Past Volunteer Profiles

Teams from 2009

2009 Team 1

Name: Bobby Hutson
Age: 65
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Retired
About: Bobby’s expertise made him a priceless member of a construction team that didn’t know the first thing about carpentry. His many years of working with whatever is on hand, coupled with his wide international experience and creativity, made him truly indispensable. His legacy of repairing the walkway in the volunteer house will be forever remembered and appreciated!


Name: Wilma Hutson
Age: 65
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Retired
About: The general consensus amongst Team 1 was that when we retire, we’d want to be like Wilma. The smallest member of the team had the biggest heart, the freshest ideas, and the readiest hug. She never ceased to amaze us, be it by her skill with a hammer or her wild traveling stories. Wilma never flagged in her cheer or her enthusiasm, and quite a few eyes were wet when her and Bobby left the team to catch and early plane.


Name: John Keeble
Age: 65
Home Country: England
Occupation: Writer and website designer
About: Every group has a hidden jem and John was ours. This soft-spoken British expat has traveled half the world and knew enough about the other half. Our token Brit had the dry wit typical of his home country, but also a taste for the exotic which kept the team supplied with an assortment of exciting foods. Perhaps most amazing about John was his ability to find his way and explain his needs in Pangkalan Bun without knowing Indonesian, a town where English is limited to “Hey, Mister!”. His willingness to take on the whole team for evenings out was eternally appreciated by the city-wary Janie.


Name: Sheri Bylander
Age: 47
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Film Editor
About: Sherri’s career in various modes of media gave her the gift of seeing Kalimantan, its beauty and environmental tragedy, through a special lens. Though she spoke eloquently, her strongest statements came from her poignant photographs. A resident of New York City, Sherri impressed us all with her grit and hardiness.


Name: Evan McDonough
Age: 46
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Travel Agent
About: Evan was the definition of laid back. When the rest of the team was running around in varying degrees of panic (due to some exciting circumstances) Evan’s quiet voice and mild smile had a calming influence. A beginner to developing nation travel, Evan remained remarkably unfazed by the constant surprises, twists, and changes of plans. His willingness to get down and dirty in the worksite made him much respected by the team.


Name: Deanna McLain
Age:48
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Nurse/therapist
About: Deanna’s love of animals shone like a halo around her. From the first time she glimpsed an orangutan, she was enchanted and would talk of almost nothing else. She was infinitely interested in their ecology, behavior and stories. But her compassion extended beyond just orangutans and encompassed all suffering and captive animals, as well as any people who needed some tender loving care. She endured the trials of her tropical flu with admirable serenity, and rejoined the workforce as soon as humanly possible.


Name: Donna Leder
Age: 48
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Journalist, mother
About: A returning visitor to Kalimantan, Donna gave sparkle to the team the way she must give life to a party back home. Her ready humor and charisma made her indispensable for smoothing the daily tensions of close group living, and more than one member of the team found their way to her shoulder for genuine sympathy and wise advice. Apart from the orangutans, Donna fell in love with the local culture and way of living, and the people reciprocated by opening their hearts and homes to Donna.


Name: Mark Canner
Age: 30
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Student
About: Mark’s time in the military left an imprint on him. This wise-cracking, know-it-all character said things the way they are, but always softened the blow with a joke. His technical advice and strategic thinking in the bridge-building came in very handy, and his knack for picking up Indonesian words (and knack for picking the handiest words to learn) were an asset. Special kudos to Mark for being a devoted husband and caretaker to Amanda.


Name: Amanda Canner
Age: 30
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Student
About: Amanda came to Kalimantan to see the orangutans she so enjoyed studying in university. Instead, she got the wildest adventure of her life (so far). Unbothered, she went through her 3 weeks in Kalimantan with her wide smile almost permanently in place, reminding everybody to keep smiling also. Turning heads as she carried heavy planks on her tiny frame, Amanda made a strong impression on the local assistants. Good luck with your studies!


Name: Zachary Brechiesen
Age: 20
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Student
About: Zachary was the superhero of our team, working harder, stronger, longer than anybody else. No doubt, his diverse athletic hobbies helped him out, but his enormous determination to help the orangutans as much as he could in three weeks also played a part. A passionate conservationist in training, Zach had a particular softness for primates which he’s already experienced in South America, and was happy to add to his list with the orangutans, Proboscis Monkeys and Macaques of Kalimantan.


Name: Ben Safford
Age: 18
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Student
About: The first thing that amazed people about Ben was his age. This well-read and mature, and bearded, young man could easily keep his own in a group of 40-year-olds, and often did. He was equally ready to discuss orangutans and philosophy, and then jump to a demonstration of Poi (a complex object manipulation art). Ben was a keen observer of local culture and customs, and came away not only with a wealth of new knowledge, but also a love for rambutan fruit.


Name: Julius Galdikas
Age: 18
Home Country: Lithuania
Occupation: Student
About: With the last name “Galdikas”, it seemed fated that Julius would at some point make his way to OFI’s programs. Our strong, silent Lithuanian spoke infrequently, but when he did his well thought-out suggestions, both for the worksite and for domestic life, were gladly welcomed. Needless to say, the rest of the group abundantly interviewed Julius on his home country, birthplace of Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas.


Team 2 – Team Pocari Sweat

Name: Eileen Kiesling
Age: 63
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Retired teacher & travel agent
About: Even more than for her Indonesian, which she recently picked up while living 2 years in Jakarta, Eileen was precious to the group for her infectious smile, quick humour and worldly experience. Having lived abroad for over 30 years, she has been involved in captive primate care in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and provided a wealth of interesting information about everyday life and travel in Asia.


Name: Mr. Chris
Age: 47
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Exhibit creator
About: Dubbed Mr. Chris by the locals, this gentle read-headed giant could not be called anything else. Brought to Kalimantan by his love for and fascinating with his “Red-headed cousins”, Mr. Chris also brought with him the vision and the skills that were very helpful in the construction project. Quickly recognized by the carpenters as the only truly experienced team member, Mr. Chris was admitted to their worksite conferences and even became involved in improving and supplying tools. In the evenings, his carrying voice could be heard from far away, describing his many and diverse adventures of traveling in Brazil for two decades.


Name: Shawn Robb
Age: 39
Home Country: Canada
Occupation: IT programmer
About: Combining the friendliness of Canadians with the good cheer of Australians (his most recent residence), Shawn was a delight to be around. Making no great show of his hard work, he was nonetheless a crucial part of the project’s success. His extensive involvement in animal welfare and rights projects, as well as his diverse career background, added a valuable angle to the evening discussions so favoured by this group.


Name: Beth Rougier
Age: 37
Home Country: England
Occupation: Dietitian
About: Athletic and health-conscious, Beth was our go-to girl for anybody’s nutritional wonderings or concerns. In the midst of an international move, Beth and Shawn were at a fascinating point in their life journeys, and their insights and reflections on Life, the Universe and Everything were fresh and always welcome.


Name: Claudia Galvan
Age: 35
Home Country: Mexico
Occupation: Dancer
About: Our resident muse, Claudia spoke with her grace and elegance more eloquently than most of us can speak with words. Whether hauling wood or washing laundry, she carried the beauty of her profession everywhere, and delighted us with her Spanish accent. Currently a resident of Japan, she had an interest in the conservation of the Asian apes, and on her tour of the Care Centre, hers was the most expressively delighted face in the group.


Name: Kotrina Kotrajokite
Home Country: Lithuania
Occupation:Student
About: Kotrina’s passion for studying and conserving primates first asserted itself when she quit law school and entered the field of primatology. That passion also propelled her through many gruelling days of bridge-building, as well generated a stream of research results about all aspects of primate biology, eagerly soaked up by the rest of the group.


Name: Leana Edwards
Age: 21
Home Country: USA
Occupation: Student
About: Our youngest team member was a free spirit with a particular fondness for coconuts and machetes. Leanna was, in her words “a city girl” on her way to becoming a tree-hugger. The LA/Hawaii/Vancouver resident took pleasure in the simple tasks of camp, and threw herself whole-heartedly into the most difficult tasks on the worksite. Put the lime in the coconut…


Name: Roy Smith
Age: 32
Home Country: Israel
Occupation: Filmmaker
About: Roy’s huge grin was the first thing that came off the plane of the group, and the last thing that got on. The orange-clad Roy, happily wading in the swamp up to his hips, hammering in wooden piles, resembled one of the animals he was helping conserve. His international upbringing was reflected in the diverse array of his filmmaking projects, and his eclectic tastes in music, conversation and even clothing kept everyone on their toes. One thing is certain, though; Roy’s heart is in the right place.


© 2015 Orangutan Foundation International. All rights reserved.