Meet Our Leaders

Elise Anderson

Elise Anderson

Elise Anderson, one of two Steve Kemp Writers in Residence named in the program’s first year this spring, was the 2017 Austin Cary Memorial Forest artist-in-residence in Gainesville, Fla., where she studied the history and inhabitants of the University of Florida’s longleaf pine forest through a blend of research and poetry. As a child, Anderson said, her family would leave Florida’s heat behind in favor of the cooler mountain climates at her grandparents’ cabin in Gatlinburg, where the whole family would gather whenever they could find an excuse. She is currently developing a ‘creative notebook’ designed to promote hikers to explore in new ways, record details of their sensory encounters, and share individual memory outlines to create a database of personal experiences. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Hugh and Sue Aukerman

Hugh and Sue Aukerman

Husband-and-wife team Hugh and Sue Auckerman enjoyed participating in the guided hikes sponsored by GSMA so much that they volunteered to lead other members. In addition to the camaraderie between the hikers and the hike leader, they enjoy learning and sharing information about the park, including historical facts and the plants and animals that live in the park, just to name a few.

Stephen Bales

Stephen Lyn Bales

A native of the Roaring Fork area in Gatlinburg, TN, Stephen Lyn Bales is a naturalist, humorist, photographer, local historian and author of Natural Histories, Ephemeral By Nature, Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Ivorybill and multiple articles for GSMA's Smokies Life, Tennessee Conservationist and Smithsonian magazines. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Tim Barnwell

Tim Barnwell

Tim Barnwell is a photographer and author based in Asheville, N.C., and is one of the most published photographers in the South. He has been a principal or contributing photographer to dozens of books and is the author of seven of his own: The Face of Appalachia: Portraits from the Mountain Farm; On Earth’s Furrowed Brow: The Appalachian Farm in Photographs; Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia; Blue Ridge Parkway Vistas: A Comprehensive Identification Guide to What you See from the Many Overlooks; Great Smoky Mountains Vistas: A Guide, with Mountain Peak Identifications, for What To See and Do in and Around the National Park; Tide Runners: Shrimping and Fishing on the Carolinas and Georgia Coast (due for release September 2019); and Faces and Places of Cashiers Valley (due for release July 2019). He has provided principal photography for numerous other books, including Asheville: A View from the Top, Pisgah Forest and Nonconnah: The Potteries of Walter B. Stevens, Wladimir de Terlikowski: His Life and Art, and Frances Goodrich's Brown Book of Weaving Drafts (Volumes 1 & 2). 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Logan Boldon

Logan Boldon

Logan Boldon hails from Mentor, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, along the shore of Lake Erie. He served as the Centennial/Community Volunteer Ambassador intern for Great Smoky Mountains National Park for nearly three years before joining GSMA in 2019. In his position with the park, he was a public affairs assistant, assistant volunteer coordinator and community outreach coordinator. Logan developed the Smokies Service Days volunteer initiative, weekend service-learning opportunities that allow a wider audience to participate in volunteerism in the park. He now leads GSMA’s social media marketing, develops press releases, coordinates on- and off-site events, assists with development of the Cub Report monthly e-newsletter, and interfaces between GSMA’s Marketing and Membership and Creative teams. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

Originally from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Kevin Burke, now resides in Hendersonville, North Carolina and leads trips in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park and beyond. Kevin has a degree in Resource Recreation and Tourism from the University of Idaho and honed his skills while teaching environmental education on the North Carolina coast. Birding is a lifelong journey for Kevin, and his passion for birding has given him the opportunity to bird in locations like Washington State’s San Juan Islands, the Southern Appalachians and around the world.

Jim Casada

Jim Casada

Jim Casada grew up in Bryson City, NC, and cut his sporting teeth hunting and fishing in and around this small mountain town. He says “a corner of my heart” still belongs to the high country. He taught history at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., where he still lives, from 1972-96 before taking early retirement to work as a full-time freelance writer-photographer. He has won almost 200 craft awards for his writing and photography; is an honorary life member and recipient of the Arnold Gingrich Memorial Award of the Federation of Fly Fishers; was an inaugural inductee into the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians Hall of Fame; and in 2007 was recognized by the National Wild Turkey Federation as its Communicator of the Year. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Wanda Dewaard

Wanda Dewaard

Wanda DeWaard is an outdoor educator who has shared Environmental Awareness and Earth Kinship with community groups, schools, camps, environmental centers and teacher conferences since 1974. She has directed youth and family programs all over the United Staes as well as in Canada and Germany. Currently, Wanda works as an outdoors program consultant and freelance educator in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding communities.

Liz Domingue

Liz Domingue

Expert naturalist Liz Domingue is there to guide you, keep you safe, and help you gain an understanding of the natural history and ecology of the area. Liz has more than 25 years of experience as a naturalist, educator, wildlife biologist, photographer and writer. She earned her master of science degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology from the University of Florida in 1995 and her bachelor of science degree in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University in 1987. She is trained in CPR and is certified by the National Registry as a Wilderness First Responder.

Steve Kemp and Janet Rock

Steve Kemp and Janet Rock

A Great Smoky Mountains Association employee for 30 years, Steve Kemp first wrote about managing wildlife in national parks in 1983. Winner of the Montana Audubon Society Journalism Award, his writing credentials include a variety of periodicals and journals including Outside, Outdoor Life, National Parks, Outdoor Photographer, Discovery Travel Adventures, Blue Ridge Country, Smokies Guide and Smokies Life. His books include Trees of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains: Simply Beautiful, Great Smoky Mountains: A Visual Journey, We’re Going to the Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains: Natural Wonder, National Park, and, perhaps most notably, Who Pooped in the Park?

The Smokies’ sole botanist prior to her retirement, Janet Rock faithfully watched over the park’s remote rare plant populations for more than 26 years. Her pioneering research on the negative impacts of wild “ramp” harvesting led to the protection of the native wildflower in the Smokies and on other public lands. Her cooperative efforts with various land management agencies and divisions have also facilitated the arrest and conviction of numerous poachers of ginseng and other threatened native plants. She is a co-author of Wildflowers of the Smokies and several scientific papers.

Butch McDade

Butch McDade

Butch McDade retired from the National Park Service in 2009 after serving five years as a ranger with the Smokies. A local history, he has over the years conducted extensive research on Elkmont, the mystery of Edd McKinley and other historical curiosities in and around the national park. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Stephany McNew

Stephany McNew

Since she was a child, Stephany has had a love and curiosity for all things outdoors. Her passion for birding began in the early spring of 2012 after an injury prevented her from running and rock climbing. That’s when she began focusing on the birds in her backyard. Her interest quickly grew into something more when she realized the wonder of migration and learned that Sharps Ridge in Knoxville is a migratory stop for passing species. “It was here that I saw my first warbler through binoculars,” she said. “A Hooded Warbler, my favorite species of bird, nailed a permanence to this newfound hobby. I was struck with awe, not only at this beautiful bird and his song, but at this detail of nature that I had been missing out on.” Now, birding is a primary driver in her passion for exploration; she’s traveled and worked all over the country to see a total of 540 species in North America.

Becky Nichols

Becky Nichols

Becky Nichols has been an entomologist at Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 1997. Her primary responsibilities are to implement the monitoring program for aquatic macroinvertebrates in the parks’ numerous streams and to work on the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, which is an effort to identify all species in the park. Both of these projects are ongoing and have resulted in a much greater understanding of the parks diverse habitats. The ATBI has involved collaborations with numerous taxonomists from around the US and from other countries to help document the numerous life forms in the park. Becky received a bachelor of science degree in wildlife biology from Washington State University, an master of science degree in entomology from Texas Tech University, and a PhD in entomology from the University of Missouri. She has held an appointment as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the University of Tennessee since 2003.– 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Steve O’Neil

Steve O’Neil

Communicator of the Year. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter Steve O’Neil, owner/operator of Earthshine Nature Programs in Pisgah Forest, N.C., has conducted hundreds of nature, wildlife and music presentations to thousands of children and adults over the years. He has lead many camper groups of youngsters and adults into mountains, caves, swamps and dunes in search of all things and all places wild and wonderful. Steve is a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles and opossums. He also puts in hundreds of volunteer hours keeping track of not only the several turtles and snakes he is following in the wilds of WNC, but also for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Nongame-Endangered Wildlife program monitoring reptiles, amphibians and bats. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Chris Myers

Chris Myers

An avid birder and naturalist, Chris Myers grew up in the Cumberland Mountain community of Tracy City, TN. It was here from the surrounding cliffs and wooded coves that he developed an affinity for the natural world. From an early age, he was fond of drawing and drawing animals in particular. Chris contributed many of the illustrations for the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Tennessee by University of Tennessee Press. Since 2015 he has taught a bird sketching class for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He is also a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Chris lives in Sevierville, TN.

Charlene and Lloyd Shiver

Charlene and Lloyd Shiver

Originally from Palatka, Florida, Great Smoky Mountains Association members Lloyd and Charlene Shiver moved to the Appalachian Mountains to deepen their connection with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all it has to offer in the way of hiking trails, cultural history and its wondrous diversity of life. Lloyd is regularly hiking to complete all the trails on the GSMNP trail map. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter

Keith Watson

Keith Watson

Keith Watson, a native to Sevier County, has over 35 years of national (coast to coast) birding experience, including East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. He began birding as a conservationist in the mid-1970’s in Knoxville, TN as a student at the University of Tennessee. While working in several national park units such as Shenandoah National Park, Virgin Islands National Park and more. During that time, Keith had the support of National Park Service management to promote and coordinate bird conservation and partnerships and developed an Avian Conservation Implementation Plan for each national park unit in the southeastern region of the NPS (57). Currently, Keith is leading bird tours for local organizations including, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Buckhorn Inn, the City of Gatlinburg and Wilderness Wildlife Week. Together with fellow birders, he has documented birds never before reported for Sevier County, TN. – 2019 Members Weekend Presenter