Huron Pines Staff

Brad Jensen, Executive Director
(989) 448-2293, 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
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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 Program Coordinator
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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.

Julia Butch, Land Protection Coordinator
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Julia grew up on Long Lake north of Alpena and formed an interest and passion in the outdoors with the guidance of her dad. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in ecology, evolution and organismal diversity from Eastern Michigan University. She served as the Lake Huron Forever Engagement Specialist as a member of Huron Pines AmeriCorps in 2022, coordinating with coastal communities and engaging volunteers in the protection of Lake Huron. She now works in land protection and education, helping to preserve special places and get people excited about the outdoors. After hours, she enjoys bird watching, camping, crafting, kayaking and hiking with her dogs (and sometimes cat).

Tonya Clayton, Office and Data Manager
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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
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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. He moved to Gaylord in 2005 where he worked as a staff writer for the Gaylord Herald Times covering city government, environment and conservation. His column, One More Cast, took him across Northern Michigan to report what was being done to benefit the region’s natural resources and how people could get involved. He later worked under a forestry consultant managing private forest lands for timber and wildlife. Chris’ favorite activities include fly fishing for bluegill, mushroom hunting and camping with his wife and young daughter.

Abigail Ertel, Community Program Director
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Born and raised in New Brunswick, Canada, Abby joined Huron Pines in 2010 and currently leads all aspects of our community programming. Prior to coming to Michigan in 2006, she lived in North Carolina working for the North Carolina Coastal Federation. She served as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member through HeadWaters Land Conservancy. She joined the Huron Pines staff as Watershed Project Manager and eventually led the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative. Abby graduated from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick then earned her Master of Arts in Geography and Certificate in Conservation Biology from Ohio University. Abby resides in Grayling with her husband and two daughters where she enjoys participating in community theater, bird watching, reading and spending time outside.

Logan Hawley, Coastal Restoration Team Lead
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A native of Byron Center, Logan grew to love the outdoors through long days of cutting wood on the family property and adventures to Michigan’s west coast. He found his passion for restoring natural resources during a family trip to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park where he was awestruck by the fantastically diverse landscapes to be found within our state. He graduated from Michigan Tech with a Master of Science degree in Forestry with a focus on Water Resource Management. His past work and independent projects earned him experience in wetland protection and restoration for water quality, eventually leading him to join Huron Pines for the 2020 field season. Logan spends his free time hiking, kayaking, fishing, playing soccer and exploring the coast of Lake Huron.

Amber Hubbard, Coastal Stewardship Coordinator
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Amber grew up in Macomb and earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology from Ferris State University in 2019 and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University. She’s worked as a naturalist intern at Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, a sea lamprey research technician at Hammond Bay Biological Station in Millersburg, a forestry technician in Northern Michigan’s hardwood forests for Michigan State University, and a technician & crew lead for the Michigan Inland Wetland Monitoring Program. She enjoys board games, baking, hiking and canoeing, particularly in Huron National Forest and along the Au Sable River.

Heather Huffstutler, Development Director
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Heather joined Huron Pines in 2019 to lead and grow the Land Protection program as Land Protection Director. With a background in stewardship with several regional and national land conservancies, Heather brings a wide base of knowledge about land conservation, relationship building and strong connection to Michigan’s natural resources. As Development Director, Heather leads our fundraising efforts and guides the communications and marketing team. Heather resides in Petoskey and enjoys gardening and exploring new places in the outdoors with her family and favorite dog, Emmet.

Maddie Khuri, Community Education Project Manager
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Maddie grew up in Marietta, Ga. and developed her love for nature as a kid visiting her grandparents’ farm in North Georgia and through her many travels. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management from the University of Alabama and is currently working on her Master of Arts in Teaching Biology from Miami University. After college, she spent two years in Zambia as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching aquaculture, beekeeping and leading after-school programs. She joined the staff of Huron Pines in January 2022 after completing a one-year service term with Huron Pines AmeriCorps as Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service in Mio. In her free time, Maddie enjoys camping, foraging for mushrooms, hiking and practicing yoga.

Paige Lackey, Communications Manager
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Paige grew up in Southwest Michigan and spent summers at her grandparents’ house near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which fostered her love for Northern Michigan. She attended Michigan State University and earned degrees in environmental studies and sustainability, and sustainable natural resource recreation and tourism. Paige is joining the Huron Pines staff after serving two Huron Pines AmeriCorps terms with the Department of Natural Resources. In 2021 she implemented Project Rustic, a statewide RV tour of Michigan’s state forest campgrounds designed to improve the depth and accuracy of information for travelers. She resides in Traverse City with her dog, Willow, and spends her free time mountain biking, paddle boarding, camping and skiing.

Josh Leisen, Senior Project Manager
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Josh grew up exploring the Driftless Area near his hometown of Red Wing, Minn. Climbing limestone bluffs and fishing its rivers—from the Mississippi River and its tributaries to coldwater trout streams—instilled in him an 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 staff in 2013 after serving as a Watershed Technician through Huron Pines AmeriCorps. Josh coordinates our river restoration projects and is involved with a variety of other restoration and community engagement efforts. An avid traveler and angler, Josh has caught 573 species of fish from six continents and three oceans. He also enjoys long-distance running and triathlons.

Samantha Nellis, Water Program Director
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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 of Science 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
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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.

Nick Theisen, Watershed Technician
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Nick grew up in Southeast Michigan and came to love the state’s aquatic resources during childhood trips to Higgins Lake to visit family and enjoy time on the water. Nick holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Management with a minor in Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy (STEPPs) from Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs residential college. Nick served two terms with Huron Pines AmeriCorps: at Missaukee Conservation District in 2020 and Huron Pines’ Alpena office in 2021. During his 2021 service, Nick conducted extensive road/stream crossing inventories in Northeast Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula. Outside of work, he enjoys backpacking, fly fishing and any other outdoor activity that Northern Michigan has to offer.

Amanda Vanaman, Huron Pines AmeriCorps Program Manager
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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. 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.

Steve Woods, Conservation Stewardship Director
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Born and raised in Saginaw, Steve spent his summers vacationing on Black Lake. He later became a camp counselor at Camp Timbers in West Branch where his love of land led to an interest in environmental education. He attended Lake Superior State University to earn a degree in Environmental Science and to fish. He holds a Master of Science in Environmental Forest Biology from the State University of New York. He spent 17 years with The Nature Conservancy restoring natural landscapes through grassroots partnerships, invasive species management and prescribed burns. The opportunity to join Huron Pines to conserve the woods and waters that define his sense of place are the fulfillment of a life-long dream. Steve spends time outside with his family swimming, skiing, fishing, hunting, backcountry camping and traveling. 

Jennie Zoll, Director of Finance and Administration
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Jennie, who  grew up in Fowlerville, 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 Master’s in Education from Marygrove College. After recently relocating to Mancelona, 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.

Our Huron Pines AmeriCorps Members

Victor Ma, Community Stewardship Specialist
Victor grew up in Texas and his passion for wildlife conservation led him to Texas State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in wildlife biology with a minor in horticulture. During school, Victor was involved with San Marcos Discovery Center where he taught environmental education, learned about native and invasive species, pollinators, restoration of riparian zones, and led community groups in river and park cleanup projects. His many jobs since college have ranged from education to wildlife rehabilitation. As Community Stewardship Specialist, Victor helps Huron PInes connect with volunteers and community organizations to advance stewardship efforts across Northern Michigan. He enjoys birding and gardening.

Hanaan Yazdi, Water Stewardship Technician
Raised in New Jersey and Maryland, Hanaan studied environmental science and public health during her undergrad in Boston. After college, she worked as an intern at the Boston Public Library’s map archive center, as an educator at the Boston Nature Center, and most recently as an evaluator for a public health nonprofit in New York City. Her interest in environmental science and conservation led her to the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. As Watershed Stewardship Technician, Hanaan gathers important data across Northern Michigan watersheds to help guide Huron Pines’ restoration and stewardship efforts. She enjoys camping and hiking and is looking forward to exploring the Great Lakes region.