The Stewardship Team
John Cecil is Vice President for Stewardship for New Jersey Audubon, where he provides leadership and oversight to New Jersey Audubon's stewardship-related activities. John joined New Jersey Audubon in 2012.
Prior to joining New Jersey Audubon, John spent approximately 10 years with the National Audubon Society as the national Director of the Important Bird Areas Program. In that role John provided guidance and strategic vision to Important Bird Areas activities at the state and national levels, with a particular emphasis on site identification, prioritization, monitoring, and conservation planning and implementation. John served as the National Audubon Society's representative to several national and international organizations and partnerships, including the U.S. Shorebird Council (serving as Chair from 2006–2012), the U.S. National Ramsar Committee, Partners In Flight, and the BirdLife Americas Partnership. He provided staff support to the Waterbird Conservation for the Americas Council and served as a board member of the Bahamas National Trust.
John previously worked for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Nongame Wildlife Program, where he was involved with wildlife research and monitoring projects in the southern Appalachian Mountains. John has also worked for several other state wildlife agencies in Delaware, Florida, and Virginia.
John received an M.S. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where his research focused on the management of early successional habitat in roadside rights-of-way for the benefit of wildlife. He received a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Frostburg State University.
John has been involved in conservation activities benefiting a wide variety of wildlife, including: freshwater mussels, American Alligators, Bog Turtles, Southern Appalachian and Allegheny Woodrats, Northern Flying Squirrels, Wood Ducks, Mottled Ducks, Peregrine Falcons, songbirds, Piping Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, and numerous colonial waterbirds. John's conservation and birding interests have led him to travel extensively throughout the United States and the Americas.
John Parke is Stewardship Project Director--North Jersey for New Jersey Audubon. He has been with New Jersey Audubon since 2005 helping to enroll a multitude of farmers, landowners, and corporate entities into various conservation incentive programs. John also designs and assists with implementation of numerous habitat restoration projects in the northwestern part of the state on both private and public lands. In 2007 John's habitat restoration plan design for the Verizon Corporate Campus in Basking Ridge, NJ earned Verizon the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for the Healthy Ecosystem Category and in 2011 John's work with Troy Ettel on NJ Audubon's S.A.V.E. initiative earned NJ Audubon the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for the Land Conservation Category. John's work on projects involving vernal pool restoration, storm-water runoff and phytoremediation of nutrients in critical habitat earned the Soil and Water Conservation Society's Ecological Excellence Award in 2014, 2015 and 2017, as well as, the NJ Section American Water Resources Association's Excellence in Water Resources Management Award in 2017.
John received his B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Geoscience from Ramapo State College of New Jersey. He has over 16 years of experience working in private-sector environmental consulting, where he served as Senior Wetland Specialist, as well as, Project Manager for the ecological division of Brennan Environmental, Inc. John is also a certified Professional Wetland Scientist with the Society of Wetland Scientists and a Certified Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America. John is an adjunct instructor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey teaching avian identification. He is also an alumnus of Class VIII of the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program and is active with the NJDFW's Wildlife Conservation Corps (WCC) as part of its Venomous Snake Response Team and assists NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife in performing rare species surveys throughout New Jersey.
Don Donnelly is Stewardship Project Director--Forester for New Jersey Audubon, and oversees the forestry initiatives being undertaken by NJAS throughout the state, with a focus on ecological forestry at a landscape scale.
Don obtained his B.S. in Natural Resource Management with a concentration in Forest Management from Rutgers University. Don has 17 years of experience working as a forester for several government agencies before coming to NJA in 2011, including the Hunterdon County Parks Department, the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, and the Morris County Soil Conservation District. Don's work has included all aspects of wildlife and natural resource habitat improvements, including traditional forest inventory measurements, invasive species management, wetland and stream restoration projects, wildlife habitat enhancement, and timber management. Don also holds credentials as a NJ Approved Forester and NJ Certified Tree Expert. He is accredited by the NJ Community Forestry Council, is a Qualified Inspector for the American Tree Farm System and is certified as a Wildland Firefighter by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.
Lindsay Gafford is Stewardship Department Specialist and coordinates New Jersey Audubon's S.A.V.E. program. She works closely with farmers and retailers to produce and sell S.A.V.E. birdseed and wood products, and to create a statewide network of program supporters. Additionally, she supports a variety of programs within the Stewardship Department and assists with department administrative tasks.
Lindsay graduated from University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point with degrees in Wildlife Ecology, Biology and Spanish. After college she worked as an AmeriCorps intern with US Fish and Wildlife’s Columbia National Wildlife Refuge as their Education Coordinator. Lindsay spent a year educating school students about their local environment and working with other stewardship interns to help care for the refuge. In NJ, she’s worked as an Environmental Educator for Fairview Lake YMCA camp which is when she became passionate about helping people in urban and suburban areas form meaningful connections with the land around them. She was also a Teacher Naturalist for NJ Audubon’s Lorrimer Sanctuary in Franklin Lakes.
Ryan Hasko is Stewardship Project Coordinator and assists with the development of forest stewardship plans and supports stewardship projects. He works to help implement many of the organization's forestry initiatives throughout Northern New Jersey. Ryan also manages NJ Audubon's Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Group Certificate.
Before joining New Jersey Audubon staff, Ryan was the Land Manager of Flat Rock Brook Nature Center in Englewood, NJ. As Land Manager, Ryan engaged in invasive plant management, deer management, and worked closely with New Jersey Audubon to create a certified forest stewardship plan for the preserve. Ryan also successfully completed a two-acre Native Habitat Gardens project which showcases a number of native plants in various micro-ecosystems along with educational signage.
Ryan received his B.S. in Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behaviors from Rutgers University. Ryan holds a current NJDEP Commercial Pesticide Applicator License.
Kristen Meistrell is Stewardship Project Director—South Region for New Jersey Audubon. She has been with New Jersey Audubon since 2012, working closely with the Stewardship team to create, restore, and manage habitat. She oversees stewardship activities in Southern New Jersey and works with private and public landowners to develop and implement conservation plans that focus on a variety of habitats.
Kristen earned her B.S. in Ecology and Natural Resources from Cook College, Rutgers University, and has several years of field biology and environmental education experience. During college, she worked as a naturalist for both the Hunterdon County and Somerset County Parks Departments, where she created and presented environmental education programs for children and adults. Before joining New Jersey Audubon, she worked with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program, studying rare wildlife species, including Bog Turtles, Wood Turtles, Longtail Salamanders, Timber Rattlesnakes, and various vernal pool species. Kristen has experience working with radio telemetry and GIS technology as well as habitat assessment and habitat management projects. She regularly volunteers for the Wildlife Conservation Corps and continues to participate in other volunteer opportunities with the Endangered and Nongame Species Program.
Brittany Dobrzynski, Stewardship Specialist-South Region for New Jersey Audubon, works with the Stewardship team on various habitat management and restoration projects on public and private lands. She works closely with local farmers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to promote agricultural best management practices for soil and water conservation.
Brittany received her B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from The University of Rhode Island (URI), where she developed skills in field identification and wildlife monitoring techniques. While in school she worked at the URI Outreach Center, creating and teaching ecology lessons for elementary-school children and developing lesson plans meeting state standards for educators to incorporate into their curricula. She worked for Rhode Island Natural History Survey identifying native plant populations and collecting, cleaning, and propagating seed to build a seed bank and grow plants for retail and restoration purposes.
Brittany has worked for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program, monitoring protected beach-nesting bird species including piping plovers, American oystercatchers, least terns, and black skimmers. She worked as an environmental educator for Fairview Lake YMCA camp, teaching ecology, science, and team-building lessons to people of all ages. Each year she serves on a small research team in the National Park Services' annual box turtle survey on Fire Island National Seashore.
Trisha Pitcher is Stewardship Technician for the South Region for New Jersey Audubon. In this position she assists with on the ground conservation projects including working closely with the Cape May Habitat Restoration Task Force and the Invasive Species Strike Team to identify and manage invasive plants in Southern New Jersey. She assists with the development and implementation of model backyard habitat projects and other projects related to natural resource conservation and wildlife habitat.
Trisha received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Stockton College. She held an internship at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio where she unexpectedly discovered a love for invasive plant management. She was able to monitor bird boxes and practice mist netting which gave her an appreciation for birds and birders. After graduating she served two consecutive terms in AmeriCorps as a Watershed Ambassador for the DEP. She spent her time collaborating with local organizations and citizens to host river clean ups, rain barrel workshops and the construction of a rain garden. She held seasonal positions with the NJ Invasives Species Strike Team surveying southern New Jersey for emergent invasive species as well as with Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge as a Salt Marsh and Avian Research Program (SHARP) technician, assisting a PhD student study the health of tidal-marsh bird communities and the marshes they live in. She has been a volunteer Shorebird Steward, C.A.M.P. volunteer and Kestrel Box monitor and serves as Vice Chair on the Woodstown-Pilesgrove Joint Environmental Commission.