Get to Know Habitat Network Staff

Photo © Suzanne Cadwell

This project launched at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as YardMap in March 2012. It was funded by an NSF Informal Science Education grant (No. 0917487 ) in 2009 led by Janis Dickinson, Faculty Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab. In 2014 Dickinson, Crain, and Bielaczyc (Director, Hiatt Center for Urban Education, Clark University) received a second NSF grant (Cyberlearning No. 1441527) to continue improving the YardMap platform for citizen science. Additionally, funds from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (PIs – Dickinson, McLeod and Schuldt from the Department of Communication), Smith Lever (PIs – Cerra (Landscape Architecture), Crain, and Dickinson) and Toward Sustainability Foundation (Crain and Dickinson) have provided funding to support research and outreach using the YardMap Web application from 2013-present. In 2016 we became a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Cornell Lab of Ornithology that expands the YardMap platform into the Habitat Network.

Current Project Staff include:

Rhiannon 10-2015

Photo ©
Name: Rhiannon Crain
Organization: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Favorite Native Plant: Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri): A showy native of California that challenges ideas that natives can’t also be ornamental.
Degrees: Ph.D Science Education, M.A. Science Education, B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Habitat Pet Peeve: Not being able to find many natives at big box stores
Role at the Habitat Network: Project Leader for the Habitat Network, learning scientist
Hot Beverage of Choice: Coffee with heavy cream
Map Link: Country for Us
Best Part of the Habitat Network: Being able to visualize my yard with a map. People don’t realize how much there is to learn about your own space from taking the time to carefully map something. It really forces you to look at your yard with a new set of eyes. Some might even say a “bird’s-eye”.
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: A better way to showcase the native plants people are using.
Favorite Bird: My favorite bird is a hen . . . Hen-of-the-woods (Grifola frondosa)

Megan profile picture

Photo © Megan Whatton
Name: Megan Whatton
Organization: The Nature Conservancy
Favorite Native Plant: White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Degrees: M.S. Environmental Science and Policy, B.S. Wildlife Biology
Habitat Pet Peeve: I can’t decide between, lack of maintenance and not being able to find natives at big box stores.
Role at the Habitat Network: Project Manager for Habitat Network
Hot Beverage of Choice: Vanilla Chai Latte
Map Link: Whatton Home
Best Part of the Habitat Network: The learn articles! They pull me in like YouTube for most. I get lost in the “related articles.” I will be looking up information on herbicides and an hour later reading about outdoor cats or vernal pools. They are so easy to read and full of great information.
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: A design tool. I have spoken to so many people that want to do something in their yard but have no idea where to start, what to plant where or what will look good.
Favorite Bird: There are so many, I have one for every country I have been blessed to visit. For the U.S. it’s the Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea).

Becca

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Name: Becca Rodomsky-Bish
Organization: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Favorite Native Plant: Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L). Incredible resource for birds and other wildlife. Medicinal for humans (perhaps wildlife, too).
Degrees: M.S. in Environmental Studies, emphasis in Environmental Education; B.A. in Anthropology, minor in Biology
Habitat Pet Peeve: Trying to dominate nature’s resilient patterns, instead of organically letting gardens evolve and take on a life of their own, that often mimic natural systems.
Role at the Habitat Network: Project Assistant for the Habitat Network
Hot Beverage of Choice: Authentic Chai Tea with Goat Milk
Map Link: Dream Big Farms
Best Part of the Habitat Network: The educational component of how to create habitat in personal yards and communities. This work is desperately needed to maintain healthy ecosystems for the benefit of biodiversity.
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: Easy photo uploading tool (in progress).
Favorite Bird: So many! But, I would say I have a very soft spot in my heart for the American Woodcock (also referred to as a Timberdoodle)

Jacob 10-2015

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Name: Jacob Johnston
Organization: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Favorite Native Plant: Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Love that orange color!
Degrees: BS Natural Resources, Cornell University
Habitat Pet Peeve: Monocultures of invasive species.
Role at the Habitat Network: Project Assistant for the Habitat Network
Hot Beverage of Choice: Coffee, strong and black
Map Link: Gmas 2015
Best Part of the Habitat Network: I like the ability to use ‘habigons’ (habitat polygons) to assess and differentiate between habitat types and to designate areas for management planning.
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: I’m looking forward to the planning tool in production.
Favorite Bird: Resplendent Quetzal, the bird that started my obsession.

Chris 10-2015

Photo ©
Name: Chris Marx
Organization: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Favorite Native Plant: Juneberry (Amelanchier). One of the best berries in the Northeast. Also Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), desert redolence at its best.
Degrees: B.S. Natural Resources
Habitat Pet Peeve: Japanese Barberry. It’s invasive and provides ideal tick habitat.
Role at the Habitat Network: Application Programmer
Hot Beverage of Choice: None. I like beverages lukewarm or cold.
Map Link: Owl Gorge Gate
Best Part of the Habitat Network: Being able to move around the map and find other mappers and see how they’re making a difference for wildlife.
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: More styles for polygons, animated yard timeline, copy/paste and point snapping.
Favorite Bird: Black-throated Green Warbler. I’m never really alone in the woods, as long as they’re singing.

Mark 10-2015

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Name: Mark Zifchock
Organization: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Favorite Native Plant: Indian Pipe (Monotropa Uniflora)
Background: 20yrs Enterprise Application Developer and Architect
Habitat Pet Peeve: Habitat islands caused by car culture and development practices (read more about this)
Role at the Habitat Network: Application Developer
Hot Beverage of Choice: Coffee, Honey + Ginger root (when I’m sick), Hot Chocolate with Rum (when I’m with friends around a fire outside and it’s snowing)
Map Link: The Claire Hope Fox and Mark Zifchock Center for Family Living
Best Part of the Habitat Network: User Created Content – Ownership, sharing!
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: Streamlined editing tools
Favorite Bird: Veery
Favorite biology book: EO Wilson – The Diversity of Life

Miika 10-2015

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Name: Miika Grady
Organization: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Favorite Native Plant: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis)
Degrees: Preferably 62 degrees (or, errr… BA in Political Science.)
Habitat Pet Peeve: Lack of trees
Role at the Habitat Network: Web Designer for citizen science
Hot Beverage of Choice: Dark Roast Coffee
Map Link: MG Chateau
Best Part ofthe Habitat Network: All the impactful and actionable advice that can help you make a difference to the environment and bird habitat
Feature Most Needed in the Habitat Network, but currently missing: More immediate links to Learn articles from within the mapping application
Favorite Bird: Emperor Penguin

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