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!


Executive President – Madison, Milwaukee, and Fox Valley*

Ryan McVeigh

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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 and breeding reptiles for the past 25 years. In 2012, Ryan became the Wisconsin Representative for the United States Association of Reptile Keepers. Ryan graduated with a Masters 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, spreading education about their captive care, and his passion for conservation continue to grow!


Vice President – Madison*

Rebecca Wyman

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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.


Publications Coordinator– Milwaukee*

Jessica Brown


Jessica’s has had a passion for animals of all kinds from a very early age. While getting her degree in Marine Biology, she got her first reptile, Leo the Leopard Gecko, to accompany the various aquatic fish assortment and since then has expanded to include Milk Frogs, Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3, and the Axolotl, Toothless. With a strong passion for conservation and being able to experience animals of all sorts, working with the Herp Society Team to drive education and a passion for animals was a natural fit.


Liason – Fox Valley*

Charles Branstrom

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Charles first got into reptiles in 2004 when he got his first ball python while in tech school. Over the years he has kept everything from ball pythons to geckos to yellow anacondas. In recent years, he has kept a variety of snakes. His current passion is helping to fix local animal laws so everyone can enjoy the love of animals without fear of losing them. Charles is currently a heavy truck mechanic by trade.

Event and Education Coordinator- Milwaukee*

Barry Vandergriff

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Event and Education Coordinator – Madison*

Eric Roscoe

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Eric graduated in December 2010 from UW Stevens Point with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis on herpetology. He has always liked and been interested in all animals in general, but particularly reptiles and amphibians, since the age of 5 or 6. For him, it all started when he caught his first wild garter snake at a petting zoo in northeastern Wisconsin, which kicked off his interest in reptiles. He has also always loved dinosaurs and Jurassic Park as well from an early age. From there, he had always wanted a snake of his own, and for his 6th birthday, finally got one. After that, he began reading any books on them he could find, going to local pet stores, and reptile shows, and of course, enjoyed finding them in the wild whenever he could. The thing he likes most about these animals is just the diversity of different species and always learning more about them. Eric is currently interested in, and has a wide range of knowledge and experience with a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, but is most interested in snakes, particularly the different boas, pythons, and colubrid species. He enjoys hiking, field herping, and spending time in the outdoors in different areas of Wisconsin and anywhere else he can every year, and also serves as an active state ambassador on local, state, and federal ordinances, legislation, and regulatory matters through USARK (United States Association of Reptile Keepers).


Vice President – Milwaukee*

Bill Stewart

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My name is Bill. I am the vice president for the Milwaukee chapter, and have been an active member of MAHS for several years now. I am the assistant lab tech at Zilla as well, and privately breed geckos and work with several species of skink and smaller lizards. I have been keeping reptiles since the 1990s, and bought my first snake at age 14. I began doing local reptile education shows for school in 1997 with my small zoo. I enjoy being a part of this community and continuing reptile education with these fascinating creatures we all enjoy and appreciate.


Secretary – Madison*

Nyann Plummer

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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.


Secretary – Milwaukee*

Mariano Escobedo

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Hello, my name is Mariano Escobedo and I’m the secretary for the Milwaukee Herpetological Society. My passion for reptiles started in a very funny way. As a young child, my mom used to scare me with stories of a boogie man who would take me if I misbehaved, and “had lots of snakes” in his house. The story backfired since I started questioning what was so scary about snakes. This made me become fascinated with them. I asked a lot of questions and read a lot. By the age of 5, I was catching little lizards in my native San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I joined MAHS not just for the reptiles, but in order to find people who shared my interest and passion for reptiles, since I was always the oddball in my social circles. My main interests in herpetology are large varanids, as well as boids. Professionally, I hold a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and worked in the diagnostics, biotech and pharmaceutical industries for over 10 years. Eventually, I went back to school and became a certified teacher. I presently teach 8th Grade Dual Language, with a passion for STEM. I share my passion for science and particularly for herpetology with both my students and my children, Mariano and Esmeralda. My goal is to gain enough experience to one day work in the herpetology industry.


Young Explorers Coordinator – Madison and Treasurer*

Erica Mede

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Erica is the Head Certified Veterinary Technician at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital, Founder and President of Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue, and volunteers with the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians. She loves World of Warcraft (For the Horde!) and Dungeons & Dragons. She uses what she learns in these games in her daily life, from herding geckos (managing her family) to running the reptile rescue to organizing the KHS. She has spent her life dedicated to the health and medicine of exotic animals, educating the public about these amazing creatures, and promoting conservation whenever possible.


Publications Coordinator – Madison*

Gwen Schwanke

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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.


Member at Large – Madison*

Richie Braatz

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.


Member at Large – Milwaukee*

Shane Smith

Shane's love of Reptiles started at the young age of 5 in Florida and it only grew from there. After many years of keeping various pythons, boas, lizards he enlisted into Active Duty Coast Guard but still kept throughout the years. While stationed in Florida Shane obtained his Venomous Reptile permit for the state of Florida and currently keeps a collection of Venomous Snakes and Lizards. Shane recently left Active Duty Coast Guard and moved to Wisconsin and is now a Coast Guard reservist and full time student pursing a degree in Conservation and Environmental Science.


* Board Member Positions