Draper Natural History Museum staff
Meet the staff of the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Assistant Curator Corey Anco, Assistant Curator of the Draper Museum Raptor Experience Melissa Hill, and Raptor Program Assistant Brandon Lewis.
Assistant Curator, Draper Natural History Museum
Corey Anco joined the Draper Natural History Museum in August of 2017 as an Assistant Curator. Before joining the Draper, Corey pursued opportunities with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative. Fieldwork experience ranges from tallgrass prairies of the Midwest and tundra of the Alaska Peninsula, to immersion in Neotropical rainforests in Belize and the concrete jungle of New York City fostering a comprehensive exposure to wildlife responses following habitat disturbance. Corey also has extensive experience in teaching ecology and communicating science to youth groups, high school, and undergraduate students with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Academically, Corey earned a Bachelor of Science from Lewis University, Master of Environmental Management from Duke University, and Master of Science in Biology from Fordham University. He also holds certifications in geospatial analysis and chemical immobilization of wildlife. While attending Fordham University, Corey studied the phylogeography (geographic distribution of genetic lineages) of African leopards (Panthera pardus) using mtDNA he recovered from leopard skulls in the American Museum of Natural History collections. This research provided a much needed and updated reference benchmark of genetic diversity of the African leopard.
Corey’s approach to the long-term preservation of wildlife interweaves themes of ecosystem rewilding, partnership building, and responsible land stewardship. His interest in joining the Draper Natural History Museum stems from his experience in working with museums and their collections to inspire and promote understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wildlife and wildlands. When he’s not in the museum, Corey can be found in the kitchen cooking up a storm, splitting wood, planning a hike in the GYE, or beside a fire with a guitar.
Anco C, Kolokotronis SO, Henschel P, Cunningham SW, Amato G, Hekkala E (2016). Historical mitochondrial diversity in African leopards (Panthera pardus) revealed by archival museum specimens. Mitochondrial DNA Part A: DOI: 10.1080/24701394.2017.1307973
Jacobson AP, Gerngross P, Lemeris Jr JR, Schoonover RF, Anco C, Breitenmoser-Würsten C, Durant SM, Farhadinia MS, Henschel P, Kamler JF, Laguardia A, Rostro-García S, Stein, AB, Dollar, L (2016). Leopard (Panthera pardus) status, distribution, and the research efforts across its range. PeerJ 4:e1974. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1974
Jacobson AP, Gerngross P, Lemeris Jr JR, Schoonover RF, Anco C, Breitenmoser-Würsten C, Durant SM, Farhadinia MS, Henschel P, Kamler JF, Laguardia A, Rostro-García S, Stein, AB, Dollar, L (2016). Profiles for leopard (Panthera pardus) range countries. PeerJ 4:e1974. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1974/supp-16
Assistant Curator, Draper Museum Raptor Experience
Melissa Hill joined the Draper’s staff to establish, launch, and manage the Draper Museum Raptor Experience program, established in 2011. The Raptor Experience has now brought eleven live birds of prey to the Center for public educational programs. All birds—non-releasable due to physical or behavioral defect—come from other educational programs or rehabilitation facilities.
Hill comes to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West from HawkQuest, a nonprofit raptor education organization based in Colorado that has presented popular raptor programs at the Center of the West in recent years. She was lead lecturer there, and prior to that served as curator of birds at Reptile Gardens in South Dakota, where she did programs, trained birds, and taught staff and volunteers to care for and handle them. Hill’s bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming is in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management.
Hill is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) and a member of the Education Committee for the International Association of Avian Trainers & Educators (IAATE). In 2015, she became a published author, writing two series of children’s books about raptors for Capstone Publishing in Minnesota.
Raptor Program Assistant, Draper Museum Raptor Experience
Brandon Lewis joined the Draper Museum’s staff in the spring of 2014 after interning for two summers with the Draper Museum Raptor Experience. Lewis’s duties include presenting raptor education programs for the public, training raptor program volunteers, developing an animal enrichment program, and caring for, feeding, cleaning up after, and training the birds currently living at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Lewis has dual degrees in zoology and history from the University of Wyoming. In addition to working with birds of prey, he has a background in public education working as a Park Guide for the National Park Service, and has interpreted American history in period clothing for the past ten years. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation.
Charles R. Preston, PhD
Senior Scientist & Curator Emeritus, Draper Natural History Museum
Dr. Charles R. Preston retired December 31, 2018, after more than twenty years with the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. He received national and international acclaim for his leadership of Draper design and development (1998 – 2002), and the Draper has become a model for a new genre of highly immersive natural science museums focused on communicating the process and product of science and the relationships binding people and nature.
Preston continues to conduct research on the influence of climate, landscape characteristics, and human attitudes and activities on wildlife and established a long-term monitoring program focused on Golden Eagles nesting in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin in 2009.