Our membership is made up of professional men and women like yourself. We have among our membership military personnel, engineers, technical, government personnel as well as professional and volunteer firefighters, managers, laborers, etc. All it takes to be an active member of TSAR is a willingness to help others and a love for the out of doors. When, where and how often you respond is totally up to you.
Jim Russell was transplanted from New England to Virginia Beach, Virginia in 2001 and has been involved in the Virginia Search and Rescue program since 2014. In addition to being the Group Commander of Tidewater Search and Rescue (TSAR), Jim is also the group’s Virginia Search and Rescue Council (VASARCo) representative, dispatcher, and recruiter. Jim is also an active member of the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI) most recently acting as the Assistant Documentation Unit Leader.
He holds certifications as a Search Team Leader (STL), Management Team Member (MTM), and Tracking Technician (TT) from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). In 2019, Jim became a VDEM Adjunct Instructor for the Virginia Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) Academy’s Foundations for Awareness, Signcutting, and Tracking (F.A.S.T.) class. Also in 2019, he became an evaluator for the Virginia tracking program, providing evaluations for those interested in becoming VDEM certified human trackers or re-certifying. Since attending comparative osteology workshops at Radford University and Western Carolina University, Jim has been researching and developing his own workshops for comparative osteology, comparing and identifying animal versus human bones that are found during cold case searches. He has recently published is first book which supplements these workshops titled Animal vs. Human Bones: Vol. 1 – White-tail Deer. He has also recently launched The Russell Bone Atlas, a comparative osteology website at http://RussellBoneAtlas.wordpress.com that searchers can use while in the field to help identify bones.
When he’s not deployed at a search or away for training, Jim volunteers with the Boy Scouts as an Assistant Scoutmaster and a Search and Rescue merit badge counselor often introducing scouts to the art of tracking. In addition to Search and Rescue, Jim spends much of his free time outdoors hiking, fishing, boating, and aimlessly wandering through the woods.
Steve Fesko grew up in Fayetteville, NY, where, as a child, he was actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America and was instilled with a love of the outdoors and all the adventures it provided. He moved to Virginia from New York in 1972 and graduated from Old Dominion University with a BS in Computer Science. Steve began a long career serving the US Military, Law Enforcement and Security communities. After the tragedy of 911 Steve became interested in emergency services and joined the Virginia Beach Community Emergency Response Team (VBCERT). Looking to expand his involvement and education, along with a strong desire to get back out into the outdoors, Steve joined Tidewater Search and Rescue (TSAR) in 2016. He became very active in the group, taking advantage of the many education opportunities provided by both TSAR and VDEM, He became certified as a Search Team Member, Search Team Leader and in Management Team Member. He regularly attends the annual Virginia SAR Conferences and is planning to begin his certification path towards Tracker in 2020. Steve was elected as Logistics Section Chief for TSAR in 2017 and as Plans Section Chief in 2019. In addition to his SAR involvement, Steve is also working part time for the Virginia Beach Police Department and is actively involved in his community as the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for his neighborhood.
Nicole Knudson is a long time native of Hampton Roads, Virginia. She is very active in her community and has been regularly volunteering in one capacity or another for nearly 20 years. Nicole first entered the Virginia Search and Rescue program in 2013, when she became a member of Tidewater Search and Rescue. She holds a Search Team Member (STM) certification from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and was elected as TSAR’s Logistics Section Chief in October 2019. Nicole is also active with the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI), having served as the group’s Virginia Search and Rescue Council (VASARCo) representative for five years. She is currently a dispatcher for SARTI. Nicole holds a B.S. in Biology and has worked in horticulture and botany for over a decade. In addition to working as a field botany assistant inventorying rare native plant species across the Commonwealth, Nicole has surveyed marshes in Florida, and is the lead for an all-volunteer shoreline restoration project in Norfolk. Her areas of expertise include wetland plants, native flora of Virginia, and invasive plants in Virginia – knowledge that Nicole has utilized during search and rescue missions and training.