Elyssa Kerr stepped into the role of Executive Director in 2019 after nearly three years managing projects and programming for Beavers Northwest. She holds a BS from the University of Washington as well as a certificate in Nonprofit Management. Elyssa has been working in the Pacific Northwest as a restoration practitioner and environmental educator since 2014. She is passionate about exploring and maintaining the amazing habitats that beavers create and enjoys sharing the benefits of these ecosystems with people of all ages through interactive and experiential programming. She has installed many beaver management devices throughout the region and has assisted with implementing similar programs across the Western United States. When not wading through beaver ponds, she can be found exploring intertidal invertebrates on local beaches, cultivating her home garden, or reading and snuggling with her cat, Elon Meowsk.
Ben Dittbrenner is a co-founder of Beavers Northwest; he has been the organization’s Executive Director since inception. Ben holds an MS in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy from the University at Albany, and BS degrees in Biology, and Environmental Science and Conservation from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He currently is a PhD candidate in Aquatic Ecology at the University of Washington, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. His research there focuses on exploring non-traditional approaches to promote habitat enhancement and maintenance, increase ecosystem resilience, and reduced effects of climate change on riparian systems at multiple scales. He co-manages the Sky Beaver Project, which seeks to relocate beavers from areas where human-beaver conflicts would normally result in euthanization of the beaver to headwater riparian systems. The project assess how beaver dams and networks of beaver dams modify measures of stream water quantity and timing, such as residence time, base flow, hyporheic lateral flow, and stream temperature. Ben has managed beavers and worked with landowners to reduce conflict in a number of capacities for over 10 years. He is passionate about environmental education, creating opportunities for emerging ecologists, and providing landowners with realistic options to enable them to coexist with wildlife.
Co-founder Mike Rustay is an ecologist who has worked toward salmon recovery in Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest since 1997. In addition to years of experience collecting, analyzing and reporting salmon habitat and watershed data for the purpose of furthering salmon recovery, he has assessed and addressed beaver conflicts for most of the last 15 years. Working with private landowners, homeowner associations and agency personnel, he has installed and maintained numerous beaver devices to protect property and public infrastructure from flooding under a range of challenging conditions. Mike firmly believes that promoting beavers on the landscape is an important step to restoring the natural processes necessary to improve hydrology, and recover salmon stocks in the Northwest. He has a BS in Environmental Science and Regional Planning from Washington State University and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems from University of Washington.
Rachael Dirks graduated from the University of Washington, with a degree in Biology and a focus in Conservation and Ecology. While working with the Washington Conservation Corps, she found her passion for habitat preservation. She loves seeing the immense impact beavers can have on an ecosystem, and is interested in the role they can play in habitat restoration. When not trudging through wetlands, Rachael enjoys hiking and learning to cook new types of food. She loves to travel, above all else, and hopes to one day get to work on habitat restoration projects around the world.
Michael Bailey joined Beavers Northwest in Spring of 2020. Graduating from the University of Georgia in 2015 with a B.S. in Plant Biology and the University of Washington’s Wetland Science & Management Certificate Program in 2018, his fascination with natural systems and passion for ecological restoration found him a home in outreach, education, and hands-on field work. In the past, Michael has worked with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, Randall’s Island Urban Farm, King County’s WCC, the Snoqualmie Tribe, and many plant nurseries on the east and west coast. Leveraging teachings from academic, government, and non-profit agencies, Michael loves to apply his life experiences to efficiently help ecosystems get back to self-sufficiency. When not in the field, he can be found playing
music in solo and group projects, generally enjoying the outdoors, and
hopefully laughing with friends.
Madison Newton studies Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management at the University of Washington with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation. She will be graduating in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree. Her current emphasis is in ornithology and corvid research, with an ongoing project studying the effects of human symbols on the food preferences of crows. She also has experience and a love for rodents, which has led her to Beavers Northwest. In addition to her position at BNW she has been working at REI for two years. Whenever Madison is not completing schoolwork or having fun with beavers, she can be found bird watching, hiking, or making art.
Ariana Winkler graduated from the University of Washington in 2019, earning a B.S. in Environmental Science & Resource Management and a B.A. in Environmental Studies with minors in Restoration Ecology and Quantitative Science. After college, Ariana spent two years in the Washington Conservation Corps with the Snohomish Conservation District, working to restore many streamside habitats. Her position at Beavers Northwest gives her a unique opportunity to combine her passions of wildlife conservation and water quality. When not wading through streams, Ariana works at a water quality laboratory and enjoys nature walks, paddle boarding, and indoor soccer.
Born and raised in the Pacific, Mary Heather Jingco is interested in studying the threatened and endangered species of the Mariana Islands as well as playing a role in their conservation efforts. She is currently attending the University of Guam and is majoring in Integrative Biology. As an islander, she finds beavers and the work they do as ecosystem engineers extremely interesting, and is looking forward to spending the summer exploring wetlands and advocating for the more than human beings around her.
Alyssa Magliaro studies Systems Biology at Case Western Reserve University with a focus in ecology and evolution. She is from Tucson, AZ and has a deep love for the desert. She hopes that after graduation she will be working in sustainable wetland restoration. She is also passionate about science communication and advocates for the more than human through her photography.
Samantha Everett has a Masters degree in Library Science and currently works for the King County Library System. Her love of beavers started twenty years ago in college in Maine where she discovered an active beaver pond. Upon returning home to the Pacific Northwest she saw a beaver roadkill next to the Duwamish River and has been hooked on local beavers ever since. In 2015 she spent time researching active beaver colonies within the City of Seattle using Google Earth and onsite scouting. She compiled a document with details about each site gained from contacting local organizations such as Friends groups and local government organizations. In her free time she attended the 2017 State of the Beaver Conference in Oregon to learn more about beavers and in 2016 the Beaver Ecology Weekend in the Methow Valley to learn more about their beaver project. She can often be found walking along the waterfront or dragging her friends to watch active beavers at dusk at Yesler Swamp.
Currently, there are no staff openings or opportunities for volunteers. Please check back here for updates or let us know if you are interested in working with us.