Heath Smith, Lead Instructor and Director of Field Operations
After an illustrious career trapping and tagging some of North America’s most charismatic megafauna, Heath began working as a dog handler and orienteer with the Center for Conservation Biology in 2001. Falling in love with the non-invasive aspect of the detection dog method as well as and one of the program’s dogs, he never looked back. He is now dedicated to focusing on understanding the relationship between dog and handler and is passion about helping handlers build a more positive relationship with their four-legged teammates. Since 2001, he has been instrumental in teaching and deploying over 40 detection dog teams on an average of 15 field studies a year.
Julianne Ubigau, Outreach and Education Coordinator
Julie not only works as a handler for CK9 but also developed our Education program through her experience as a Science on Wheels and secondary science teacher. She has a genuine happiness about her that is contagious and brightens a room. She says it stems from having a job that she loves and is accompanied by wanting to work truly hard at that job. "I share the cargo area of my beater SUV with my dog each night, I wake up and work with sticks in my hair that probably got stuck there two days ago." Just as she has a knack for getting dogs to open up to her and trust her, she is able to use that knack to walk into a new classroom everyday and have the students enthralled by her every word. She's been an integral part of CK9 since she started in 2006 having taken on some of CK9's more exploratory projects and making them a success. You will be hard pressed to find Julie without her two sidekicks, Sampson and Casey.
Jennifer Hartman, Communications Coordinator
We look for people with a unique talent to communicate with dogs, or what we really want to say is "folks that speak dog". What's funny is that most folks don't realize they even have that ability. Max noticed it with Jennifer immediately and from that point on they were inseparable. Since 2009 Jennifer, Max and her other compadre, Scooby, have been all over the world helping show how useful dog teams can be in saving wildlife. Jennifer has become the relative "bad ass" of our team, taking on the studies that really push us to the limit. With a degree in english literature she's become a major part of the CK9 voice and no matter where she's at in the world or how long her day was you'll still find her answering each of the inquiries we get in a daily basis.
Suzie Marlow, Social Media and Outreach Specialist
Suzie is the definition of perseverance. She came to CK9 as a volunteer and worked hard. When we brought her in on a study as an orienteer, she worked even harder and was eager to learn as much as possible. She showed initiative and a sharp mind. We bumped her up to a handler under extreme circumstances and she pushed on. Before long she was working 4 different dogs on a study and managing our social media. She's become the online voice of CK9 with her thoughtful puns and anecdotes. She's constantly asking for photos and videos and when she doesn't get them she makes her own to show us just how it's done. You'll usually find her surrounded by a gaggle of dogs that look more like ducks clambering for her attention than dogs.
Caleb Stanek, Data Management Specialist
Caleb's the athlete of the team, a former Ultimate coach he came to CK9 with the confidence to handle the dogs and the inquisitive nature to learn more. He's already taken on a number of solo studies in the US and abroad. Not only being a proponent of getting outside, he's taken on the more technical side of the program and handles our data entry needs, whether that is creating forms for a particular study or finding the latest and greatest gear for the teams to stay at the forefront in data collection. You can usually find him heading to the highest peak in his current study area or scaling the nearest waterfall.
Elizabeth Seely, GIS Specialist and Accountant
Liz can and will do anything and everything. Juggle two jobs, balance budgets, hire new employees, train a new dog here and there, organize fund raisers, maintain multiple boats, whip up a few detailed GIS maps, train volunteers, and care for two retired CK9s, no problem, no complaint. She's tramped across Cambodia living in a hammock, managed unruly teams through the dead of winter, and bared the spotlight of being Tucker's handler.