Team members for the Madagascar 2019 PICC program have been chosen for their participation based upon their unique academic, technical and language skills, and for also possessing a passion for lemur conservation.
Kathy West, MS
Program Director, Instructor in Photography and Illustration
The PICC program was founded and is directed by conservation photographer and primatologist Kathy West, who has over 20 years of experience in designing and implementing unique youth science education programs in the US. She has successfully designed, illustrated and authored children’s activity workbooks for science education, including the multilingual 2018 Lemur Conservation Coloring Book. She has also conducted field research on wild primates as well as traveled extensively around the world, including many areas of Madagascar. Kathy is a professional wildlife photographer, scientific illustrator and primatologist and cares deeply about conservation issues. Kathy speaks English and is improving her French and Malagasy language skills.
Update: Traveling to Suriname in October 2018, Kathy conducted the PICC pilot program with 32 children and teachers in the rural area of Lelydorp. It was incredibly successful! See here for a brief description.
Cortni Borgerson, PhD
Instructor in Lemur Protection, Conservation Solutions, and Storytelling, Cultural Liaison
Dr. Borgerson is a scientific specialist in Masoala NP, Madagascar, in lemur and biodiversity conservation, sustainable wildlife management, biological anthropology, illegal endangered species hunting, public health and nutrition. She has acted in a myriad of capacities to support lemur conservation and is a member of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group; a board member of the NGO MAHERY, has led the National Geographic Society Photo Ark Challenge Community Initiative in Masoala National Park; and is currently developing creative interdisciplinary solutions to stemming biodiversity loss and food insecurity on the Masoala and Makira. Cortni speaks English, elementary French, and has a full professional fluency in Betsimisaraka dialect of Malagasy.
Laura Durlacher, MS
Laura has over 8 years of experience in IT, data analysis, and project management. She’s been involved with lemur conservation since childhood; for the past 2 years she has volunteered her time as an educational docent and keeper assistant at the Duke Lemur Center. She loves learning and spends her free time educating herself on lemurs with classes in primate conservation and ecology through Duke University. She has also learned to speak Malagasy in her efforts to contribute to lemur conservation. Laura speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Malagasy.
Onsite IT Project Chief
Pascal Elison is a Malagasy ecotourism guide who grew up in the Masoala area and has excellent relationships with the local communities. His extensive knowledge of the area, flora and fauna makes him a well-known guide and he is considered by tourists as a “legend” and “one of the better guides we have ever had”. Pascal is well-educated both in his local knowledge of the ecosystems, plants and animals, and in his formal schooling in science and multiple languages. He attended a Professional and Technical High School, has a Bachelor’s Degree with a specialty in Building and Civil Engineering, and has studied at the Faculty of Science Antsiranana with a specialty in Physics and Chemistry. Pascal has also contributed to his community through consulting for MEDAIR Madagascar, doing humanitarian assistance. Pascal is fluent in Malagasy and English (speaks, reads, writes).
Jaclyn Aliperti, PhDc
Instructor in Storytelling and Photography, Documentary Photographer
Jaclyn is currently completing her PhD at University of California, Davis in behavioral ecology. She has a vast amount of experience in animal behavior and ecology, a keen interest in science education, and professional training and experience in science documentary filming and production. Jaclyn actively works with children and young adults to make science more engaging and accessible, including giving public lectures and guest field lessons to girls’ youth and community groups, leading hands-on nature activities for kids’ camps and youth group summer programs, and volunteering to engage secondary school students in outdoor restoration projects. Jaclyn speaks English and Spanish.
Instructor in Illustration and Storytelling
Joel is an accomplished freelance wildlife illustrator living and working in the US and NE Madagascar. He creates beautiful and accurate graphite and watercolor illustrations to assist in conservation efforts and has also worked to empower local Malagasy artists, both children and adults, to show them the benefits of creating art. You can see his work here: http://www.joelborgerson.com. Joel speaks English and elementary Betsimisaraka dialect of Malagasy.
Documentary Filmmaker and Producer
Stuart has extensive experience in international film production and has produced hundreds of episodes of broadcast television, as well as dozens of national commercials and short films (www.stuarthooper.com). He has also done investigative work for NGOs around Latin America in an effort to promote and understand successful models of low-income housing in countries with massive shortages of dwellings with basic services. Stuart speaks English and Spanish.
Amber Walker-Bolton, PhD
Consultant– Lemur Behavior
Dr. Walker-Bolton has been conducting ring tailed lemur research and a youth outreach program in SE Madagascar and surrounding areas for over 7 years. She founded the children’s lemur conservation program “Red Book Challenge: Lemur Conservation” in 2011 and is a co-author on the current edition of the Lemur Conservation Coloring Book. Amber speaks English and elementary local SE dialect of Malagasy.
OTHER LOCAL TEAM MEMBERS – MASOALA SESSION
• Local lemur researcher Be Noel Razafindrapaoly (pictured above), who has been working in lemur research for 10 years, will be available to help to educate the students and PICC staff on the wildlife and particular conservation challenges in this area.
• The village presidents and vice presidents of the local communities: Rajaona Delox (pictured above), Pres. and Bezahana, VP (Ambodiforaha) and Simplice, VP (Marofototra); and the Elder Counsels from each participating village will co-lead the project and provide their knowledge and experience to the students and PICC staff. They will also participate in the workshops, field outings and village gathering.
• School director and teachers Ms. Lucianne Be and Ms. Beolice Rasoabe from the rural elementary school in Ambodiforaha, will help to translate for their students and the PICC staff, learn alongside the students with the PICC workshops, and also identify teachers and elder counsels to participate in the PICC program from the nearby villages of Illampy, Ambatostangana, and Marofototra.