Wildlife Habitat Federation

Helping Texas Landowners Restore Native Habitat For Wildlife 

Staff & Leadership

Jim Willis
CEO and President of Wildlife Habitat Federation

As Co-founder, CEO and President of Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF), Jim Willis works on consultation and outreach. Willis gives presentations to both public and private groups, organizations and landowners. Willis is also a boots-on-the-ground staff member who actively participates in restoration activities.

Willis founded WHF in 2004 after a career as an agricultural economist and rice analyst for the Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA in Washington, D.C. He also served as a foreign service officer in three American Embassies, co-owned two farm equipment dealerships, was Director of Foreign Programs for the U.S.A. Rice Council, and President of International Programs for the U.S. Rice Producers Association.

Willis currently serves on the State Technical Committee for the Natural Resources Conservation Service for USDA., the Upland Game Bird Advisory Board for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Texas Quail Roundtable.

Conservation Awards:

Soil & Water Conservation District 333 - Wildlife Conservationist Award

​Soil & Water Conservation Service, Region III - Wildlife Conservationist Award

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Lone Star Land Steward Award -
Gulf Prairies and Marshes Ecological Region

Coastal Prairie Partnership's - 
Dick Benoit Upper Texas Coast Prairie Conservation Award

August 9, 2012
Quail Coalition of Greater Houston's -
Fletcher Gibson III LIfetime Sportsman Award


B.S. in Agri-Business, Louisiana Tech University
M.S. in Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University
Certificate in Latin American Studies, State Department's Foreign Service Institiute

Garry Stephens
Wildlife Biologist and Program Director of Wildlife Habitat Federation

Garry Stephens joined the WHF staff in 2016 as Program Director to oversee and participate in restoration activities performed by WHF Habitat Action Teams (HATs) and the Seed Ecotype Enhancement & Development Program (SEED).

Stephens works closely with landowners to develop and implement Habitat Restoration Plans consistent with the needs of the land and the goals and objectives of the landowner and is also a part of the education team; presenting to groups and organizations.  He has in-depth knowledge of government programs and how to optimize their benefits for landowners interested in the management or restoration of wildlife habitats.  

Stephens comes to WHF with 29 years of federal service working for NRCS/USDA as a District Conservationist responsible for all conservation programs in 4 south Texas counties, as well as having served as the Zone Wildlife Biologist for a 52 county work area also in south Texas. In the private industry, he has managed ranches in Texas and Arkansas for both wildlife and livestock interests.


B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University

Gretta Sleeper
Office Administrator for Wildlife Habitat Federation

Gretta Sleeper joined the WHF staff in 2013 to expand WHF’s capabilities in the areas of accounting, project planning, marketing, intellectual technology and communications. Sleeper oversees all office related activities, administers private, state and Federal grants and contracts for the organization, assists in the development of Native Habitat Management Plans, and coordinates the annual native prairie field days.

Sleeper comes from a background of 26 years in wildlife, horse and livestock ranch management, and 36 years of ranch bookkeeping and accounting.


B.S. in Chemistry, Fort Lewis College

Amy Thomsen
Staff Ecologist for Wildlife Habitat Federation

Amy Thomsen worked with WHF through Texas A&M University's intern program throughout 2017 and, as of January 2018, became WHF's Staff Ecologist. Thomsen's educational background enhances WHF's ability to provide customized Site Assessment Reports and Adaptive Management Plans to landowners.

Thomsen grew up in rural Nebraska, working side by side with her father farming the land.  She enrolled at Texas A&M under Dr. Fred Smiens, Ecologist and recognized expert of the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie ecoregions, receiving her Masters in 2017, and is in the process of writing a native grass field guide with Dr. Smiens and Dr. Stephen Hatch. Thomsen also serves as the Vice Director of the Washington County, Sandtown Wildlife Association.


Masters in Natural Resource Development and Native Rangeland Management, Texas A&M University
Masters of Social Work (emphasis Public Policy), University of Houston