Draper Natural History Museum staff
Meet the staff of the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Curator Nathan Doerr, Assistant Curator Corey Anco, Assistant Curator of the Draper Museum Raptor Experience Melissa Hill, and Raptor Program Assistant Brandon Lewis. Dr. Charles R. Preston serves as Senior Scientist and Curator Emeritus.
Willis McDonald IV Curator of Natural Science, Draper Natural History Museum
Nathan Doerr joined the staff of the Draper Natural History Museum in fall 2019, with a background in science, natural history, education, and museum studies. A native of Wyoming, Doerr earned a Bachelor’s in environmental studies—with a focus on science and a concentration in biology—from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. During this time, he interned with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s water quality division, an experience he utilized when conducting a surface water research project as part of a rainforest ecology course at La Suerte Biological Field Station in Costa Rica. Doerr further developed his environmental science knowledge during a professional residency in environmental interpretation at Teton Science Schools’ Kelly, Wyoming, campus. As part of his residency he worked closely with the National Park Service/Grand Teton National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/National Elk Refuge, and the U.S. National Forest Service/Bridger-Teton National Forest in environmental education and natural history interpretation roles. He later earned a Master’s degree in non-formal education from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. His dissertation focused on social interactions while learning in non-formal settings and creating meaningful quality experiences in free-choice learning.
Professionally, Doerr has held positions as Educator with Teton Science Schools, Interpretive Park Ranger with Grand Teton National Park, Curator of Education and Executive Director of the Sheridan County Museum, and Curator of Education at the Wyoming State Museum. Doerr’s eagerness to join the Draper Natural History Museum is a result of combining these past experiences and utilizing science and natural history to further connect people to nature, with a focus on public programming, both within the Draper’s exhibits and in the living classroom that is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
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 recently retired from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West as the Willis McDonald, IV Founding and Senior Curator of its Draper Natural History Museum. At his retirement, he was named Senior Scientist and Senior Curator Emeritus at the Center. Preston received international acclaim for his “visionary” leadership of Draper Museum design, development, and management, and the Draper has become a model for a new genre of highly immersive and experiential natural science museums. During his tenure, he established the Draper Museum Raptor Experience and forged numerous strategic partnerships between the Draper Museum and government agencies, academia, and other organizations, such as the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. His career has spanned more than 45 years as a wildlife ecologist, author, university professor, and museum creator/ curator/ educator/ senior administrator. He holds or has held adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Wyoming, University of Colorado, University of Denver, and University of Arkansas, and has authored, co-authored, or edited seven books and more than seventy scientific articles and popular essays covering a wide variety of topics.
Preston continues to explore the ecology and conservation of predators and their prey and to direct the Draper’s long-term monitoring and research program on golden eagle nesting ecology. He and his wife, journalist Penny Preston, currently split time between summers in Wyoming’s Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and winters in the Arkansas Ozarks.
Representative publications include:
- The Lead (Pb) Lining of Agriculture-related Subsidies: Enhanced Golden Eagle Growth Rates Tempered by Pb Exposure (Herring, et. al.)
- Prevalence and Risk Factors of Trichomonas Gallinae and Trichomonosis in Golden Eagle Nestlings in Western North America (Dudek, et. al.)
- Golden Eagle Diet Breadth and Reproduction in Relation to Fluctuations in Primary Prey Abundance in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin (Preston, Jones, Horton)
- Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Golden Eagle Diets in the Western United States, with Implications for Conservation Planning (Bedrosian, et. al.)
- Connecting Islands of Hope in a Raging Sea (Preston)
- Saving the Charmed Goose (Preston)