David Sumpter

Executive Director
M.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Biology

Dave co-founded Wildlands Conservation, Inc. in 2003. In addition to managing the organization’s daily operations and staff, he is a wildlife biologist that specializes in land management, habitat restoration, and applied wildlife research designed to gauge the success of restoration/management strategies. He has personally authored and implemented land management plans for counties, private landowners, and the State of Florida. He was previously the land management coordinator responsible for managing all of Pinellas County’s preserves.

Dave is a wildlife biologist that has professionally specialized in land management and applied wildlife research related to land management for most of the past three decades. He co-founded PEER (Preserving the Environment through Ecological Research), Inc. with a friend back in 2003. PEER later switched its name to Wildlands Conservation, Inc. He is primarily interested in landscape-level conservation, resource management, wildlife/habitat correlations, and wildlife response to various management and restoration strategies. Prior to his specializing in these areas, Dave was the land management coordinator for Pinellas County’s preserves, including Brooker Creek Preserve, Weedon Island, Shell Key, and Mobbly Bay. Before that, he was the lead wildlife biologist with an international engineering firm; his charge was to address all listed species issues in the southeastern United States. Throughout his career, he has worked as a wildlife biologist in projects throughout the United States, including in the states of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, and New Mexico.

He has conducted hundreds of general and species-specific wildlife surveys using techniques ranging from mark and recapture (amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals) to the use of radiotelemetry (gopher tortoise and black bear).

He is a recognized expert in both bird and herpetofauna identification and habitat correlations and has been called upon several times as an expert witness by County and regional regulatory authorities. In addition to professional collaborations with local Universities and local governments, Mr. Sumpter has also been very active within the community. Dave has:

  •  Contracted with USFWS to map wetlands for the National Wetland Inventory in 17 states, with an emphasis in the eastern United States.
  • Chair and vice-chair of the Hillsborough River Greenways Task Force (in Florida), one of seven Ecosystem Management Initiatives recognized by the state.
  • Chair of the Mayor of Tampa’s Environmental Advisory Committee – during his tenure the mayor and city council agreed to adopt an Upland Habitat Protection Ordinance, which Dave eventually co-authored.
  • Conservation Chair for Tampa Audubon – 17-year tenure. Mr. Sumpter continues to serve in this capacity.
  • Served on Technical Advisory Committee for Charlotte Harbor National Estuarine Program
  • Served as Biologist on Pasco County RESTORE Committee (committee that determines the allocation of Exxon Oil Spill recovery funding).
  • Served as Wildlife Biologist overseeing the development of several linear infrastructure projects in eastern Virginia.
  •  Past Board Member for the Lemon Bay Conservancy (south Florida).
  • Founding member (and periodic chair) of west Central Florida’s Frog Listening Network.

Email Dave at dsumpter@wildlandsconservation.org

 

Neal Halstead

Senior Ecologist
M.S., Ph.D. Integrative Biology

Neal is a quantitative ecologist with over 18 years of conservation experience in Florida. At Wildlands, Neal is the Director of Research, Internship Coordinator, and Lead Instructor for our Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent Training. His academic areas of expertise are in experimental design and statistical analysis, with a focus on the interaction between habitat management, community ecology, and listed species conservation. He has coordinated large research projects on herpetofaunal communities in central Florida, and participated in numerous wildlife surveys for threatened species in the state. Neal’s Master’s research focused on the long-term use of prescribed fire as an effective management tool for herpetofauna. His dissertation work developed a conceptual framework for predicting the combined effects of multiple stressors on aquatic communities and disease dynamics. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

Email Neal at nhalstead@wildlandsconservation.org

 

Eric Sievers

Senior Ecologist
M.S. Biology

Eric is an ecologist with expertise in wildlife ecology, reintroduction biology, herpetology, listed species permitting, conservation biology, and geographic information systems (GIS). Previously a Gopher Tortoise Conservation Biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Eric managed all gopher tortoise issues within 12 southwest Florida counties. As a survey crew leader for the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, he led gopher tortoise population surveys on state conservation lands in Florida using Line Transect Distance Sampling. Originally from the Midwest, he has also worked for both the Iowa and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources and served as an AmeriCorps member. Eric holds a B.A. in Biology from Luther College in Iowa, and has a Graduate Certificate in GIS and a M.S. in Biology, both from Missouri State University. His graduate research focused on the reintroduction efforts of the state-threatened ornate box turtle to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge in Illinois. Eric is currently on the Executive Committee of the Gopher Tortoise Council.

Email Eric at esievers@wildlandsconservation.org

 

Tara Rambo

Ecologist
B.S. Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Tara is an ecologist at Wildlands Conservation. She graduated with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. She has worked as an IFAS Florida Bonneted Bat monitoring field technician in various preserves in southwest Florida—investigating the effect prescribed fire has on Bonneted Bat activity levels. Tara also has experience as an Ecosystem Management Technician through the Student Conservation Association AmeriCorps program at Ocala National Forest. In Ocala, Tara worked to survey and monitor listed species, control non-native invasive plants species, perform trail maintenance, and coordinate environmental outreach events. Tara plans to continue her education and earn a Master’s in Restoration Ecology.

Email Tara at trambo@wildlandsconservation.org

 

Benjamin Tuttle

Land Manager
B.S. Biology

Benjamin works as a Land Manager for Wildlands Conservation. He was raised in Minnesota, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from St Cloud State University. As both a NWCG Firefighter type 1 and a Faller 2 Sawyer, his previous position as a Natural Resource Technician with The Longleaf Alliance involved extensive training and experience working with fire (as a team member as well as an instructor), with prescribed burns being the majority. Additionally, his last position focused on rare species recovery, largely concerning red-cockaded woodpeckers, with time also spent working with gopher tortoises as well as reticulated flatwoods salamanders. Prior to that, Benjamin worked for the Ocala National Forest as an Ecosystem Management Technician via the Student Conservation Association (AmeriCorps). In Ocala, the bulk of his time focused on the control and treatment of exotic invasive plant species, as well as spent time assisting with the rare species, environmental outreach, and prescribed fire programs. Before finishing his degree in 2016, he worked as a Wind Turbine Technician for over 10 years focusing on new turbine installations and service maintenance across the United States. In his free time, Benjamin enjoys a diverse scope of activities involving fitness, and tries to spend time as much time outdoors as he can with his dog Yoey.

Email Benjamin at btuttle@wildlandsconservation.org

 

Victoria Franks

Environmental Technician

Victoria is an environmental technician at Wildlands Conservation. She has experience working as a research technician on our Skink Research Project and completed an internship at Wildlands. Victoria has an Associate’s Degree from Hillsborough Community College and will be graduating soon with a B.S. in Conservation Biology from USF; she will also be completing a GIS certificate post-graduation.

 

Carla Vizcaino

Office Manager

Carla is the Office Manager here at Wildlands Conservation. After obtaining her A.A. in Education from Broward College, she moved to Tampa from South FL. For five years she was Community Manager at a multinational provider of serviced offices, where she focused on customer service, retention, billing, IT needs, and move in/out coordination. When she is not providing support at Wildlands, she is spending quality time with her husband and two kiddos.

 

Kevin Love

Land Manager

A wildland manager in Florida since 1976, Kevin is accomplished in all aspects of ecological management including management planning, prescribed fire, exotics control, natural systems restoration, wildlife and habitat management, timber management, public recreation management and facilities maintenance. Kevin is a certified prescribed burn manager with over 100,000 acres of prescribed burns completed. He understands how management history affects on-site conditions and uses strategic management planning and implementation to achieve quality ecological results.

Skink
Southeastern Kestrel