Seth Trokey, Co-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.
Chris Brenner, Co-Chair
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.
Andy Eickholt, Treasurer
Andy grew up in Northern Indiana but spent a lot of time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan visiting his extended family that had a long tradition of hunting and fishing. He has been fishing his entire life and got hooked on deer hunting after going on a hunt with his uncle. Having always known a lot of people in Indiana he was able to hunt private land exclusively.
In 2016, Andy moved to Illinois with his wife and daughter to be closer to his wife’s family. Not knowing anyone in the area, he quickly understood the importance of public land. Since moving to Illinois, he has exclusively hunted public land for deer, turkey, and dove and has found it very rewarding. Even though Illinois has very little public land, it’s important that we keep what we have and strive to open up additional land and water access. That’s why he joined BHA and wanted to be a board member. Andy also has a finance degree and has served as a treasurer for another non-profit organization.
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.
Eric grew up in rural Southern Illinois where he spent most weekends hunting, fishing, or camping, many times in the Shawnee National Forest. Illinois is predominantly a private land state, and Eric has witnessed a troubling decline in hunter access over the last several years. Frequently, hunters have returned to their traditional autumn haunts only to find a “no hunting” sign posted by the new lease holder. Public lands represent the spiritual wealth of the Nation, and Eric is excited to help BHA in its effort to expand access and opportunity for every outdoor pursuit. In a pavement and silicon world, mud on your boots is more important than ever.
Eric is married to an understanding wife and has two daughters who love bugs and leaves. He enjoys elk hunting on the vast public lands of the West, and deer, turkey, squirrel, and predator hunting on the family farm, and is a novice fly fisherman. Eric has a Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois and is currently staff legal counsel for an Illinois state agency.
Chris was born in Ohio and lived there until his late 30’s when he moved to the NW Chicago suburbs. He has had a hunting license since he was 8 and has hunted all manner of birds almost exclusively on public land for his entire life. The highlight of Chris’ year is a trip to northern Wisconsin in October to hunt woodcock and grouse. Currently, Chris spends as much of his time as possible chasing birds with his Lab Gunnar and Drahthaar Frankie.
Chris joined BHA to work to protect the land he has had the privilege to enjoy for future generations. He is looking forward to working with a great group of people who love spending time outside and not only preserving but growing the opportunities for everyone.
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.
Andrew grew up living on a chain of lakes in Northern Wisconsin and learned how to hunt, fish, and tie flies from his grandfather and father. It was in these national forests where he developed an appreciation for wild places and spent most of his time chasing trout, walleye, musky, grouse, and deer. Over the years he developed a love for the West and has spent much of his time bowhunting and fly fishing across Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas. Now living in Southwestern Illinois, Andrew has focused on honing his skills chasing public land whitetails on foot, bike, and boat. When he is out of deer tags, he enjoys pheasant hunting with dog Buck. While he has many opportunities to hunt private land, Andrew chooses to focus solely on public land as it always presents new challenges, has been incredibly rewarding, and brings back nostalgic feelings from the past. Andrew places a high value on his hunting heritage and the opportunity for others to experience the outdoors. Andrew received an MBA from University of Wisconsin and has a sales career in the industrial water treatment industry.
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.