In order to keep the Madison Area Herpetological Society running smoothly, there has to be people leading it. This is what our Board Members do. Each one runs a particular part of our organization in order to keep us moving in the right direction. These individuals are dedicated to educating the public and we appreciate all of the time they put in to help our cause. Below is contact info for each member, and a short bio. If you are interested in any position, elections are held at the last meeting of the year. If you’d just like to help out, feel free to contact a board member and find out how you can get involved!
Ryan founded the Madison Area Herpetological Society in 2010. He wanted to share his love of reptiles with all around him and help educate people on their proper care. Before then, Ryan had done school shows and worked in a pet store educating young kids about the wonders of the reptile world and how to keep them properly. His love of reptiles started when he was only 4 years old as he was always chasing and catching frogs, salamanders, and garter snakes. Ryan has been keeping reptiles since he was 7 years old and has been actively breeding them in captivity for the past 8 years. Ryan graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and worked until 2015 as a Project Engineer. Starting in 2015, Ryan became the Brand Manager for the Zilla line of reptile products. As time goes on his love for these animals, developing products to better suit the keepers and their pets, and spreading education continues to grow!
Vice President *
Gwen graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She has always had an interest in animals from a very young age. Reptiles in particular have always been fascinating to her, starting with box turtles she had as a child. In college, her interest was renewed in reptiles while working for the UW Stevens Point Lower Vertebrate Lab. While there she brought a young western hognose into her life and began her collection which includes many burrowing snakes and several education animals. A former zookeeper, Gwen now works for UW Madison as an associate research specialist.
Event and Education Coordinator*
Eric graduated in December 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis on herpetology. He has always been interested in all animals, but particularly reptiles and amphibians, since the age of 5. For him, it all started when he found his first garter snake at a petting zoo in Wisconsin, which kicked off his interest in reptiles. From there, he had always wanted a snake of his own, and for his 6th birthday, finally got one. After that, he began frequenting reptile sections of bookstores, local pet stores, and reptile shows. One thing simply lead to another for him. Although he has many reptiles and amphibians that he likes, his greatest interest and passion first and foremost are for big snakes (such as Burmese pythons and Reticulated pythons), as well as many medium sized species such as carpet and blood pythons, boas, and much more.
Rebecca first got into reptiles while she was in college, she wasn’t allowed to have pets so she started looking for one she thought she could convince her landlord to let her have. She wasn’t able to convince her landlord to let her have a reptile while in college, but in October of 2010 she got her first ball python. Her reptile collection has since snowballed and she now has over 30 snakes and close to 20 geckos. She currently breeds ball pythons and crested geckos, but in the future will be adding fat tail geckos and boas to that list. Outside of reptiles, she works full time as a computer programmer.
Nyann’s passion for reptiles started at a very young age. While camping, her and her cousin would bring butterfly nets and catch turtles, frogs, and tadpoles, catching as many animals as they could, keeping them for a night to interact with them, and then releasing them in the morning. She got her first reptile when she was 6. Her mother let her and her sister get two schneider skinks for her birthday. She named hers Lucy. She now has 2 blue tongue skinks, an African red-sided skink, a giant new Caledonian gecko, a ball python, a hog island boa, and a sailfin dragon. She can’t wait to have more space to grow her reptile family and eventually breed a few species of skinks and leachies! She currently works as a teller at Chase Bank and is going to school to become a dental hygienist.
Member at Large*
Richie’s love for reptiles started at a very young age. So young that he doesn’t truly remember what sparked his passion for these animals. It’s just always been something that has been apart of who he is. When he was a kid you could find him waist deep in the local lake catching turtles and bringing home snakes and hiding them in his room. Richie currently works as a tattoo artist which helps to fund his projects working with reticulated and burmese pythons. He is also currently working on his dream of learning how to properly and safely work with venomous animals.
Ryan McVeigh and Gwen Schwanke
* Board Member Positions