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, Curatorial Assistant Bonnie Lawrence-Smith, 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
Curatorial Assistant, Draper Natural History Museum
Bonnie Lawrence-Smith is the Curatorial Assistant for the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. She began working for the Center in May of 2010 but moved to the Draper in 2011 to serve as the program coordinator. Smith assists Dr. Preston with a number of things, the Draper’s natural science exhibits, collections, and research. She also coordinates Draper educational programming and outreach such as the Lunchtime Expedition Lecture Series, Draper After Dark, and other educational outreach programming. Smith is a member of the Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologist, president of the Absaroka Chapter of the Wyoming Archaeology Society, organizing member of the Cody Culture Club, and P.E.A.K.S.; she sits on the board of the Park County Historic Preservation Commission and just stepped down as president of the Wyoming Archaeology Foundation. She has volunteered with HistoriCorp, on several projects in both Colorado and Wyoming. A Wyoming native, Smith has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, and Central America and has lived in Nevada, Colorado, and California. She received her Associate of Arts degree in Anthropology from Santa Monica College in 2007, and her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Art History from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009. While at UCLA, Smith worked with Dr. Thomas Wake in the Zooarchaeology lab researching the ancient diet of people living off the Panamanian coast, and also with Dr. David A. Scott in the Cotsen School of Archaeology conservation lab studying ancient metallurgy.
Statement of Professional Interest:
My research focuses primarily on the early inhabitants of the Bighorn Basin and their worldview. By researching the stories and oral histories of the first people to migrate through this area, looking at the archaeological evidence, identifying correlations of human modified features on the landscape, and golden eagle nesting behavior my hope is to verify that specific locations were chosen for these sacred activities. To create a richer and more thoughtful story of the first people to call the Bighorn Basin and Wyoming home.
Publications and further reading:
Latex Peels of Petroglyphs at Legend Rock and Torrey Lake, Wyoming, Dr. Lawrence Loendorf and Bonnie Lawrence-Smith. Wyoming Archaeologist. 59(2): 44-51. Fall 2015
French, Brett “Wyoming Researcher explores thunderbird art link to golden eagles.” Billings Gazette [Billings] and Casper Star Tribune [Casper] 16 March 2017: Outdoor Section.
Dayton, Kelsey 2017 April 7 “Are thunderbird petroglyphs linked to golden eagle nests?” [WyoFile]
Eagle, Message To 2017 April 26 “Are Thunderbird Petroglyphs In Bighorn Basin Linked To Golden Eagle Nests?”
To schedule Ms. Smith for Public Appearances or Presentation: [email protected]
Assistant Curator, Draper Museum Raptor Experience
Melissa Hill joined the Draper’s staff to establish, launch, and manage a new program, the Draper Museum Raptor Experience, which now has brought six 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
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 (Emeritus)
Senior Curator Emeritus and Senior Scientist, Draper Natural History Museum
Dr. Charles R. Preston is the Willis McDonald, IV Senior Curator of Natural Science and Founding Curator-in-Charge of the Draper Natural History Museum and its Draper Museum Raptor Experience 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 “visionary” 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 established and continues to oversee all Draper Museum activities, including an innovative suite of lecture series, field trips, exhibits, and other public programming, field and collections-based scientific research, and acquisition and curation of audiovisual materials and scientific specimens that document environmental status and change in the Greater Yellowstone region. All these activities serve to advance science-based understanding and conservation of natural resources in Greater Yellowstone and beyond. He is featured in the 2017 book: People of Yellowstone.
Trained as a wildlife ecologist, 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. He is widely recognized as a leading authority on wildlife and human – wildlife relationships in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He has also developed wide-ranging partnerships between the Draper Museum and several universities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and foundations, such as the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, to foster innovative research and exploration on conservation issues affecting Greater Yellowstone and other globally significant conservation areas.
Prior to his current appointment, Preston was Curator of Ornithology and Chair of the Department of Zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Before that he was a tenured Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He holds or has held adjunct faculty appointments in the Haub School for Environment and Natural Resources, at the University of Wyoming, Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Colorado (Boulder and Denver campuses), Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Denver, and Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He has authored, co-authored, or edited seven books and several dozen scientific and popular essays and articles covering a wide variety of topics.
Dr. Preston’s Statement of Professional Interests:
I am interested in animal behavior and ecology and the application of these disciplines to wildlife conservation and management. Consequently, I am also interested in human attitudes, behavior, and economic considerations related to wildlife conservation and management. I believe that increased public understanding and engagement will improve conservation of biodiversity and native ecosystems while benefitting human communities. My current priority interest involves the influence of apex predators in ecosystems, human dimensions of predator conservation and management, and the role of public lands in supporting native biodiversity. I am actively involved in several lines of interdisciplinary inquiry, educational programming, and practice in pursuit of my overarching goal. Ultimately, effective and sustainable conservation strategies are built on a foundation of sound ecological information and historical perspective, public dissemination of information, broad-based community support, and economic viability.
Preston, C. R., R. E. Jones, and N. S. Horton. 2017. Golden Eagle diet breadth and reproduction in relation to fluctuations in primary prey abundance in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. Journal of Raptor Research 51
Bedrosian, G., J. W. Watson, K. Steenhof, M. N. Kochert, C. R. Preston, B. Woodbridge, G. E. Williams, K. R. Keller, and R. H. Crandall. 2017. Spatial and temporal patterns of Golden Eagle diets in the Western United States, with implications for conservation planning. Journal of Raptor Research 51
Preston, C. R. 2016. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Where do We Draw the Lines? Invisible Boundaries: The Great Animal Migrations of Yellowstone (K. McWhorter and H. Clifford, eds.). Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY.
Seton, E. T., J. Johnston, and C. R. Preston. 2015. Wahb: The Biography of a Grizzly. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.
Preston, C. R. 2013. Fighting nature-deficit disorder: the role of natural history museums in the 21st century. Informal Learning 119 (March-April): 1-12.
Preston, C. R. and R. D. Beane. 2009. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieve from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/052 doi:10.2173/bna.52
Preston, C.R. 2005. Saving the charmed goose: Reconciling human demands with inherent limitations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Yellowstone Science 13 (4):5-14.
Preston, C. R. 2004. Islands of hope in a raging sea: Yellowstone and Serengeti. Pp. 244-252 in Beyond the Arch: Conservation and Community in Greater Yellowstone and East Africa; Proceedings of the 7th biennial conference on science in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem ( A. Wondrak ed.). National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park.
Preston, C. R. and R. D. Beane. 1996. Diurnal raptor species occurrence and distribution in relation to human activity and other factors at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado. Pp. 366-374 in Raptors Adapting to Human-altered Environments (D. M. Bird, D. Varland, J. J. Negro, eds.). Academic Press, London.
Hejl, S. J., R. L. Hutto, C. R. Preston, and D. M. Finch. 1995. Effects of Silvicultural Treatments in the Rocky Mountains. Pp. 220-244 in Ecology and Management of Neotropical Migratory Birds: a synthesis and review of critical issues. (T. Martin, ed.). Oxford University Press, New York, NY.