Tracking Pixel

Jefferson Community College Website

Faculty & Contacts

Faculty are members of the Lab Sciences Department

SUNY Jefferson Community College

1220 Coffeen Street

Watertown, NY 13601




If you have questions about zookeeping and the Zoo Technology program, please contact program director, Dr. Mark Irwin at

For application and admissions information please contact our Admissions Office, 315-786-2277


Faculty Biographies

Mark D. Irwin, D.V.M.

Dr. Irwin grew up on a dairy farm near Uxbridge, ON, Canada and has a long-term interest in zoo animal care and management. His zoo career began with an animal care student position at The Toronto Zoo. He completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, ON and has traveled within North America and to Africa and Asia in pursuit of his passion for wildlife and zoo animal management.  He is an alumnus of the University of Illinois and UC Davis' Envirovet Summer Institute (2007) and has worked on farms, in several private and AZA accredited zoos, and in private pet/exotic/zoo animal veterinary practice.  He has served as associate veterinarian at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park and later as its Director of Collections and Conservation to successfully lead the animal department through AZA accreditation.  Mark currently serves as Zoo Technology Program Director and teaches the zoo animal management clinicals and related science courses at JCC.  He maintains active membership in AZA, AAZK, AAZV, and the Jefferson County Veterinary Medical Society.  In 2012, he received the Outstanding Club Faculty Advisor award for advising the Zoo/Exotic/Wildlife club and the State University of New York's Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activities.  He is also lead volume editor of the new textbook Zookeeping: An Introduction to the Science and Technology (2013, University of Chicago Press). 

JCC Office 2-020 (back of lab)
(315) 786-2342 or

Monica Grant LeClerc, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. 

Dr. LeClerc grew up in Connecticut where she developed an early interest in observing birds.  She attended the University of Connecticut, earning a B.S. in Natural Resources Conservation.  She earned an M.S. in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Brigham Young University in Utah.  Monica's research was in the area of avian ecology.  She lives on a small farm where her family breeds sheep and dairy goats.  Her employment experience includes field research, farm work, environmental education, and teaching.  She currently teaches biology and vertebrate biology (mammals and birds) at Jefferson Community College. Monica is a member of the North Country Bird Club and participates in periodic surveys of breeding bird populations in the area.

JCC Office 2-116A
(315) 786-2343

Todd C. Vincent, B.A., Ph.D.

Dr. Vincent is from Randolph, New York and enjoyed a rural upbringing that fostered a love of nature from an early age.  After graduating from Randolph Central School he attended Hiram College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.  Upon graduation he received an invitation to enter the Doctoral Program of the Department of Zoology at the University of Tennessee, where he began conducting research on the behavioral ecology of the green anole, Anolis carolinensis.  Ultimately he earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with research emphases on lizard community ecology, invasive species ecology, and lizard reproductive physiology.  His main hobbies are gardening, home improvement, and keeping up with his two boys.  Todd currently teaches some zoo technology courses, general biology, and vertebrate biology at JCC.

JCC Office 2-113A
(315­) 786-2517

Bonita Diane Chepko-Sade, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Chepko-Sade grew up in rural western Maryland where she enjoyed hiking the countryside and studying natural history.  She attended Duke University in North Carolina, where she earned a B.S. in Zoology, and studied play behavior in goats.  She observed lemurs at the Duke Primate center as a research assistant, and then studied free-ranging rhesus monkeys on the island of Cayo Santiago, off the coast of Puerto Rico for two years.  She earned an M.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University in Illinois.  Her research was on the social structure of primate groups, particularly when larger groups divide into smaller ones.  She published a book entitled Mammalian Dispersal Patterns, exploring the effects of social structure on the genetics of populations.  She has taught behavioral biology, field mammalogy, computer applications and primate conservation at the University of Puerto Rico, ESF and SUNY Oswego. She directed SUNY Oswego’s Zoo Biology program for 12 years, sponsoring student internships and research projects in Zoos all over North America.  She currently teaches zoo technology courses at Jefferson Community College.

David M. Plante, D.V.M.

Dr. David Plante received his DVM degree from Cornell University in 1985.  Following graduation he worked in Syracuse, NY at a private practice and at an emergency clinic.  In 1987, he returned to Watertown to build the North Country Veterinary Clinic.  In 2002, he built the North Country Animal Health Center (NCAHC) which currently employs 8 veterinarians, and 27 support staff.  Dr. Plante and his staff provide care to small animals, birds, exotic pets and wildlife.  He has been involved in several statewide wildlife and conservation issues and founded the Fragile Wilderness Symposium, NYS’s largest indoor wildlife and conservation exposition.  Dr. Plante has been intimately involved in the renovation, revitalization of the Thompson Park Zoo.  He was a founding member of the Thompson Park Conservancy and has served 4 terms as Chairman.  Dr. Plante is the primary veterinarian at the Thompson Park Zoo.  He lives in Watertown with his wife and business partner, Dr. Teresa Dewey and their 2 daughters, Sarah and Emily. He enjoys whitewater canoeing and wilderness expeditions.  Dr. Plante has led several whitewater canoe expeditions over the past decade across the Canadian Arctic.  He and the staff of NCAHC teach many of the veterinary science classes.

Kelly Rusho-Boyer A.A.S., B.S.

Ms. Rusho grew up in Clayton, NY along the banks of the St. Lawrence River.  There she developed an early interest in the wildlife of the area, as well as a passion for domestic animals while helping to care for cattle, horses, and llamas at home.  Kelly earned a B.S. in Zoology from SUNY Oswego and completed an internship at Thompson Park Zoo, Watertown.  This was followed by two years in Gainesville, FL earning an Associates in Applied Science degree in Zoo Technology.  Since 2003, she has been an Adjunct Lecturer at JCC, assisting Dr. Irwin with Animal Management Clinical.  In summer of 2007 she married her long-time fiancé and former classmate from Santa Fe, Brian Boyer, and in 2009, their daughter Lindsey was born.  Kelly and Brian enjoy sharing their passion for animals with the next generation as they keep track of the wildlife of shoreline, woods and field on Grindstone Island, and pursue hobbies of boating, hiking and gardening.

Deltra Willis, B.A., R.T., M.S.T.

Ms. Willis was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  She obtained a Bachelors Degree in Biology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 1975.  She earned a certification as an X-Ray Technologist in 1977.  After obtaining a Master’s of Science in Teaching Degree from SUNY Potsdam in 2004, Deltra became the Education Coordinator for the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.  In 2006, she became a Vision Rehabilitation Instructor with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Jefferson County.  Deltra serves as a board member of the Watertown City School District, Hospice of Jefferson County and the Miss T. I. Scholarship Program.


Tamara Singer, B.S., A.A.S.

Mrs. Singer grew up on a small hog farm in Newark, NY where she decided at a young age to pursue a career working with animals.  In 1993, she received an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY.  In 1994, while working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science at Cornell University, she was hired for an internship at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY, where she fell in love with zoo keeping.  After graduation, Tammy was hired as a full-time keeper at the Queens Wildlife Center in Flushing, NY, where she worked for 4 years, simultaneously earning several Master’s credits at Queens College.  She returned to Syracuse in 1999 after receiving a full-time position at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.  In 2010, she was promoted to the position of Collection Manager and currently oversees the Herps, Aquariums, Indoor Birds, and Outreach Departments.  Tammy lives in Cicero with her husband, a high school biology/zoology teacher, and is an avid snowboarder, stand-up paddle boarder and scuba diver.