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Hummer Speakers - Keynotes & Bios


33rd Anniversary Thursday Night Celebration Dinner

 Dinner: Texas BBQ, Smoked Chicken and all the trimmings plus dessert. 

Location: Saltwater Pavilion at Rockport Beach, 212 Seabreeze Dr., Rockport, TX. 


2021 Speaker Schedule



Cissy Beasley  Thursday: Texas BBQ Dinner 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. 

Cissy Beasley is a native South Texan with deep roots going back many generations to the mid-1800s. Ranch owner, professional nature & wildlife photographer, professional real estate photographer & videographer, FAA-certified drone pilot.  spending so much time in the country and on the coast, closely observing all the indigenous species populating those areas, has well equipped her to follow her passion - photography. Through photography she attained a new awareness of a world full of beauty and an awareness of the details. "With a camera in my hand, I emerge into the light of each day believing that anything is possible. If by way of this calling, I help others become more sensitive to the world around them, I will have fulfilled my mission."

Sky Kings Falconry, 5 p.m. Friday: "Raptors Revealed" in the Auditorium

Sky Kings Falconry features hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, parrots and other colorful and interesting animals. The program will focus on natural history, unique traits and the natural abilities of these incredible animals. Sky Kings Falconry is dedicated to the Education, and preservation of our planet's wildlife, and employing its natural abilities to correct environmental issues. Birds in flight so arrive early as the doors need to stay closed after the presentation begins.

Sneed Collard III, 5:00 p.m. Saturday 

Sneed is the author of more than eighty-five award-winning books for children and adults including the beloved titles Animal Dads; The Governor’s Dog is Missing; and Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests. His adult memoir Warblers and Woodpeckers: A Father-Son Big Year of Birding was recently named an Honor book for the Montana Book Award and Finalist for the High Plains Book Award. Sneed makes his home in Missoula, Montana and is a frequent speaker at schools, conferences, and birding festivals. Keep up with Sneed and his son Braden on their blog,

Other featured speakers:

Joan Garland is the Outreach Program Coordinator at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. The Reserve is a federal and state partnership that conducts research, education, and stewardship programs. Joan previously worked at the International Crane Foundation for 14 years on Whooping Crane conservation education in Texas and with the reintroduced ultralight-led migratory population of Whooping Cranes. She also coordinated crane education programming in northeastern China and Russia.

Glenn Olsen owns and leads birding tours with GO Birding Ecotours and teaches bird identification, gardening for birds and butterflies, and nature related classes through Rice University's Continuing Studies Department, Houston Audubon, and the Texas Master Naturalist program.  He has led field trips or presented programs for the Texas Ornithological Society, Houston Audubon, Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Galveston Featherfest, Rockport Hummer/Bird Festival, and  the Native Plant Society.  Glenn has led trips to Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Amazon Rainforest, Costa Rica and the hottest birding locations in the United States.

Dr. Brent Ortego recently retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife.  He had been a wildlife biologist since 1982 who primarily worked with conservation of endangered and nongame species.  He has a special interest in hummingbirds and has banded over 30,000 individuals of 14 different species.Dr. Ortego will discuss the bird’s fascinating biology, nesting habits, and foraging
Sid Rucker Sid and his belated wife, Shirley Rucker’s photographs have been published in books, magazines and calendars. They spent 5 of those years as the photographers for Texas Parks and Wildlife book, Hummingbirds of Texas.

Dawn Hewitt is editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, North America’s oldest popular magazine about wild birds and the people who enjoy them. She has been a serious birder since 1979, and was the birding columnist for The Herald-Times newspaper in Bloomington, Indiana, before landing her dream job seven years ago. As well as birding abroad, she has visited all 50 states and birded in most of them. Her life list is around 1,200.

Martha McLeod, an award-winning teacher and youth birding program sponsor, has been in education for more than 25 years. Her program title  is "The Secrets to Kids & Birding". McLeod sponsors a top recycling program in the state of Texas. Her student birding team competes yearly in the Great Texas Birding Classic achieving top honors. She was recently named “Birder of the Year” by Swarovski Optiks/Bird Watcher's Digest. She was the recipient of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s top individual award for the Environmental Excellence Awards in 2017, Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science in 2011, H-E-B Excellence in Education Lifetime Achievement award winner, National finalist for the Shell Oil Science Teaching Award, and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2013.

Ben Horstmann serves as the regional interpretive specialist for South Texas State Parks, based in Rockport. His addiction to birding was a direct result of moving here and birding with park staff and volunteers at the parks. His favorite pastime is birding in the parks and other natural places.  His team, the Gawking Geese have won the State Park Big Day category of the Great Texas Birding Classic most of the last seven years at Goose Island State Park.

David Sarkozi has been birding seriously for more than 20 years.  He has worked for University of Houston while actively leading field trips in Texas, Belize and Costa Rica.  He is a past President of Texas Ornithological Society, Friends of Anahuac Refuge and Chair of Houston Outdoor Nature Club-Ornithology Group.  He leads birding trips both nationally and internationally.

Nelida Spurell, A Forest Engineer native from Brazil, “Neli” moved to Texas in 1999.  As an advocate for the butterflies in North Texas, she became a Texas Master Gardener and Master Composter.  She and her husband moved to Rockport in 2014.  Neli volunteers much of her time with the Texas Master Naturalists and works tirelessly to groom and re-establish pollinator gardens at our Aransas Pathways sites.  Neli is also a founder of Keep Aransas County Beautiful and plans for a safe refuge here for all pollinators.

Ginger Easton Smith  Virginia (Ginger) Easton Smith has been the County Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Aransas County for 12 years. Prior to living in Aransas County, she was an Ag Agent for 17 years in Hawaii and also worked for a landscape contractor. Master Gardeners, Sustainable Landscape Practices, and 4-H are some of the programs she particularly enjoys being involved in. Ginger received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Horticulture Science (no, not surfing) from the University of Hawaii.

Tania Homayoun, PhD is a Texas Nature Trackers Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. She engages naturalists of all interests and ability levels in collecting community science data on Texas’ unique flora and fauna with a particular focus on species of greatest conservation need. Tania holds degrees in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota, where she studied the impacts of urbanization on landbird communities.  She is an avid birder and always has room for one more native plant in her patio garden.

Darrell Cochran will be replacing Sid Rucker (due to illness). Darrell is an award-winning Texas wildlife photographer.  He focuses on creating intimate portraits of the wildlife he photographs.  While Darrell photographs any wildlife, his primary focus is on birds, with a special passion for Hummingbird photography.  When he is not out in the field photographing wildlife, he can be found assisting local communities in setting up locations for the public to photograph wildlife.  Darrell took up photography after retiring from the United States Airforce after 22 years of service.