Meet the Hunt Hill Staff

Nikki pr

Nikki Nelson, Executive Director since October, 2014 and had been the Program Directer since 2008.   Her dog, Ruger, is often the first face welcoming guests to Hunt Hill and is a talkative yet super friendly and playful 6 year old puppy.

What does it mean to be the program director of a nature center and sanctuary? Major responsibilities include:  guiding the short and long-term plans for Hunt Hill to fulfill the wishes of Frances Andrews (original donor of the property); working with the volunteer Board of Directors; keeping a good working relationship with the National Audubon Society; managing the financial and legal responsibilities of the organization; managing the staff; being the chief public relations person welcoming visitors; speaking to groups; and developing new partnerships with outside organizations.

What I enjoy about Hunt Hill:The PEOPLE!  I work with the most wonderful group of people; staff, volunteers, program participants and resource people. Their enthusiasm, support and overall great attitudes make Hunt Hill such a fun place to work and live. It also doesn’t hurt that I am in one of the most unique and beautiful places in the whole world (no bias).

Katie Connelly, Program Director: Katie will begin as Program Director in January, 2015.

sallySally Bartz, Office Manager: has 3 kids, 4 grandchildren and a Westie.  She lives in Shell Lake where she enjoys quilting, riding bike and snowshoeing.

What does it mean to be Office Manager at Hunt Hill?  Major responsibilities include: bookkeeping, office paperwork, greeting visitors, registration, maintaining email lists, tracking membership and much more.

What I enjoy the most: It’s such a beautiful setting for a job.  I enjoy meeting the Hunt Hill’s members and campers, and listening to the kids having fun outside.  I think it’s important for kids to learn to appreciate the outdoors.  I know I feel a sense of peace come over me when I’m out in the woods.  Its also a great bunch of people to work with.

jim14Jim Gruenhagen, Head Maintenence
Jim was born and raised in the Long Lake Area. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time on the area lakes boating and camping. 

What does it mean to be the maintenance crew of a nature center and sanctuary? Major responsibilities include: all maintenance work, general cleaning, landscaping, and facilities improvements at Hunt Hill as assigned by the Executive Director and Board of Directors of the Friends of the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary, Inc.

What I enjoy the most about Hunt Hill: I enjoy that it is so peaceful and stress-free. I enjoy all the conversations with people that visit here, all the fantastic volunteers and staff that I work with as well. It is a wonderful place to be each day and I am glad I have the opportunity to work here.  Its fun to see how much fun and how much people enjoy the programs offered here.  I’ve lived here all my life and I’m still amazed that I see something new and different in the north woods each day.

larry fun 2Larry Piskie, Assistant Maintenence, has been keeping Hunt Hill looking great since the spring of 2000. Native to Illinois, he fell in love with the area and now lives on Long Lake with his wife Colette, 9 months out of the year and then they ‘fly south’ for some much needed rest before he returns for the busy season.

What does it mean to be the maintenance crew of a nature center and sanctuary? Major responsibilities include: all maintenance work, general cleaning, landscaping, and facilities improvements at Hunt Hill as assigned by the Executive Director and Board of Directors of the Friends of the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary, Inc.

What I enjoy about Hunt Hill: I welcome the opportunity to work in the outdoors with nature.  I enjoy talking with visitors about the special resources available at Hunt Hill and I am continually learning about wildlife and experiencing it firsthand. Being employed at Hunt Hill provides me with an opportunity to grow personally while having a hand in local land and wildlife preservation. I am an advocate for the Hunt Hill buildings, lands, flora and fauna. There is great enjoyment in the participation of a dedicated young organization as it continues to grow and reach out to more people right in our neighborhood.

Summer Staff for 2014 includes:

Head Cook:
Laura W.

Environmental Educators:

saraSara D. I’m so excited to be spending my first summer at Hunt Hill as an environmental educator! I grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and love canoeing and kayaking in my free time. I will be a third year student at Grinnell College in Iowa this fall, where I am a Biology major with a focus in environmental sciences.  I teach at the college preschool and can’t wait to combine my love of nature with my passion for education in such a beautiful place.


Sage D. Sage is thrilled to be returning to Hunt Hill for her third summer as an educator! Born and raised in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, Sage has been involved in activities at Hunt Hill since her youth. She loves being able to spend her summers combining her two greatest passions: education and nature. When she’s not at Hunt Hill, she attends Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California where she is currently learning Spanish in order to study abroad in Mendoza, Argentina in 2015!

kellyKelly G. This will be my first summer at Hunt Hill as an environmental educator. I grew up in Cumberland, Wisconsin and will be a third year Natural Resources student at Northland College in Ashland this fall. When I’m not hunting for rocks, climbing trees, or swimming in the lake, I’ll be curled up somewhere with a good book. I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to spend the summer sharing my love of the outdoors in such a beautiful place.

nicole mitchellNicole M. This will be my first summer at Hunt Hill and I’m thrilled! I grew up in Chicago but spend the school year at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I will be a sophomore next year. I love to knit and embroider; crafts are my jam! I’m looking forward to a fun summer at Hunt Hill!

nicoleNicole Z. Hello! I am super excited to be working as a Hunt Hill Summer Educator and also serving as the Long Lake Preservation Association (LLPA) Intern!

I am originally from Barron, WI where my love of the outdoors began.  I grew up hunting and fishing, and still love to do both today.  I graduated in May from the University of Wisconsin – Superior with a degree in broad field science and a minor in biology for secondary education. I plan to teach science, at the high school or middle school level, or I would also love to get involved even more with environmental education.

Living in Superior has heightened my love for being outside, and I enjoy agate hunting and hiking along the shores of Lake Superior in my free time.  I also enjoy reading, playing guitar (poorly I may add), and just spending time with family and friends.

Here’s to an awesome summer!

Former Staff:

best 2013 staff
Summer Staff 2013: Seated L to R – Callie B, Elizabeth E, Storme N, Ruger, Nikki N, Elise M and Jan K. Standing in 2nd row – Larry P, John M and Jim G. Standing behind sign L to R – Nicole Z, Kim S, Carla C, Terry D and Sage D.


Summer Staff 2012:  Seated L to R – Nikki Rukamp, Sage Dunham, Catie Kriplean, Ruger Nelson (camp dog), Nikki Nelson, Jan Killian and Sam Anderson. Standing L to R: Storme Nelson, Larry Piskie, John Hartman. Missing from photo: Cooks: Carla Cewe and Kim Stephanites


Summer Staff 2011: L to R- Nikki Nelson, Ruger, Storme Nelson, Sydney Schieffer, Kelsey Clinton, Catie Kriplean, Karen Kress, Larry Piskie. Back Row: L to R- Sarah Santa Cruz, Colette Piskie, Nikki Rukamp.


Summer Staff 2010: L to R – Travis VanBeek, Park Taylor, Kyle Green, PaHoua Lee, Nikki Rukamp, Nikki Nelson, Ruger, Storme Nelson, Karen Kress, Ava Gustafson, Ashley Enoch. Back Row L to R: Colette Piskie,  Larry Piskie.

staff pic-w400-h400

Summer Staff 2009: L to R – Elizabeth Shmikler, Kyle Green, Ruger, Nikki Nelson, Colette Piskie, Storme Nelson, Park Taylor, Kelly Winum, Ava Gustafson, Pahoua Lee, Karen Kress and Larry Piskie.


Summer Staff 2008: L to R – Storme Nelson, Cody Myers, Bailey Woodruff, Colette Piskie, Larry Piskie, Jessica Pettersson, Nikki Nelson, Jillian Bjorklund, Karen Kress, Amber Mealman, Eric Severson