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.
Jon Sicinski is currently studying Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) with minors in Captive Wildlife Management and Biology. For many years, Jon worked within the interior of environmental education and interpretation for the Chicago Zoological Society at Brookfield Zoo. In this time, he served as a King Conservation Science Scholar in high school and later became a Community Programs Assistant. As a Community Programs Assistant, Jon maintained interpretive practices and helped establish creative learning experiences for volunteers and guests alike. On the UWSP campus, Jon served as a leader of an undergraduate research project on bats for four years as a part of UWSP’s chapter of The Wildlife Society. The project focuses on conducting passive-acoustic work to study communities of bats in Central Wisconsin and how factors such as White-nose Syndrome affect bat populations. Jon’s latest pursuits led him to intern at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. There, he became involved with the welfare and husbandry of large carnivores and other species. Jon seeks to grow in his efforts within the captive wildlife profession. He hopes to continue using his interpretive background to educate others and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and threatened species. When he’s not working, Jon enjoys adventurous hikes, wildlife photography, doing impressions, and spending time with friends and family.
Matt Valiga is a recent graduate from Miami University, double majoring in zoology and environmental science. 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 is currently performing moth surveys with a professor in Ohio to study food sources for neotropical migratory birds during spring migration. In addition, he is also 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 by working for a group like the National Audubon Society. 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."