Board of Directors

Ryan Busse, Chair

Kalispell, MT

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By the time Ryan could walk and carry a lever action, he began exploring the backcountry of the vast unbroken native prairies on the western Kansas ranch where he was raised. Not content with rifle alone, he began casting fly rods at age 5 in preparation for family trips into the mountains of Colorado and would explore dozens of backcountry rivers and streams in Colorado and Wyoming. In college he was known to house his bird dog and double barrel in his dorm, but he still managed to obtain a degree in history and political science.

After graduating from college in 1993, Ryan began a career in the outdoor industry. In 1995 he moved to northern Montana to run the sales department for Kimber, which at that time was a fledgling firearms company. He soon became vice president of sales where he remains today. Kimber is now a thriving company and one of the top four firearms manufacturers in the United States.

Throughout his professional career he has actively volunteered on numerous boards and advisory panels including a four-year term as chairman of Montana Conservation Voters. He played pivotal roles in guiding numerous programs and campaigns including nationally significant efforts to elect conservation champions such as Sen. Jon Tester.

Ryan loves to hike small streams with a fly rod, bird hunt behind his prized dogs and pursue big game with rifles he helped design. He spends every available moment in the western backcountry from Alaska to Arizona but considers the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana his sacred home. His wonderful and active family includes wife Sara and sons Lander and Badge (named after Lander, Wyoming, and the Badger-Two Medicine in Montana).


Ben Long, Vice Chair

Kalispell, MT

Be Long imageBen grew up hunting, fishing and hiking in Idaho's Clearwater and St. Joe country. He spent his 16th birthday packing out a six-point bull elk he and his father shot deep in the backcountry. It was the best birthday of his life.

Following in the footsteps of his early hero, outdoor writer Ted Trueblood, Long pursued a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho. After graduation, he spent a decade as a newspaper reporter, covering government, politics, outdoors and natural resource issues for newspapers in Idaho and Montana. He also worked as a biological technician for the U.S. Forest Service.

His love for nature led him to Kalispell, Montana, near Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, where he has lived since 1992. In 1998, he left newspaper work, making a living as a freelance writer and book author. He is the author of two books with wildlife themes: Backtracking: By Foot, Canoe and Subaru on the Lewis & Clark Trail and Great Montana Bear Stories (Riverbend Publishing). He also produced the short film Skookum Huck.

Today, Ben is the Northern Rockies program director for Resource Media, a nonprofit organization that helps conservation and public health advocates with strategic communication. In 2000, he helped campaign for a statewide voter initiative in Montana that banned captive shooting of game farm animals and stopped the expansion of commercial game farms.

With his wife, photographer Karen Nichols, he enjoys camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing and backpacking. He is a member of many conservation groups and the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He has one son, Aidan, born in April 2004, and enjoys introducing him to the outdoors. He hopes to find Aidan a six-point bull elk for his 16th birthday.


Jay Banta

Torrey, UT

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Jay was raised in the farm country of the Salinas Valley of California. He developed a passion for all things outdoors at a very early age and was engaged in studying birds of all kinds by the time he was 7 or 8 years old. He fondly remembers his early hunting forays, riding his bike across his small community and going down to the river to chase quail, cottontails and an occasional duck.

This love of wildlife led him to a degree in wildlife management from Humboldt State University in 1978. Soon after, he embarked on a career as a wildlife technician, working on national wildlife refuges in California, Nevada, Minnesota and Utah. This was followed by a six year tour as a wildlife biologist for the Department of Army in Oklahoma and then a transfer back to the National Wildlife Refuge System as the refuge manager at the Bill Williams NWR in Arizona. After a couple of hot years on Lake Havasu, he transferred back to his dream station, the Fish Springs NWR, where he remained as the refuge manager for 19 years before retiring in 2010.

Aside from watching birds, Jay is a passionate spring turkey hunter and enjoys pursuing all upland birds in the fall. He views his work with BHA as a stellar opportunity to continue to contribute to the habitat conservation that has been core to his world for over 40 years.

He now lives in beautiful Torrey, Utah, and is the proud father of two wonderful kids and the most wonderful granddaughter in the whole world!


Sean Carriere, Treasurer

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Middleton, ID

Sean lives in Middleton, Idaho, with his wife Lisa and two daughters Maria and Rebecca. Sean works in the high tech industry but spends his free time hunting, fishing and camping throughout Idaho and the U.S. He enjoys introducing his daughters to the joys of the outdoor lifestyle. A member of a number of wildlife organizations, and a former vice president and board member of the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation, Sean has a long history of working for our wildlife, habitat and land so we can pursue our passions.

 

 


Sean Clarkson, Secretary

Spotsylvania, VA

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Sean Clarkson was raised in the foothills of central Virginia, just east of the first spine of the Blue Ridge. His early years were spent roaming those hills, venturing into the now-wilderness nearby in search of small game, whitetail deer and trout. His experiences there and throughout the following years led to a lifelong commitment to the outdoors and conservation in the tradition of Leopold, Muir and Roosevelt. This led him to BHA, a group he believes embodies those same ideals and is vitally important to habitat and species conservation.

Sean began his "academic adventures" at Virginia Tech in the College of Forestry and Wildlife Science and later finished a baccalaureate degree in environmental studies at Green Mountain College. He then obtained a master’s in resource management and administration from Antioch New England Graduate School and a law degree from Vermont Law School. Those same years were spent working for The Nature Conservancy in the Lake Champlain Valley and completing clerkships for a wind power company in Vermont and a trial judge in central Virginia. Sean’s professional experience spans those endeavors,  time spent with a small Virginia law firm, several years as a registered financial adviser and a return to the nonprofit and environmental fields. He is now with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as director of development for central Virginia.

Sean’s passions for hunting and fishing have led him afield in most all the Eastern seaboard states, as well as several in the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Whether he’s pursuing whitetails in the fall, trout whenever and wherever he can, trying to pass along the sporting heritage to his daughter, or simply taking a good hike through the backcountry, Sean’s never happier than when afield.

He and his wife currently live in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Sean travels the state working for the Chesapeake Bay, and his wife commutes into Washington, D.C., where she is a truly talented rare book conservator.


T. Edward Nickens

Raleigh, NC

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T. Edward Nickens has reported on conservation, the outdoors and rural culture for some of the world's most respected publications for over three decades. He is editor at large for Field & Stream and a contributing editor for Audubon magazine. His work has appeared in Smithsonian, National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal, Garden & Gun, Shooting Sportsman, Sporting Classics and many other titles. His two books for Field & Stream have sold more than 250,000 copies. His works have been collected in a half-dozen "best of" anthologies and won numerous awards. In addition, Nickens has served as host, writer and field producer for Field & Stream's television shows The Gun Nuts and The Total Outdoorsman Challenge as well as the award-winning Heroes of Conservation webisode series. He has consulted as a speaker, speechwriter, white-paper author and communications specialist for a range of conservation organizations. Nickens lives in Raleigh and Morehead City, North Carolina. 


Mike Schoby

Missoula, MT

Schoby imageMike Schoby is editor in chief of Petersen's Hunting, author of five books, active in TV hosting and production, and a lifelong sportsman. Mike accepted his position with Petersen's in 2009, following stints with Gander Mountain, where he headed up a newly formed hunting/fishing travel agency and managed pro-staff TV production and media relations, and with Cabela's, where he was online managing editor. In 2012 he won the Zeiss Writer of the Year Award. He has lived in South Africa and worked for a professional hunter/lodge operating in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique, and he has spent time in the retail gun and archery industry. He has a bachelor's degree from Washington State University. Mike started hunting when he was 8 years old, carrying a Red Ryder BB-gun following his father. Since then, he has hunted all six huntable continents, 35 or so states and six African countries.  


Rachel VandeVoort

Whitefish, MT

Rachel imageRachel was born and raised in northwest Montana. Her father contends that her first complete sentence was, "Dad, I'm tired of fishing," and his idea of keeping her occupied after school, while he was still working, was to send her in search of gophers with a pellet rifle. She was accompanying her father on five-day river trips before she entered preschool, tying flies before she could do long division, and working in the local fly shop, in exchange for gear, before she was old enough to receive a paycheck.  Her youth was spent shooting smallbore rifle competitions, fly fishing, hunting and skiing.

She attended University of Montana, earning a B.S. in resource conservation, and upon graduation she was not willing to leave Montana to find work, so she tucked her formal education in her back pocket, lived life as an over-educated fly fisherman, and began a career in sales and marketing. After working in the organic produce industry and outdoor recreation industry and spending a few years at home with her two sons, she is currently trade relations manager for Kimber MFG.  She enjoys volunteering and being involved in her community as life allows, and she loves educating people about anything related to recreation, fly fishing or firearms. 

Rachel appreciates the voice and connection that BHA provides outdoorsmen on the issues that directly impact their way of life and is excited to work with the organization and its fantastic people and members. Public land and water have been at the core of her family’s existence for generations. She would like to help make sure that continues for her children.  

 


Ben Bulis

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Bozeman, MT

Ben is the President and CEO of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA). He has successfully owned and operated businesses in the construction and aviation industry. As a native of New Hampshire, Ben was introduced to the outdoors and fishing at a young age -in the ocean, lakes and streams of New England. Ben studied Biology at Plymouth State University and Engineering at Montana State University. Ben has fished extensively around the world and as a guide in Montana. Ben is an FAA licensed Instrument Pilot and has sat on numerous volunteer boards. He currently sits on the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnerships corporate and policy councils. He lives in Bozeman, MT.

 

 


Ted Koch

Reno, NV

Ted grew up in Connecticut, receiving his B.S. in Environmental Biology in 1985 from Southern Connecticut State University in TedKochOct2011.JPGNew Haven, and his M.S. in Zoology in 1990 from Idaho State University in Pocatello. He has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1988, including implementing every major section of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA); reviewing
federal projects; supporting hydropower project relicensing; conserving habitat on National Wildlife Refuge Lands; and researching and managing species in native habitats.

He has been Bull Trout Coordinator; Assistant Regional Director for Budget and Administration in the Service’s Southwest Regional Office; staff to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Branch of ESA Consultation supervisor; acting Majority Staff Director for the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate; led negotiations for Habitat Conservation Plans; staff to the Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture, Office of Economic Assistance in Portland, Oregon; and Idaho Wolf Recovery Project Leader. He is currently the Field Supervisor in Reno, Nevada, overseeing all Ecological Services and fisheries restoration programs.

He has published several professional articles and one book, “The Amphibians and Reptiles of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks,” and he has served on the boards of several private conservation organizations.


Joel Webster, Board Emeritus

Missoula, MT

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Joel joined the BHA board in 2008 after spending two years contributing to the organization’s mission through issues involvement and development. A born and raised Westerner and lifelong sportsman, Joel has been committed to hunter/angler issues since he was old enough to carry a rifle.

After completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Idaho in 2000, Joel moved to his current home of Missoula, Montana, where he earned a master’s degree in environmental studies at the University of Montana. Joel works professionally as the director for the Center for Western Lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, where he engages sportsmen to conserve Western public lands.

A strong believer in the old saying, "Those who show up make the rules," Joel is heavily involved as a volunteer working to protect our hunting and fishing heritage. Joel has served on the executive boards of both the Montana Wildlife Federation as well as the Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, a local rod and gun club.

When not building relationships and empowering sportsmen on behalf of our hunting and fishing heritage, Joel spends his time fishing clear mountain streams for cutthroat trout in the summer and pursuing deer, elk and gamebirds in the fall. Spending more than 40 days afield each year, Joel likes nothing better than stalking buck mule deer in the rugged high country of the Northern Rockies.