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Meet the people who make FCSal possible

Lauren Augustine

Lauren grew up in Pennsylvania and has followed her passion for reptiles and amphibians all over the world. She has a masters degree in conservation science and policy from George Mason University and has worked in zoo herpetology for nearly 15 years. In early 2011 Lauren initiated the Chopsticks For Salamanders (CFS) program as a conservation movement to save salamanders. Today CFS has officially become a stand-alone organization, FCSal, raising thousands of dollars for salamander conservation each year.

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Julia Geschke

Julia grew up in northeast Ohio and received a B.S. in wildlife ecology and management from the University of Maryland, followed by a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University. While in grad school, she completed her master's project on habitat and population connectivity of salamander species in central NC. Currently, she works for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Minnesota's State Wildlife Action Plan.

Kirsten Hecht

Kirsten Hecht has over 10 years of experience as an aquatic ecologist and science communicator. She received her B.S. from The Ohio State University and worked in Appalachia for several years before moving to Florida. Kirsten finished her PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the University of Florida where she also received her MS. Inspired by her son, Dmitry, environmental communication became her passion. She has managed social media accounts for several organizations including the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) and is also the creator and manager of


Caley Johnson

Caley grew up in Michigan, where her passion for reptile and amphibian conservation began with flipping logs to look for salamanders. After working for several years as a Licensed Veterinary Technician, she decided to follow this passion for conservation and received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Grand Valley State University. She loves working with threatened and endangered species and has previously worked on research projects with Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, Blanding's turtles, and American marten. Caley is currently an M.Sc. student at Grand Valley State University researching spatial ecology and habitat selection of spotted turtles in Northern Michigan.

Jasper Leavitt

Jasper graduated from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Music in 2015, where his love for amphibians was first ignited. While at Gettysburg, he worked on multiple projects with salamanders, ranging from disease ecology to egg-algae symbiosis. After taking a brief hiatus working in fisheries science in Massachusetts, he returned to salamander research at Trent University in Ontario. Here, his M.Sc. research investigated kin selection and tail regeneration in blue-spotted salamanders. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at East Carolina University working with community dynamics in aquatic ecosystems.

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Brenda Cervantes

Brenda grew up in California and received her B.S. in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy with a concentration in Ecology from California State University of Monterey Bay. While in school, she assisted researchers in studying California Tiger Salamanders and has traveled and assisted a biological reserve in South America for a broad array of research in ecology. Soon after graduating, Brenda worked as a monitoring biologist and technical writer for special status species in California. 

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