Meet the Team

We are a small but dedicated team that's positively obsessed with all things conservation, ecology, and detection dogs.
We are a small but dedicated team that's positively obsessed with all things conservation, ecology, and detection dogs.

Kayla Fratt (she/her)

Founder, Trainer, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant

Kayla is currently a PhD student and NSF-GRFP Fellow at Oregon State University in Taal Levi's lab. Her research there focuses on island biogeography effects on diet and movement for the sea wolves in southeast Alaska and basic natural history of pumas in El Salvador.

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Rachel Hamre (she/her)

Founder, Trainer, Data Scientist

Rachel is currently pursuing a Master's in Data Science at the University of Montana. Alongside her academic endeavors, she holds the title of Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and has a rich history of involvement in dog training and rescues. Her expertise shines in fostering high-drive dogs, where she dedicates herself to enhancing their manners to increase their adoptability.

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Heather Nootbaar (she/her)

Founder, Trainer, Ecologist

Growing up in the Midwest with a father who in breed show dogs, Heather's early years were a menagerie within her own home. From dogs and rodents to birds, her childhood laid the foundation for her deep love and appreciation for animals. This passion guided her academic pursuits, leading her to study zoology at the Ohio State University. Her hands-on experience during this time, conducting mammal surveys and interning at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, solidified her commitment to wildlife conservation.

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Jenna Acker (she/they)

Podcast Editor and Producer

Jenna is passionate about ethical dog training and handling and is currently mentoring under two Certified Dog Behavior Consultants & Karen Pryor Academy Training Partners in Nova Scotia, Canada. Growing up with a love for all animals, riding horses for 11 years and caring for numerous types of animals, dogs and dog training have now filled the void of what was lost to Jenna’s disability. 

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THE K9 CONSERVATIONISTS

THE K9 CONSERVATIONISTS

Barley

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Breed: Border Collie
Age: 10 years
Nickname: The King
Barley was relinquished to Denver Dumb Friends animal shelter in 2017 due to being incredibly high-energy and obsessed with balls. He and Kayla met within hours of his arrival, and by the end of Kayla's shift he was in her car on the way home. Within weeks, Barley proved himself a standout in nosework classes. He's an incredibly enthusiastic worker who loves doing demonstrations for school groups. Barley is also a professional traveler and has been to 9 countries! He's spent about four years working with Kayla as a conservation dog team, sniffing out targets like zebra mussels, black-footed ferret scat, and ivory. Barley loves nothing more than going on adventures with Kayla and bringing her items to throw. He is normally a very quiet dog, but he absolutely barks with joy when he sees the training bag come out!

Niffler

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Breed: Border Collie
Age: 3 years
Nicknames: Snifficus magnificus, Sniffy, Sniffler

Niffler was purchased from a breeder in 2020 with the goal of following in Barley's pawprints. He surpassed expectations when he started working on wind farms at just 9 months old! His first field season was a smashing success and he has since aided Barley in carnivore scat surveys in Guatemala. Niffler was chosen from the litter due to his incredible drive to sniff and search for hidden food. He's friendly, relatively independent, and determined. His amazing temperament and health are a testament to what purpose-bred dogs are for!

Ellie

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Breed: Australian Shepherd/Border Collie Mix
Age: 4 years
Nicknames: Smellie, Elliebelle

Ellie was adopted from a Wisconsin humane society. While her past may be shrouded in mystery, her intellect and enthusiasm for learning quickly became evident. Ellie's natural search drive hinted at her potential for a career in conservation detection. Her spunky attitude and expressive face makes her not just a diligent teammate but also a joy to work alongside. Her fieldwork experience has primarily been centered around wind farms in the Midwest. Collaborating with Heather, she's played a crucial role in surveying plots for bat and bird fatalities.

Suki

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Breed: Border Collie
Age: 3 years
Nickname: Sukes

Suki was adopted from an animal shelter in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana after not making the cut as a ranch dog. At only 2 years old, she'd already had a litter of puppies! Suki absolutely loves her ball and herding other dogs. She's learning quickly alongside Rachel and is already a wind farm survey pro!

Scottie

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Breed: Border Collie
Age: 2 years
Nickname: Mr. Scott

Scottie was adopted in North Carolina after turning down job offers as an agility competitor and herding dog. Rather than herding sheep or jumping over PVC, Scottie just wanted to SNIFF and FETCH. Within just a few months of being adopted by Heather, Scottie started earning his keep on wind farms and working with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant for coastal carnivore surveys in California. Scottie is incredibly sweet and cuddly and often makes appearances on our Zoom mentorship meetings.

Ollie

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A Service Dog by day, a trusty podcast assistant by night. Ollie has been working as Jenna’s Service Dog for 3 years now and has recently received his Rally Novice and Novice Sprinter titles through CKC. Jenna received Ollie through K9 Partners Assistance Dogs who trained him to be her psychiatric and mobility Service Dog. Inspired by all his podcast editing, Ollie received his SDDA Designated Odor Test certificates for Wintergreen and Pine. As a typical lab, he loves scentwork, rally, sprinter, and just about anything that gets him moving.


    Name: Barley
    Breed: Border collie
    Nickname: The King
    Adopted from: Denver Dumb Friends League

    Barley was relinquished to a shelter in 2017 due to being incredibly high-energy and obsessed with balls. He and Kayla met within hours of his arrival, and by the end of Kayla's shift he was in her car on the way home. Within weeks, Barley proved himself a standout in nosework classes. He's an incredibly enthusiastic worker who loves doing demonstrations for school groups. Barley is also a professional traveler and has been to 9 countries! He's spent about four years working with Kayla as a conservation dog team, sniffing out targets like zebra mussels, black-footed ferret scat, and ivory. Barley loves nothing more than going on adventures with Kayla and bringing her items to throw. He is normally a very quiet dog, but he absolutely barks with joy when he sees the training bag come out!



    Name: Niffler
    Breed: Border collie
    Nicknames: Snifficus Magnificous, Sniffy, Sniffler

    Niffler was purchased from a breeder in 2020 with the goal of following in Barley's pawprints. He surpassed expectations when he started working on wind farms at just 9 months old! His first field season was a smashing success and he has since aided Barley in carnivore scat surveys in Guatemala. Niffler was chosen from the litter due to his incredible drive to sniff and search for hidden food. He's friendly, relatively independent, and determined. His amazing temperament and health are a testament to what purpose-bred dogs are for!




    Name: Ellie
    Breed: Australian shepherd/Border collie
    Nicknames: Smellie, Elliebelle
    Adopted from: Clarke County Humane Society

    While her past may be shrouded in mystery, her intellect and enthusiasm for learning quickly became evident. Ellie's natural search drive hinted at her potential for a career in conservation detection. Her spunky attitude and expressive face makes her not just a diligent teammate but also a joy to work alongside. Her fieldwork experience has primarily been centered around wind farms in the Midwest. Collaborating with Heather, she's played a crucial role in surveying plots for bat and bird fatalities.





    Name: Suki
    Breed: Border collie
    Nickname: Sukes
    Adopted from: Bitter Root Humane Association 

    Suki was adopted from an animal shelter in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana after not making the cut as a ranch dog. At only 2 years old, she'd already had a litter of puppies! Suki absolutely loves her ball and herding other dogs. She's learning quickly alongside Rachel and is already a wind farm survey pro!





    Name: Scottie
    Breed: Border collie
    Nickname: Mr. Scott
    Adopted from: Family home

    Scottie was adopted in North Carolina after turning down job offers as an agility competitor and herding dog. Rather than herding sheep or jumping over PVC, Scottie just wanted to SNIFF and FETCH. Within just a few months of being adopted by Heather, Scottie started earning his keep on wind farms and working with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant for coastal carnivore surveys in California. Scottie is incredibly sweet and cuddly and often makes appearances on our Zoom mentorship meetings.





    Name: Ollie
    Breed: Labrador

    A Service Dog by day, a trusty podcast assistant by night. Ollie has been working as Jenna’s Service Dog for 3 years now and has recently received his Rally Novice and Novice Sprinter titles through CKC. Jenna received Ollie through K9 Partners Assistance Dogs who trained him to be her psychiatric and mobility Service Dog. Inspired by all his podcast editing, Ollie received his SDDA Designated Odor Test certificates for Wintergreen and Pine. As a typical lab, he loves scentwork, rally, sprinter, and just about anything that gets him moving.




    Name: Barley
    Breed: Border collie
    Nickname: The King

    Barley was relinquished to Denver Dumb Friends animal shelter in 2017 due to his high-energy and obsession with balls. He and Kayla met within hours of his arrival, and by the end of Kayla's shift he was in her car on the way home. He's an incredibly enthusiastic worker who loves doing demonstrations for school groups. Barley loves nothing more than going on adventures with Kayla and bringing her items to throw. He is normally a very quiet dog, but he absolutely barks with joy when he sees the training bag come out!



    Name: Niffler
    Breed: Border collie
    Nicknames: Snifficus Magnificous, Sniffy, Sniffler

    Niffler was purchased from a breeder in 2020 with the goal of following in Barley's pawprints. His first field season at a wind farm was a smashing success and he has since aided Barley in carnivore scat surveys in Guatemala. He's friendly, relatively independent, and determined. His amazing temperament and health are a testament to what purpose-bred dogs are for!



    Name: Ellie
    Breed: Australian shepherd/Border collie
    Nicknames: Smellie, Elliebelle

    Ellie was adopted from a Wisconsin humane society. While her past may be shrouded in mystery, her intellect and enthusiasm for learning quickly became evident. Ellie's natural search drive hinted at her potential for a career in conservation detection. Her spunky attitude and expressive face makes her not just a diligent teammate but also a joy to work alongside. Her fieldwork experience has primarily been centered around wind farms in the Midwest.



    Name: Suki
    Breed: Border collie
    Nickname: Sukes

    Suki was adopted from an animal shelter in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana after not making the cut as a ranch dog. At only 2 years old, she'd already had a litter of puppies! Suki absolutely loves her ball and herding other dogs. She's learning quickly alongside Rachel and is already a wind farm survey pro!



    Name: Scottie
    Breed: Border collie
    Nickname: Mr. Scott

    Scottie was adopted in North Carolina after turning down job offers as an agility competitor and herding dog. Rather than herding sheep or jumping over PVC, Scottie just wanted to SNIFF and FETCH. Within just a few months of being adopted by Heather, Scottie started earning his keep on wind farms and working with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant for coastal carnivore surveys in California. Scottie is incredibly sweet and cuddly and often makes appearances on our Zoom mentorship meetings.



    Name: Ollie
    Breed: Labrador retreiver

    A Service Dog by day, a trusty podcast assistant by night. Ollie has been working as Jenna’s Service Dog for 3 years now and has recently received his Rally Novice and Novice Sprinter titles through CKC. Jenna received Ollie through K9 Partners Assistance Dogs who trained him to be her psychiatric and mobility Service Dog. Inspired by all his podcast editing, Ollie received his SDDA Designated Odor Test certificates for Wintergreen and Pine. As a typical lab, he loves scentwork, rally, sprinter, and just about anything that gets him moving.


    Stay Tuned to Meet our Board of Directors!