Here are two recent, unsolicited reviews from LinkedIn:
"In our society, the role of a storyteller plays a crucial, yet often misinterpreted, role. The length and breadth of most history, prior to the advent of "common" literacy, has been in the charge of the storyteller. Conveying episodes of battles, places, people have been the charge of those of us fortunate enough to be able to recollect, interpret and communicate to the general populace. this is often combined with the ethos and mythology of the related time-frame.
Most people see storytelling as simple entertainment. If it is done correctly, the effect is far more sublime.
Brian "Fox" Ellis is a master at this form of communication. he is capable of reaching many different audiences and to instill more than just the words falling from his mouth-he conveys time, place, thoughtfulness and emotion. This is done with a playful sense of provocation. Fox is also building bridges for those of us working in the same field. He recognizes and encourages all with his positive, self-assured personality.
If you are considering conveying a message in a most-entertaining way or desire to hear engaging stories you should consider Brian "Fox" Ellis "
Matthew Jones - Water Resource Education Specialist
I first met Brian in 1996 when he was doing an Artist-in-Residence in our school district, sponsored by the Galva Arts Council. I was a Junior High School student at the time. Brian was working with students from young elementary through high school seniors. During the two-week program, he challenged students to explore public speaking through storytelling. Brian inspired me to pursue this new-found art and which lead to six Superior ribbons earned at the Illinois State Fair.
However, what Brian really did was change my life. He opened a new world of exploration through literature and art. It was this opening that lead to a lifelong hobby. Plus, it prepared me for a part of my career which requires public presentation to organizations, schools, and municipal governments. By incorporating some of the skills taught by Brian, I am able to be a more dynamic presenter.
For entertainment or education, young or old, Brian is a great investment.
Adam Jaquet - Vice President Eagle Enterprises Recycling
I just wanted to thank you for presenting to our 6th graders today. It was a fantastic presentation, engaging, interesting, and very relevant to our content. I really appreciated how cross- content it was, with elements of history, literacy, math, and especially science. Your consistent references to the scientific method really brought the process to life.
Again, thanks for a wonderful presentation. If you’re in the area again, we’d love to have you back.
All the best,
6th Grade Science
Bookcliff Middle School
Every student, every day, learning for life
Thank you so much for taking the time to come visit us this morning. I really love the way you embed science and history into stories making the content come to life. I really enjoyed watching & listening to the kids interact with you. It was very engaging. Every phrase of every story was well orchestrated and impactful. The kids and I can't wait to have you back for more! So...let's work together to book you for more trips to our school.
I look forward to seeing you again soon. I am hopeful it will be at the upcoming Chautauqua.
Dear Brian “Fox” Ellis,
Thank you for the incredible, educational performance last week. Your ability to relate to the audience while delivering an educational message is among the best I’ve ever seen.
The students loved the story of how the snow bunting lullaby was stolen by another bird. In fact, my students sang it off and on for the better portion of the day. Also, the students talked about the stories afterwards with such detail and precision that I know you helped them paint the pictures in their minds.
While I was not able to attend the second performance, for third – fifth graders, I heard from numerous teachers about how wonderful the performance was. Owl Moon was a favorite.
In addition to being entertaining, the performances all aligned nicely with the Illinois State Standards and our local science curriculum. Your visit was a breath of fresh air on a cold wintery day that hit numerous curriculum areas. There was not a disappointed teacher, student or parent in the audience.
Thanks for sharing your expertise, love of nature and charm with us. It is much appreciated. Hope to work more with you in the future.
Sincerely, Bridget Maloney
First Grade Teacher, Leal School
bmaloney (at) usd116
Dear Brian "Fox" Ellis,
I just thought I'd let you know... My kids are SUPER into Edgar Allan Poe since they witnessed your passionate depiction. Ronan read and performed The Raven for a library poetry event, and Gwen is squelching her way through all of Poe's short and disturbing stories with twisted glee.
Thanks for sharing your passion with the world- it betters things one kid at a time.
Jen Close McDaniels (Parent)
Dear Brian "Fox" Ellis,
I can't thank you enough for the wonderful performance of John James Audubon. It made me want to get out my biographies of Audubon and do some reading. What an interesting man he was. In my 31 years of teaching I've seen many performers like you but few that could match your talent and connection to the audience.
US Army Corps of Engineers
Lake Shelbyville, Il
Brian “Fox” Ellis did a superb interpretation of John James Audubon for our Friends of Audubon annual luncheon. He is a very accomplished actor who is able to do an authentic interpretation of Audubon that is both informative and highly entertaining. His artistic and historical research is impeccable and permeates the whole of his presentation. The Friends group was thrilled with his program and requested that he be scheduled again for a future program. Please feel free to contact me for a verbal reference or for more details.
L. Alan Gehret, Curator,
John James Audubon Museum,
John James Audubon State Park
3100 US Highway 41 North
Henderson, KY 42419-0576
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your enlightening performance at Remington Elementary. It was entertaining, as well as informative. I appreciate the Tulsa Audubon Society making this possible. Remington student population is 92% free and reduced lunch. So many of our students do not get an opportunity to attend museums or hear speakers if it isn’t at school. Your support has helped to open up a world to our students that they otherwise would not have learned.
Farla Steele, Counselor
Dear Fox, (or should I say Mr. Audubon? ;)
Thank you for an outstanding performance and all the hours of research you put into the presentation. You did a beautiful job and used many very effective devices to engage your audience. I was impressed that most of your audience, which was largely adults, chose to remain after the program to talk with you. Many people came up to me later to thank me for booking you, ask more about you, and inquire about books on Audubon. So pat yourself on the back my friend.
You had asked about tweeking the performance for the school kids; I think you pretty much had it. Doing the owl calls, then having the audience do it was great. (You're very good at that by the way.) I liked the Seneca legend near the end, it was very interactive which was important. Playing the game of having the audience identify the birds described and call upon their own memories of observation was brilliant and contributed to the success of the presentation.
Overall there were many fine and strong messages in the presentation. It beautifully covered the fact that our environment and nature's residents are greatly altered from what they were in Audubon's time. The passenger pigeon discussion and your disbelief when the audience told you they'd never seen them or the Carolina Parakeet made me tear-up, despite the fact that I knew that would be in the presentation. You were Audubon to me at this point and you seemed not only concerned but sincerely disturbed and personally hurt that their disappearance had occurred. It was a profound dramatic moment at that point. I felt a responsibility and disappointment that my ancestors might have contributed to their demise! I even thought I saw similar feelings register on other people's faces. One member of the audience -- Ann Doolen, a professor from Illinois College at Jacksonville, expressed the same thought to me at the end of the show. Her exact words were "My gosh, I could see him as Audubon!”
Your observations of bird behavior and adaptations fit in well with science curriculum. But my very favorite parts were the humanist messages -- moral and otherwise that illustrated what we all inevitably must experience. These are the types of things that are of interest to me personally.
So, for what it's worth those are my thoughts. I'm proud of you and privileged to know you. We'll talk soon about bringing this program to a wider audience. Our grant through the USFWS has been approved.
Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, IL 61542
Phone 309-547-3721 Fax 309-547-3189
Reviews via e-mail after the USFWS funded tour of John James Audubon Fall 2003:
Our high school group very much enjoyed the presentation on James Audubon as told by Brian "Fox" Ellis. This cross-curricular program brought together Science, Art, English and Social Studies in a single informative and entertaining atmosphere.
The storyteller did a great job of relating to junior high and high school students. He had a good mix of humor and animation which kept their attention well. He led an entire junior high and high school body through a scientific investigation in a matter of minutes. The group formulated a hypothesis, tested it, and then concluded about the results. It was a great way to reinforce scientific thought as well as gain some new knowledge about a very common species: the barn owl.
The students seemed to really enjoy the bird-call portion of the presentation. Most students were able to recognize the various calls although not brave enough to speak up. The crow call definitely woke up anyone who had let their attention wander!
One of the most important aspects presented was thinking "outside the box". A feather is not just a trinket to pick up on the ground. What can we learn from the bird other than a mere identification of the species? The presenter emphasized the importance of asking questions and wondering about a topic beyond what is directly visible. This is important in all areas of learning, not only science. We appreciate the supplements including lesson plans that can further extend the presentation. The web-site gave some great ideas for many different areas of curriculum as well as scientific facts and resources. Beardstown Junior/Senior High School would like to thank you for your performance. Thank you very much.
Judy Fitzgerald – Principal - Beardstown High School
You can find photos of your visit to Dirksen Primary School, along with a link to your site at this URL (Editor's Note: This page has since been removed). Thank you for an enjoyable and informative program.
Kathy Schlappi - Learning Center
Dirksen Primary School
First of all, let me thank you on behalf of all our third through fifth graders who thoroughly enjoyed your presentation as John Audubon at Illini Bluffs Elementary School on Sept. 17. Since we spend a great deal of time in third grade learning about native Illinois animals, your presentation was especially relevant for our students. It was wonderful to see how much the fourth and fifth graders remembered from what we had taught them in previous years. The third graders are just beginning to learn, and you whetted their appetites even further!
We have had bird feeders outside our third grade windows for about 10 years. The children are used to watching birds with the binoculars and are excited when a new species arrives. Your presentation encouraged them to really spend time studying each bird or critter that they see! It is one of my personal goals to have all children enjoy nature and do whatever they can to help protect and nurture it.
I feel that it is very important for the children to hear about the importance of nature from other sources besides the teachers. It becomes so much more meaningful then. Thank you once again for adding us to your program schedule!
Sincerely, Joyce Mitchell, Third Grade Teacher
Illini Bluffs Elementary School, Glasford, IL 61533
Dear Mr. Ellis,
I wanted to thank you for your excellent job interpreting the life of John James Audubon. We especially enjoyed the direct connections you made with our river, the Illinois River Valley. You seamlessly drew stories, science, and local interest into one enormous story tent for the students to gather under! I also liked that many academic standards that were introduced to students. We followed your advice; I encouraged students to participate in record keeping and data collection for science project through Cornell University. We also surfed some of the internet links you provided on your web page. It was simply amazing the way you drew from state learning goals to make the work relevant to our second grade studies. For example, you included information about how living things relate to their environment (i.e. eagles migrate from Canada to our river valley to rest during the winter). Thank you for a wonderful program! We hope to see you again, soon!
Earle Capel, South School, Second Grade, Chillicothe, Illinois
Dear Mr. Ellis,
I am writing to thank you for all you did to help make the First Annual Audubon Birding Festival a success. Your performance as John James Audubon was not only entertaining, but also educational.
The response from participants was very positive. Some of their comments were, "Wonderful, whimisical, informative, fun entertaining". "Fascinating. Made me want to read books about Audubon although I hadn't been particularly interested in his life". "Very entertaining and knowledgeable". "Incredible depth of knowledge".
Additionally, your participation as John James Audubon during our morning birding hike and the Bird Is The Word journaling class, were both very well received. Your ability to work with people in a variety of settings is commendable and I will definitely recommend you to others who may be looking for a dynamic and professional speaker/presenter.
Kate Crowley, Special Events Coordinator, Audubon Center of the North Woods