Meet the Hunt Hill Staff

Nikki pr

Nikki Janisin, Executive Director since October, 2014.   She recently moved to Haugen where she resides with her husband Dan, son Joe and dog, Ruger. Before stepping into the ED position, she had served as the Program Director since 2008 and is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

What does it mean to be the Executive 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; and speaking to groups.

What I enjoy about Hunt Hill:  Hunt Hill holds such a special place in my heart and I have especially enjoyed hearing the stories of others who have been positively impacted by their experience here.  I am inspired and motivated by our donor, Frances Andrews, who showed early insight to protection and education of the environment.  Hunt Hill is a beautiful place with wonderful staff, volunteers, members and visitors and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

katie and fishKatie Connolly, Program Director since January 2015. Katie studied Wildlife Ecology and Biology as an undergraduate at UW-Stevens Point, and also has a Master of Science degree in Environmental Education from UW-Stevens Point. Katie enjoys spending time in the outdoors: horseback riding, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, and geocaching are some of her favorite activities. You can often see her hiking the Hunt Hill trails with her dog, Idgie.

What does it mean to be the Program Director of a nature center and sanctuary? Plan, promote, and schedule programs and rentals; hire and manage summer and school year educators; work collaboratively with area organizations; edit Hunt Hill publications; prepare grants and a lot more!

What I enjoy the most about Hunt Hill: Hunt Hill is not only an amazing property, it is an amazing community of members, volunteers, staff, and neighbors who share a passion for protecting our natural resources and educating others on the importance of conservation. I encourage everyone to come out and visit us, and experience this special place for yourself!



Sally Bartz, Office Manager since March 2014: has 3 kids, 4 grandchildren and a Westie named Duncan.  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 Maintenance
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 Maintenance, 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 2016 includes:

Head Cook: This years meals are all catered in by The Roost of Sarona


Environmental Educators:



Jane W: Jane grew up in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa this past spring with a major in Environmental Studies. She has spent past summers as a teaching assistant for college courses that study geology and ecology in Yellowstone and as a student researcher for paleoclimatology research, funded by the National Science Foundation. Last fall she spent the semester abroad on an Earth and Environment in Italy program, and got meet, live with, and learn from some world-famous geologists. She loves ballroom and swing dancing, baking, and kayaking!



Tara - 16Tara G:  Tara grew up in Freedom, Wisconsin and went to Beloit College where she graduated in 2014 with a bachelors degree in Ecology, Evolutionary, and Behavioral Biology.  The summer after college she interned at Wehr Nature Center in Franklin, Wisconsin leading educational field trips.  After that, she spent the next year and half at Edwards YMCA Camp in East Troy, Wisconsin.  While at Camp Edwards she spent the school year as a program specialist working with outdoor education school groups and the summer as the day camp program director.  Her favorite thing to do while camping is to make s’mores by the campfire!



Nicole D: Nicole grew up in Delavan, WI and is a 5th year senior at UW-Eau Claire, majoring in geography with a minor in American Indian studies. She was a student mentor for the Pine Ridge Immersion trip this summer, learning about Lakota culture and doing service projects for the SuAnne Big Crow Youth Center. She is treasurer and secretary for the UWEC Inter-Tribal Student Council (ITSC), is fundraising coordinator for Alpha Phi Omega – Eta Lambda, and was a mellophone and sousaphone player for the Blugold Marching Band.She is a collector of maps and has a hedgehog named Nigel. She enjoys hiking trails, kayaking, tubing down rivers, reading, painting, rocks, plants, and cats.




Darcy - 16


Darcy L: Darcy is from Milton, WI, and is currently attending the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a major in Environmental Education and Interpretation. This past January, she volunteered with the National Park Service at Grand Canyon National Park, AZ through the UWSP Alternative Winter Break program. She grew up traveling to many National Parks with her family and has visited more than thirty U.S. states. Darcy has a passion for anything outdoors especially camping, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, hunting, and hiking.


sarah -16

Sarah W: Sarah grew up in Aurora, Illinois and currently attends Northland College in Ashland, Wi. She majors in Humanities and Nature Studies and minors in Sociology and Gender and Women studies. In the past summers she worked with the DuPage county forest preserve as a maintenance worker and summer camp counselor. In her spare time, she loves to hike, canoe, fishing, looking for moss and snails, embroidery, cross stitch, watching terrible movies, and taking walks on the shores of Lake Superior. She has a cat named Rufus and lots of moss. She is super excited to have an awesome summer.




Former Staff:

IMG_1655Summer Staff 2015: Seated L to R – Molly, Kari, Kelsey, Lauren, Idgie the camp dog, Katie C.   Standing L to R – Katie B, Larry, Nikki, Sally, Jim  Missing: Joakim


Summer Staff 2014: Seated L to R- Laura, Kelly, Nicole, Sara, Sally, Ruger, Nikki, Larry, John and Jim. Standing L to R- Janet, Nicole, Sage, Storme


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