Ken Buchholz, Center Director, Audubon Center at Riverlands
Ken was appointed Center Director in May 2016. He graduated from Park University with a B.A. in Political Science. He has over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector including senior level development positions with the Missouri offices of The Nature Conservancy and Audubon. Ken was instrumental in the early development of the Audubon Center at Riverlands and Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center. Prior to his return to Audubon, he served as Director of Development at the Forsyth School in St. Louis for eight years where his efforts lead to significant campus expansion and endowment growth. He is an avid gardener and enthusiastic birder. He also enjoys basketball, running, biking and exercising. Ken and his wife Dale, their two children Sam and Caroline, and several pets reside in University City.
Michelle Wiegand, Education Manager, Audubon Center at Riverlands:
Originally from Iowa, Michelle earned her BSW from the University of Iowa and her MSW from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. A Licensed Master Social Worker and a Certified Interpretive Guide, Michelle is passionate about the mental and physical health benefits of connecting to the natural world. Her experience includes non-profit management in Northern California, Iowa City, and St. Louis; facilitating outdoor education locally at Shaw Nature Reserve, Wyman, and St. Louis County Youth Programs; grant-management; and community and youth development in North St. Louis City and County. Michelle developed a deep connection to nature as a young child when she spent most afternoons playing in the woods or riding her bike until the sun went down. She is passionate about connecting young people to the outdoors where they can discover the wonders of our natural world while also building leadership skills and self-confidence and by challenging themselves through new experiences. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature with her husband and young daughter, biking, hiking, gardening, cooking, and making art.
Emily Connor, Educator, Audubon Center at Riverlands:
Emily graduated in 2018 from the University of Tampa and studied Environmental Science and Marine Science-Biology. Emily performed ecological and inorganic chemistry research during her time as an undergraduate and has published her research in scientific journals. Returning back to her home, St. Louis, she has decided to go into Conservation and Environmental Education and plans on attending Graduate school in the fall of 2019. Her experience includes volunteering as a student educator at the Saint Louis Zoo as well as interning at the World Aquarium here in Saint Louis. Emily has worked at the Audubon Center at Riverlands as an Education Intern for 6 six months preceding her undergraduate studies and now serves as a full time Educator at the center focusing on Field Trips and Tour experience. She is passionate about learning more about the natural world and sharing that knowledge with diverse groups in our region. She also hopes to contribute to environmental justice in urban areas through education. Her hobbies include ceramics, camping, fly fishing, and has developed a new passion, birding! She also enjoys spending time with her new pup, Chance, who aspires to be a bird dog someday.
Tara Hohman, Conservation Science Associate, Audubon Upper Mississippi Flyway:
Tara Hohman, a native Texan, earned her MS in environmental science and policy at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and her BS in wildlife biology at Texas State University – San Marcos. Her passion for birds and conservation began with a field technician job surveying Black rails off the Texas coast. Throughout her academic career she’s gained experience doing point count surveys, mist netting as well as other avian monitoring techniques for a suite of different species, including Golden-cheeked warblers, Black-capped Vireos, Piping Plovers, and Black-crested Titmouse to name a few. Tara was a co-founder of the first Audubon campus chapter in the nation and enjoys sharing birds with others. Her favorite group of birds to study are wetland species, but she highly enjoys all water-based ecosystems. In her spare time, Tara enjoys being outdoors, birding, art, and searching around thrift and vintage stores.
Caia Gillett, Environmental Education Support VISTA, AmeriCorps VISTA:
Caia graduated from Principia College in 2020 where she earned her BS in Biology and Sustainability. Her love for nature sprouted as a youngin since she grew up by the beach in Florida. Here, she spent her time climbing and hugging trees, beach combing, and stand up paddle boarding. As she learned more about the interconnectedness between humans and the planet, her passion for wildlife conservation became more clear. Throughout her academic career, she has gained experience through various volunteer and internship opportunities including at the Brevard Zoo and the Marine Discovery Center, both in Florida. However, her favorite opportunity has been surveying Leatherback Sea Turtle in Trinidad and Tobago. Caia served as a Summer Associate VISTA at Riverlands and began her full AmeriCorps VISTA term in August 2020. She aims to build her knowledge about the natural environment and work to build meaningful connections between people and nature. On her time off, Caia can be found jamming and playing various instruments, hiking, shooting photos, doing yoga, or creating art.
John McGrath, Weekend Visitor Assistant, Audubon Center at Riverlands:
John graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a B.A. in History and an M.S. in Biology; he is currently working on his dissertation for an EdD in Science Education also from UMSL. John has worked as a field biologist for the Universities of Missouri Columbia & St. Louis and the Missouri Department of Conservation. John has also worked as a burn crew member for the Nature Conservancy and as a high school science instructor for the St. Louis Public Schools. Currently John is an adjunct professor at both the University of Missouri – St. Louis and Harris Stowe State University. When not working, John can often be found canoeing the numerous rivers of Missouri.
Rachael Heaton, Weekend Visitor Assistant, Audubon Center at Riverlands:
Rachael graduated from Southern Illinois Univerity Edwardsville with a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Environment with a specialization in wildlife. She became interested in wildlife and the outdoors at a young age by observing animals in her backyard in Collinsville, IL. Growing up she had many experiences including volunteering and interning at different wildlife organizations such as the Wildlife Rescue Center in Ballwin, MO; Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, MO; and TreeHouse Wildlife Center in Dow, IL. She also has interned abroad in South Africa where she followed large African wildlife and studied their behaviors as well as studied under a wildlife veterinarian. Rachael has a background in wildlife rehabilitation as she worked seven years as the rehabilitation manager at TreeHouse Wildlife Center and continues her time there as a volunteer. At the Audubon center, Rachael can be seen on weekends greeting and assisting visitors. She enjoys many outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, biking, and horseback riding. She also spends a lot of her free time practicing martial arts in Saint Louis at Bushido World Karate.