Seminars and Workshops

The National Search Dog Alliance is a community of K-9 handlers committed to sharing ideas, training, and experiences. NSDA is proud to host periodic seminars and workshops with the intent of bringing in new ideas and training opportunities. The goals are to offer canine handlers from across the country an opportunity to train under experts in the field, develop their skills as searchers, and better the K-9 team who in turn make a positive difference in service to their communities. Whether you are building a foundation for your wilderness dog, preparing for certification, or focusing on advancing your skills for deployment, we welcome you to join us!

November 30th — December 3rd, 2023: Granbury, Texas. Multi-discipline field seminar offering instruction in Area, Tracking/Trailing and Land Human Remains Detection.

Click here to read about our instructors!


HRD Instructors

Lisa Higgins

Lisa is the co-founder of one of the first SAR teams in LA, Louisiana Search and Rescue Dog team otherwise known as LaSAR beginning in 1989. The team has responded to well over a thousand calls since 1991 when they were first used to locate a teenager under three feet of sand and four feet of water in May of 1991.

Lisa now serves as the team's senior handler and lead trainer. Lisa began a career in Law Enforcement as early as 1978 retiring a commission with thirty years in 2008 with St. Tammany Sheriff's Office as a SSgt. In the Special Operations division.

She continued working as a canine contractor with the FBI Forensic Canine program from 2005 until 2018. Lisa continues to work with LaSAR as a volunteer now with thirty-three years field experience. Lisa continues to instruct seminars all over the country and is a canine evaluator for various national organizations including NSDA.

Tiffanie Turner

Tiffanie Turner's experience in behavior and learning theory started with horses. While still in high school her talent at behavior modification was recognized and landed her in a position working with problem horses and problem solving for speed event horses. She has over 40 years of experience working with behavior modification.

She has used learning theory and behavior modification to train horses, cats, dogs, pigs and chickens. Honing her skills at observation and understanding the scent detection dog, she has successfully selected and trained several HRD dogs for wilderness and urban search and recovery missions.

She has trained dogs for Conservation work. Dogs were trained to find invasive or endangered species of plants and animals. Some of these projects were with Dogs for Conservation and the Houston Zoo, The Biosecurity Agency in the Galapagos Islands for Giant African Land Snail eradication, Texas A&M University for otter population studies, along with other conservation projects.

She obtained her degree from Texas A&M University, College of Biomedical Science where she now works imaging hoof stock and teaching 4th year vet students techniques in safety and imaging. Handling Rodeo bulls to Olympic equine athletes. She has been recognized by Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital as an outstanding employee on many occasions.

Tiffanie Turner began her SAR career with a border collie mix named "Fanta" who would go on to be recognized as the National Association for Search and Rescue's K9 of the year in 2010 for her outstanding work on multiple recoveries and incredible working ability.

Tiffanie has trained and certified dogs for national certifications in wilderness HRD with: NNDDA, NASAR, NAPWDA and currently fields a FEMA disaster Live find K9 "Croc-it" and has retired her FEMA HRD disaster K9 “Fetchit”. Tiffanie participated in the recovery efforts for hurricane Ike and the Memorial Day floods of 2015, California wildfires as well as many missing person searches.

With her outstanding patience and commitment to the dog's success she has helped many handlers and canines overcome hurdles and improve their partnership and overall performance. Tiffanie has taught HRD classes at seminars from AZ to NY over the past 12 years and has aided many handlers in starting their HRD dogs on odor as well as challenged the advanced K9 teams and improved overall performance with her insight and troubleshooting abilities. Tiffanie's experience and dedication has help make the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University HRD K9 seminars an amazingly successful seminar since the start of 2013.

Dr. Ben Alexander

Ben is the K9 training coordinator at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State. Ben established the program in 2013 under the guidance and oversight of Dr. Daniel Wescott and has succesffuly coordinated all the seminars since it's start. There have been 9 of these group seminars, as well as several private seminars exposing HRD dogs to full sets of human remains from fresh to skeletonized to date!

Ben began training in obedience at the age of 8 yrs old under the tutelage of the local kennel club his parents were members. Ben has shown german shepherds, poodles and whippets in confirmation, obedience and Jr. Showmanship from age 9 to 16.

Ben has spent his lifetime learning the science and art of training through hands on experience. He obtained a bachelor of science degree in animal science then returned to school 14 years later to obtain a master of science degree in animal science: ethology. His master's thesis was on Search Dog Performance and he has one published paper from his research. He obtained his PhD in Dec 2014 in Soil Science, forensic focus and has published 2 papers on HRD dog capabilities in regards to forensic soils.

Ben has over 40 years of various K9 training experience having also taught obedience classes for over 20 years, assisting with service dog training and testing and training therapy dogs. Ben became involved in search and rescue in 2000.

His first nationally certified recovery dog, was a border collie named "Pete" starting in 2003. Ben has partnered with 5 nationally certified partners, all of which have had recoveries on land and water. He has participated in recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Ike and the memorial day floods of 2015, as well as many drownings and missing person searches across the state of Texas.

Ben began teaching HRD classes in 2010, and has taught classes from AZ to NY, specializing in water recovery classes. He has assisted with the FACTS HRD K9 classes since it's start in 2013.

Area Search Instructors

Gail Collins

Gail Collins is currently the Lead for a County Search and Rescue K9 Unit in Idaho. She has spent her life in the outdoors and worked as a Wildlife Biologist for over 20 years, specializing in large carnivore research in some of the most remote areas of the US.

Gail has been active in K9 Search and Rescue since 2005, and since that time, has trained and nationally certified four dogs in multiple disciplines. She continues to be frequently deployed on missions and investigations across the West, and has had numerous live finds and recoveries with her canine partners.

Gail has long-served as a field evaluator and in leadership positions for several Search and Rescue organizations. She has also been a seminar instructor since 2014, with a special affinity for real-world problem solving and mentoring K9 teams.

Neil Day

Neil is the owner and lead instructor for All Day Dog Adventures based in Montana. He is also an operational member of a SAR unit and K9 team in Flathead Valley, Montana. Neil served with the British Army and was a Police Officer with the Metropolitan Police service in London for fifteen years.

Neil has been involved in K9 Search and Rescue since 2009 and since that time has trained and certified three dogs in multiple disciplines. He continues to be operational and deployed on missions across Montana. Neil and his canines have had multiple finds in both live find and human remains detection.

Neil has been an evaluator for various organizations and is currently an NSDA evaluator. He also has training and leadership roles in various SAR organizations. Neil has been leading and instructing multiple seminars in multiple disciplines throughout the United States since 2018.

Trailing Instructors

Amity Larsen

Amity Larsen of Idaho is the owner/trainer at The Good Shepherd K9 Training since 2014 and co-owner/handler at Precision K9 Detection. She has been training/handling detection dogs since 2012.

Amity has been training and deploying with her local K9 SAR agency since 2017 and frequently deploys at the request of other agencies in the PNW. She has certified dogs in HRD (including crime scene), TT, Airscent, Articles and Narcotics. She has certified with NSDA, IPWDA, and Idaho POST. She has been an instructor for multiple disciplines since 2018 and serves as an evaluator for several organizations.

Detective Mark Holmes

With a thirty-nine year career in Law Enforcement, Mark has been a Detective in the Criminal Investigations Division for the last 27 years and is assigned to Homicide/ Cold Case Homicide of the Jefferson County, TX Sheriff's Office. Mark also holds the Master Peace Officer Certification from the State of Texas.

Mark became a Law Enforcement K-9 handler in 1994. As a K-9 handler, He has been called upon to assist the F.B.I., U.S. Marshall's Office, U.S. State Department, The U.S. Department of the Interior - National Park Service, the United States Consulates Office, the Mexican Consulates Office, National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA - Space Shuttle Disaster), and Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Office of the Inspector General. Detective Holmes has also worked numerous canine related mantrailing cases throughout Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida including federal and state prison escapes. As a K-9 Handler, Mark is recognized as an Expert Witness in both Texas and Louisiana Judicial Court Systems.

Mark is a nationally recognized canine mantrailing instructor and Founded and is the President of both Texas Bloodhound Search and Rescue and the United States Mantrailing Association. Mark has taught well over 100 canine mantrailing seminars/ courses throughout the United States and has authored/ co-authored numerous training articles relating to canine mantrailing and scent specific canine training.