2023 Theme: Continuing to Advance Prescribed Fire Forward

Presenter Biographies

Kip Adams is a certified wildlife biologist and the National Deer Association’s Chief Conservation Officer. Kip received his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the Pennsylvania State University and his M.S. in Wildlife from the University of New Hampshire. Kip writes the Whitetail Wisdom column for Quality Whitetails, has authored chapters in five books, has given over 700 presentations on deer and habitat management, and has provided whitetail content for numerous television shows including Whitetail Properties, Canadian Whitetail, Scentblocker’s Most Wanted, The Bearded Buck and others.

In his role as a program specialist, Mike provides resource management direction and services to the PA Bureau of State Parks. He is responsible for planning, developing, coordinating, implementing, and evaluating resources management for the Bureau of State Parks with the goal of managing, protecting, conserving and enhancing the natural resources of the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks. Along with responsibilities associated with his assigned geographical area, he participates in establishing and implementing statewide objectives and goals for resource program topics and prioritizes prescriptive treatments and resource management projects consistent with state park management plans. Currently qualified as PARXB2, Mike is part of a team in the bureau of state parks building a program to more effective use prescribed fire to meet management objectives.

Helen Mohr is a Forester with the Center for Forest Disturbance, a research unit within the USFS Southern Research Station and she is the Director of the Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists, one of the Knowledge Exchange Networks. During her 24-year career with the USFS Southern Research Station she has worked on fuels and vegetation response to fire in the Southern Appalachians and for the last 12 years has primarily concentrated on consortium work. She is also very active in the operational side of fire serving as a crew lead or firing boss on prescribed fires and wildfires.

Sean Nolan is the Chief of the Quality Assurance and Data Assessment Section in the Air Monitoring Division for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  Mr. Nolan has over 22 years of environmental experience in the air quality field including 13 years in air dispersion and photochemical modeling and air quality forecasting group.  For the past 9 plus years, Mr. Nolan has supervised approximately eight staff members in quality assurance, data analysis and field auditing.  He has a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology and a minor in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University.

Zach currently works at the Tall Timbers Research Station in Florida as a Wildland Fire Training Specialist, working with state, federal, and private conservation groups/landowners to create/promote fire training opportunities and facilitate on-the-ground partnerships. He is also the lead for training coordination within the NE US, supported by funding from the NE and MA Fire Compacts, and is on the Board of the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils. Previously Zach served as the Florida Fire Manager for The Nature Conservancy, worked as a Land Manager for the Brevard County EEL Program, studied mosquito populations at the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and worked as a biologist for the Florida Park Service.

Zach has close to 34 years of fire experience, is qualified as a Prescribed Fire Burn Boss Type 2 (RXB2) and is a State Certified Prescribed Burn Manager in Florida. He has constructed and taught multiple fire courses over the past 20 years and is currently working with multiple partners in the creation and hosting of hybrid fire courses with the goal of providing access to a greater number of fire learning opportunities to a wide audience of fire practitioners.

Luke Resop is a graduate student in the Mississippi State University Deer Lab. He grew up in Orrtanna Pennsylvania and attended Virginia Tech for his undergraduate degree in Wildlife Conservation. Luke’s thesis research focuses on how land managers can use fire timing to influence plant communities to meet wildlife and timber-related objectives.

Dr. Mike Saunders is an Associate Professor of Hardwood Silviculture and a scientist within the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center within the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University.  His primary research focus is ecological silviculture and fire ecology as it pertains to eastern oak forests.  Dr. Saunders is the lead scientist for the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, a 20-year study of the effects of forest management practices on forest structure, wildlife habitat and socioeconomics in southern Indiana.

Casey began serving as the H.O. Smith Endowed Director in August 2022. He has a Master of Science degree and a doctorate in entomology from Colorado State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in ornamental horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Casey’s experience in horticulture spans almost three decades. As executive director of the American Public Gardens Association from 2011–2022, he served over 600 public gardens throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and more than 20 other countries. Prior to that appointment, he spent 15 years leading plant health care efforts at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, including soils and compost, IPM, land stewardship, and other sustainability programs. He is currently board vice president of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and was the recipient of the American Public Gardens Association’s Professional Citation in 2011. Since his arrival at Penn State, Casey has also been appointed an affiliate professor in the Department of Entomology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Casey enjoys developing partnerships that benefit the growth and development of professionals in the horticulture industry, and help preserve, conserve, and grow gardens and habitats.

Mr. Wes Steko is a native of SC. He attended Clemson University after an enlistment in the US Navy. There he earned BS and MFR degrees in forestry before beginning to establish his career, working primarily for federal land management agencies. In 2017, he made the decision to join the NC Forest Service and move to the mountains, where he had spent my summers as a kid. In 2020, he took the opportunity to broaden my scope a bit, joining the central office fire staff. As the mitigation forester, he strives to increase the resilience of WNC communities by networking with NCFS county staff, NGOs and partner agencies to increase public awareness of the threat of wildfires and available mitigation strategies.

Lead Meteorologist at National Weather Service Pittsburgh, Pa since May 2020. He is the Fire Weather Program Leader at NWS Pittsburgh. Certified Incident Meteorologist (IMET) since 2015. Previous Weather Forecast Office worked at were Jackson, KY (10 years), and Glasgow, MT (2 years). He is 20 years retired Pennsylvania Air National Guard as an E-7 Weather Forecaster. He enjoys camping and hunting.