Huron Pines Staff

Brad Jensen, Executive Director, ext. 18
Brad, who grew up in the thumb area of Michigan, joined Huron Pines in 2001 as the Watershed Coordinator and in 2003 became the Executive Director.  After spending several years on the east coast and in Hawaii working in environmental education, Brad found his niche in northern Michigan. He oversees the Huron Pines staff, works closely with our Board of Directors and is responsible for overseeing projects, administration and fundraising. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Conservation from Northern Michigan University and holds a Master’s in Education from Minnesota State University.  Brad lives in Alden with his wife where he enjoys kayaking and being outdoors.

Lisha Ramsdell, Associate Director, ext. 29
Lisha, a native of Otsego County, joined Huron Pines in 2004. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Conservation from Northern Michigan University and went on to the University of Illinois in Springfield to focus on Environmental Policy. Lisha is responsible for building new program initiatives, developing projects and providing guidance and direction to the project managers. Lisha resides in Gaylord, is an avid bird hunter and also enjoys camping and kayaking.

Shelby Bauer, Stewardship Team Lead, ext. 13
Shelby grew up on a farm in a very small town outside of Lansing. She spent her summers at her grandparents forest property in Mio where she fell in love with Northern Michigan and developed her desire to work in the field of conservation. Vowing to move up north one day, her wish came true in 2017 when she moved to another small town outside of Gaylord. She joined Huron Pines in 2017 as a seasonal stewardship technician, and now coordinates invasive species management at Huron Pines. Shelby earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Fisheries and Wildlife with a concentration in Wildlife Biology and Management. When not fighting invasive species, Shelby enjoys writing, painting, and going on outdoor adventures with her husband Ken.

Colby Chilcote, Marketing and Development Director, ext. 10
Colby Chilcote comes to Huron Pines after a decade at Google where she worked in marketing and advertising helping small businesses and nonprofits build an online presence. Colby holds a bachelor of arts from Adrian College, and a master of fine arts from the University of Notre Dame. Colby lives in Grayling where she enjoys exploring the woods and fresh water with her husband and two sons.

Tonya Clayton, Office and Data Manager, ext. 21
Tonya’s love for Northern Michigan began during summer visits to her grandparent’s property in Gladwin where she would fish, hike and explore the outdoors. Originally from a small town outside of Ann Arbor, Tonya moved north and earned her Administrative Assistant Associate in Applied Science at Kirtland Community College. Over the next 15 years, she made her way from a work study in the Student Services department at Kirtland to working for the President and Board of Trustees at Mid Michigan College. She lives in Gaylord and enjoys hiking and snowmobiling with her husband.

Chris Engle, Communications Associate, (989) 312-3543
Located in the Alpena Office
Chris grew up in Alpena where he developed a love of the outdoors through fishing, often leaving home on excursions by bike to nearby waters as a kid. He moved to Gaylord in 2005 where he worked as a staff writer for the Gaylord Herald Times covering city government, environmental issues and conservation efforts. His twice-monthly column, One More Cast, took him out of the newsroom and across Northern Michigan to report what was being done to benefit the region’s natural resources and how people could best enjoy these places for themselves. He resigned his post in 2014 and later worked under a forestry consultant managing private forest lands for timber and wildlife in Otsego and surrounding counties. Chris’ favorite activities include fly fishing for bluegill, mushroom hunting and camping with his wife and young daughter. They reside in Alpena.

Abigail Ertel, Community Program Lead, ext. 14
Abby, who was born and raised in New Brunswick, Canada, joined Huron Pines in 2010 as the Watershed Project Manager and now leads our Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative. Prior to coming to Michigan, she lived in North Carolina working for the North Carolina Coastal Federation.  After relocating to Michigan in 2006 she served as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member through HeadWaters Land Conservancy. She earned her Master’s in Geography from Ohio University and also holds a Certificate in Conservation Biology. Abby resides in Grayling with her husband and two children, and she can often be found in the kitchen cooking or outside distance running.

Heather Huffstutler, Land Protection Director, ext. 17
Heather Huffstutler joins Huron Pines after working in stewardship and land protection for several years with Michigan land trusts including Walloon Lake Trust and Conservancy and Six Rivers Land Conservancy. With a background in biology and a love for Michigan’s outdoors, she’s thrilled to help Huron Pines build their land program. When not working, Heather can be found exploring back roads and hiking or paddling spots with her dog, Emmet.

Josh Leisen, Senior Project Manager, ext. 16
Josh grew up exploring the natural wonders of the Driftless Area near his hometown of Red Wing, MN. Climbing limestone bluffs and fishing its multitude of rivers—from the barge-traveled Mississippi River and its warmwater tributaries to coldwater trout streams—instilled in him a deep appreciation for and desire to protect our natural resources. Josh achieved his bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Minnesota-Duluth before earning his master’s in geography from the University of South Carolina. Josh joined the Huron Pines staff in 2013 after serving as a Watershed Technician through the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. In his current role as a Senior Project Manager, Josh coordinates many of our river restoration projects and is involved with a variety of other restoration and community engagement projects. An avid traveler and multi-species angler, Josh has caught well over 550 species of fish from six continents and three oceans. He also enjoys long-distance running and triathlons. Josh now resides in Gaylord, MI.

Samantha Nellis, Watershed Planner, ext. 31
Samantha, a Midwest native, joined the Huron Pines staff in 2019 as a Watershed Project Manager after spending two years in Alaska. Samantha works with Michigan coastal communities to develop programs that reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality. Samantha is passionate about conserving wild places, protecting overlooked species and enjoying clean water. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Northland College in Ashland, WI and a Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Outside of the office she enjoys camping, canoeing, skiing and biking with her husband and two children.

Amy Nowakowski, Coastal Project Manager, (989) 312-3076
Located in the Alpena Office
Amy, who grew up in Alpena, joined Huron Pines in January 2020 as the Coastal Project Manager. Amy holds an associate in science from Alpena Community College, a bachelor’s double-major in Geology and Environmental Science from Western Michigan University, and a master’s in Hydrology with a focus on Fisheries Biology from Colorado State University. Amy lived in Wyoming and worked for the Forest Service as a Hydrologist and Fisheries Biologist for over a decade. Amy also lived in Colorado, Hawaii, and Alaska. She is happy to be back in Northern Michigan, and is excited to conserve and restore Michigan’s natural resources through habitat restoration and community engagement. Amy enjoys being outside with her family, and loves camping, biking, skiing, kayaking, and playing hockey.

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Jill ScarzoProgram Assistant, ext. 21
Jill, originally from Chelsea, Michigan, joined Huron Pines in 1997. With her experience at Huron Pines, she will often be the person you talk to when you call us, connecting you to the right person or program. Jill spent all of her childhood summers in northern Michigan and finally settled in Grayling.  “The smell of the pine trees and the soft sand between your toes is something I’ve always loved. It doesn’t get any better when you can work for an organization that helps preserve the experience.” With a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Michigan, Jill believes that learning to get it exactly right, not just close, is a skill you can apply to anything and enjoys utilizing those detail skills on her work at Huron Pines. She resides in Grayling with her husband.

Amanda Vanaman, Huron Pines AmeriCorps Program Manager, ext. 30
A native of Southwest Michigan, Amanda earned a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University. She has done volunteer work with Binder Park Zoo and the Kalamazoo Nature Center. While spending time on Drummond Island for the Great Lakes Traditional Arts Gathering, Amanda started to pursue a career in conservation education.

“Amanda is a great fit for the AmeriCorps Program Manager position,” said Jennie Zoll, Director of Finance and Administration. “Her outgoing personality will help her navigate all of the AmeriCorps members and ensure they have a great term of service at their host sites.”

When she is not working, you can find her out rock hounding with some of her many nieces and nephews or enjoying a swim with her trusty dog, Lincoln.

Emily Vogelgesang, Environmental Education Coordinator, (989) 278-8325
Located in the Alpena Office
Emily Vogelgesang grew up in the panhandle of Florida. She joined the Huron Pines staff as Environmental Education Coordinator in 2017 after serving with the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. Emily earned her Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering from Auburn University. Prior to moving north, she lived and worked in Atlanta, Georgia as a private consultant for the Department of Transportation. Outside of the office, Emily can be found kayaking, watching Auburn football and learning all of the snow based recreation activities.

Steve Woods, Conservation Stewardship Director, ext. 19
Born and raised in Saginaw, Steve spent his summers vacationing with family on Black Lake. He later became a camp counselor at Camp Timbers in West Branch where his love of land continued to grow and he became interested in Environmental Education. He attended Lake Superior State University to receive a degree in Environmental Science and to fish. He holds a Master’s of Science in Environmental Forest Biology from the State University of New York where he conducted research in the Adirondack Mountains. After graduation he spent 17 years with The Nature Conservancy working to manage The Conservancy’s lands, restoring Michigan’s unique natural communities including fens, prairies and oak savanna systems. His work included building grassroots partnerships, managing invasive species and extensive training and experience with prescribed burns. The opportunity to join Huron Pines to conserve the woods and waters that define his sense of place feels like the fulfillment of a life-long dream. When not at work Steve spends time outside with his family swimming in the Great Lakes, skiing, fishing, hunting, backcountry camping and traveling. 

Jennie Zoll, Director of Finance and Administration, ext. 22
Jennie, who  grew up in Fowlerville, Michigan, joined Huron Pines in 2013 as the AmeriCorps Coordinator.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Science Minor. She then returned to Fowlerville to teach elementary school for 11 years. She earned her Masters in Education from Marygrove College. After recently relocating to Mancelona, Michigan, she was ready for a new career using her love of nature! Being an outdoor enthusiast she is often found on a lake, river or trail. She enjoys all outdoor activities especially snowmobiling in the winter. She enjoys the northern Michigan life with her husband Mike and their dog.

2020 Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member

Jennifer Klemm comes to Huron Pines AmeriCorps as a master’s student of applied ecology at Michigan Technological University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with minors in biology and environmental studies & sustainability, from Northern Michigan University in 2017. While serving as Environmental Education Specialist with Huron Pines, Jen will implement programs to get people outdoors and help them understand how to be environmental stewards under the guidance of Environmental Education Coordinator Emily Vogelgesang.