Every spring, the Field Conservation Department welcomes aboard our seasonal staff. Without these hardworking folks, we could never get through all the work that our conservation programs demand during our busiest time of year. We want to give you all the chance to get to know these rising stars of conservation, so here are some brief introductions from each of them in their own words:
Ryan Kridler, Blanding’s Turtle Technician
I’m Ryan Kridler, and I am working as a field technician for the Blanding’s Turtle conservation project at Zoo New England! I graduated with a B.S. of Wildlife Biology from Texas State University in 2021, and have worked with turtles, snakes, frogs, songbirds, birds of prey, and all other manner of life during and after my studies! I began my career in conservation studying plant ecology, and over time have shifted my focus to reptiles and amphibians, as it has been a lifelong dream of mine to become a herpetologist. I have worked with a variety of wildlife here in the U.S. as well as in the coastal rainforests of South America since graduating, and am excited to contribute my skills towards the conservation of local wildlife here for Zoo New England! Working directly with turtles in the wild is always exciting, and always feels very rewarding knowing my efforts are contributing to improving the world for both us and the turtles alike!
Erin O’Leary, Wood Turtle Technician
I’m Erin, I’m so excited to be the wood turtle tech this year! I grew up in Massachusetts spending as much time as possible in nature and went to Unity College in Maine to get a degree in marine biology. I had the opportunity there to participate in a herpetology work study program and track wood turtles using radio telemetry. I fell in love with wood turtles and when I saw the job listing to help wood turtles with the Zoo New England conservation team, I applied right away. As a kid when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I only ever had one answer and I feel so lucky to be doing that now.
This summer when I’m not in the field, I’ll be spending my free time at the rock climbing gym, sitting at a pottery wheel, and taking care of my axolotls Ramen and Eggie.
Jose Javier Cruz, Box Turtle Technician
My name is Jose Cruz.
I graduated in 2019 with a degree in wildlife biology and during college, I had the opportunity to publish one and start a second peer-reviewed paper, one on the animal behavior of the black-eyed tree frog and another one on the discovery and description of a new species of salamander. During the last 6 years, I have been able to work with many different species for research and conservation projects as well as for wildlife documentaries and promotional videos for NGOs in a few different countries. This season I will be working with ZNE as the box turtle field biologist and my favorite part of the job so far is radio tracking and being able to work with a great team.
Marike Voysey, Conservation Educator
I am a zoologist hailing from South Africa, and I am thrilled to join the excellent team at the Conservation Department of ZNE as the seasonal Conservation Educator. An ardent love for animals, combined with a conservation-framed mindset, has led me to study various creatures in a variety of settings: from minute endemic frogs in mossy mountain ranges to bulky elephant seals in their wild sub-Antarctic home, and most recently to elusive leopards in semi-arid savannas. I cannot wait to become well-acquainted with the special turtle species right here in Massachusetts, in addition to the conservation initiatives involving these turtles and local schools. Education is at the heart of conservation and therefore the education-centered projects from the Conservation Department at ZNE are immensely exciting!