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 (Program Committee Chair)

Christa has been a resident of Long Lake since 2012.  She lives with her husband Mike and has two children (Jamie – San Frisco, CO & Jessie – Durango, CO).  She is a retire Professor of Engineering of Civil Engineering from UW-Platteville.  Christa and her family love all things outdoors.  She specifically likes golfing, hiking, and water sports.  She volunteers as an educator at Hunt Hill.  She is the Program Committee chair and a member of the Fund Raising Committee.


Paul Chase

Growing up in Ashland, I lived on the outskirts of town, an easy walk to farms, creeks, woods, and vales. Winter and summer, my friends and I would go up to the “crick” to explore, sled, ski, snowshoe, and play. Once we played junior engineers and dammed up the creek. The farmer who owned the property at that point admonished us not to do it again–but he never told us not to play there.

I see Hunt Hill as a sort of adult version of that young person’s paradise. A place to encounter the natural world and learn its secrets and enjoy its wonders. As a lifelong educator, I am looking forward to working with the Hunt Hill board and staff as they strive to preserve and enhance this remarkable oasis as a site for engaging young and old with the science and beauty of nature.


Carolyn Cleveland

Carolyn moved to Madge with her husband, Dave, in 2002.  She quickly became involved with Hunt Hill, joining the Board of Directors in 2006. She served as Secretary, Fundraising Chair, Program Chair, Vice Chair and President. She is retired from a career in interior design and has put her talents to work serving on the Building Committee and remodeling of the cabins. Her latest involvement was when her and husband, Dave, offered the Million Dollar Match. After a year off the board, she has rejoined in 2021, stating “A year off the Board is too long.”


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.


Thom Gerst

I spent the bulk of my years in the Twin Cities going to school, getting a degree in biology, finishing med school and working as a family medicine physician in the same clinic for 32 years before retiring at the end of 2016. Since I was five years old I’ve enjoyed NW Wisconsin as “the fun place” where weekends were spent at a cabin near the Namekagon River just south of Cable. Fortunately we had the outdoors in which to entertain ourselves without any competition from the internet and TV programming was so meager that it could be exhausted quickly. After retiring, my wife (Cindy) and I moved eight miles west of Spooner on the Yellow River. I have traveled extensively and enjoyed photography, hiking and mountaineering on six continents. I love the Boundary Waters and have skied the Birkie 24 times. More recently I was excited to take one of the Wisconsin Master Naturalist Volunteer Training week long classes and look forward to taking advanced classes and continuing my education. I’m excited to be a part of Hunt Hill’s board and am committed to its mission.


Heidi Olson Hong (Membership Committee Chair)

Hunt Hill has allowed me to be part of a board with people that like me, savor the beauty of the outdoors and work towards preservation of our last wild places here in northern Wisconsin.

Having been part of many BOD’s, from local to national levels – I must say that this group really rocks! We are all committed to helping make Hunt Hill a destination where you can wander our trails and paddle the lake while learning about our precious environments. I’m so happy to be a small part of this place with an exceptional and knowledgeable staff.

I enjoy traveling, have been an outdoor photographer since the 70’s, and a water seeker since middle school. On or in the water – I’m there, most days in a kayak on a river. It is my passion for the outdoors and the dedication to informing others of the importance of ‘getting out there’ amid the wild things that brings me to Hunt Hill. There are many opportunities and adventures waiting for you, I hope to see you at the Hill.


Paula Kodesh

I am a resident of Rice Lake and am married to Ray Kodesh.  I am the mother of three children and grandmother to ten.  I am licensed as an RN and retired after working 40 years in the area, the last 24 years as a school nurse.   I am also a small business owner, managing Southside Laundry in Rice Lake since 1984.    I have a personal connection to Hunt Hill in that Frances Andrews was a family friend of my grandmother.  I appreciate the legacy and want to see its’ success continue to grow.  I joined the Board in 2020, am on the Fundraising Committee, but enjoy helping out with other needs as well.    I live on Long Lake during the summer months and enjoy the silent sports, especially my kayak.   My other hobbies include hiking, camping, biking, cross-country skiing, cooking and reading. 


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.