Bryce Maxell, Program Coordinator
Joined MTNHP in January 2005
Bryce Maxell grew up surrounded by a variety of farm animals and spent many hours dogsledding
in the mountains of Utah. He completed a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Economics at the University
of Puget Sound in 1994 where he studied the demography of kelp species in the Puget Sound and was an NAIA
All-American swimmer. After his undergraduate degree, he received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for
a yearlong independent study of the natural history of Australia and New Zealand in 1994 and 1995.
Bryce completed his Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of
Montana in 2009 where he completed a state-wide status assessment of, and constructed predicted habitat
suitability models for, Montana's amphibian and reptile species and examined the population demographics
of Columbia Spotted Frogs. Between 1996 and 2015, Bryce conducted field inventories for a variety
of animal species in Montana. During his time in Montana he has authored or coauthored three books,
a dozen peer reviewed publications, and 35-plus professional reports on amphibians, reptiles, bats,
small terrestrial mammals, birds, terrestrial mollusks, and fish. Bryce is passionate about making
biological information available to resource managers and the general public so that Montana's plants,
animals, and terrestrial and aquatic communities can be appreciated by current and future generations
and is excited to lead Heritage Program staff in this endeavor.
Information Systems and Services
Dave Ratz, Web Projects Manager
Joined MTNHP in July 2007
Dave Ratz ("Ratz") was an Air Force Brat, born in Okinawa, raised everywhere, finally settling down in the
Rocky Mountains. He's worked in computers for 33+ years but has tried his hand at everything. At age 25, Ratz
suffered a quarter-life crisis: sold everything, bought a backpack and lived in the woods for eight months.
If it weren't for Loma Linda University dragging him back into the workforce, he might still be there.
Alas, for every time there is a season, and now he can't get by without his six monitors, cell
phone, and golf clubs.
Ratz is the proud papa of various web "children":
Scott Blum, Biologist/Information Specialist
Joined MTNHP in November 2004
Scott Blum's current focus is reviewing Heritage database records for animal observations: if you've
submitted an animal observation to NHP, there's a better than good chance that Scott has given it the once over.
Scott was born and aged in Oswego, New York on the shore of Lake Ontario (Official Town Motto: "Oswego, where
the water never ends." Unofficial Town Motto: "At least we're not Fulton."). In fits and starts, he completed a
B.S. in Zoology (SUNY Oswego) and an A.S. in Zoo Animal Technology (SFCC Gainesville, Florida); subsequently
launching and crashing a brief career as a zookeeper at the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin and the Brookfield Zoo in
Illinois. After a nine year sabbatical at Pet Pals pet store (Liverpool, NY), he returned to school to chase
mountain lions for his M.S. in Ecology from Idaho State University, Pocatello. During and after graduate school
he spent time as a technician on various research projects including tracking lynx and coyote around Seeley Lake
and collecting bear hair in the Swan Valley. Scott spends his time in and around Helena hiking with his dog,
Bug, and honing his bread baking skills.
Braden Burkholder, Data Systems and Sciences Lead
Joined MTNHP in June 2013
Braden Burkholder specializes in bridging the divide between on-the-ground biological knowledge
and technical data solutions, while claiming expertise in neither.
He has over 16 years' experience in wildlife ecology and data management, anchored by a B.A. in
Biology from Whitman College and an M.S. in Fish and Wildlife Management from Montana State University.
Braden has found his niche as NHP's Data Systems and Sciences Lead, which can be boiled down to: solving problems
to improve the data resources available for native species conservation, invasive species management, and
habitat stewardship in Montana.
Despite more familiarity with vertebrate taxa, he has been able to contribute to a diversity of projects
involving Zoology, Botany, and Ecology Program staff at NHP.
His current responsibilities include: administering NHP's internal databases, integrating large observation and survey datasets into NHP databases,
producing habitat suitability models for Montana's Species of Concern, managing and analyzing mountains
of bat acoustic data, writing scripts for task automation, and creating tools to simplify data submission.
He has been accused of wizardry in the realms of GIS, Python and geospatial data manipulation, but insists
these rumors are unfounded.
A Helena native, Braden frequents the renowned trails of the South Hills on foot and bike when not at his desk.
Kyle Kaskie, Biological Data Scientist
Joined MTNHP in May 2021
comes from the Midwest where he was raised in Nebraska but still puts claims to his roots in South Dakota.
He comes to the Natural Heritage Program with over a decade of experience in environmental and natural resource services,
two/thirds of which have included spatial and geographic analyses.
He brings to the table a broad knowledge and desire of refining and simplifying data management and collection while improving the data sharing experience.
Kyle received his B.A. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University.
A few years later he returned to the same institution to complete his M.S. in Biological Sciences with a thesis focused
on remote sensing and risk assessment of juniper encroachment in a prairie landscape.
Prior to the focused spatial and data component of his career, Kyle spent many years working with
state wildlife researchers pursuing large carnivores and multiple big game species all throughout the Black Hills of South Dakota and Nebraska National Forests.
His passion for conservation and natural resources overflows into his personal life where he can be found spending
much of his personal time alongside his hunting companion, Juniper, hunting, fishing, gardening, and working with his new bird pup, Ella.
Sherry Berrin, Zoology and Botany Data Assistant
Joined MTNHP in August 2019
|Sherry Berrin is originally from Michigan, she spent summers in the woods along the shores of Lake Huron. Her love of the outdoors inspired her to get a B.S. in Zoology from Southern Illinois University and a Masters in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England. Her early work has taken her from Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah where she monitored Peregrine falcons to Maine where she delivered programs about Peregrines to Acadia National Park visitors. She spent 7 years in Vermont working as a Natural Resource Specialist and as a Community Mapping Program Educator followed by 9 years in Oregon where she worked as a Land Steward for a local land trust. Her family relocated to Montana in 2017 and she has enjoyed exploring both local and statewide natural places with her husband, daughter, and 2 dogs.|
Dan Bachen, Senior Zoologist
Joined MTNHP in May 2016
Originally from rural Alaska, Dan Bachen grew up surrounded by mountains with abundant outdoor recreation
opportunities and a diverse community of fish and wildlife species. Dan eventually moved south to Montana
and received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, and his M.S. in Fish and Wildlife
Management from Montana State University. Over his career he's had the opportunity to work on a wide variety
of taxa from charismatic megafauna like elk and grizzly bears to charismatic microfauna such as bats and terrestrial
small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and other nongame species. His previous work included establishing
baseline surveys for nongame species across the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, exploring how invasive
brome grasses impact small mammals in sagebrush-steppe habitats, modeling disease ecology of large mammals in
the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and other projects. Outside of work Dan enjoys rock climbing, skiing,
backpacking, hunting, and hiking.
Alexis McEwan, Assistant Zoologist
(re)Joined MTNHP in May 2016
Alexis McEwan grew up in a variety of places across Canada.
She spent a number of years around the Great Lakes where she gained knowledge
on the flora and fauna of these ecosystems. Living in northern Manitoba she
experienced the wildlife of the tundra and boreal forest. Because of these
experiences, Alexis enjoys the beauty of the outdoors and likes to spend time camping
and hiking to explore her surroundings. In 2007, she received her Honours Bachelor
of Science degree in Biology at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
During her undergrad, she worked various avenues as a biologist such as assisting in a
mycology lab; as a field assistant conducting amphibian and reptile surveys in the
Lake Superior Basin; and assisted in cancer research at Thunder Bay Regional Health
Sciences Centre. In 2009, Alexis accepted a position with the Montana Natural
Heritage Program to conduct amphibian and reptile surveys across the state.
This position allowed her to increase her knowledge on herpetofauna while exploring
the beauty of Montana. In 2011, curiosity drew her to northern British Columbia
for a Master's degree position to assess the habitat requirements of the Coastal
Tailed Frog using radio telemetry and pitfall traps. After completing her MSc.,
she worked as a consultant in Terrace, BC. She found the Pacific Northwest to be
a wonderful playground with many avenues still left unexplored. However, the concept
of returning to Helena to assist the Montana Natural Heritage Program with their statewide
acoustic survey of bats enticed her to return.
Boaz (Bo) Crees, Avian Specialist
(re)Joined MTNHP in May 2016
Boaz (Bo) Crees grew up in Israel, where he gained a deep appreciation of nature while hiking with his father
throughout the beautiful Valley of Springs.
He moved to Michigan with his family in 1995 and then to the western U.S. after high school to pursue rock climbing,
backpacking and other outdoor adventures in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Park.
He graduated from the University of Montana with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology in 2010 and has been
involved in many bird research projects with a number of universities, federal agencies and NGOs.
Bo loves to travel and has worked as a wildlife technician in every western U.S. state, as well as in British Columbia and Mexico.
He moved to Helena with his wife Alexis in 2016 after living in the Coast Mountains of northern British Columbia for two years.
He has worked for the Montana Natural Heritage Program since 2016 and currently works for both the MTNHP and Montana Audubon as an Avian Specialist.
In his free time Bo enjoys birding, creating wildlife art, rock collecting and hiking.