About the Explorers Club St. Louis

The St. Louis Chapter of The Explorers Club was founded in 1981. Since incorporation, the St. Louis Explorers Club has organized an annual speakers series and has sponsored many community events including the first ever St. Louis BioBlitz held in Forest Park.

Board of Directors

The following officers were elected for a two-year term, 2010-2012, at the St. Louis Chapter of The Explorers Club Annual Meeting, May 11, 2010:

Benjamin Hulsey, Chairman
Mary Burke, Vice Chairman
Sue Hume, Secretary
John Hume, Treasurer
Mabel L. Purkerson, M.D., Membership and Legacy Committee Liaison
Mark “Sharky” Alexander – Public Relations
Peggy James Nacke – Chapter Contributor to The Explorers Log


Benjamin Hulsey
Benjamin Hulsey, left, at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

Benjamin Hulsey (MN ’07) is a partner in the St. Louis law firm of Thompson Coburn LLP where his practice is principally concentrated in the areas of general corporate law and corporate counseling, technology transfers, technology joint ventures, and mergers and other acquisitions and divestitures.

He is interested in biodiversity, preservation of endangered species, caving, thermography, and letterpress printing. He participated as a thermographer and as the hot air ballon safety officer in the NASA Spaceward Bound Mojave Desert Science Expeditions in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Benjamin is a President of the Academy of Science of St. Louis and a trustee of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is a Member of the Mars Society and the National Speleological Society. He missed participating in the NASA Spaceward Bound 2008 expedition because he was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Benjamin is listed in The Best Lawyers in America. He is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Illinois State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Benjamin earned a B.S. degree from Oklahoma State University and a J.D. degree, with honors, from the University of Tulsa College of Law, where he was managing editor of the Tulsa Law Journal.

He spends his spare time with his wife, visiting their daughters on the East Coast, working in his print shop, and trying to train a very smart border collie.

Mary Burke
Vice Chairman
Mary Burke

Mary Eileen Burke is involved regionally and nationally with science education and outreach for the next generation of explorers. As Executive Director of the Academy of Science of St. Louis (one of the oldest Academies of Science in the world) she directs programs that connect science and the community – bringing science inquiry and exploration to life for adults and more than 60,000 students in grades K-12. Under her leadership, the Academy co-sponsors the St. Louis BioBlitz with the Explorers Club-St. Louis Chapter. This 24 hour flash event combines scientists/environmentalists with citizens to form bio-diversity data gathering teams surveying the largest U.S. urban park.

Burke also serves as V.P. Of the Triangle Coalition, a national organization bringing the voices of business, education and government to further science and technology education; and as Secretary of the National Academies of Science. Burke’s most recent expedition involved 80 middle school students and teachers on treks through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Mary has a B.A. in Media Communications and a M.A. in Management and Leadership from Webster University where she is an adjunct professor and serves as V.P. Of the Alumni Board.

Sue Hume, Secretary
John Hume, Treasurer
Sue and John Hume

John and Sue have spent more than 25 years exploring the wild places of the Earth, the wildlife that are dependent on the wild habitats, and the cultures of the people who share those habitats. They have been on expeditions spanning all 7 continents and more than 120 destinations with heavy emphasis on observing wildlife in sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia, South America, and Central America. They enjoy sharing the knowledge of wildlife and habitat gained from these explorations with visitors at the St. Louis Zoo where they volunteer as Ambassadors.

Mabel Purkerson
Membership and Legacy Committee Liaison
Mabel Purkerson

Mabel Purkerson is Professor Emerita of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. Her primary vocation has been that of physician/scientific investigator in nephrology (kidney specialist) on the faculty of Washington University. With colleagues, she investigated metabolic, physiological and structural alterations that accompany the decline in kidney function in chronic renal disease; the consequences of malnutrition and clinical defects they produce in renal function; and, the mechanisms of kidney failure resulting from urinary tract obstruction.

Always interested in the world environment, ecology, people and native customs, she has traveled extensively in North, East and South Africa, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Western China (Gobi Desert and Mongolia), South America and Japan. Last year she retraced the footsteps of the great explorers who searched for the source of the Nile.

Mabel is a member of The Explorers Club Legacy Society.

Read Mabel’s account of her 2007 trip to the Great Forests and Kingdoms of the Congo Basin

Mark “Sharky” Alexander
Public Relations
Mark "Sharky" Alexander

Mark “Sharky” Alexander (MN ‘10) started diving 23 years ago as a Public Safety diver for the Springfield/Sangamon County ESDA Rescue Squad in Illinois. Sharky continued his diving career throughout the years and is now a TDI Inspiration Closed Circuit Rebreather Instructor. Sharky founded “Sharky’s Underwater Expeditions” in 2007. His company focuses on providing advanced travel, exploration, and specialized training. He has been involved in exploring and documenting multiple underwater wrecks. He has led and/or participated in expeditions to wrecks off the coast of New Jersey (Andrea Doria, U-869, USS Murphy), California (USS Hopewell, USS Vamen) and off Cape Hatteras one of the team members involved in the 150th Anniversary dive to The Iron Clad “USS Monitor” and E.M. Clark. Sharky was involved in the search for Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins-Silver and her missing P-51D Mustang aircraft. Gertrude’s plane came up missing in October 1944 off the coast of Los Angeles, CA. Sharky’s job on the expedition was Dive Medical Officer and Deep water Diver. Sharky participated in the Military Channel’s episodes of “Quest for Sunken Warships,” “Torpedo Alley,” and “Truk Lagoon.” Sharky participated in the History Channel’s series “Weird US” Episodes “Weird Underworld.” He was also an ice safety diver and line tender for the “Bering Sea Gold” Under the Ice episodes in Nome, Alaska.

When Sharky is not diving, he is working as a full-time Paramedic for St. Charles County. He also is an instructor for future EMTs and Paramedics. He also instructs students in the areas of Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Advanced Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support, and Advanced Hazmat Life Support. He is on staff with Cardinal Glennon Children Hospital in St. Louis, MO as a Pediatrics Advanced Life Support Instructor. Sharky has also earned his USCG 50 Ton Master Captain license. In September 2010, Sharky retired with 20 years in the Illinois Air National Guard. He served four tours in the Middle East – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Balad, Iraq. He was an F-16 Aircraft Weapons Specialist.

Peggy James Nacke
Chapter Contributor to The Explorers Log
Peggy Nacke and students

As Special Events/Project Director for the Academy of Science, St. Louis, Ms. Nacke’s primary goals include fostering a scientifically literate citizenry and encouraging the next generation of protectors and explorers of our world. Nacke leads the St. Louis BioBlitz co-sponsored with the Explorers Club St. Louis Chapter in pairing scientist team leaders with science advocates of all ages. The St. Louis BioBlitz is a 24-hour flash inventory of the ecosystem of Forest Park (the largest urban park in the U.S.). Through her work at The Academy, Ms. Nacke is at the helm of the Academy of Science – St. Louis Science Fair. The annual fair reaches over 55,000 students and over 800 scientists, engineers and teachers. Additionally, she leads the nation in the first e-fair featuring projects submitted electronically. Her leadership of the Junior Academy of Science reaches middle and high school students from public, private and home schools across the region who experience hands-on opportunities in science, engineering and medicine through monthly field trips giving students a snap-shot of all kinds of science career opportunities.

Ms. Nacke is pictured here on her most recent expedition through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks with middle school students and teachers for an outdoor learning experience.

Lotsie Hermann Holton
Chairperson Emeritus
Lotsie Hermann Holton

Lotsie Hermann Holton, a member of the Explorers Club since 1997, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (summit 19,360 ft.), trekked to the Everest Base Camp, summitted Kala Pattar (18,500 ft.), and hiked the Dolomites in Italy and the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu in 2002. She has also safaried in the Serengeti and Masai Mara, sailed extensively in the South Pacific, West Indies and Greece, and spent time in both India and China. In 2007 she tracked the lowland gorillas and forest elephants in the Congo (see Mabel Purkerson’s account – Great Forests and Kingdoms of the Congo Basin). A private pilot, Ms. Holton flew a MIG 25 FOXBAT fighter jet to 80,000 feet, achieving the speed of Mach 2.6 in Moscow. She was ranked third in the state for Nastar Downhill Racing in Vail, Colorado and successfully completed the Aspen Challenge in 2001. Ms. Holton serves or has served on the boards of Forest Park Forever, KETC-Channel 9, Trailnet, The Confluence, St. Louis Zoo Friends, and American Rivers in Washington, D.C. In addition, she is on the Advisory Committee of the X Prize Foundation. In 2009 Lotsie explored Zambia and Zimbabwe, fished for tigerfish in the Zambezi River, flew a microlight across Victoria Falls, tracked Indri lemurs in Madagascar, fished in the Mozambique Channel and the Seychelles, and rode camels in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. In 2011, Lotsie checked out the dove population explosion in Cordoba, Argentina and went on to explore Easter Island. More recent travel includes trips to Papua New Guinea to see birds of paradise and scuba diving to look for WWII ruins, Brunei, Borneo, Bali, Java and Borobudur, and Komodo Island.

Ms. Holton was Chairman of the St. Louis Chapter of The Explorers Club from 2000 to 2005 and is a member of The Explorers Club Legacy Society.

Robert “Bob” P. Stupp
Chairperson Emeritus

Robert Stupp was a past chairman of the St. Louis Chapter of The Explorers Club. He is currently the chairman of Stupp Bros., Inc. in St. Louis. Mr. Stupp has served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations in St. Louis, including the St. Louis Science Center, Junior Achievement, Missouri Goodwill Industries, Tower Grove Park, and the Shriners Hospitals.

Carol Perkins
Chairperson Emeritus
Marlin and Carol Perkins

Carol Morse Perkins, conservationist, humanitarian, author, lecturer, and photographer is the widow of the world famous zoologist, Dr. R. Marlin Perkins. Marlin Perkins, until his death in 1986 was the star of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Wild Kingdom. On the air for 26 years, it is still one of the longest running television programs in history. With her husband, Mrs. Perkins has traveled all over the world filming wildlife for lectures, books and television.

Mrs. Perkins spearheaded the founding of The Wild Canid Survival and Research Center. Established in 1970 and located in St. Louis County, The Wolf Sanctuary, has been responsible for saving two species of North American wolves from extinction. Today Red and Mexican Gray wolves are living free in the wild again thanks to the vision, determination and hard work of Mrs. Perkins and her husband.

In 1974 and again in 1977 Carol Perkins was instrumental in organizing two national symposiums on the status of North American endangered species of wildlife. These were the first conferences of their kind, and brought together for the first time all of the prominent conservationists and wildlife biologists working in the field at that time.

Over the years Mrs. Perkins has received numerous honors including the Distinguished Citizen Award by Alpha Gamma Delta sorority for her volunteer work with international wildlife conservation. The Ladies Home Journal nominated her for Woman of the Year for her work in conservation. Mrs. Perkins received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the College of St Mary’s, Omaha, Nebraska and received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the National Board of the American Cancer Society. She received the 1991 Conservation Medal from the Missouri D.A.R.

Among the books authored by Mrs. Perkins were I Saw You From Afar relating the story of a personal visit to the Bushman of the Kalahari Desert in southwest Africa; The Shattered Skull the story of her friends Louis and Mary Leaky’s search for human fossils in Olduvai Gorge in East Africa. The Sound of Boomerangs Returning described her observations of the lifestyle of a group of Aborigines living a traditional life in northwest Australia, and Little Pierre, the story of the star performer of the famous St. Louis Zoo chimpanzee show. In 1965, Mrs. Perkins received an award for excellence in children’s literature from the New York Herald Tribune.

Legacy Society Members

Captain William Clark *

Amelia Earhart *

Lotsie Hermann Holton

Mabel Purkerson, M.D.

* deceased

Read more about the Legacy Society


The Explorers Club St. Louis is Sponsored By a Generous Contribution from Budweiser

©2005- Explorers Club St. Louis. All Rights Reserved.