Did you know?

Nearly 3 billion birds have been lost in North America since 1970. Roughly 25% of those were grassland birds.

Staff Directory

Catherine Wightman - NGPJV Coordinator

Catherine Wightman_2.JPGCatherine joined the NGPJV as Coordinator in December 2020 after serving on the Management Board for 4 years. She is passionate about the conservation of native systems for birds and for people; one of her top priorities for the NGPJV is to amplify the role of ranchers and working lands agriculture in bird conservation. She brings experience with habitat and avian conservation programs and policy from her prior work with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, where she developed the state’s Working Grasslands Initiative and led the agency’s involvement in sage-grouse conservation. Catherine has also worked as a research biologist for state and federal agencies investigating wildlife responses to habitat restoration and management, habitat selection and migration patterns, and wildlife population dynamics. She holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology with an Interdisciplinary Study in Conservation Biology from Colorado State University and an M.S. in Raptor Biology from Boise State University. Catherine lives in Clancy Montana with her husband and daughter, and can often be found hiking, skiing, camping, trying to improve her birding skills, or anything else that takes her outside.



Steve Riley, CWB - NGPJV Assistant Coordinator

 Steve Riley.JPGSteve received both his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and M.S. in Plant Ecology from South Dakota State University.  He has over 30 years of experience working with private lands habitat and access programs and related policies. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and an alumnus of the National Conservation Leadership Institute. Steve formerly worked for the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture as a Conservation Delivery Specialist in a partnership position with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Steve also served as a Regional Director for Pheasants Forever, Assistant Wildlife Chief for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Senior Wildlife Biologist for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He currently serves on the board of the North American Grouse Partnership and previously served on the boards of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture and the Upper Mississippi / Great Lakes Joint Venture. Steve is married to Elaine Riley and they have three adult children and two grandsons. Steve can often be found in nature enjoying fishing, hunting, birding, hiking, boating and other things. 



Beth Beckers - NGPJV Outreach and Operations Specialist

Beth Beckers is the Outreach and Operations Specialist for the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture. Beth has her Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education from North Dakota State University and her Master’s in Teaching and Technology from Valley City State University. She has over 10 years of teaching experience in the middle school, high school, and college levels. She has firsthand experience with the power and challenges of using technology to communicate. She grew up in rural North Dakota and has a strong connection to agriculture and conservation in the Northern Great Plains.  She is an active member of her community, a talented quilter, and has an enthusiastic, creative, can-do attitude. Beth enjoys spending her extra time with her husband and two children. Her family enjoys playing hockey in the winter and fishing for walleyes in the summer.  



Krista Erdman - Science Integration Specialist

Krista is located in her hometown of Rapid City and will be working from home. Krista received a BA in Biology from Augustana University in Sioux Falls and a Master of Environmental Management (MEM), a Master of Forestry (MF), and a certificate in Geospatial Analysis from Duke University. Her Master's project produced a bi-community biological corridor in Oaxaca, Mexico. The project involved camera trapping, stakeholder collaboration, geospatial analysis, and the creation of a high-resolution land cover map that differentiated unique forest types using satellite imagery and remote sensing software. For the last year and a half, Krista has been working with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a Service Forester in the area. She also has experience working with SDGFP, TNC, and NPS in the Black Hills. In her new position, Krista is excited to continue collaborating with conservation partners across South Dakota. Krista can be found hiking, camping, or knitting a blanket in her free time.



Lucinda Morris - PPJV Communications Specialist

Lucinda Morris.jpgLucinda is the Communications Specialist for the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture and works part-time with the NGPJV to provide communications support. She holds an M.S. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her B.S. in Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lucinda served two terms in AmeriCorps in rural southwest Montana, an experience that clearly demonstrated the value of strong partnerships and community-based conservation, and is excited to continue her work with collaborative conservation in the Joint Venture network. Outside of her professional life, Lucinda enjoys getting outside and taking advantage of the many ways to recreate in Montana’s beautiful landscape. As a lifelong violinist, she’s always on the search for new musical opportunities and is humbled to have played with the Bozeman, Helena, and Great Falls Symphony Orchestras as well as the Montana Ballet Company.