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Who We Are

What is natural history?

We define natural history as the “…practice of intentional, focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy.”

Why a Natural History Institute?

Natural History is as old as humanity—there have never been people without natural history. In recent years, however, natural history has been marginalized—many academic institutions have removed or shrunken natural history curricula—and the arts and humanities have too often been wrung out of remaining natural history programs.

Our Mission

The Natural History Institute provides leadership and resources for a revitalized practice of natural history that integrates art, science, and humanities to promote the health and well-being of humans and the rest of the natural world.

About Us

The Natural History Institute engages the next generation of naturalists to reunite science, humanities, and art in the practice of natural history. We nurture hope by combining traditional observational tools and practices with modern technology and global information sharing to help people develop attitudes and skills to meaningfully connect with the natural world, and to contribute understanding and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. We provide easily accessible public programs, research facilities to document the biodiversity of the Mogollon Highlands ecoregion, and facilitate a national conversation on a renaissance of natural history generating creative ideas and proactive strategies for engagement.

You are invited to utilize the Institute as a place to collaborate on projects, share information, pursue research questions and ecological curiosities, and become inspired to better know the world around you.








Current Staff

Bob Ellis, M.S., Executive Director

Jessie Rack, Ph.D., Program Director

Deborah Springstead Ford, Interim Development Director

Lisa Floyd-Hanna, Ph.D., Science Director

Jennie Tutone, Collections Manager

Pat Zemer, Office Manager

Retired Staff

Tom Fleischner, Ph.D., Senior Advisor & Director Emeritus

Bob Ellis

Jennie Tutone

Deborah Springstead Ford

Jessie Rack

Lisa Floyd-Hanna

Pat Zemer


Advisory Council

Paul Dayton, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

Harry Greene, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Jeff Hardesty, M.S.
Conservationist; The Nature Conservancy (Retired), Gainesville, Florida

Jane Hirshfield
Poet; Chancellor, Academy of American Poets, Mill Valley, California

Eileen Lacey, Ph.D.
Professor of Integrative Biology; Associate Director & Curator, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, California

Nalini Nadkarni, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Reed Noss, Ph.D.
Florida Institute for Conservation Science, Orlando, Florida

Julia K. Parrish, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, College of the Environment, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Mary Power, Ph.D.
Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley; Past President, Ecological Society of America, Berkeley, California

Sarah Juniper Rabkin
Independent natural history writer and artist; former faculty, University of California, Santa Cruz, Soquel, California

Mitchell Thomashow, Ph.D.
Past President, Unity College; past Chair, Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England, Dublin, New Hampshire

Saul Weisberg, M.S.
Executive Director, North Cascades Institute, Bellingham, Washington

Board of Trustees

Josephine Arader Delille                                     
Gallery Director & Senior Sales Associate, Arader Galleries, New York City, St. Helena, California

John Farmer                                      
Financial Advisor; former Adventure Education Faculty, Prescott, Arizona

Ty Fitzmorris                                        
Proprietor, Peregrine Book Company & Raven Café; Entomologist, Prescott, Arizona

Matthew Frankel  
Physician; Conservationist, Prescott, Arizona

Rebecca Ruffner                                       
Child and Family Advocate, Non-Profit Executive (Retired), Prescott, Arizona

Scientific Advisory Council

Lon Abbott, Ph.D.
Senior Instructor and Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

Harry W. Greene, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Dave Huffman, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Development, Ecological Restoration Institute, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona

M. Andrew Johnston, Ph.D.
Collection Manager, NEON Biorepository Invertebrates, Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Elizabeth Makings, M.S.
Curator, Herbarium, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona


Gallery Council

Roger Asay
Sculptor, Painter, Prescott, Arizona

Jen Chandler
Photographer, Climate Activist, former Gallery Manager, Prescott, Arizona

Edie Dillon
Sculptor, Painter, former Gallery Manager, Prescott, Arizona

Diane Gilbert
Textile and Installation ArtIst, former arts faculty, Yavapai College, Prescott, Arizona

Show Your Support for Our Mission


"The Natural History Institute provides leadership and resources for a revitalized practice of natural history that integrates art, science, and humanities to promote the health and well-being of humans and the rest of the natural world."

Your donations allow us to fulfill that mission. NHI is recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.