Seth Trokey, Chair
Seth grew up in rural Southwestern Illinois and has been hunting and fishing his entire life. Growing up in rural IL helped fuel his passion for the out-of-doors from an early age. Seth started hunting public land in college when he attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The fact that SIUC was surrounded by Shawnee National Forest, the biggest chunk of public land in IL, his eyes were truly opened to the treasures that are our public lands and waters. While hunting Shawnee Seth got his first taste of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of what our public lands have to offer. His earliest memory of the concept of conservation came at about age 5 while mushroom hunting Morels with his dad. Seth’s dad said 8 words that were the catalyst for his love for conservation of our wild places and spending as much time as possible outdoors.
Seth is a crew leader, certified pipeline welder, and equipment operator for the biggest utility company in IL.
Drew Kazenski, Vice Chair
Drew Kazenski grew up in rural central Illinois and was raised from the beginning with a deep understanding and respect for hunting, fishing and conservation. As an avid hiker, hunter and fly fisherman; he has had whitetails make him tremble in Illinois, chased Merriam turkeys in South Dakota, and landed West-slope Cutthroats in Montana, all due to public land and conservation efforts before him. Drew believes if you are consuming or taking you should do some part to give back, one of his reasons for joining BHA. Drew encourages everyone to find away to give back to the land we all consume from.
Currently, Drew still resides in central Illinois with his wife and golden retriever enjoying their passion for the outdoors.
John Acott, Treasurer
John has been a proud public land and waters owner and user for decades. Growing up John was fortunate to explore northern Wisconsin for seemingly endless summers and shorter adventures in the fall. Those early days gave an ineradicable dedication to all things outdoors. Public woods and waters gave access to miles of memories and endless opportunities to share with his seven children raised in the Chicago area. John has been able to explore much of the US in outdoor adventures but always favors time flushing (!) woodcock, grouse and smallmouth ‘up north’. John is a former United States Marine and graduate of Marquette University. John also works with a foster child organization to introduce underprivileged youngsters to the outdoors via an outdoor camp in northern Wisconsin.
Seth Aigner, Secretary
Seth is a life-long Midwesterner currently living in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. Growing up he fished for musky, walleye, pike, bass and panfish on family vacations to Northern Wisconsin and on various canoe trips with friends and family to the Boundary Waters. Having also chased salmon around Vancouver Island, marlin and billfish off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, and tarpon around the Florida Keys, he now spends most of his time on small streams in Northern Michigan in search of steelhead and salmon. Seth began hunting later in life, fueled by a passion for the out-of-doors, conservation, and cooking. He highly values the ethics of the fair chase, DIY, and the public land hunter.
A biology major in college, Seth is a passionate conservationist and believes that not only are wild lands and waters vital to the health of the Earth but also to the strength and vitality of the American character. The good and the bad of our shared, historical wilderness experience shaped, and is integral to, our national identity. We are blessed to still be able to tap into this legacy and experience through the land and water held in the public trust and the only sustainable, democratic way to maintain that character and preserve the availability of such experiences is to vigorously defend and enhance our public lands. A married father of two, the notion that we are all the trustees of our public lands for future generations rings louder and truer with each passing year. Professionally, Seth is a transactional attorney focusing on a broad range of business and corporate matters.
Russell grew up in Austin, TX and spent his early years exploring the Texas hill country. In a family of non-hunters he did not learn to how to hunt until later in life. To gain access to the limited public hunting in Texas he taught himself how to use a bow. Now he is a mechanical engineer living in Chicago and hunts public land in Illinois and Colorado. He is passionate about preserving these wild places for future generations. Russell joined the BHA because they are a group of genuine people focused on being custodians of the land.
A lifelong Illinoisan, Dillan grew up hunting and fishing the Mississippi River with his father. After moving away for college in Nashville, TN and losing all his “secret spots”, Dillan began taking advantage of the numerous hunting and fishing opportunities presented by Tennessee’s public lands and waters. It was during this time that Dillan heard about a sportsman’s organization dedicated to preserving and expanding access to these incredible pieces of public property and decided to join BHA. Dillan now lives in Dixon, IL and works as a biologist for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island, IL. He has taken that passion that he developed during college and has applied it to the public lands and waters in his home state. Dillan looks forward to helping grow the Illinois Chapter and expanding hunting and fishing opportunities for folks across the state.
Cuyler is from Sullivan, IL, a small town in Central Illinois, and now lives just outside of Chicago in La Grange, IL. He learned to fish, hunt, camp, and enjoy the outdoors at a young age on his grandmother’s farm. His father, uncles, and step-brothers were sportsmen who fished farm ponds and lakes, hunted upland game and whitetail deer, and trapped furbearers at a time when land access was easier to come by.
Cuyler spent his high school summers and college years in Colorado and learned to explore and hike the vast backcountry of the Rocky Mountains. Now married and raising two young boys, he returns to the mountains with his family each year for outdoor recreation on public land. He loves to cook for friends and family and has been working wild game into their meals after successful hunts. At work, Cuyler is a computer forensic consultant and helps companies investigate cyber-attacks, white collar crime, and other security incidents. Cuyler joined BHA to maximize and improve the public land and water opportunities we have in Illinois and across the US.
Born and raised in southern Illinois, Brandon primarily hunted private land until he moved away to college. Without access to local private ground, he began exploring the public resources available to him. Public accessibility has been an integral and often required part of his hunting and fishing ever since. Whether it is a public parcel to hunt, or an access point to legally wade or launch from, public lands and waters are what have enabled him to pursue his passions afield and on the water. It is because of this that he joined Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He believes the benefits of public resources are not important only for those west of the Mississippi; they are critical for hunter retention and recruitment everywhere. To fund his hunting and fishing, Brandon works as an engineer for an agriculture company.
Luke lives on the western edge of the Chicago suburbs in Yorkville, IL and serves his community professionally as a fitness manager for the local municipality. He was fortunate to spend most of his youth in Colorado hunting elk in the Northwest part of the state, and fly fishing for Rainbows in the Blue and Yampa Rivers. He was born and raised in Colorado but moved to the Midwest on a baseball scholarship. The outdoor mentality continued, but the game he seeks switched to whitetail, waterfowl, and Fox River fish species exclusively on public land. No matter the game he gets fired up for cooking a variety of wild dishes. Our lands provide so much that the consumption piece ties the entire outdoor marriage together.
Our wild places make America the most unique place in the world with no other opportunities alike. He believes strongly in conservation of all flora and fauna as each has an integral part in our ecosystem. Our wild heritage, and land and water ideals are only as strong as our ability to keep them intact. Making a difference to each individual we come in contact with gives the opportunity to keep these places wild for all to enjoy. BHA has given him the platform and opportunity to advocate for these things.
Growing up in the Chicagoland area, Niall did not have much exposure to hunting. However, a love of being outside led him to fishing which eventually led to cooking his own catch. So if cooking your own fish could be this rewarding; cooking your own meat must be as well! This resulted in an intense interest in hunting big game, especially elk, in the great landscapes of the American West, and whitetail deer, here at home in Illinois.
Having had the privilege of hunting and recreating in some of the most beautiful places in the world (America’s public lands and waters), he began to learn about the sacrifices it took to establish these places and the work needed to keep them, which led him to BHA. Niall also enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter and running an e- commerce business in the safety industry.
Skylar was born and raised in a small fishing community on the coast of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. It was here that he learned to appreciate wild places and all the valuable resources that they can provide. Moving to Southern Illinois for college and to help work on the family farm taught him the importance of all land and how important it is to protect these resources. Currently Skylar spends his free time passing on this care of the land through his career in agriculture and by teaching his young children the importance of having wild places. He is excited to bring this passion to the Illinois BHA to help conserve and protect our public lands and waters.
After having spent most of his childhood on Florida's East coast, Chris moved to the Chicago area in junior high school. He's spent most of his life aspiring to be a mediocre fisherman (In 2018 the only catch was his own thumb) and enjoys spending whatever time he can outdoors whether it's photographing the wide array of landscapes the country offers, hiking, fishing, cycling or kayaking. After college, interests in shooting sports and cooking merged and he began down the challenging road to becoming an adult-onset hunter. With no immediate family or close friends in the hunting community or access to private land, he sought out a through a new friendship and mentor.
After learning the ropes, Chris has gone on to hunt a variety of small game, upland game and big game across Illinois as well as in Arizona, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Wyoming with friends, some adult-onset hunters as well. These hunts have been entirely on public land. Because of this, Chris is an unwavering advocate for both public lands as well as R3 (Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation) efforts for hunters, anglers, and recreators at large across the country. Chris is a professional investigator focusing on the corporate world.