The Board Of DirectorsPresident: Ray Ashton, Executive Director
Ashton, Ashton and Associates, Inc.
14260 W. Newberry Road #331
Newberry, Florida 32669
Tel:352-495-7449 Fax: 352 495-7433
Ray E. Ashton, Jr. is Executive Director of Ashton, Ashton, & Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting firm that specializes in sustainable and environmentally sound projects with an emphasis on ecotourism, tourism, greenways, parks, museums and other similar developments. Ray is a sought after speaker and has served as meeting Chair for many meetings including SSAR and the All Florida Herp Conference. He completed his graduate work at Miami University in Oxford, OH and was one of the founders of a number of Herpetoplgical organizations in several states including North Carolina and Florida. He has served as Education Director at two state museums, as Director of Travel Planning for three major travel firms including the Massachusets Audubon Society and has worked for two major consulting firms before semi-retiring to found the institute and develop the research station. He co-authored the Handbook to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Florida and is series editor for the multi-volume series entitled: "The Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida" (UF Press). He has carried out long-term research on a number of protected reptile, amphibian and bird species. Ray has completed many book chapters, and has over 100 articles and publications. Ray has served as Chairman for the Gopher Tortoise Council, numerous committees for the SSAR, and past member of the IUCN Freshwater Turtle and Tortoise Specialist Group.
Secretary/Treasurer: Patricia S. Ashton, President
Ashton, Ashton and Associates, Inc.
14260 W. Newberry Road #331
Newberry, Florida 32669
Patricia S. Ashton is President of Ashton, Ashton, & Associates, Inc., a biological and ecotourism consulting firm. She is a native Floridian and began her studies at Univerity of Miami and working with the Tropical Atlantic Biological laboratories. Pat completed her graduate work at University of Florida and is an educator, field biologist and botanist and author as well as an ecotourism expert with over 27 years experience in teaching, museum and zoo education program and exhibit development, park planning and operations, teacher and staff training, curriculum design and evaluation, international travel development and endangered species habitat management. Pat is co-author of the 3-volume set, The Handbook to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Florida and has authored a number of curriculae, book chapters and articles. Pat leads teams of experts in completing projects worldwide such as designing museums and parks, creating successful ecolodges, designing nature trails, and evaluating the education and marketing feasibility of various properties for development. Pat has served as secretary and newsletter editor for the Gopher Tortoise Council. She has spent over 20 years studying gopher tortoise forage habitat and has carried out various field research projects on a variety of species including algae, burrowing owls, tortoises, salamanders, snakes and lizards.
Board Member: Robert T. Zappalorti, CV
Robert T. Zappalorti founded Herpetological Associates, Inc. (HA) in the spring of 1977. The firm specializes in the conservation and ecology of threatened and endangered amphibians and reptiles. Robert has conducted extensive scientific research on the bog turtle, wood turtle, redbelly turtle, timber rattlesnake, corn snake, pine snake, blue-spotted salamander, tiger salamander, southern gray treefrog, Pine Barrens treefrog, and many other species. He specializes in conservation and mitigation plans and was the first herpetologist to build hibernacula for snakes and other wildlife in natural habitat areas. Robert has also conducted wildlife inventories, intensive herpetological studies, and presence or absence surveys for a variety of clients. He has served as an expert witness and provided testimony in State and County Courthouses and before numerous Township Planning Boards. Robert is a published author of many books, scientific papers, and articles on herpetology. He is also an accomplished wildlife photographer, with photo credits in numerous books and magazines, including National Geographic Magazine. He has served as the official herpetological consultant to the Endangered and Nongame Species Program, Division of Fish and Wildlife, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of Coastal Resources (CAFRA), the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, The Trust for Public Land, and The Nature Conservancy. Prior to starting HA, he was Associate Curator of Herpetology and Education, at the Staten Island Zoological Society in New York between 1974 to1 977. Robert also was a Reptile Keeper at the Staten Island Zoological Society between 1964 and 1974, and worked under the late Carl F. Kauffeld.
Board Member: MC Davis
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
MC, as his friends call him, is a very active land conservationist in Florida. He has purchased large tracts of land in the Big Bend area of the state and his most recent efforts are acquiring lands that are extremely important corridors around Eglin Air Force Base and northward. The thousands of acres MC has acquired have or will be part of the Florida Forever program. MC initiated the development of the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative as a program of the Institute. He joined the board in 2002.
Board Member: Peter Pritchard, Director
Chelonian Research Institute
402 South Central Ave
Oviedo, Florida 32765
Peter Pritchard is one of the best known authorities on biology and conservation of turtles and tortoises. He received a Ph.D in 1969 from the University of Florida where he studied sea turtles biology with Dr. Archie Carr. After four years work with World Wildlife Fund, he became an officer of the Florida Audubon Society in 1973. Since 1998 he has served as Director of the Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo, Florida, and he is an Adjunct professor of biology at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Central Florida. The Chelonian Research Institute demonstated that a museum could host a useful systematics collection of natural history specimens built up without sacrifice of live animals, an idea developed by Peter. He has written 6 books on chelonians and is co-editor of the Journal Chelonian Conservation and Biology. He has also worked on a conservation project on marine turtles with the Arawak people of Guyana for many years. He was the founding Chairman of the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and is a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group.
Board Member: Curt L. Harbsmeier, Director
5120 South Lakeland Drive, Suite 3
Post Office Box 6455
Lakeland, Florida 33813
Curt L. Harbsmeier attended the University of Louisville (KY), majored in Biology, and received his B.A. in 1985. He studied herpetology at Lousville and was curator of the University's herp collection from 1985 to 1987. He graduated from law school (Louisville) in 1990, moved to Florida, and went to work as a misdemeanor trial attorney for the State Attorney's Office in Bartow (Polk County). He worked for the law firm of Holland & Knight in 1993, and then broke out of that firm in 1996 with a small group to start what would become Harbsmeier, Dezayas, Appel & Hernandes, LLP. He has been involved in a number of herpetological organizations since the mid-1980's. He has also been involved in prepresenting various parties involved in the reptile import/export business, in an assortment of legal matters. He is acquainted with the Florida Wildlife Code and has represented individuals in matters involving the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. He is also acquainted with CITES and it's implementation in the U.S. His educational background and his work with animals and the animal industry have broadened his interest in conservation issues in recent years.
Advisors to the Board:
Richard Franz, Florida Museum of Natural History
Dr. Elliott Jacobson, University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine
David Lee, Asian Turtle Consortium
Research Advisor: Richard Franz
Richard Franz is an Associate in Ecosystem Conservation, Florida Museum of Natural History, and Affiliate Associate in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. He received his MS at the University of Montana. He has been studying gopher tortoises and the ecology and systematics of reptiles and amphibians in Florida for more than 40 years. He has published a number of papers on gopher tortoise biology and many other species of upland reptiles and amphibians. He managed the Ordway Preserve for a number of years and is knowledgeable about fire management. His current interests include fossil gopher tortoises.