New Faces Join Front Line of Grassland Conservation

A lark bunting sitting on a branch looking at a grassland landscape with cattle.
Lark Bunting in front of cattle on May Ranch, an Audubon-certified ranch, in Prowers County, Colorado. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies

This spring, three Audubon state/regional offices added staff to work with the Audubon Conservation Ranching program. The new employees add capacity for private landowner outreach to Audubon’s flagship grassland habitat program, ensuring that land in new locations will soon become Audubon Certified bird-friendly.

Cidney Handy, Range Ecologist, Audubon Rockies

Cidney Handy is a range ecologist based in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She partners with landowners to implement Audubon’s Conservation Ranching program and identify habitat enhancement projects.

Handy went to Colorado State University for both her bachelor’s degree in natural resources management and master’s degree in natural resources stewardship focusing on ecological restoration. Cidney has worked in a variety of positions that have ranged from monitoring conservation easements on working lands to installing beaver baffles. In her free time, she likes to be outside either hiking, hunting, or backpacking with friends and family.

Miranda Butler-Valverde, Avian Biologist, Audubon Southwest

As an avian biologist for Audubon Southwest, Miranda Butler-Valverde oversees habitat improvement projects and assists with the Audubon Conservation Ranching program.

Born and raised in southern New Mexico, Butler-Valverde received a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife science from New Mexico State University. She has lived in various locations across the United States and abroad working on projects focused on a variety of species including ocelots, brown hyenas, American crocodiles, Golden Eagles, Spotted Owls, and Northern Goshawks. It was through these different opportunities that she became interested in scavenging dynamics, which led her to obtain a Master of Science degree from the University of Georgia studying scavenger feeding behaviors. Miranda is interested in species interactions, bird ecology, and habitat conservation. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, fly fishing, gardening, and cooking. She also collects skulls and likes to identify bird feathers. Her favorite bird? The Lazuli Bunting.

Anita Hoskins, Senior Coordinator – Private Lands, Audubon Texas

Anita Hoskins joins Audubon Texas as the new senior private lands coordinator for the West Texas Panhandle and Eastern New Mexico. Based in Sweetwater, Texas, she previously served as a rangeland management specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. For Audubon, Hoskins helps support landowners participating in working lands conservation programs, including the Audubon Conservation Ranching program.

Hoskins is experienced in helping landowners of all backgrounds find conservation solutions and is passionate about bridging the gap between agriculture and grassland bird conservation. She holds a Bachelor of Science in natural resource management from Angelo State University and a Master of Natural Resource Development from Texas A&M University. In addition to helping private landowners professionally, Hoskins manages her family ranch near Sweetwater, making grazing management decisions that align with the creation of optimum wildlife habitat.