Southwest Texas State University, and a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Tyler Cribbs holdung up a giant fish
Tyler Cribbs

Tyler Cribbs
Aquatics Ecologist
Missouri State University

Tyler is an aquatic ecologist for the Heartland I&M Network. His work involves assisting with research on fish assemblages and invertebrate communities of Ozark river systems and prairie streams. He was first employed by NPS in 2002 with the Prairie Cluster Long-term Ecological Monitoring Program. He received a M.S. in Natural and Applied Sciences and a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation & Management from Missouri State University.

Hope Dodd holding a fish during field work
Hope Dodd
Hope Dodd
Fisheries Biologist
Missouri State University, 417-836-3163

Hope is the fisheries biologist for the Heartland I&M and Prairie Cluster Prototype Programs of the National Park Service. She coordinates long-term monitoring of fish assemblages and physical habitat in prairie streams and Ozark river systems. Her research interests focus on anthropogenic disturbances in lotic systems and assessment of these long-term effects on water quality, habitat, and biota. Previously, Hope worked as a stream ecologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey conducting research on the assessment of restoration practices on stream fish and invertebrate communities and the effects of dam removal on a mid-size river system. She received her M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and her B.S. from Ball State University in Aquatic Biology and Fisheries.

Chad Gross
Cartographic Technician
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Chad graduated from Radford University in 2009 and received a B.S. in Geography with a concentration in Environmental Studies. In 2010 he completed a yearlong Student Conservation Association internship with the Heartland I&M Network. In 2011 he completed courses through Penn State and received a Post-baccalaureate certificate in Geographic Information Systems.

Jennifer Haack-Gaynor
GIS Specialist
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Jennifer has received a BS degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management and a MS degree in Geospatial Sciences from Missouri State University. Besides working for the NPS, she has also been employed by the NRCS NRI from 2000 to 2002 performing image interpretation for land change analysis. Work responsibilities focus on using remote sensing for land use/land cover analysis and GIS/GPS support for various inventory and monitoring projects.

Jan Hinsey
Aquatics Ecologist
Missouri State University, 417-836-3129

Jan is an aquatic ecologist and Assistant Database Manager for the Heartland I&M Network with primary responsibility for the sampling and identification of invertebrates at the Buffalo National River. She was first employed by NPS in 2003 at the Buffalo National River to help conduct aquatic invertebrate bioassessments and sample water and air quality within the park. Prior experience includes land conservation, cave ecology, and GIS while working with conservation organizations and government agencies in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. She received a M.S. in biology from Missouri State University and a B.S. in biology from the University of Arkansas.
Sherry Leis standing in a scenic landscape
Sherry Leis

Sherry Leis
Plant Ecologist
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Sherry is the Plant Ecologist for the Heartland I&M Network and Prairie Cluster Prototype Monitoring Program at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. In this position, Sherry provides expertise in understanding plant communities in light of management history. Her interests lie in the investigation of disturbances such as fire, grazing, and off road vehicle use on grassland communities of the Great Plains and Midwest. Sherry’s expertise is in grassland ecology and the role of disturbances. Sherry earned Bachelor Degrees in Anthropology and Environmental Biology from Beloit College, WI and a MS in Rangeland Ecology and Management from Oklahoma State University.

Lloyd Morrison
Quantitative Ecologist
Missouri State University, 417-836-3119

Lloyd has a B.S. degree in Biology from Baylor University, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California at Davis. He conducted his dissertation research on the island biogeography and metapopulation dynamics of ants in the Bahamas and South Pacific. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where he conducted research on the effects of invasive ants on native arthropod communities, and biological control by the use of natural enemies. He extended this work as a Research Fellow at the University of Florida at Gainesville/USDA Agricultural Research Service. Throughout his postdoctoral years he has continued to study the long-term metapopulation dynamics of Bahamian ants and plants. He joined the Network in September 2004.

David G. Peitz alongside an antique vehicle
David Peitz

David G. Peitz
Wildlife Ecologist
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

David graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology and from Oklahoma State University with a MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Ecology. David came to the National Park Services in 2000 after spending 6.5 years as a wildlife research biologist with the University of Arkansas Agriculture Experiment Station. David has had management responsibilities for a range of long-term monitoring projects within Midwestern parks, involving both terrestrial and aquatic organisms and systems. Currently his efforts are focused on terrestrial mammals and birds.

Gareth Rowell on the ground, seemingly photographed from in a tree
Gareth Rowell

Gareth Rowell
Data Manager
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Gareth joined the Heartland I&M Network in 2003 as biologist / data manager. He develops databases and provides database support for the monitoring projects at the Heartland Network. From 1982 through 1993, he conducted graduate and postdoctoral research on insect (mostly honey bee) mating systems and migration models at the University of Kansas, Brock University, Ontario, Canada and Texas A&M University. From 1993 to 2002, Gareth served as GIS data manager for the Endangered Resources Program at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. From 1995 to 2002, he also served as Texas Section 6 Federal Aid Coordinator in partnership with USFWS Ecological Services.

Mary Short
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Jeff Williams
Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams
Research Specialist
Missouri State University, 417-836-5313

Jeff is a research specialist for Missouri State University’s Biology Department and assists the Heartland I&M Network with aquatic research and monitoring. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Biology where he is conducting a fish movement study in Ozark National Scenic Riverways to look at the impacts of potential barriers on fish movement. His work with the network primarily involves assisting with fish and invertebrate community monitoring in Ozark river systems and prairie streams throughout the Midwest. Before working with the network, he served as the field crew leader for the Conservation Corps of Iowa, resource assistant for Missouri Department of Conservation, and a biological technician for Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. He received his B.S. in both Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and Geography from Northwest Missouri State University.

Craig Young
Biologist and Invasive Plant Program Leader
Wilson's Creek NB, 417-732-6438

Craig serves as a biologist and invasive plant program leader for the Heartland I&M Network. In this capacity, Craig manages projects to monitor invasive plants in all network parks, wetlands at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Missouri bladderpod, a rare plant, at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. Craig also oversees the Heartland Exotic Plant Management Team, which is dedicated to managing invasive plants across all network parks. Prior to beginning work with the National Park Service in November 2003, Craig worked with Virginia's Natural Heritage Program as a natural areas manager and with The Nature Conservancy of Georgia as an ecologist. Craig received a B.S. in Biology from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and an M.S. in Environmental Forest Biology with a concentration in Plant Ecology from the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York.

Last updated: February 8, 2018