2022 Special Emphasis Series


Throughout the summer, we invite guest speakers to share their expertise in the field and through evening presentations. You may want to time your visit to coincide with one of our Special Emphasis Series sessions. Our regular program of guided hiking occurs simultaneously.

Dr. J. Drew Lanham

Author, Wildlife Biologist, & Poet

June 3-5

June 6-9


WATCHING BIRDS - Intensifying Focus with Words for Birds

J. Drew Lanham, PhD, (Clemson B.A. '88; MS '90; PhD '97) is an author, poet, public speaker, and scientist, from Edgefield and Aiken, South Carolina. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, whose work addresses the confluence of race, place, and nature. A conservation and cultural ornithologist, he has mentored nearly fifty graduate students, published extensively in the scientific literature, and taught courses in conservation biology, forest ecology, wildlife policy, ornithology, and environmental literature/nature writing.

Drew is the Poet Laureate of Edgefield County, SC and the author of Sparrow Envy - Poems (Holocene 2016, Hub City 2018), Sparrow Envy - A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts (Hub City 2021) and The Home Place - Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed 2016/Tantor Audio 2018). His memoir is a past winner of the Reed Environmental Writing Award (Southern Environmental Law Center), the Southern Book Prize, and a 2017 finalist for the Burroughs Medal. It was named a memoir and scholarly book of the decade (Lithub & Chronicle of Higher Education, resp). He has contributed chapters to a number of anthologies including Carolina Writers at Home, Literary Dogs, Bartram's Living Legacy, The Colors of Nature, and Outdoor Adventures in the Upcountry.


Subhankar Banerjee

Photographer, Writer, & Conservationist

June 17-19

June 20-23


NURSERIES & KINSHIP: Protecting Our Nonhuman Relatives

Subhankar Banerjee is a photographer, writer, conservationist and public scholar. He considers the Arctic his true university and, the place and its nonhuman relatives, the Indigenous elders and field biologists—his most important teachers. His practice is place–based and community–engaged and focuses on biological annihilation and climate breakdown, the two most consequential planetary crises of human history. Subhankar works closely with Indigenous Gwich’in and Iñupiat community members and environmental organizations to protect critical biological nurseries and culturally significant places in Arctic Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. His current work is situated in three places: the Arctic in the U.S.–Canada borderlands; the desert in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands; and the mangrove forest of the Sundarban in the India–Bangladesh borderlands.

Author of Seasons of Life and Land: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point, Subhankar was most recently co-editor (with T.J. Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) of the Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change; co-host (with U.S. Senator Tom Udall) of the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series; and co-curator (with Josie Lopez) of Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande. Subhankar is the Lannan Foundation Endowed Chair and a professor of Art & Ecology at the University of New Mexico (UNM) where he serves as the founding director of both the UNM Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities and the Species in Peril project at UNM. 


Dr. Carolyn Finney

Storyteller, Author, & Cultural Geographer

July 1-3

July 4-7


THE N WORD: Nature, Revisited (An Imagined Conversation with John Muir & Other Musings)

Carolyn Finney, PhD is a storyteller, author and a cultural geographer. She is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. Carolyn is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing - she pursued an acting career for eleven years, but five years of backpacking trips through Africa and Asia, and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, Carolyn returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A. (gender and environmental issues in Kenya and Nepal) and a Ph.D. (where she was a Fulbright and a Canon National Science Scholar Fellow). Along with public speaking, writing, media engagements, consulting & teaching, she served on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board for eight years.

Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was released in 2014. Recent publications include Self-Evident: Reflections on the Invisibility of Black Bodies in Environmental Histories (BESIDE Magazine, Montreal Spring 2020), and The Perils of Being Black in Public: We are all Christian Cooper and George Floyd (The Guardian, June 3rd 2020). She is currently working on a performance piece about John Muir (The N Word: Nature Revisited) as part of a Mellon residency at the New York Botanical Gardens Humanities Institute this summer and is the new columnist at the Earth Island Journal. She is also an artist-in-residence in the Franklin Environmental Center at Middlebury College.


Princess Daazhraii Johnson

Actor, Writer, & Creative Producer of "Molly in Denali"

July 22-24

July 25-28


NARRATIVE SOVEREIGNTY: The Power of Telling Our own Stories

Princess Daazhraii Johnson is Neets’aii Gwich’in and her family is from Arctic Village, Alaska. Johnson is the former Executive Director for the Gwich’in Steering Committee and is a founding member of the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition. She also has experience working on climate adaptation for tribes through her on-going work with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. Johnson received a B.A. in International Relations from The George Washington University and a Masters in Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage with a focus on Environmental and Science Education.

She has been a member of the SAG-AFTRA Native American Committee since 2007 and also serves on the Board of Dancing with the Spirit, a program that promotes spiritual wellness through music. In 2015 Johnson was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is based in Alaska and is currently creative producing an animated series for the WGBH that premiered on PBS in 2019.


Margaret McKeown

Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

July 29-31

August 1-4


WILDERNESS WARRIORS - The Collaboration of Justice William O. Douglas & Conservation Advocates Mardy & Olaus Murie

Margaret McKeown is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers nine states, including Alaska, and two US territories. She was appointed in 1998. Before joining the bench, Judge McKeown practiced law in Seattle and Washington, DC and was a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior and at the White House. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, and former chair of the Federal Judges Association and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. She has also taught at Georgetown, Northwestern, and the University of San Diego law schools and is a frequent lecturer in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

A Wyoming native, Judge McKeown serves on the board of the Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming, which is also home to the Murie Ranch National Historic District. An avid hiker and outdoor woman, she was a member of the first American mountain climbing expedition to Mt. Shishapangma in Tibet.


Brooke Williams & Terry Tempest Williams


August 5-7

August 8-12



Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams has been called "a citizen writer," a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. "So here is my question," she asks, “what might a different kind of power look like, feel like, and can power be redistributed equitably even beyond our own species?"

Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, she is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red: Patience and Passion in the Desert; and The Open Space of Democracy. Her book Finding Beauty in a Broken World, was published in 2008 by Pantheon Books. She is a columnist for the magazine The Progressive. Her new book is The Story of My Heart by Richard Jeffries, as rediscovered by Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams (Torrey House Press), in which she and Brooke Williams expand upon the 1883 book by Richard Jeffries. Her most recent book is The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The book was published in June, 2016, to coincide with and honor the centennial of the National Park Service.

Brooke Williams
Brooke‘s life has been one of adventure and wilderness exploration.
Earlier, this meant skiing and climbing in some of the great mountains of
America and wandering the cliffs and canyons of the Colorado Plateau.
Lately, during long solo walks he’s become familiar with his own vast and
complex inner wilderness. His writing has documented his effort to
understand the importance of wildness in modern life. Years ago, after
encouragement from his mentor, the great teacher, William Kitteridge,
Brooke realized that the one story he would tell over and over again for
the rest of his life would be this: “We live in bodies that are largely
unchanged since the Pleistocene, trying to make them work in a world
which is vastly different from the one for which evolution designed us.
Perhaps acknowledging this is a big step toward solving some of our
current problems.”

From this has come dozens of stories and articles, and
five books including Halflives: Reconciling Work and Wildness, and his
most recent, Open Midnight, which documents his exploration of places
where the outer and inner wilderness meet. His conservation career spans
five decades, most recently with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
He has an MBA in Sustainable Business from the Bainbridge Graduate


Stan Senner

Conservationist & Ornithologist

August  12-14

August 15-18



Stan Senner recently retired as Vice President for Bird Conservation from the National Society. Stan brought to Audubon a unique combination of skill and experience with birds, science, conservation, and public policy. In a career spanning more than 45 years, he worked for The Wilderness Society and U.S. House of Representatives and helped pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, served as executive director of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania, coordinated federal-state science and restoration programs following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and tracked the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico for the Ocean Conservancy.

Stan worked for Audubon for more than 19 years, including 10 years as executive director of Audubon Alaska (1999-2009). Stan has received wide recognition for his work in conservation, including in a Lifetime Achievement Award in Shorebird Conservation from the international Western Hemisphere Shorebird Group in 2019. He was named a Fellow in the American Ornithological Society in 2020. Born and raised in Kansas, he holds an M.S. in biology from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and lives with his wife, Pat, in Missoula, Montana.


Ronn & Marketa Murray

Aurora Borealis Experts & Photographers

September 9-11


Ronn & Marketa are a husband and wife team, both in life and in business. They share a passion for many things, including photography, Northern Lights, nature, travel, and Angus, their wonderful Black Lab.

Ronn fell in love with photography in 2007 while working over the summer in California to pay his way through college. Later that year, he moved to Anchorage, Alaska, to follow his dream of becoming a professional photographer. It was then that he captured his first image of the Northern Lights and became entranced by their magic spell. In January 2008, he began working for a national school portrait studio and learned the ins and outs of studio portraiture. Later that summer, he moved to Fairbanks to manage their regional office. Being in the heart of Alaska put him in an excellent location for Aurora.

Marketa was born and raised in the Czech Republic. In 2002, she moved to Iceland and went on to manage TGI Fridays for several years. During that time she fell in love with the night sky, the Aurora, the beautiful Icelandic landscapes and photography. She found that venturing out into the calm, cold, dark nights to photograph the Northern Lights was an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy restaurant. In 2011, she ventured to Alaska, where the two met and fell in love chasing the Aurora together. They were married a year later, beneath the majestic Aurora Borealis and have been “chasing the lights” together, ever since.