Joel Gay, Chair
Joel grew up in Albuquerque and learned to love the backcountry while fishing, skiing and hiking around New Mexico with his family. After graduating from UNM he moved to Alaska and stayed nearly 30 years, working as a journalist and commercial fisherman and enjoying the state’s great outdoors. After returning to New Mexico in 2005, he was hired as communications director for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Now retired, Joel is an avid bow hunter and fly fisherman who would rather walk miles into the backcountry than hunt or fish among the crowds.
Mark Lovato, Secretary
Mark was born in Albuquerque and has spent most of his years in the Southwest. Mark has always had a passion for food and the outdoors. Years of hunting and fishing in the New Mexico outdoors with his father and grandfathers has instilled a love for the wilderness in Mark from a young age. He firmly believes that there is no better place to escape the overstimulation that modern living thrusts upon us than out in the wilderness. Mark’s passion for food and service has lead him to be the General Manager of a Local Organic Café. He feels there is no better way to eat healthy than to harvest your own food. Mark loves to test his grit in the wilderness every chance he gets. There is no place he feels more useful than in the wild with new campers or hunters. Mark is a devoted husband and father, doing his part to keep the family tradition of love for the great outdoors and all that it provides alive.
Kevin Lockhart, Policy Coordinator
Kevin grew up hunting and fishing with his family in the mesquite brush country of west Texas. In 2015 he and his wife moved to New Mexico, where the immense beauty and opportunity the state's vast public lands offered changed his life. The ability to roam and connect with the natural world has inspired him to join the fight for access and opportunity for New Mexico hunters and anglers.
A generalist at heart, he hunts and fishes year round, chasing everything from cottontails to elk, turkeys to bass. He enjoys nothing more than cooking and sharing the bounty of his time in the outdoors. When not in the field, Kevin runs a solo law practice in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and focuses the majority of his practice on clients with land and water related issues. He previously served as chairman of the Public Lands Use Advisory Council for Otero County, New Mexico from 2016 to 2018.
Michael Farrington, Conservation Coordinator
Since I was a child I have always had a passion for wild places and the animals that inhabit them. That passion led me to pursue a career as an ichthyologist, and I have spent the past 20 years studying fish throughout the southwestern United States. Outside of a great year living in Missoula Montana, I am a lifelong New Mexican and received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNM.
Whether it was hunting, fishing, camping or hiking, spending time on our public lands has been a cornerstone of my life. I now have the privilege of teaching my two children these same outdoor skills, and the satisfaction that comes from days spent in the field. It is my great pleasure to be working with the New Mexico chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers as it defends the use and enjoyment of our public lands.
Kelly Hampton, Community Outreach Chair
I wear many hats in this life, and like many, am a hard-working American. My wish—like many of you—is that I can spend more of my time in the great outdoors. The support of conservation is important to me and my family. Protecting our lands for hunters and non-hunters alike for future generations to enjoy. I grew up loving the outdoors, and am an avid hunter, pursuing big game in New Mexico and other states whenever I can.
Another passion is what lands me in the kitchen, where no one leaves the table hungry. I worked as a camp cook with an outfitting business for many years. As a mother, I enjoy knowing that I can provide good organic meals and try new recipes to share with my family and friends.
Felix Hernandez, Board Member at Large
I am a science teacher, husband, father, outdoor enthusiast, and founder of New Mexico Avid Hunters. I was raised in the southeastern part of New Mexico. I attended the University of New Mexico and received my BS in Education. I have since spent my time educating students in science classrooms within the northern areas of New Mexico. In my free time I have helped with conservation efforts with the Mule Deer Foundation .
New Mexico has a diverse population of big game and small game and it’s our responsibility to harvest game ethically and responsibly. As hunters we must focus our efforts in conservation to help keep sustainable populations for our future children. Hunting is a tradition that has been passed down for generations, and we plan to keep it alive for future generations.
Cody McNiel, Board Member at Large
I was born and raised in Aztec, NM. I grew up riding dirt bikes, hunting and fly fishing on our beautiful New Mexico public lands. I moved to Las Cruces in 2004 for college and enlisted in the USMC in 2006. I separated from the military in 2010 and finished my degree in 2012. I have spent my career working with at risk youth and I’m currently employed as a Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor in Las Cruces.
I love backpack hunting for elk and coues deer. One of my greatest passions is training bird dogs and hunting quail. My family breeds, trains and field trials a special line of pointers that excels in finding birds in the desert southwest. My other hobbies include archery, fly fishing, long range shooting, weight training and of course spending time with my beautiful wife and girls. The public lands in our state and across the country are so special to me and my family. They have provided sanctuary, sustenance, adventure, wonder and freedom. My hope is through my work with NM BHA we will ensure our public land legacy will remain intact for future generations.
Adam Barkalow, Central Region
Adam Barkalow was born and raised in New Mexico and was exposed to hunting and fishing at an early age through family and friends. Trying to keep himself outdoors as much as possible led Adam to seek a career in conservation biology. Adam attained both undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology from the University of New Mexico. Since 2007, Adam has worked in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah trying to restore native fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. Currently, Adam works for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as the San Juan River native fish biologist. His goals are to continue to do great things for fish and wildlife conservation, protect public lands in perpetuity, enrich his family’s life with outdoor experiences, and hopefully one day train a decent bird dog.
Jeb Brown, Central Region
Jeb Brown grew up duck hunting and fly fishing in Arizona, and eagerly anticipated every opportunity to camp on public lands in the cool mountains of northern and eastern AZ. Now a self-declared hunting and fishing generalist, Jeb enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities in New Mexico, particularly those resulting in cooking food from the wild and sharing with friends and family. Better still, enjoyed with a first-time hunter or fisher. As a hydrologist Jeb understands careful conservation and protection of water and habitat is foundational for preserving a heritage of wildlife on the landscape.
Kevin Appleton, Central Region Logistics Coordinator
Growing up on a ranch in Southern California I was accustomed to the great outdoors. I was able to hunt small game regularly which introduced me to that "hunt life". After moving to New Mexico and learning what public lands were and what they had to offer I began to feel obligated on working to preserve them as well as work to educate my community of the resources they provide. My hopes of working alongside the BHA and like minded individuals is to ensure the future generations of the United States and especially New Mexico have the same opportunities we have now in enjoying our vast lands and wildlife.
Stephen Ensminger, Southeast Region
Stephen grew up in in the outdoors of Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains, which is about as far away from New Mexico within the lower 48 as one could get. As a kid he hunted and fly fished with his dad and cousins, but eventually put down his rod and gun for a career in the US Air Force. Living in places all over the world for the better part of two decades, he longed for the opportunity to get back in to the wild. He eventually relocated to New Mexico for the last stent of his career. Western hunting was completely foreign to him, but Stephen took to it like he’d been hunting in the west all of his life. An avid big game archery hunter, fly fisherman and turkey geek, Stephen strives to be a voice of conservation, to protect our public lands. With a Master’s in Communications, Stephen focus is to engage the public on issues of conservation, to be an advocate for our natural resources and our wild pubic lands.
Allen Taylor, Southeast Region Logistics Coordinator
I feel very fortunate that my father introduced me to hunting and fishing on Georgia's public lands and waters at a young age. I even was invited to tag along on his western hunting adventures. From my experiences I have become a hunting and fishing generalist, if it has a season, I want to be out there giving it a try. During my time afield I have learned the importance of our public lands and want to ensure they last in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy.
My family and I are new residents to New Mexico. One of the reasons for making the move across country are the public land opportunities available here. We love all things outdoors and New Mexico allows us to do the activities we love.