I founded BiodiversityWorks in 2011 because I saw a need for a conservation organization focused specifically on wildlife monitoring and research across the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. I also saw a need for mentoring opportunities for young adults.

I envisioned a collaborative organization that promoted biodiversity conservation through participation. An organization that works with conservation groups, private landowners, federal and state agencies, citizens, students and scientists to ask questions and find answers together.

-Luanne Johnson

  • Luanne Johnson, PhD
    Luanne Johnson, PhD Director/Wildlife Biologist, Board Member

    I founded BiodiversityWorks because I saw the need for a conservation organization focused specifically on wildlife monitoring and research across the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. I envisioned a collaborative organization that promoted biodiversity conservation through participation. An organization that works with conservation groups, private landowners, federal and state agencies, citizens, students and scientists to ask questions and find answers together. I was fortunate to find accomplished professionals in conservation, science, and education to become board members and join me in making this vision a reality.

    I have a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England, a B.S. in Zoology from Butler University, and 25 years of experience as a conservation biologist.

  • Liz Baldwin, M.S.
    Liz Baldwin, M.S. Assistant Director/Wildlife Biologist, Board Secretary/Clerk

    Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, I always wanted to work with a wildlife biologist and gain experience in the field, but that experience was not available then.  As a professional wildlife biologist, I wanted to provide interested young people with the opportunity I missed in high school and college. Co-founding BiodiversityWorks was a way to fulfill this wish as well as allow me to do work I am passionate about in a place I love.

    I have a B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England. My thesis was on the Activity Patterns, Behavior, and Population Status of North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) in a Northeast Coastal Environment.

  • David Faber
    David Faber Board President

    When I was asked to be a charter board member of BiodiversityWorks, I was honored and thrilled to be part of something so novel and critical. As an educator, I was especially excited about the educational potential for something like this right here on the Island, and beyond, for both the general public and in mentoring young people in conservation and wildlife biology careers.  The need to monitor and protect our vulnerable and diminishing biodiversity is more important now than ever, and our mission to cultivate an even larger, younger, better-prepared generation of environmental stewards is vital.

    My day job:
    7th and 8th grade science teacher at the Edgartown School, where I have proudly taught since 1986. I earned my B.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my M.Ed. in Middle School Education from Leslie College in Cambridge, MA.

  • Terry Appenzellar
    Terry Appenzellar Board Treasurer

    When Augustus Ben David said “Terry, the milk snake in your crawl space is more afraid of you than you are of it,” I knew I had to expand my conservation efforts beyond just water resources and native plants.  I hope to contribute as much as I learn from helping BiodiversityWorks in their mission to engage our community in the field of science and conservation of Vineyard fauna and habitats.

    My day job:  Since my retirement, I have spent 13 years volunteering for various Island non-profits, the MVC and the Town of Oak Bluffs in environmental conservation and planning. During my 32 year career, I worked in information technology services and consulting for the Federal and private sectors including: law library management, program evaluation, air traffic control, telecommunications billing and SAP enterprise systems implementation; communications, organization development and training.  I hold graduate degrees in information science, public policy, and business.

  • Kendra Buresch
    Kendra Buresch Board Member

    As a biologist and mother of two young children, I was inspired to teach students in our local schools that they can have a powerful impact as environmental stewards. There are many wonderful environmental education programs on Martha’s Vineyard; Habitat Kids is unique as a conservation education program designed to directly engage island students in habitat stewardship and conservation efforts. Our goal is to motivate children to become natural conservation leaders and stewards of private and public land within our island community.

    I have an M.S. in Natural Resources from The University of New Hampshire, a B.A. from Bennington College and have been having fun with biology for over 20 years.

  • Toni Chute
    Toni Chute Board Member

    I have been passionately interested in wildlife and conservation efforts for as long as I can remember. I have banded birds and tagged butterflies, pollinated Jack-in-the- Pulpits and lain in damp, muddy places in an effort to observe various forms of wildlife, all beloved by me. When, several years ago, Luanne and Liz came to set up a camera to photograph otters on our land, I felt as if I had been touched by a star.

    I have spent 30 years of my life teaching elementary school- mostly fourth graders, all of whom were assured of their ongoing responsibility for the natural world. I have one child – a daughter, who works for NOAA in Woods Hole.

    I went to Sweetbriar College, took courses at Harvard University and received my MED from Antioch New England.


  • Karyn Franzen
    Karyn Franzen Board Member

    I first got to know BiodiversityWorks like most people: meeting the staff. As a plover monitoring volunteer I was inspired by the deeply local mission of the organization, and by experiencing first hand how participation in the work gave me a connection to Martha’s Vineyard and people who are actively engaged with its natural habitats. Joining the board was a way to continue my learning, and contribute a unique perspective as this dynamic organization grows.

    My day job: Independent market research consultant to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry.

  • Christopher Neill, PhD
    Christopher Neill, PhD Board Member

    I enthusiastically support engaging the public in ecological science and conservation biology and I think that the projects that BWorks does are a great opportunity for combining hands-on experiences with projects that meet real and meaningful conservation priorities.

    My day job:
    Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. I study how changes to land use alter the structure and functioning of ecosystems. In the Amazon, I investigate how deforestation changes the way water and materials move from land to water and within the channels and streams and rivers and how the intensification of soybean and corn cropping alters runoff to streams and greenhouse gas emissions. In Massachusetts, where increases in residential development threaten estuaries and terrestrial ecosystems that contain high and unique biological diversity, I work with local conservation organizations to design improved methods of ecosystem conservation and restoration.

  • April Vahle Hamel
    April Vahle Hamel Board Member

    “It is remarkable how many creatures live wild and free though secret in the woods, and still sustain themselves in the neighborhood of towns…”
    Walden Henry David Thoreau, 1854

    Since Thoreau’s time, changes, such as urban/suburban sprawl and deforestation, now threatened much of our American wildlife. Currently there are 494 animals on the endangered, 201 on the threatened lists and numerous others on the list of species of special concern. In our Vineyard “neighborhood of towns” the Northern Long-eared Bat is endangered, the Piping Plover and Northern Harrier are threatened, and the Eastern Box Turtle and Barn Owl are species of special concern.
    It is vital that our wildlife be protected before it is too late. BiodiversityWorks is the island-wide organization dedicated to that endeavor. We help our community learn about wildlife habitat and behavior, support on-going research, and, develop preservation plans so that future generations can enjoy the creatures with which we share this planet and our island.

    April Vahle Hamel, Ph.D.
    The Graduate School Funding Handbook, 2011 University of Pennsylvania Press. Retired Associate Dean, Washington University in St. Louis, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Past-president, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation; past-member, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank representing the Commonwealth,

BiodiversityWorks is a 501c3 non-profit, established in 2011
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