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Our Team

Turner Family

TESF Board of Trustees (current and future)

The entire Turner family is deeply committed to environmental efforts that promote the health and integrity of the planet. Ensuring the persistence of imperiled species and their habitats is one such effort that is critically important for advancing worldwide peace, prosperity, and justice. The adult members of the Turner family are acutely aware of and keenly supportive of the work of the Turner Endangered Species Fund and Turner Biodiversity Divisions.

Ted Turner

Founder, TESF & TBD

Throughout his career, Ted Turner has received recognition for his entrepreneurial acumen, sharp business skills, leadership qualities, and his unprecedented philanthropy. Whether in billboard advertisement, cable television, sports team ownership, sailing, environmental initiatives or philanthropy, Turner’s vision, determination, generosity and forthrightness have consistently given the world reason to take notice.

Out of concern for the health of his land (Turner owns, individually and via various entities, over 2 million acres of land) and the extinction crisis, Turner established the Turner Endangered Species Fund and Turner Biodiversity Divisions in 1997 to conserve nature by emphasizing restoration efforts of imperiled species and their habitats with an emphasis on Turner Ranches and in partnership with state and federal natural resources agencies.

Turner is Chairman of the United Nations Foundation, which promotes a more peaceful, prosperous and just world; Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a charitable organization working to reduce the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; Chairman of the Turner Foundation, which supports efforts to grow and diversify the movement, conserve land to protect and restore wildlife and biodiversity, catalyze the transition to a clean energy future, and protect and restore water resources; and co-founder of Ted’s Montana Grill restaurant chain, which operates 47 locations nationwide.

Over the last several years, Turner has devoted his time and energy toward promoting the use of clean energy sources. While urging others to make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, he has already done so in a very large way. Turner has partnered with the Southern Company to build 10 solar facilities. In addition, Turner has added solar panels on his numerous properties, including the installation of 25 solar canopies in the employee parking lot adjacent to his Atlanta offices.

Turner is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, industry awards and civic honors, including being named TIME Magazine’s 1991 Man of the Year, Broadcasting and Cable’s Man of the Century in 1999 and one of TIME 100 World’s Most Influential People in 2009. In recent years, he received the 2011 Palazzo Strozzi Foundation’s Renaissance Man of the Year award, the Overseas Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, was honored by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 35th Annual Sports Emmy® Awards in 2014, and received the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy in 2016, among many others.

Beau Turner

Chairman, TESF Board of Directors
Director, Natural Resources & Biodiversity, Turner Enterprises, Inc.

Beau is involved in numerous charitable organizations related to environmental conservation and preservation around the world. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Turner Endangered Species Fund and is the Director of Natural Resources and Biodiversity for Turner Enterprises, Inc., the entity that manages all Turner lands. In this capacity, Beau coordinates and oversees wildlife-related projects for the approximately 2-million-acre operation.

Among Beau’s challenges is the directive to balance a strong concern and ethic for environmental protection with several for-profit ventures, including the largest bison operation in the world. He serves as a Trustee for the Turner Foundation, Inc., a private family foundation that focuses on environmental and population-related causes, and serves on the boards of the Jane Smith Turner Foundation, the Captain Planet Foundation, the Wetlands America Trust, and the Peregrine Fund. He is also a council member for the Jim Range Conservation Fund.

Beau works closely with groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Boone and Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, and Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy. Beau’s greatest passion is getting young people outdoors and excited about nature and the environment. To help achieve this goal, he founded the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center (BTYCC) near his home in Florida in 2008. The BTYCC is a place where children are encouraged to be active outdoors. They learn about conservation, interact with nature, acquire fishing, archery, hunting and camping skills and study alternative energy sources (the BTYCC is the first youth center in Florida powered entirely by solar power). The BTYCC works in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission which hosts summer camps at the BTYCC. Every year Beau personally sponsors a Youth Mentorship Program for young people in Jefferson County, Florida. The program is designed to give children a one-on-one experience with mentors and explores several aspects of the great outdoors. Currently, Beau is working on growing the youth center concept and developing the BTYCC into a model for similar centers nationwide.

While Beau serves as the TESF Chairman, the rest of this family — his father Ted and siblings Teddy, Laura, Rhett, and Jennie — serve as Trustees for TESF.

Mike Phillips

Director, Turner Endangered Species Fund

Mike has served as the Director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and an advisor to Turner Biodiversity Divisions (TBD) since he established both with Ted Turner and his family in 1997.

Mike has played a key role in wolf conservation and recovery. From 1986–1994, he was the Field Coordinator for the Red Wolf Recovery Program. He was also instrumental in the return of gray wolves to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, serving as Project Leader for the wolf restoration effort from its inception in 1994 until 1997 when he left the National Park Service to establish TESF and TBD.

Mike received his B.Sc. in Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution from the University of Illinois in 1980, and his M.Sc. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Alaska in 1986. He has conducted wildlife research, with an emphasis on large carnivores, throughout the United States and Australia. Mike’s career focuses on imperiled species recovery, integrating private land and conservation, and the socio-political aspects of conservation biology.

Mike is an experienced writer and public speaker. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of reports and over 65 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, government reports, and popular articles. Mike has delivered over 200 public presentations to conservation organizations and professional conferences, including invited plenary, keynote, and banquet presentations.

As an endeavor separate and apart from his leadership of TESF and TBD, in 2006 Mike entered the political arena through election to the Montana legislature as the representative for House District 66, Bozeman. Shortly thereafter, Mike founded the Montana Legislative Climate Change Caucus. In 2009, Mike was elected as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. During this legislative session, Mike played a critical role in crafting and passing the nation’s most comprehensive law for sequestering CO2 in geological formations.

Mike was re-elected to the state House in 2010 and and to the state Senate in 2012. He will serve there at least through 2020. In addition to representing House and Senate districts, Mike served as a co-chair of Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee during 2007 and 2008. In the fall of 2009 Mike was recruited by the White House to join a coalition of state legislative leaders to work with the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate in an effort to pass clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.

By design, Mike’s career in conservation biology and politics is an atypical amalgamation of timely innovations based on strategic thinking, risk taking, and decisive and effective action to redress the extinction crisis. By leading some of the world’s most significant public and private efforts to restore imperiled species, directing important publications that advance the science and policies of restoration ecology, and serving in elected office to advance the usefulness of science and conservation to legislative matters, Mike’s work has been a determined response to an important challenge leveled years ago by Dr. E. O. Wilson: reweave the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds us. 

Dave Hunter


Dave has served as the veterinarian for Turner Enterprises, Inc. and the Turner Endangered Species Fund since October 1998. Dave did his undergraduate work at New Mexico State University and received his B.Sc. in 1974 and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Washington State University in 1976. He then undertook an internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York. After leaving private practice in Seattle, WA, Dave was the wildlife veterinarian with the California Department of Fish and Game from 1986 to 1989. From 1989 to 1998, he continued his wildlife career as the wildlife veterinarian for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Department of Agriculture. He has conducted research on wildlife health issues on many avian and mammalian species.

He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Texas A & M University, and Associate Professor of Research at Boise State University, University of Idaho, and Montana State University. He is a founding member of International Wildlife Veterinary Services, on the Board of Directors of International Wildlife Health Institute, and a former president of the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians. Dave has written several book chapters and authored many peer-reviewed publications. He lectures throughout the world on disease, immobilization, welfare and health concerns of wildlife. Currently he is involved in many health issues at the interface between ecosystems, wildlife, livestock, and humans.

Carter Kruse

Director of Conservation

Carter has been with the Turner organization since June of 2000.  He currently serves as the Director of Conservation and Coordinator of the Turner Biodiversity Divisions for Turner Enterprises, Inc.  He earned a B.Sc. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University in 1993, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Wyoming in 1995 and 1998, respectively.  Prior to joining the Turner organization, Carter worked for the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee.

As a Senior Scientist with the Turner organization, Carter coordinates science, research, and conservation planning activities on Turner Ranches.  He oversees a diverse array of natural resource related projects ranging from native species conservation to habitat restoration to water rights and permitting.  Current conservation efforts include work on Rio Grande and westslope cutthroat trout, Blandings turtle, prairie wetlands, desert bighorn sheep, arctic grayling, prairie birds, and riparian restoration.  Carter has co-authored several book chapters and technical articles, and serves as affiliate faculty at Montana State University, Idaho State University, and New Mexico State University.

Inspired by the natural wonders around us, Carter’s professional motivation is quite simple – “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering” (Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac).

Magnus McCaffery


As a Senior Biologist Magnus oversees a variety of projects aimed at conserving imperiled species and maintaining functional ecosystems. He is also involved in outreach and building partnerships with other organizations to achieve conservation goals and to promote the role of private lands in ecological conservation. Magnus is a native of Scotland, and graduated with a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from the University of Stirling, and a M.Sc. in Wildlife Biology from Napier Univesity in Edinburgh. A passion for ecology and wild places brought him to Montana, where he received a Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana. Magnus’ goals are to use the best available science to conserve imperiled species, mitigate the impacts of climate change on ecological communities, and restore and maintain intact ecosystems.

Dustin Long


Dustin began working for TESF in 1998.  He  earned his M.Sc. in Life Science with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management in 1997 and his B.Sc. in Environmental Science in 1993 from New Mexico Highlands University.

Dustin serves as the project manager for the restoration of black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs, Gunnison’s prairie dogs, and other grassland species and their habitats. He is also actively involved in TESF’s efforts to improve the conservation status of the lesser prairie chicken at the Z Bar Ranch in Kansas and the Chupadera spring snail in New Mexico. Dustin is an active member within the community and is affiliated with several local, state, and national social and professional organizations, and currently serves on the Maxwell Schools Board of Education. Dustin’s professional interests include population ecology, grassland ecology, predator/prey interactions, conservation education and sustainable living. Dustin has authored and co-authored several book chapters and technical articles.

Chris Wiese


Chris has been working with the bolson tortoises on the Turner Ranches since 2007. She initially worked as a volunteer, but in 2010 was contracted to direct the tortoise breeding program. In 2012, Chris joined the Turner Endangered Species Fund  to oversee the bolson tortoise project. Also in 2012, Chris took on the Mexican Gray Wolf project on the Ladder Ranch. Chris is excited to be able to get up close and personal with these two very different but equally enthralling species.

Chris received bachelor’s degrees in Biochemistry and Organismal Biology from the University of Kansas in 1989, and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1996. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Baltimore, Chris took a position in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she studied the biochemistry of cellular organization during cell division. Chris has won several awards for her cell biology work and has authored a number of journal articles and book chapters.

Cassidi Cobos


Cassidi has been working with the Turner Endangered Species Fund since April 2014. She is currently working on the Chiricahua leopard frog project at the Ladder Ranch in New Mexico. She earned her B.S. in Wildlife Science with a minor in Biology from New Mexico State University in 2012. While pursuing her degree, she worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a variety of projects including riparian restoration along the Rio Grande. Cassidi’s professional interest include conservation of threatened and endangered species and habitat restoration.

Val Asher


Val has served as the wolf biologist for the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) since May 2000. Working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, she was a wolf specialist for southwest Montana from 2000-2009. It was a notable achievement for TESF, as a private organization, to assist state and federal agencies with on-the-ground wolf recovery efforts. In 2010, her focus shifted to the Flying D Ranch in Montana, which has been occupied by wolves since ~ 2002. Here she investigates how wolves affect ranched bison and native elk populations. In addition, Val was the field team leader for Arizona Game and Fish Department on the Mexican wolf recovery project from 1998 to 2000. From 1994 to 1997 she served as wolf field biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho and was part of the team sent to Canada to retrieve wolves for the reintroduction to Yellowstone and Central Idaho. Val received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College in 1992. She has been involved in wolf, ungulate, sage grouse and peregrine falcon research throughout the U.S. Her professional interests include canid behavior, restoration ecology, and working with private landowners to promote wildlife conservation.

Eric Leinonen

Senior Biological Technician

Eric joined Turner Biodiversity in 2011 as a seasonal member of the Native Cutthroat Trout Conservation Initiative. Beginning in 2015 Eric assumed a full time role on the TBD team as the Senior Biological Technician. This role has expanded his focus to include working with a suite of native fishes, some amphibians, and their habitats on Turner properties in New Mexico, Nebraska, and Montana.  When the streams harden up during the colder winter months, Eric assists several ranches with their annual Bison round-ups.  The diversity of organisms and environments that are found on the working lands of Turner ranches is what Eric finds most stimulating about the efforts of TBD.

As a graduate from The University of Montana, Eric has received two B.A.’s in Environmental Science and Geography in 2010. Prior to his time with TBD, Eric conducted fisheries work for Montana Fish & Wildlife, Idaho Game & Fish, the U.S. Forest Service, Cooke Aquiculture and the Watershed Education Network.  Eric often does not venture too far from the water when not working, and can be found fishing for anything that will bite.

Cheney Gardner

Media and Outreach Coordinator

Cheney Gardner joined TESF in 2016 as the media and outreach coordinator for an education project to advance wolf recovery to Colorado. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where she was received a degree in journalism after being awarded the prestigious Morehead-Cain scholarship, which provided her the opportunity to travel to and write about wild places. As a Morehead-Cain, she explored the remoteness of the Yukon and northern British Columbia; tracked the world’s largest bumblebee across Chilean Patagonia; and studied natural fiber and dyeing processes in the Cusco region of Peru. After graduating in May 2015 with a degree in Journalism, she worked for Outside magazine in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she wrote about everything from paddling in Glacier National Park to crack climbing in Moab, Utah.

As the coordinator for the Colorado wolf outreach and education project, she is responsible for engaging the media, managing the project’s digital presence and serving as the Colorado liaison. When she’s not in the office, she can usually be found in the mountains, fly fishing, trail running and biking.

Levi Fettig

Senior Biological Technician

Levi joined TESF in 2015 as a seasonal technician working on the black-footed ferret project at Vermejo Park Ranch. In 2016 and 2017 he worked seasonally for Turner Biodiversity Divisions assisting with a variety of conservation and natural resource projects on the prairies of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Beginning in 2018, Levi assumed a full time role on the Biodiversity team as a Senior Biological Technician. His position continues to work on a variety of projects, mostly in prairie ecosystems, including black footed ferrets, prairie dogs, and prairie chickens, as well as fish and amphibians. In the fall, Levi assists several Turner ranches with bison works.

Levi graduated from Valley City State University with a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Management. Prior to the Turner organization, he worked seasonally for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department for three years as a wildlife aide.

Hunter Prude

Senior Biological Technician

Hunter has worked for Turner Biodiversity on the Armendaris Ranch in southern New Mexico since 2012. Hunter works closely with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to manage the restored desert bighorn sheep population in the Fra Cristobal Mountains.

As an undergraduate, Hunter worked on a mountain lion research project for the Borderlands Research Institute in Alpine, TX. He obtained a B.S. in Natural Resource Management; Wildlife Management from Sul Ross State University in 2011. Hunter is currently researching how man-made water influences mountain lion behavior and predation in desert bighorn habitat while working on a M.S. Wildlife Science at New Mexico State University.


Scott Hillard

Contract Biologist

Scott has been involved in the bolson tortoise project since 2006. He is a tortoise biologist who focuses most of his work on developing techniques to support the preservation and recovery of various North American tortoise species. Scott grew up under the wide-open Kansas skies and has been fascinated with reptiles and amphibians for as long as he can remember. He has concentrated his studies on tortoises for the last 25 years. His main project as a Research Scientist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA revolves around desert tortoise population augmentation in the Mojave Desert. He pursues questions of tortoise ecology and biology as well as improving techniques for tortoise head-starting (following tortoises from egg to reproductive adult). Scott has served as a consultant, contractor, and, starting in 2013, as a Turner Endangered Species Fund team member, with the bolson tortoise restoration project on the Ladder and Armendaris ranches in southern New Mexico.

Scott holds a B.Sc. in Systematics and Ecology from the University of Kansas in 1989 and earned his M.Sc. degree from Colorado State University in 1996. His thesis work explored the thermal ecology of juvenile desert tortoises. Scott contributes not only invaluable expertise and a wealth of knowledge about the biology and husbandry of desert-living tortoises, but his outstanding building skills were put to excellent use on the erosion control work and much-needed renovations of the Ladder Ranch Mexican gray wolf holding facility in 2012.

Greg Hagan

Contract Biologist

Greg has led TESF’s red-cockaded woodpecker project, first as a staff member and more recently as a contract biologist, since the project began in 1998. Greg currently works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission with a focus on bobwhite quail conservation. Greg has also worked for the  Tall Timbers Research Station and the U.S. Forest Service at the Appalachicola National Forest. Greg lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife and three children.