Award-winning Friends actress Jennifer Aniston was born in California, raised in New York, and began nurturing her passion for acting at age 11. She hosted the Animal Planet television feature Growing up…Grizzly 2. As part of the Animal Planet television series, Growing Up…Grizzly 2 followed the previous documentary on the Seus family and Vital Ground’s Animal Ambassadors, and gave viewers an update on bears Little Bart and Honey Bump. Aniston has received GLAAD Media’s Vanguard Award for her philanthropic footprint, and has also received Golden Globe, Grammy, Screen Actors Guild, and Primetime Emmy awards.
Born in Los Angeles, Calif., Jeff Bridges is married to Susan Geston Bridges with whom he has three daughters. Bridges began acting in 1958 and has been nominated for an Academy Award six times, and won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Crazy Heart. Bridges is also the recipient of Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. He was introduced to Vital Ground when he married Susan Geston, who was long-time friends with Karen Reeves, the spouse of Vital Ground Trustee Doug Chadwick. When he is not winning Golden Globes or Oscars, Jeff enjoys his second home and cattle ranch in Montana’s Paradise Valley.
Susan Geston Bridges
Susan Geston Bridges is married to Honorary Board member Jeff Bridges. Susan and Jeff met while Jeff was filming Rancho Deluxe in Chico Hot Springs, MT, and have been married since 1977. Susan has been connected with Vital Ground since college, as she was introduced to the organization when her roommate married Vital Ground Trustee Doug Chadwick. When Jeff and Susan married in 1977, Susan introduced Jeff to Vital Ground. The two have worked tirelessly to promote and raise money for Vital Ground, and they abide by the mission and vision of the organization and promote the conservation of land for the future generations. “I realize the value of saving habitat, not only for animals, but for people…I’d like to leave my children an area where animals still roam free,” Susan said.
John Craighead, Ph.D
John Craighead conducted at 12-year study on grizzly bears alongside his twin brother, Frank, in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. The results of the brothers’ research brought great awareness and understanding to the species. Throughout John and Frank’s tenure in Yellowstone, they developed new methods for grizzly bear research, and tracked and studied over 600 bears. John was especially devoted to environmental education, natural history and ecology. He and Frank were instrumental in President Johnson signing the National Wild and Scenic Rivers bill in 1965.
Jack Hanna grew up in Tennessee with an innate love for all things wild. He acquired his first taste of working alongside animals when he worked in a veterinarian office. Hanna then followed his career to Florida, and eventually to Columbus, Ohio, where he became the director and saving grace of the Columbus Zoo. As director, Hanna restored and revitalized the habitats and educational programs and emerged as one of the most notable animal and wildlife education experts in the United States. He appeared on popular television programming, and created his own TV series, “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.” With fewer public appearances, Hanna enjoys his position as Director Emeritus at the Columbus Zoo as well as traveling with Suzi, his wife of 48 years.
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins starred alongside Bart The Bear in the 1997 film, The Edge, as well as in Edward Zwick’s 1994 film Legends of the Fall. Hopkins is considered to be one of the greatest living actors, won an Academy Award for his role as Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs, received two Emmy Awards, and has been nominated for six Golden Globes.
Acclaimed paleontologist and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Montana, Jack Horner has made numerous advances in the fieldof paleontology and has served as a technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films. Horner was the first to identify patterns in dinosaurs that indicate they cared for their young. Jack currently resides in Bozeman, Mont.
Thomas D. Mangelsen
Born and raised in Nebraska, Thomas Mangelsen is a world-class nature photographer with over 40 years’ experience photographing in the field as well as observing and understanding animal behavior. His iconic photographs illustrate the majesty of the natural world. In 2010, he was named one of 40 most influential nature photographers of all time. Mangelsen uses photography and art as a means to promote appreciation and conservation of wild places. He has photo galleries in Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and California.
Brad Pitt first made a name for himself as the star of the film A River Runs Through It. Among Pitt’s numerous film credits stands Animal Planet’s Growing Up…Grizzly. Pitt narrated Animal Planet’s television movie Growing Up…Grizzly and introduced viewers to the founders of Vital Ground, Doug and Lynne Seus, as well as Vital Ground’s Animal Ambassadors, Little Bart and Honey Bump. In addition to starring in major motion pictures such as Fight Club, Oceans 11, Moneyball,, and 12 Years a Slave, Pitt also starred with Sir Anthony Hopkins and Bart the Bear in Edward Zwick’s 1994 film Legends of the Fall. Throughout his acting career, Pitt has won Academy, Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild awards.
Vital Ground Honorary Board member Edward Zwick is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and a television and movie producer-director who hails from Chicago. Among his 34 credits as a producer and 23 credits as a director, Zwick directed the 1994 film Legends of the Fall, in which Bart the Bear stars as a bear residing among the Ludlow family in the mountains of northwestern Montana.