Your Leaders      

      "These guys wrote the books"*
* Verbatim quote from an anonymous family member

John Rappole (left - in middle), along with Gene Blacklock (below, left) wrote the
standard field reference on Texas birds (Birds of Texas: A Field Guide, Texas
A&M University Press), as well as the acclaimed (by his Mother and several
relatives) book, The Avian Migrant (Columbia University Press 2013).  He grew up
in the Chautauqua Region where he learned his birding from his Mom,  Dad, and
Clarence Beal, boyhood chum of Roger Tory Peterson.  He left home at the tender
age of 17, with strong encouragement from his siblings, and went to seek his
fortune.  After serving several apprenticeships (Colgate University, University of
Minnesota, U. S. Army, Breck School) he was finally able to find work (University
of Georgia, Texas A&I University, Smithsonian Institution), and support his family:
wife - Bonnie; children - Brigetta, John Jr., and Nate (aka – Gull
 []).  He had many adventures in various places around the
world, including discovery of a new species of bird in the Himalayas, the Naung
Mung Scimitar-Babbler (I am not making this up), and finally homed to western
New York with Bonnie in the fullness of his years having spent over four decades
as a research scientist, educator, public speaker, and government bureaucrat.
 In addition to Texas birds, Rappole considers himself to be a world authority on
the topics of bird migration, Burmese birds, and several other subjects.  Just ask
Photo by Bob Zink
 Jim Berry (left) is the retired President/CEO of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute
of Natural History (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. RTPI is a national nature
education organization specializing in providing formal and informal educators
with training and other resources to accomplish their goals effectively. RTPI's
other role is to curate the lifetime body of work of America's great naturalist,
Roger Tory Peterson. Prior to his 17 years at RTPI, Jim was the executive director
of the Cincinnati Nature Center for 10 years and before that spent 14 years with
the Ohio Department of Natural Resources including a 10-year stint managing
Malabar Farm in Lucas, Ohio. Today, Jim serves as the Immediate Past-president
of the Association of Nature Center Administrators and volunteers with several
agencies including the New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State
 Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Forest Service in
Allegheny National Forest. Jim holds a B.S. degree in Natural History
Interpretation from The Ohio State University. 

 Mark Baldwin (left) devotes himself to projects related to natural history, vital    communities, and environmental sustainability in the Chautauqua-Allegheny        of western New York.  As Director of Education at the Roger Tory Peterson              Institute of Natural History, he taught workshops and courses for teachers           natonwide at every grade level and subject area, with a focus on nature                  observation, field journaling, and scientific inquiry through partnerships with        school districts, universities, museums, nature centers, and agencies such as the  U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Park Service.  Mark was principal author of  A Natural History Atlas of the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region, a book that showcases publicly accessible natural areas, widely regarded as an essential  resource for public awareness, conservation and protection of our region's             natural assets. His passion for place-based teaching and learning also resulted      his 2005 Map of Natural and Cultural History of the Chautauqua Lake Basin,           reproductions of which have helped thousands to better know and                          appreciate the place we call home. Subsequently he was commissioned by America’s Grape Country to produce a similar map of the Lake Erie Grape and Wine Region.  He continues to write, teach seminars and guide field trips to engage people with nature.  Mark and his wife, Ardy, live in Jamestown, where he has lived most of his life and where they raised two daughters, now grown. He has a of Science in Biology and Secondary Education from SUNY Fredonia, Master of Science in Teaching and Environmental Communications from Antioch University New England, and taught middle school and high school in Alaska and Vermont as well as New York State.
According to legend, the Blacklock family escaped Scotland in 1620.  Gene
Blacklock  (left) was born in Austin, Texas in 1942.  Gene moved from Austin to
the Texas Coastal Bend when he was four years of age.  He grew up in Corpus
Christi, attending local schools (Del Mar College, Texas A&M Corpus Christi,  and
Texas A&M Kingsville where he got his BA Degree in Education and Art).  Skilled
in bird identification, taxidermy, and many other tools of the curatorial trade, he
volunteered as a student, and later served as a staff member for the Welder
Wildlife Foundation, where he was Curator of Natural History and Education
Coordinator for more than 20 years.   In 1973, he met John Rappole when
Rappole was a Graduate Fellow at the Welder Wildlife Foundation.  In
subsequent years, they developed the collaboration that resulted in Birds of
the Texas Coastal Bend (1985and Birds of Texas: A Field Guide (1994). 
 After retiring from Welder, he led bird tours, undertook ecological consultancies
with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Ecoservices, and worked for several
years with the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program.  A recipient of five
conservation and education awards, Gene has taught bird identification classes
under the auspices of the Corpus Christi Museum and other institutions for
more than 30 years.   
Gene (left) and John (right) working in the field (San Antonio River bottom west of Tivoli) on Birds of the Texas Coastal Bend in August, 1977.