Ryan Busse, Chair: Kalispell, MT
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 Bulis, Vice Chair: 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.
J.R. Young, Treasurer: Los Gatos, CA
J.R. Young was raised in Bellevue Washington.He enjoyed his weekends and summer at a cabin in Central Washington where he started hunting and fishing at an early age. He spent countless days exploring Wenatchee National Forest as well as the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest closer to Bellevue. He truly fell in love with the outdoors.
Currently living in The Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Gatos California with his wife, son, dog and chickens, he continues to enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis. At J.R.’s house, most activities surround food, preparing for food, canning food, foraging for food hunting for food and most importantly sharing the experience of food with friends and sometimes complete strangers. J.R. is a man that loves life, and he encourages people to explore that natural world and enjoy what is theirs to enjoy. He holds his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Fairfield University in Connecticut. After spending eleven years as a tax accountant he has joined his wife in her Naturopathic Medical Clinic.
Ryan Callaghan: Ketchum, ID
Ryan Callaghan currently is director of public relations for the hunting apparel company First Lite, where he coordinates withwildlife and public lands advocacy groups and is constantly working to move the entire hunting industry towards a stronger conservation ethic.
Callaghan joined First Lite in 2011 as the then-start up’s first full-time employee. Working with company founders Kenton Carruth and Scott Robinson, he firmly established conservation and hunting ethics in the core of company’s business philosophy. Now residing in Ketchum, Idaho, Callaghan grew up in Montana and is an avid outdoorsman.
Hilary Hutcheson: Columbia Falls, MT
Hilary Hutcheson owns and runs Lary’s Fly and Supply in Columbia Falls, Montana, and guides on the Flathead River and Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Hutcheson started her fly-fishing career as a teenaged guide in West Glacier, Montana.
Later, she took her journalism degree to Portland, Oregon, and worked as a television news anchor and reporter before returning to Montana to co-own and operate Outside Media and Trout TV for nearly a decade. She loves hanging out with her two teen daughters, especially when they volunteer on the oars.
Heather Kelly: Bird Creek, AK
Heather Kelly is an avid hunter, angler, backpacker and outdoor adventurer. Kelly launched Heather’s Choice Meals for Adventuring in 2014 to combine her love of sports nutrition and backcountry pack-rafting. Her emphasis has always been on high-quality, whole foods nutrition. With signature dishes such as smoked sockeye salmon chowder and blueberry buckwheat breakfast, Heather’s Choice has gained recognition as a healthy, delicious, portable food option for the backcountry.
Kelly has a degree in evolutionary nutrition from Western Washington University and a professional certification in eating psychology and has spent several seasons as a raft guide in Colorado and Alaska. She was born and raised in Bird Creek, Alaska, which she still calls home today.
Tom McGraw: Bloomfield Hills, MI
A lifetime Michigan resident from a family of hunters, Tom McGraw is a trial attorney and president of McGraw Morris PC. McGraw founded the Pere Marquette River Chapter of Trout Unlimited in 2014, honoring the river that received the first brown trout planting in the U.S. in 1884.
When not enjoying the public lands of Montana or the Florida Keys, Tom spends his free time angling for brown trout and “steelhead” in the Pere Marquette.
T. Edward Nickens: Raleigh, NC
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.
Ben O'Brien: Austin, TX
Ben O’Brien is currently the hunting marketing manager at YETI, manufacturer of premium coolers and accessories. Currently a resident of Austin, Texas, he grew up on the East Coast. Prior to joining YETI, he was managing editor at Petersen’s Hunting and digital editor at the National Rifle Association’s American Hunter magazine. He has been published in various outdoor publications and continues his writing career today.