WHO WE ARE
CJ Greco graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in December 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Humanities and a minor in Social Science. Their start in the field of informal conservation education was in 2012 as a Junior Zookeeper at Cosley Zoo and then as a member of the Youth Volunteer Corps with the Chicago Zoological Society at Brookfield Zoo. CJ went on to Work as a Community Programs Assistant with the Chicago Zoological Society, supervising the King Conservation Science Scholars Program and facilitate community outreach engagement events. CJ also would return to Cosley Zoo as an Education Intern and receive their Certified Interpretive Guide Training by the National Association for Interpretation in 2016. CJ has worked for multiple informal education and non-profit organizations, working with conservation organizations all over the world, spending nearly two months backpacking and volunteering all over Australia. CJ currently works as a Scholar Coach with the Schuler Scholar Program at Waukegan High School, working to help unserved, high-achieving students become successful in college. When they’re not working, CJ enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, hiking and discovering new places with friends, and working on their standup comedy.
Brittany Busleta-Lewandowski graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in December of 2018 with a Bachelor’s of science in animal science and a certification of companion animal nutrition. Brittany got her start in conservation education in 2010 as a youth volunteer through the Chicago Zoological Society Youth Volunteer Corps. From there she became a Zoo camp counselor and then an Animal ambassador intern at the Chicago Zoological society. Her passion for animals and animal welfare has opened many new passions and personal goals. One of them has been her passion to achieve inclusivity in the Zoological field. As an education coordinator intern and seasonal at the Phillips Park Zoo, she was able to create an inclusive environment where everyone can learn, and enjoy wildlife and nature. She is currently a trainer in the animal ambassador department at The St. Louis Aquarium at Union station in Missouri. When Brittany is working, she enjoys hiking, going on adventures with her husband and dog, and reading Sci-fi books.
Matt Valiga is graduate student at Miami University in Oxford, OH, studying the relationship between local moths and migratory birds, as well as using theory based practices to help conservation managers prioritize the habitat to save in order to save these beautiful birds. As a high school student, he entered into the zoological world through the Chicago Zoological Society’s King Conservation Science Scholars program. He did a year of work as an Assistant Roving Naturalist Intern with the Society and gained certification from the National Association of Interpretation, and upon entering into college performed duties with the Scholars Program as a Community Programs Assistant. There, he led high schoolers in the King Scholars Program and facilitated outreach events in the surrounding community. Outside of the Society, Matt is an avid birder and aspiring ornithologist. He is particularly passionate about local wildlife and conservation, and has been lucky enough to be involved with numerous community projects that bring the outdoor world to everybody. In addition, he was a naturalist intern with the Kane County Forest Preserve District, with the hopes to entertain and fascinate local communities with the species right outside their doors. Matt hopes to merge conservation study and education. When not working or birdwatching, Matt enjoys listening to the Grateful Dead, watching movies and the Chicago Cubs, and cooking Cajun food with his family.
Elliot Heye is currently a student at Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, double majoring in Zoo and Conservation Science and Biology, with a minor in education. Elliot grew up going to zoos and began volunteering in Cosley Zoo’s education department in high school. He then became a King Conservation Science Scholar at the Brookfield Zoo, where he fell in love with conservation education. When Elliot moved to Ohio for school, he began working at the Columbus Zoo as a member of their marketing department, helping to create meaningful experiences for guests. Elliot is currently an intern of Oaken Acres Wildlife Center, rehabilitating various local wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, deer fawn, and various birds. He also is undertaking research with a professor, studying the human impact on primate physiology and genomes. Elliot is looking to get a career in conservation education, where he hopes to research wildlife and use his research to educate local populations about the world around them. When he’s not working or studying, Elliot enjoys playing with his dog Bumi, skateboarding, and dancing.
"The mission of the Birdy Bunch Podcast is to inspire an inclusive community for conservation by using education to promote fascination."