Jonathan Gilmour Scholarship Fund award recipients announced

Boston – Ten staff members from Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Mass., and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Mass., have been selected as the 2017 award recipients of the Jonathan Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund. This year’s scholarships will benefit projects ranging from traveling to India and Africa, to training with zookeepers from across the globe, to supporting conservation efforts right here in New England.

On May 13, the 10th annual Gilmour Memorial Walk and Ride took place in Hollis to raise money for the Jonathon Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund, which awards annual grants to support the ongoing education and professional development of individual staff members at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Mass. and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Mass. The walk and ride honors the memory of Hollis native Jonathan Gilmour, a former zookeeper at Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo, who passed away at the age of 29 in 2006.

2017 award recipients were recognized on June 30 and include:

Senior Zookeeper John Berkholtz, a Woburn resident, was awarded a scholarship to purchase tracking equipment to support the Blanding’s Turtle Monitoring Project at Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Concord, Mass. This equipment could also benefit two new project sites, Borderland State Park in Sharon Mass. and Fowl Meadows in Milton, Canton and Dedham. Berkholtz has been a zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo for the past 23 years and also works for Grassroots Wildlife Conservation on their Blanding’s Turtle Monitoring Project as well as other amphibious projects. For the past 10 years, he has monitored and head-started Blanding’s turtles.

Christine Rutledge, a zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo, will travel to Nashville, Tenn., to attend the Coraciiformes Husbandry Workshop, which covers topics of breeding programs, trainings, enrichment and conservation efforts that are currently being done for specific bird species, including her favorite, the hornbills. Rutledge, a 2007 graduate of Weston High School in Weston, Mass., currently resides in Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Britni Steingard, of Randolph, Mass., will attend the 44th American Association of Zoo Keepers Conference in Washington D.C. in August, where she will gain knowledge and then apply this to growing and strengthening the Zoo New England Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Steingard, a zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo, serves as the Chapter Liaison for the Zoo New England chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Steingard grew up in Milton, Mass. and is a 2005 graduate of Milton High School.

Courtney Anna Hamm of Upton, Mass. recently traveled to Namibia, Africa to attend an Earth Exhibitions course, where she is learning about ongoing research and conservation on a global and local scale. The course is focused on in-field research and the conservation of big cats. Hamm, a zookeeper at Stone Zoo, is pursuing this project as part of her master’s program through Miami University of Ohio’s Project Dragonfly.

Senior Zookeeper Kelly Miklavic of Roslindale, Mass. attended the Animal Behavior Management Alliance annual conference held in April in Cincinnati, Ohio. Throughout the five-day workshop, Miklavic, who works at Franklin Park Zoo, learned from animal care professionals from across the globe on advances and best practices in training and management as it relates both directly and indirectly to conservation efforts.

Sara Jablonski of Jamaica Plain, Mass. is currently in South Africa working with a professor and researcher from Boston University to study the obesity, growth patterns and genomes of vervet monkeys for the Behavior and Growth Pattern Research Project. The scholarship is supporting Jablonski’s participation in this project. Jablonski, a zookeeper in Franklin Park Zoo’s Tropical Forest section, is pursuing this research in preparation for applying to graduate/Ph.D. programs in primatology.

Lanandra Russell of Dorchester, Mass., will use her scholarship to participate in the Fundraising Basics Course offered by the Massachusetts Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Originally from Reno, Nev., Russell has worked for Zoo New England for four years and accepted the role as the development assistant this past March.

For a full list of award recipients, visit