Southern Sierra Research Station Board Members
Ernie Flores, President
Ernie Flores is a Director in a large aerospace company where he has been pursuing his passion for things that fly. Born in Los Angeles, California, Ernie spent his formative years between Southern California and Mexico City. He graduated college as an Electrical Engineer from California State University, Long Beach. While his career on the Space Shuttle and many exotic aircraft has been a dream come true, Ernie's true encounter with his passion for flight came in the mid 1990's, when his eyes were opened to the natural world of birds. In one of his earliest explorations, Ernie and his wife, Nancy, came upon the Nature Conservancy Kern River Preserve (now Audubon), which was the beginning of a close association with the Preserve, its leaders and conservation and outreach goals. Ernie has enjoyed volunteering and supporting the preserve in numerous ways, and has become a supporter of the conservation and environmental movement, animal rights, and bird research, rehabilitation, and advocacy organizations. He has also been a regular volunteer for the SSRS and recently received his California Naturalist Certificate at Tejon Ranch Conservancy. Outside of work, Ernie enjoys helping the needy, exploring the wilderness, hiking, downhill skiing, genealogy, birding and especially searching for owls in the Southern Sierra. A favorite quote of his is: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened" - Anatole France.
Kate Batdorf, Vice-President
Katharine joined the SSRS board in 2016. Originally from the NYC area, she has lived in many places across the US, working as an avian biologist and outdoor educator. She worked with USFWS in Pocatello, ID conducting avian surveys, and before that taught natural science and outdoor education to school groups visiting Yosemite National Park. She has an undergraduate degree in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth College, and an MS in Wildlife Biology/Nat Resources from Ohio State University, where she helped manage the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas project. Katharine lives in Kern River Valley with her family, is passionate about science education and getting kids outdoors, and in her free time she enjoys just about all outdoor pursuits, especially trail running, hiking, camping, paddle boarding, climbing, back-country skiing, and yoga, and getting out on the beautiful Kern River.
Terri Middlemiss, Secretary
Terri has been a member of SSRS board since its inception. She has also been a member of the Kerncrest Audubon Society board since its inception in the 1980s. She is a longtime conservationist and member of many national and international organizations. Terri has lived on the same high desert acres for 31 years and treats it as a wildlife sanctuary; she even has a bird trail recognized in "A Birder's Guide to Southern California", which brings travelers from around the world to her wildlife sancturary. Terri and her husband, Ed, are owned by numerous cats (indoor with protected outdoor priviliges), dogs, chickens and resident and migratory wild birds. They love to travel, read, plant natives, spend time with family and friends and eat out.
Robert Parker, Treasurer
Bob is a Maturango Museum Docent as well as the president of the Ridgecrest Chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club. He is also on the Kerncrest Audubon board of directors . He received his BS degree from Humboldt State University and did his graduate work there, with a stint in the U.S. army as a GCA air traffic controller in Viet Nam in between. He worked for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as a Wildlife Biologist in the Safford District in Southeast Arizona and the Ridgecrest Field Office, in the California desert, where he retired in 2009. In Arizona, riparian management was a priority where he did monitoring of areas like Bonita Creek, Arivaipa Creek, Bonita Creek, and the San Pedro, among others. He participated in fencing and tree planting in riparian areas in both Arizona and California. He has conducted surveys for the desert tortoise in Arizona and continued this work at Ridgecrest. He worked with the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee in managing the Desert Tortoise Resource Natural Area. He assisted in fencing habitat for the federally listed Inyo California Towhee in the Argus Range.
Dave was born in Idaho and raised there and in Arizona. He received a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Arizona, and is retired from a career as an engineer working for the Department of the Navy at China Lake, California. His introduction to the Kern Valley was as a volunteer for the Kern River Preserve tree planting projects of the 1990s. Dave has always had a passion for the natural world and spends as much time as possible outside in that world. Since retirement he enjoys photography, hiking and camping, 4 wheel drive trips, traveling (especially in the developing world), gardening, and volunteering. He can be reached on e-mail at davekurdekaATverizon.net.
Sean received his B.S. in Zoology from the University of South Florida in 1993. He has a background in avian ecology and conservation and has worked on numerous research projects involving a wide variety of species including Florida Scrub-Jays, Southwestern Willow Flycatchers and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Sean first came to the Kern Valley in 1992 as a summer intern working on riparian bird communities and ended up staying for several years. During this time he co-founded a long-term Turkey Vulture migration study in the Kern Valley. Sean returned to the Kern Valley permanently in 2008. In the interim, he worked in central Florida on projects involving large scale wetland restoration and as an Environmental Engineer at Kennedy Space Center where he almost got to sit in the driver's seat of the Space Shuttle! Sean is currently employed as the Land Steward on Audubon's Kern River Preserve where he gets to enjoy the beauty of the Kern Valley and it's diversity of habitats and wildlife from his office window. In his spare time he enjoys exploring the remote regions of the Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert.
Pat was born in Boise, Idaho and moved with her military family to many parts of the country, ending up at Edwards, CA. After High School, she attended Southern Oregon State College, majoring in Biology, but after 2 years, returned to Edwards and started working at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. She returned back to college and completed her BS in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly SLO. She has always been fascinated with flight: While at Cal Poly, she took an ornithology class and became hooked on birding (she has been participating in Kern County Christmas Bird Counts since 1995). She flew sailplanes for many years, and enjoyed downhill and cross-country skiing, bicycling, and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She retired from the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center as a Flight Controls Engineer (1995), and continued part time work as a private aerospace consultant/project manager (Perlan Stratospheric Sailplane project). Residing in Bodfish, she currently is a desert wildlife surveyor/monitor, specializing in desert tortoise. She continues to backpack, and trail run, and enjoys watercolor and oil painting. She is also a musician, and is a member of "Out of the Blue Acoustic", a four piece acoustic band. She joined the SSRS Board to contribute to the science and study of the Southern Sierra region.
Wendy is a professor at UCLA who spends her workdays figuring out why prescription opioids are so addictive. But as a South African who grew up watching birds and traveling through remote parts of Africa, birding and the outdoors are her passion and hobby. She has lived in different parts of the world and traveled through many more and remains at heart an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to watch and study birds on any continent from a bike, a kayak or on foot. While based in Southern California Wendy has spent many hours volunteering for different wildlife organizations doing all sorts of tasks from cleaning oiled birds, translocating raptors, picking up micro-trash in condor territory, surveying plants and looking for resident owls. Most recently she has worked for the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation increasing their social media presence. She and her husband, Raul, have been visiting the Kern Valley for many years and plan to retire here shortly.