Meet the Hunt Hill Staff

Nikki Janisin, Executive Director since October, 2014. Before stepping into the Executive Director position, she had served as the Program Director since 2008 and before that had been a summer environmental educator for two summers.  Nikki is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire with a degree in Biology Education. She recently moved to Haugen where she resides with her husband Dan, son Joe and dog, Ruger. When she is not hanging out at Hunt Hill, she spends her time taking her son on adventures, curling and crafting.

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 the most 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 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  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 of a nature center and sanctuary?  Major responsibilities include: bookkeeping, office paperwork, greeting visitors, registration, maintaining email lists, tracking membership and much more.

What I enjoy the most about Hunt Hill: 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 the most 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

Sage Dunham, Day Camp Director, grew up in Shell Lake, Wisconsin and attended Hunt Hill camps as a child. In high school, She returned to volunteer as a Junior Counselor. During college, she worked as an Environmental Educator for three years. She graduated from Soka University of America in 2016, and in 2017 she returned to become the first ever Day Camp Director! She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from St. Catherine University and will graduate this coming December. In her free time, she loves to create art, spend time outside, and play games with her family.

What does it mean to be the Day Camp Director of a nature center and sanctuary? The Day Camp Director ensures that Day Camps run smoothly, trains the Environmental Educators in the best practices in working with children and advises them as they develop fun and educational activity plans. The Day Camp Director recruits and schedules Junior Counselors and other volunteers to help with the functioning of camps. Throughout the summer, the Day Camp Director supports the Environmental Educators and Junior Counselors as they run camps. The Day Camp Director also leads morning check ins, assists with (and sometimes plays) games, and leads our parent presentations!

What I enjoy the most about Hunt Hill?  My favorite thing about Hunt Hill is that it provides many experiences for learning about the natural world. I have fond memories from my childhood of seeing butterflies come out of their chrysalises, catching frogs, and watching fireflies at Hunt Hill. It has been so fulfilling to come back and inspire the next generation of naturalists, especially those who would otherwise be tentative about interacting with the natural world. It is wonderful to see a person handle a spider, bug, or snake for the first time. Hunt Hill provides the community with a place to explore and connect with nature in lasting and memorable ways.

Environmental Educators:


Former Staff:

Summer Staff 2017: Kneeling, L to R – Sage, Nick, Sarah, Katie, Idgie (camp dog), Caelyn
Standing, L to R – Nikki, Sally, Jim, Larry

Not Pictured: Balin

Summer Staff 2016: Seated L to R – Tara, Jane, Sarah, Katie, Idgie the camp dog, Darcy
Standing L to R- Jim, Sally, Nikki, Larry

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