Amazing Earthfest Presenters


Autumn Gillard

Administrative Support Assistant (OA), Pipe Spring National Monument
Autumn Gillard is part Southern Paiute, descending from the Cedar Band of Paiutes from the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah on her maternal side. She currently works at Pipe Spring National Monument as the administrative assistant, and has spent some of her time at Pipe Spring also working as an interpretive park Ranger. Autumn graduated from Southern Utah University, where she majored in Anthropology, and minored in Psychology. Autumn currently attends New Mexico Highlands University where she is studying the CRM masters program. She has been working at Pipe Spring for the last five years dedicating her work to the interpretive and administrative divisions. Some of her work has concentrated on Native American history, specifically the Ancestral Puebloan and Southern Paiute connection to the Monument. Autumn authored the application submitted by Pipe Spring National Monument to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) for designation as a Dark Sky Park in the spring of 2021. 


Blake Spalding

Co-chef-owner of Hell's Backbone Grill & Farm
Jen Castle and Blake Spalding, the chef-owners at Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm, were announced as nominees/finalists for best chefs in the Mountain Region by the James Beard Awards for the 2020 season! Jen & Blake were also semi-finalists for Best Chefs in the Southwest in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Approaching their 23rd season, the restaurant enjoys one of the highest Zagat ratings in Utah and was selected as a 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. 


Cassidy Jones

Senior Outreach & Engagement Manager, Southwest Region, National Parks Conservation Association
Cassidy Jones is a former park ranger and current professional park advocate. As Southwest Outreach and Engagement Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), she connects people to the civic process of protecting parks. A lifelong Utahn, the Utah parks hold a special place in Cassidy’s heart, and she works on various issues to keep them protected, including dark sky preservation and visitation management. 
NPCA’s Southwest region includes the Four Corners states. Climate change has an outsized effect in these arid, snowfall-dependent states in the Colorado River Watershed, and the parks of the Southwest are especially threatened. Cassidy and her team work to minimize harm to parks and people from activities based in the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels. Additionally, Cassidy conducts workshops to help people communicate their concerns about climate change to decision makers and the public. 


Dave Lane

Astrophotographer
Featured in Time Magazine, the self-described unabashed astro-nut David Lane ranks among the top 5 astrophotographers in the world. Eleven of his mesmerizing images are archived on NASA’s informative website, Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Dave got involved with astro-photography by taking deep space images and has operated two automated remote observatories resulting in the unique perspective he brings to the craft which he calls “Milky-Way Fusion”, that is, blending deep space processing techniques with wide field Milky Way landscape images. http://www.davelaneastrophotography.com/

Dave serves as a trustee for Kanab's nonprofit Stellar Vista Observatory with other local residents who are working to bring about the creation of an educational astronomical observatory in Kanab, Utah, to foster public enjoyment and comprehension of the nights sky and learning opportunities for students at all levels.


Joseph Sertich, PhD

Curator of Dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Joe Sertich is a board member for the nonprofit organization Grandstaircase Escalante Partners and Curator of Dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where his research focuses on Late Cretaceous dinosaurs and their ecosystems. His field-based work has taken him to many of the Gondwanan continents of the southern hemisphere, including multiple expeditions to Madagascar and Africa where he has worked on bizarre crocodiles and giant sauropod dinosaurs. Closer to home in the Rocky Mountain West, his research is focused on the ecology and evolution of dinosaurs during the last 20 million years of the Cretaceous. In addition to investigations into the latest-Cretaceous dinosaurs of Colorado, he leads the Laramidia Project, currently working to uncover dinosaur ecosystems in the Cretaceous of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, northwestern New Mexico, and the Big Bend region of Texas.


Katharine Hayhoe

Climate Scientist
As Katharine Hayhoe writes: "I'm a climate scientist: I crunch the data, I analyze the models, and I help people like engineers and city managers and water planners prepare for the ways climate change affects all of us. I'm a professor in political science at Texas Tech University, where I direct the Climate Science Center. I'm also a lead author for the US National Climate Assessment; I host the PBS Digital Series Global Weirding; and I spend a lot of time talking to people about climate science, impacts, solutions and how they connect to our values. I've been named one of TIME's "100 Most Influential People," Fortune's "50 Greatest Leaders" and Foreign Policy's "100 Leading Global Thinkers."

Kathy Donnell

Park Ranger/Naturalist, Wasatch Mountain State Park
Kathy Donnell, originally from Denver, Colorado, moved to Utah after college and has worked for Utah State Parks since 1995. Kathy has had a passion for the outdoors all her life. As a little girl tromping through the snow in a full body snow suit all day long, she later participated in Outward Bound (OB) courses in Colorado.  As a teenager, she lead courses for OB in Florida and as a young adult, for the Wilderness Education Association in Saranac Lake, NY. Kathy followed her passion from being outside to teaching outside for Utah State Parks as a Park Ranger/Naturalist. Currently Kathy works for Wasatch Mountain State Park and oversees park education/interpretive programs and non-motorized trails.

Early in her career, Kathy volunteered for Hawk Watch International handling non-releasable birds of prey and monitoring raptor nests. In 2008 she was able to house an injured Peregrine Falcon. In Oct of 2011 she adopted an injured female Great Horned owl and in Jan 2020 adopted a male Great Horned owl. She loves to share the birds with people while illustrating the importance of owls in the ecosystem, how owls contribute to a healthy planet and exploring ways people of all ages can protect the future health and prosperity of owl populations. 


Mark Mesle

Outreach Coordinator, Midwest Region, National Parks Conservation Association
Mark Mesle is the Midwest Outreach Coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). Through NPCA, he has worked with numerous universities to incorporate advocacy training into their environmental science curriculum. He also works with community partners and advocates to engage in civic action in support of Midwest national parks. Mark is a member of the NPCA climate team which has worked to develop NPCA’s national climate strategy. He took this position after several years of spending his days fighting for a healthy democracy and his nights and weekends volunteering to help people fight for a healthy planet. As the Outreach Director for the Cook County Clerk’s office, Mark worked throughout the Chicagoland area to promote voter registration and civic engagement. As a climate advocate, he organized dozens of presentations, trainings and events in support of climate action. 


Paul Ricketts

Director of the South Physics Observatory and Interpretive Specialist in Astronomy for the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah
Paul received his bachelors degree in Physics and Astronomy with a minor in astronomy at the University of Utah. He has worked in the Department of Physics since 2005 doing public outreach and research. He also runs the university's observatory (South Physics Observatory), and helped with the building of a new observatory in southern Utah (Stellar Vista Observatory). Paul has a huge interest in photography and astrophotography and helps teach classes for students interested in astronomy and/or physics as well as spread the word about dark skies!

South Physics Observatory offers FREE public star parties on clear-sky Wednesday nights open to all ages, interests and groups as well as lectures, demos, special events, and assistance for those looking to learn to use telescopes for personal use, astrophotography, school science fair projects, and K-12 schools.


Richard Jenkinson

Former president of the Utah Rock Art Research Association (URARA)
Richard Jenkinson is a member and past president of the Utah Rock Art Research Association. From 1980 to 1994 he taught English at Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona. Richard and his wife Lynn have lived in Kanab since 2017.


Sharon St. Joan

President of Forest Voices of India
A lifelong advocate for wildlife and wild lands, for many years Sharon was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Now retired, she continues to be an artist, poet, writer, speaker, and is president of the U.S.-based 501c3 organization Forest Voices of India. 

Willow Wind Poets

Chapter of the Utah State Poetry Society
Willow Wind Poets began in January, 2017 as one of the newest chapters of the Utah State Poetry Society. Willow is a nod to the Southern Paiute place name for Kanab meaning “place of willows” and Wind signifies our breath on paper. The Kanab Chapter meets twice a month depending on availability of the current venue at the Kanab City Library, 374 North Main Street, Kanab, UT 84741.  https://www.utahpoets.com/chapters/willow_wind.html

Notice: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal meeting schedule for this chapter may be changed. Please contact the Chapter president if you would like to know when and how chapter members will meet (perhaps face-to-face but socially distanced or via online sessions).