Meet The Board

The Greater Mohican Audubon Society (GMAS) was formed in 1999 after being recognized by the National Audubon Society. Our group has grown and gained so many incredible individuals, each bringing a lifetime of knowledge and experience to our birding community. The members of our board strive to keep the GMAS mission thriving for years to come. We are dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of birds and other wildlife through environmental education and the conservation and restoration of habitat.

Tim Leslie - President

Tim has been a member of GMAS well before they were recognized by the national chapter in 1999. He started feeding the birds in 1970, then in 1995, he and his son started doing the Project Feeder Watch program for Cornell Lab. That’s when he learned that he didn’t know all the birds, and it’s been 28 years of learning and sharing about the birds. Tim started the GMAS bird walks and did many bird feeding projects and other programs over the years. Tim has put up a 44-box bluebird trail at Byers Woods, and with GMAS help and funding, they have protected the bobolinks at Byers Woods. Tim has also put up four purple martin racks, spanning across three county parks. Tim remembers finding birds when he was a child. He just loved the outdoors, birds, insects, beautiful colors and sounds. He and also spent a lot of time trying to catch turtles and such, feeling like he had to touch everything, even the snakes, and let’s not forget taste! He always knew where all the ripe fruit was. Tim has always loved including the younger generation in outdoor activities and birding. He feels that around 5th grade, the kids really seem to love it. He suggest bringing your kids on the bird walks, as they are open and welcome to all ages. Tim's favorite bird is the chickadee. He just loves how they aways seem to come around to see him when he goes into the woods and loves their happy and friendly personalities. For anyone looking to start birding, Tim recommends coming on the bird walks and get to know others who love the birds. Put up some feeders, get a field guid and some binoculars. This will then help you learn how to identify the birds. When on the walks, you will learn the sounds of the birds. Especially when you are with experienced birding friends. When you start to learn the birds, keep a list of the birds you have seen. Tim likes to use paper and pen but there are great aps to use, Like eBird to track your findings and other great resources. Tim's favorite spot to bird is Byers Woods. It has a variety of habitat, 186 species of birds have been seen or heard there. Tim just loves to be outdoors. Nature is wonderful and free. He loves to be out on a hike on beautiful day, but also loves to be out in the rain and snow. Weather is also beautiful to him. The pitter patter of rain on your hood, and the beauty of walking in the snow are all things Tim holds dear. Tim retired from Verizon, after 32 years, but seems to be busier than when he worked full time. He has two sons, a daughter, and eight grandchildren, spread out from coast to coast. He hopes to continue to pass on his love of birding for years to come.

Gary Cowell - Vice President

Gary brings over 25 years of experienced birding to GMAS. He has been part of GMAS since 2000. He serves as our Vice President. Gary’s ability to hear and identify a wide range of species, makes him a very valuable asset to our group. Go on a bird walk with Gary and you are sure to learn some new bird sounds. Gary found his love for birding many years ago when he put up bird feeders on his property for his dogs' entertainment. Although Gary has never seen one, his favorite bird is the Wandering Albatross. He credits the love for this bird to his first wildlife drawing he did as a child in elementary school. Gary’s best advice for getting started birding is to join a local group, like GMAS. Being able to spend time with experienced birders will really help you learn where and what to look and listen for when it comes to birds. Gary loves to spend his time at Mohican State Park looking for nesting birds and winter finches. If you are looking for a diverse group of species, he would tell you to visit Malabar Farm State Park. Gary has a keen eye for waterfowl as well and some great spots to find those would be Clear Fork Reservoir and Pleasant Hill Lake. Gary loves to travel all over the US on birding adventures. He also conducts two USGS Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) every year in June, the Fulton BBS in Morrow and Marion Counties, Mohican State Park and in Ashland County. Gary also spends some time conducting breeding bird surveys every year in June for The Ohio Bird Sanctuary property. He has also been participating in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count since 1999. He has completed 5 or more counts every year since then. What an achievement! If you are browsing in the eBird app, you will be sure to see Gary’s stats often. Gary can be reached via email at: gcowelljr@yahoo.com

Tony Wheaton - Director of Field Trips

Tony enjoys nature and all the wonders and beauty of birding. He has been birding since 2011, many of these hours spent with his wife, Marilyn. Tony has been part of GMAS since 2015. He serves as our Director of Field Trips. Planning many amazing trips over the years, Tony strives to bring other birding communities together. Once Tony discovered the magical world of birding, he never looked back. His favorite bird is the Pileated Woodpecker. Tony feels it reminds him of the prehistoric creatures from which it derived. Tony’s best advice for getting started birding is to simply go outside. Whether it be in the woods or a local park, or around your property. Tony suggests paying particular attention to the birds you see, and you will be amazed by their beauty. You will begin to wonder why you never noticed them before. Another pro tip from Tony is to invest in a good field guide, whether it be in book form or phone app. eBird and Merlin Bird ID are some of Tony’s favorites to use. A basic pair of binoculars is a must as well. Tony and his wife, Marilyn are Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists and he is also an appointed member of the Richland County Park Commision. Tony loves spending his time as a volunteer at The Ohio Bird Sanctuary and is a graduate of The Ohio State University School of Business. Tony and Marilyn share a son, a daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. On Sunday’s, you can find Tony the Maddox Memorial Church of God in Christ. Tony has been a dedicated Administrator in Nursing Homes for the past 40 years. Outside of birding in his free time, Tony enjoys hiking, biking, astronomy and golfing. Tony can be reached via email at: wheaton.tony@gmail.com

Louise Fleming-Dufala - Secretary, Chair of Education Committee & Editor of E-News

Louise is an inspiring lover of all things nature. She has been birding since the mid 1980’s and is part of the original group that formed The Greater Mohican Audubon Society, back in 1999. Louise serves as the Board Secretary, Chair of the Education Committee and the Editor of our E-News publications. Louise’s focus is growing our educational programs. Being an outdoor educator, she knows there are so many people interested in nature, just lacking knowledge. With a strong focus on the younger generation, Louise feels strongly about the need for education around birds, plants and pollinators. Louise grew up in the country and spent hours birding in Summit County after taking a Birding ID class at Summit Metro Parks. After joining the Greater Akron Audubon Society, she continued to attend meetings, bird walks and conduct bird counts. After moving to Ashland County in 1996, she found a need for an Audubon Chapter in her new home. When asked what her favorite bird is, she has very strong feelings about a few. Her top choice is the Carolina Wren, who has once nested in a broken bucket in her garage and this bird always challenges her with her sound identification. The Carolina Wren has a wide variety of calls and songs. And we can’t forget how cute they are. A close second is the Black-Throated Blue Warbler and rounding out her top 3 is the Downy Woodpecker. When the adults bring their fledglings to her feeders in the late spring, this is a happy moment for Louise. Louise’s best advice for getting started birding is to join a group. It can be so hard to learn everything all at once, so having an educated group really helps. She also encourages learning bird songs. Having spent many hours behind the wheel, Louise spent time driving and listening to bird tapes while she drove. This added to her love and enjoyment of birding. Having a huge love for native plants, one spring Louise planted a native plant rain garden, and then in late summer, she found a garden spider in one of the plants. Then a few weeks later, she found an egg sack, hanging in the same plant. She was ecstatic. The spider had found good food in her garden and then laid her eggs. Next season she would have lots of little spiders, eating all the bad bugs! louise can be reached via email at: louiseflemingdufala@gmail.com

Brenda Meese - Membership Chair and Wayne County Representative

Brenda has always been an avid lover of the outdoors, watching and observing nature over her lifetime. In the fall of 2014, she really got serious about her love of birding. At that time, she joined GMAS for a bird walk after seeing an ad in the local paper and has been hooked since! Brenda now serves as our Membership Chair and the Representative for Wayne County, where she leads the bird walks at Secrest Arboretum & Barnes Preserve. If Brenda had to pick her favorite bird, she would have to give that title to the Great Blue Heron. Although it is so hard to pick a favorite bird, she recalls watching them when she was a child at her family’s cottage at Indian Lake. She would spend time on the water in her canoe or kayak, watching them stalk their dinner. Brenda’s best advice for anyone who may be interested in birding is to find a local group to meet up with, such as GMAS. She has always found that birders tend to be very generous with their knowledge. She also recommends birding as much as you can on your own, especailly repeating particular areas throughout the season to see how species change or stay the same at those locations. Brenda has an extensive background in athletics and higher education. She coached, taught and administered for almost 40 years and is in three different Halls of Fame as an athlete or coach. She taught bicycling, camping, backpacking, winter camping and recreational sports for 12 years. In addition, she is a NOLS graduate, certified in both three season and winter skills. After retiring, Brenda became an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist in 2017, and later, a certified Master Gardener Volunteer. An avid cyclist who has traveled all over the world by bike on both solo trips and supported groups, Brenda has a deep love for New Zealand, where she hiked and cycled for 10 weeks. Brenda loves spending time outdoors, enjoying the fact that nature engages all five senses. She really enjoys finding new and odd things in nature. Brenda can be reach via email at: blmeese@me.com

Jan Trexler Kennedy - Audubon at Home Chair

Jan has been a part of GMAS since around 2007. You could say she has been birding since her kindergarten days when the students were given drawings of birds to color. She vividly remembers coloring a picture of a meadowlark. She was also always fascinated by robins as a child since there were so many around her yard. If she dug through her collectables at home, she may still have the pages somewhere of her early bird colorings. Jan wishes that over the years, that she would have been a more serious birdwatcher, especially when her memory was better. Jan spent some time living in New Mexico for 3 years when she was in her twenties, and would love to have spent more time doing serious birding while there. Jan really thanks her mother for getting her started in birding. Her mother had some small field guides of birds, butterflies, and wildflowers from the 1930s, and Jan enjoyed looking at them. She remembers a trip with her parents when she was young to Hawk Mountain, in Berks County, PA close to where she grew up, way back before it was the Sanctuary that it is today. If Jan had to pick her favorite bird, it would be the Red-breasted Nuthatch. She had never heard of it or seen one until recently. She has seen one or two at her bird feeders for the past few years and she likes that they are visitors from boreal forests. A good piece of advice from Jan when starting to bird is to invest in a good pair of binoculars, but first talk to some seasoned birders to get recommendations on models and strength of the lenses. The options for binoculars can be overwhelming. Start by going on some bird walks with knowledgeable guides at first. It will spark your interest and will give new insights into the rich avian (and other) experiences that nature provides. As far as her favorite spots for birding, Jan mostly spends time in her yard in Richland County all year round. She feeds the birds and likes to see what comes to the feeders. Cold, snowy days bring in the most birds. She participates in the Backyard Bird Count in February. She likes the GMAS walks at Malabar Farm, the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and along the Richland County Parks B&O bike trail. She also loves learning about native plants and the native fauna that depend on them. Over the years, Jan has enjoyed creating a colorful, mostly native plant habitat in her yard. In the summer, she goes out a few times a day to document the butterflies that visit. She sees all sorts of bees and occasional hummingbirds. She likes seeing goldfinches pecking seeds from native perennial sunflowers and especially from purple coneflowers. All the critters know that there is a smorgasbord there for them. Birds give back by "planting" seeds in her yard. They have provided her with cherry trees, elderberry bushes, and alternate-leaf (or pagoda) and flowering dogwood trees. They have also provided a proliferation of poison ivy!

Christina Stump

Christina brings a wealth of research based knowledge to our GMAS board. She has been part of GMAS since 2014. She serves as a board chair and although she has always noticed birds, she really began to take a deep interest in 2014 when she picked up the hobby and joined GMAS. Her family always had bird feeders, and her parents and grandfather especially motivated her to notice and care about the outdoors. She still has a Peterson field guide where she circled some of the birds she thought were "really cool" when growing up. She learned about birding as a hobby during a college trip, which just so happened to include a lot of zoo and wildlife biology students, and joined GMAS shortly afterward. Christinas’s spark bird was the violet-green swallow, which she first saw nesting along a trail in Yellowstone National Park. She recalls noticing birds before then, especially larger birds like common loons and bald eagles, but the violet-green swallow is the first bird she remembers looking at and realizing it was something exciting, despite being of little interest to anyone else. She thinks birds like the ratites (especially cassowaries) and the Hoatzin are really cool, because they're so unlike any of the other birds alive today. Steller's Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) and Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) are a few of the birds she would really like to see in the wild. If she had to pick a single favorite species that regularly occurs in the GMAS area; it would be the Bobolink because of how much this species represents for conservation in the United States. Bobolinks and other grassland birds are rapidly declining, but many species (grasshopper sparrow and sedge wren, for example) are not easy to see or share with people. Bobolinks are highly accessible while also providing hours of enjoyment observing behavior. Christina’'s best advice for getting started birding is to enjoy the experience and don't be afraid to ask questions. It's easy and fun to get caught up in listing and chasing rare birds, but don't forget to pause and appreciate the birds you see regularly. Understanding why birds are in a given habitat, and how they use that habitat, will help you find more birds. Christina feels that Charles Mill Lake Park (and the nearby area) is the best casual birding in the area. There is always something to see or hear, even when the lake is frozen, and you can usually get good looks at waterfowl and warblers in spring. Byers Woods and Mohican State Park are excellent for more specialized species. Christina wishes more people knew how even small things we do can help or hurt the environment where we live. She recently became interested in learning more about native habitats, especially grasslands, and would like to see more native plants, removal of invasive, like Autumn Olive, and less mowing of lawns. Christina is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist and focuses her volunteer hours on conservation advocacy and invasive species removal, in addition to wildlife monitoring.

Adrienne Krizan - Marketing Chair

Adrienne has always been a huge nature lover, but is new to birding since 2019. She joined GMAS after being invited to a bird walk by Tony. Adrienne met Tony at a work meeting and he had a picture of a Pileated Woodpecker on his office wall. Adrienne commented on how much she loves the Pileated and they instantly connected discussing birds. Tony invited her to a bird walk and she will be forever grateful. Adrienne had been casually backyard birding and after attending her first bird walk with GMAS, she knew she had found her people. She serves as the marketing chair for GMAS, helping with their online presence and growth. Adrienne found her love for birding during the Covid-19 pandemic. While working from home, she discovered how busy her backyard woods were and started feeding and setting up her Bird Buddy interactive feeder camera. Her obsession has grown since then. After feeling like she has never had a hobby or passion in life, birding gave Adrienne a positive look on life and believes that this new found passion truly helped her get through some of her worst times with anxiety and depression. Adrienne's best advice for getting started birding is to join a local group, like GMAS. There is so much to see and hear and solo birding can feel very overwhelming. Joining a group allows you to soak up all their knowledge and make new friends with like minded people in the community. Having a good guide book, using the Merlin Bird ID and E-Birding apps are also top tricks that Adrienne recommends. Since joining GMAS, Adrienne has really branched out going places, seeing things and meeting new people that she would have never experienced in life, without the welcoming spirit of the birding community she has found within GMAS. Adrienne's favorite birds are the Northern Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, American Goldfinch and the Ruby-throated hummingbird. Their vibrant plumage and sweet nature has earned these 4 birds a permanent spot on Adrienne with a colorful tattoo of each of them on her left arm. Another favorite bird of Adrienne is the Pileated Woodpecker. Its size, sound and stunningly beautiful appearance is what she finds most fascinating. Outside of birding, Adrienne loves spending time with her family. She is married to her highschool sweetheart, Rich and they have one daughter, Layla. They love to travel and enjoy new experiences as a family. Hiking, trail walking and adding new species to her life list is a continual goal for Adrienne. Some of her favorite local spots for birding are Mohican State Park, Clear Fork Reservoir and the many spots we visit on our bird walks.