Rachel has been an amphibian advocate and herp enthusiast for most of her life, and has close to ten years of experience managing education and outreach programs focused on community awareness and engagement for threatened and endangered biodiversity. A Texas, USA native, she has worked with the endangered Houston Toad in multiple capacities for the last five years and launched a unique program while working in the Houston Zoo conservation department called Toad Trackers, a highly interactive program where urban youth conducted population studies of a common toad species. This program was implemented in Texas and in a partnership with Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. Rachel’s diverse work experience has also included field work and research, event management, fundraising, marketing, and program evaluation both in and outside of conservation organizations. She earned her B.A. from the University of Texas Arlington, USA, and is currently a part-time graduate student in the Biodiversity Stewardship Lab at Texas A&M University in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science. Her research focuses on the long term evaluation and assessment of educator training and resource programs for amphibian conservation using her case study with the Houston toad. Rachel is also a co-facilitator for the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group Education and Communications Working Group and will help to coordinate AArk’s efforts in education with our partners.Rachel has a special interest in educator capacity-building and resource creation, community networking, private lands conservation, citizen science, and public participation programs which engage stakeholders with hands-on, direct field experience and stewardship activities, which she believes is essential for people to develop their own stories, connections, and a life-long passion for biodiversity conservation. Rachel also believes it is essential to “bridge” disciplines in the biological and social sciences to find solutions to conservation challenges, and identify where conservation values overlap with values and perspectives for improving human livelihoods. Rachel was a recipient of a certificate of appreciation from the United States Fish and Wildlife Serve in 2009 “for outstanding contributions to the nation’s fish and wildlife resources” and received an award in 2010 from the Black Bear Conservation Coalition “for exemplary efforts in educating the public in Texas about the Louisiana black bear”. Select publications: Rommel, Rachel, (2012). Toad Trackers: Amphibians as a Gateway Species to Biodiversity Stewardship. Herpetological Review. 43 (3) 417-421.
Rommel, Rachel. (2013) Building Educator Capacity for Amphibian Conservation—The Houston Toad Teacher Workshop. Froglog. Issue 5. 21 (1), 44-46