The past couple years at Hunt Hill have been amazing. Meeting the challenge of the Million Dollar Match, the complete renovation of the Recreation Hall, and the addition of creative and hard-working staff to complement an already strong roster of employees has been wonderful to behold. The vision for Hunt Hill in 2020 was exciting to say the least. Over the past year we have seen expanded programming and dramatic increases in attendance in many of our offerings, and the stage was set for our graph to continue to rise into the future. Then we had to come to a screeching halt. While the Covid-19 pandemic has essentially eliminated most of what we planned to offer to the public this year, Hunt Hill remains committed to providing all we can in a safe environment. I am hopeful everyone will routinely visit us on-line to see what programs we are able to offer, take full advantage of our trail system, and continue to support our mission. It is our sincere desire to get back to normal, or create a new normal that allows all of us to interact again soon.

Mike Harvey – Board President, Spring 2020

Friends of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary (FOHHAS)

The FOHHAS group, following the wishes of donor Frances Andrews, manages the operations and facilities of Hunt Hill.

Meet The Board

Mike Harvey (President)

My wife Vicky and I have been actively involved with Hunt Hill for four or five years now. We had heard of Hunt Hill over the years, read about it from time to time in the newspapers, but until we moved to Rice Lake, had lived too far away to become actively involved. When we moved we immediately became volunteers and tried our hand at almost everything Hunt Hill had to offer. Volunteering at Hunt Hill is both fun and exciting. Being avid outdoors people and concerned about the environment, Hunt Hill’s mission was an easy one for us to adopt. Serving on the FOHHAS board has also been rewarding. We look forward to continuing to serve Hunt Hill into the future.

Tom Nelson (Vice President)

Visits to Washburn County began for me thirty-seven years ago when my family and I bought a lake home on Long Lake. The first view of the lake after we make the three-hour drive from our home in Medina, Minnesota continues to thrill us after all these years.

As a board member for Hunt Hill, I bring over 45 years of business experience to the table. I started in the manufacturer’s rep business in 1972, and in 1980, started my own firm. Retirement allows me to pursue other areas of interest, including spending more time with my wife Deb, our three children who live near and far, and with our five grandchildren, each of whom love our lake home paradise as much as we do.

Having attended Cakes at the Lake with our kids and grandkids over the years, being on the board with Hunt Hill seems like the perfect opportunity to get involved and help make a difference to our beautiful summer community. 

Bill Stewart (Secretary)

As a lifelong Spooner resident, I knew about Hunt Hill, but didn’t visit it much until our young boys started going to day camps. My wife Kathy and I always enjoyed being outdoors and particularly appreciated how Hunt Hill increased their interest and enthusiasm for this. 

I have served on several boards for community organizations and institutions, but none of them are as productive or involved as the Hunt Hill board and members. There is quite a lot of public land around here and if you want to walk in the woods it can be found. What is not so easily found, but is in abundance at Hunt Hill, is enthusiasm and knowledge of our local, natural world. Coming to Hunt Hill I meet staff, other members and guests who open my eyes to what I’m experiencing and help me understand why it matters.

I’ve served on several committees and also as president. I’m poor with tools, but Hunt Hill has welcomed my work experience in administration and marketing. Currently I’m board secretary and enjoy keeping board members up to date.

It seems entirely backwards to say that I come to a nature sanctuary for the people, but there it is. It starts with the staff. They love this place. You expect Nikki, Sage and Kelsey to teach you a thing or two about nature – which they surely will – but Sally, Mark and Larry know their critters and habitat, love learning more and talking about it. While working in the Prairie with Gary Dunsmore I learned a thing or two about the nesting seasons there. At Soup Lunches and Birds & Beers I’ve made new friends who know trails and creeks that they like to visit. A conversation at Soup Lunch led to a six-man snowshoe trek into the Frog Creek wilds.

Tom Vonasek (Treasurer/Finance Committee Chair)

Tom was born and raised in Rice Lake, WI. He is a graduate of Rice Lake High School Class of 1964 and earned a business degree from UW-EC in 1968. He married Gloria Hanson in 1967 and together have three sons.

Tom’s work career spanned 50 years with a family owned commercial building construction firm in Rice Lake. Tom and Gloria are now retired and reside on Long Lake.

Shortly after retirement, Tom became involved in the Long Lake Preservation Association (LLPA) and through that group became involved in jointly held activities at Hunt Hill. In 2014, when Tom’s term on the LLPA board ended, Nikki extended the invitation to join the Hunt Hill Board of Directors.

My lifelong interest in hunting and exploring the wildlife areas of Wisconsin made me aware of the importance of providing others the opportunity to experience nature as I have. What better place to do so than Hunt Hill.

Nick Allen

After roaming around the world I finally settled down in Madge nearly 30 years ago, drawn to the natural beauty of the area and the friendly sense of local community. Growing up I spent much of my free time around the water or off in wild places – enjoying the quiet majesty of coasts, deserts and high mountains. Over the years I came to realize that the natural balanced beauty of the world was not to be taken for granted: it is under perilous threat and must be courageously defended on many fronts!

Thinking globally, I saw a place for local action right here in our forests and lakes and volunteered at Hunt Hill. I strongly believe in the importance of Hunt Hill as both a nature sanctuary and an education center
to instill a love and understanding of the land in our community, particularly our younger ones.

Amazing things are happening here right now: pipe dreams coming true thanks to years of careful, thoughtful planning and hard work. I am proud to add my energy to the countless volunteers who make Hunt Hill such a wonderful place. Come join us in any way you can and help preserve the natural beauty we enjoy here!

Debbie Bouma (Fundraising Committee Chair)

After making Long Lake our full time home two years ago, my husband Dennis and I became more interested in events at Hunt Hill and found it to be a wonderful natural resource in this area. We are so lucky to have this Sanctuary in our backyard. In this short time we have made wonderful friends while spending time at Hunt Hill events. I felt it was important to join the board and offer my knowledge, time and talents to ensure more people can enjoy this beautiful area.

Christa Byrnes

Gary Dunsmoor (Program Committee Chair)

I’m originally from Rhinelander, where I was raised in a great family of nine, plus two dogs and whatever small critters I had in my bedroom at any given time. I graduated from UW-Stevens Point with a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management. Around 25 years ago, I began giving presentations at Hunt Hill with the annual spring wildlife hikes for the Spooner 5th grade students. I retired from the Department of Natural Resources in 2013 with over 38 years of service, 35 of them in Wildlife Management in Spooner.

Doug Edwardsen

As a youth and as an adult, I vacationed “up north” every year and developed a deep appreciation of Wisconsin lake country. During these yearly northern treks my wife Pat and I decided we would move here someday. In 2014 we fulfilled our dream of a home on the water and moved to Rice Lake. We visited Hunt Hill several times and were struck with its natural beauty. One day last fall after walking one of the trails, Pat and I were leaving the preserve and had to abruptly stop the truck and enjoy the woods that were glowing orange from the sunlight bursting through the trees. It was an awesome sight! Hunt Hill is a special place to experience and learn about nature at its finest. I look forward to supporting the Hunt Hill vision and contributing through my background in marketing and education and my appreciation of this wonderful resource.

Heidi Olson Hong (Membership Committee Chair)

Paula Kodesh

Paula is a resident of Rice Lake and is married to Ray Kodesh. She is the mother of three children and grandmother to nine. She is licensed as an RN and retired after working 40 years in the area, the last 24 years as a school nurse. She is also a small business owner having run Southside Laundry in Rice Lake since 1984. Paula has a connection to Hunt Hill in that Frances Andrews was a family friend of her grandmother. She appreciates the legacy and wants to see its success continue to grow. This is her first year on the Board. She lives on Long Lake during the summer months and can often be seen in her kayak. Her other hobbies include hiking, camping, biking, cooking and reading.

Carrie Romsos

Carrie moved from the Twin Cities to Shell Lake the summer of 2014 with her family. Her love of nature and the outdoors began in her early years as she would assist in cultivating crops and raising animals on the family dairy farm near Chippewa Falls. Carrie’s children Blake and Riley have participated in the Hunt Hill day camps for years, therefore when Carrie moved here she wanted to get involved with a place that gave her children so many memories with their cousins. Carrie and her husband Dale have volunteered for Prairie Fling, Pancake Breakfasts, Fundraising Activities, and Membership. Carrie believes that Hunt Hill impacts our children’s love of nature and gets them off of their electronics!

Jim Schmitz

I currently reside on a few acres next to a small lake near Shell Lake with my wife Susie.  Over the years we visited the Shell Lake area on vacation with our young family, falling in love with the natural beauty, friendly people and the simple lifestyle. When I was employed, I used to travel to various parts of the USA and the world on business trips and always found the natural beauty and wonder of northern Wisconsin the best anywhere. When given the opportunity, we settled in the Shell Lake area in 2003, became members of FOHHAS that year and have enjoyed our new lifestyle ever since.

I am active in various outdoor activities, such as hiking, canoeing/kayaking, outdoor photography, but especially fishing. I also engage in growing gardens, raising chickens and rabbits, and supporting various organizations and our local communities.

My latest goal is to learn more about the Hunt Hill organization and to spend more time at the facility now that I am retired, so what better way to do so, than to become a board member. It is an honor to be associated with such a fine organization that promotes conservation and the love of nature to the current and next generations.