Don Bates is the owner/founder of Osprey Initiative, LLC and the inventor of the Litter Gitter. A graduate of Millsaps College (B.S. Geology 1992), he has over 25 years of experience in the environmental consulting business. Prior to starting Osprey Initiative, LLC, he was an Executive Vice President for a Southeast Regional Civil Engineering firm where he managed operations for 250 people in 12 offices in 7 states.
Born in Hammond, Louisiana, he grew up in the swamps around Manchac, Louisiana and still gets back to the Galva Club fish camp whenever he can. He has spent most of his life in and around waterways and has a passion for maintaining and improving our natural resources. Married with 4 children, he feels that the best legacy he can leave to future generations is access to wild places un-marred by human impacts. When not removing litter from our waterways, he can usually be found working on an old boat.
Special Project Leader
Sam came to Osprey Initiative in February 2019, bringing with him over a decade’s worth of experience as a U.S. Navy SEAL. A native of Mobile, AL, Sam grew up playing in the ditches near his home, developing a love and respect for nature. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2008 with a B.S. in Ocean Engineering.
After completing SEAL training in the fall of 2009, he served with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and West Africa. He has traveled throughout Europe, South America and the Caribbean working with Allied and inter-agency partners to develop effective solutions to complex national security challenges. He continues to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He applies the lessons learned in operational leadership, innovative problem-solving, and team-building to lead Osprey’s field operations.
Sam is a devoted husband and father to his wife and three children. He is passionate about environmental conservation, as he recognizes that we must be pro-active for future generations to experience and enjoy the beauty and wonders of the natural world.
Mississippi State Extension Program Assistant and Masters Student
Ellie is from Carmel, Indiana but spent five years studying and working in the beautiful Mobile, Alabama area. She graduated from Spring Hill College in 2018, where she received a B.S. in biology with a concentration in marine and organismal biology. Ellie joined Osprey Initiative in March of 2019 as their Data Analyst and Project Manager, helping keep the team on track with the day-to-day work involving our partners. As a current Masters Program student, she is working in a co-op position with both Osprey Initiative and Mississippi State.
She is very passionate about preserving our natural environment and providing people the means to positively interact with the world they live in. Why does Ellie love working for Osprey? “It allows me to have a direct positive impact on the environment while also teaching other people how they can be part of a greater solution to trash issues.”
Regional Field Leader
Jack Bates’ love of the outdoors comes as no surprise – he’s tagged along on swamp trips and to the Bates family camp in Louisiana since he was 3 years old. He’s currently the Crew Chief for the Mobile area, overseeing crews with Litter Gitter installation, maintenance, and data collection. He’s also the “go-to” guy when it comes to educating new team members in the forms and processes that are vital to the Osprey Initiative services.
He’s currently a junior at the University of South Alabama. He enjoys working with his dad to further the Osprey mission and says his favorite part of the job is keeping communities clean and seeing the before and after transformations.
Regional Field Leader
Mitch Lowe is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast with a passion for our natural spaces. His active childhood helped to develop his passion for nature, whether it was learning through Boy Scouts or hunting and fishing excursions with his family. Mitch started working in the environmental sector in high school, as both a member of surveying crews and owner of his own honey bee farm.
Mitch brings valuable leadership experience to the team from his time at Thompson Consulting Services. He led a crew of 80 as they managed disaster relief and storm debris removal efforts following major Hurricanes Irma and Michael. He is excited to be part of a sustainable solution to the increasing environmental issues. When not working in our waterways, Mitch is usually working in his small apiary and spending time with his wife and son, loving life.
Regional Field Leader
Deric Martin is a native of Mobile, Alabama and also is our team lead in the area. He juggles many jobs as team lead, including working with our field crews, managing work in our shop, sorting and hauling recycling – you name it! Outside of Osprey, his hobbies include jiu jitsu – so he can handle anything the wild outdoors throws his way.
Deric loves being outdoors, so working with Osprey was a natural fit. Of his work, he says “the best thing about it is making a direct impact to the problems of litter and single-use plastics.” His strangest find during Osprey cleanups? A glass soda bottle with clams inside!
Business Development Leader
Grace Forster is a Nashville, TN native who received her masters degree in marine conservation and resource management from the University of South Alabama. When she’s not leading our products division, she can be found hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking – basically, anything outdoors or on the water!
Of working with Osprey, Grace says “it’s a company that is at the forefront of making a difference in the environment using innovative technology. It’s invigorating and gratifying to work for a company that is truly involved in transforming the world into a better, more beautiful place.”
Cassie Eldredge is a native of Peachtree City, Georgia who received her bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Florida Southern College and her master’s degree in marine conservation and resource management from the University of South Alabama. When she isn’t keeping the team on track, you can find her gardening, painting, swimming, scuba diving, or training dogs!
The most interesting thing she’s found (so far) on a cleanup is a brand new dive knife in its holster. She says, “Working with Osprey is a great mix between working in an office environment to push projects towards fruition and working out in the field to make the vision a reality.”
Crew Lead / Project Manager
Lauren is from LaGrange, Kentucky, where she grew up playing in the creek behind her parents’ house. This would serve as the foundation for Lauren’s love of the natural world. She graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in History; and is passionate about understanding the relationship between humans and the environment.
Lauren first got involved with Osprey during college, working on a project in the Mill Creek Watershed. She has since relocated to Alabama to work with the crew in Birmingham. When Lauren isn’t out in the creeks, she enjoys hiking at Red Mountain and exploring the city.
Crew Lead / Project Manager
Stella Fickling was born and raised on the coast of Alabama. She grew up spending most of her time in the woods, in a creek, in a field, on a beach, in a lagoon–there aren’t many outdoor activities she doesn’t enjoy! At Osprey, Stella is usually leading or working in a field crew or taking care of project management tasks and responsibilities. Stella received her BFA from SpringHill College in Art Therapy in 2010 and her BS in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology from the University of South Alabama in 2015.
Stella joined Osprey’s team in April of 2022 after three years of working as a Biologist Aide for the State of Alabama Marine Resources Division on Dauphin Island. Her years on the island afforded her a unique set of skills rooted in marine biology field work and research. She lives happily with her husband, three children, and three dogs in Mobile. When asked why she likes working at Osprey Initiative, she shares “I like knowing I am a part of the solution, and not the problem.” Stella’s passion for environmental and marine conservation plays a huge role in her life and career at Osprey Initiative.