Erik Jensen, Co-chair
Erik grew up in Richfield, Minnesota, and started hunting small game, upland birds, and waterfowl when he was 14, mentored by an uncle and family friends. Erik’s parents weren’t hunters, but they were outdoors enthusiasts. His mother came from a hunting family, while his dad is a Norwegian, from a small fishing community with a strong hunting culture, so both parents were supportive of Erik’s hunting interests.
Today Erik also enjoys fly fishing for trout and hunts deer with a bow, rifle, and muzzleloader in the woods of central Minnesota. During 2008, he went on a once-in-a-lifetime moose hunt in northern Minnesota’s 810,000-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Erik says that BWCAW hunt "greatly deepened my interest in wilderness hunting for elk, moose, and deer.”
Erik is a volunteer outdoor mentor with the MN DNR’s recruitment and retention program that teaches youth and inexperienced adults hunting and angling skills. He attended the University of Minnesota for 5 years and has worked there for the past 17 years. He’s also a union steward and serves on the negotiating committee for Teamsters Local 320. Erik is married and has twin daughters. He says, “They both love fishing, are learning archery, and are showing interest in hunting.”
Aaron Hebeisen, Co-Chair
Aaron was born and raised in the small central Minnesota town of Mora, and says: “I have been angling at our cabin on the MN Iron Range since I could walk.” Aaron shot his first deer at 12 and now hunts whitetails all over eastern Minnesota, from the Iron Range to Rochester. But he’s an angler too: “I fish anywhere I can, including Canada and Hawaii, but enjoy northern Minnesota the best.” In addition, Aaron has hunted elk in Colorado and antelope in Wyoming, and also chases pheasant.
He grew up in an outdoors family. “The guys in my family are all avid hunters/anglers. My grandfather is an SCI member and has been all over the world hunting big game (Africa 3 times, New Zealand, Alaska),” he says. Aaron’s dad taught him about ethical sportsmanship and fair chase, as well as being “my best hunting partner.” Aaron adds: “I fully admire Theodore Roosevelt, from his gritty stubbornness to his wisdom and whole-hearted compassion for everything wild. I try to emulate his principles any time I step foot into the woods.”
Aaron’s passion for wildlife and public lands led him to pursue a BS in Natural Resource Ecology & Management, with an emphasis on Wildlife, from Iowa State University. Aaron’s professional roles have included working with the MN DNR researching CWD in white-tailed deer, conducting angling surveys on the St. Croix River, and restoring forested and wetland areas around Minnesota with the Minnesota Conservation Corps. He has also worked at wildlife parks/centers, educating the public about different North American wildlife and the conservation issues surrounding them.
Brent Rivard, Vice Chair-Finance
Brent was born and raised in Gillett, Wisconsin, a small town about 40 miles northwest of Green Bay. He started fishing at the age of 10 for smallmouth bass in the Oconto River and deer hunting, along with chasing upland game, at the age of 12. Brent says, “I was very fortunate to be raised in a hunting and fishing family, but later in my teens I expanded my outdoor pursuits and started waterfowl hunting, fly fishing and archery hunting.” He did a lot of hunting and fishing on public lands, including the Nicolet National Forest and other abundant public lands in northeast Wisconsin, which was important to his development as a conservationist and sportsman. “Today I primarily hunt upland small game and archery hunt deer in the public lands of Minnesota, and find a little time to trout fish,” Brent adds. Brent currently works doing research and development in the life sciences, and lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Hannah.
Matt is a BHA Life Member and devoted hunter, angler, paddler, conservationist, and father to his daughter, Michelle. He has lived in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, Connecticut, Washington, Michigan, and (since 1999) Minnesota. Matt has been an environmental organizer, grizzly bear recovery advocate, corporate attorney, environmental lawyer, and land conservationist, and he volunteers as a firearms safety instructor. Matt loves hunting whitetail deer, turkey, and pheasants, and greatly enjoys his too-infrequent walks in northern Minnesota’s grasslands and woods, hunting for sharptail and ruffed grouse. His greatest outdoor passions are deer hunting in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota, and annual paddling and fishing trips through the BWCAW and the Quetico Provincial Park.
Matt didn’t grow up in a hunting or fishing family. He first hunted as a boy in Texas, but it didn’t stick. He came back to hunting through his love of the land and wildlife when he was in his early thirties and living in Minnesota, and has been hunting ever since. Books by John McPhee, Jim Posewitz, and Aldo Leopold have influenced his thinking about hunting and nature, as has his natural resources background. Matt has a Bachelors in biology from Yale (’92), a Masters in forest science from Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (’96), and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School. Matt lives happily in Minneapolis with his daughter, Michelle, and Jane, his girlfriend.
Mark, a 1989 graduate of Brainerd High School and father of two, used to work for a group publisher helping with such products as North American Hunter, but eventually decided to start his own marketing businesses, GreenHead Strategies and GreenHead Productions, where he creates and distributes digital campaigns that promote a deeper connection between people and the natural world. He also works with medium-sized businesses and municipalities to fulfill marketing and media needs.
In addition, Mark is the publisher/editor of the Modern Carnivore Blog (www.modcarn.com), which promotes healthy, sustainable and local eating practices. Mark is also a filmmaker and executive producer of the “Fish Out of Water” film series, which won the Spirit of Film award at the Frozen Film Festival in St. Paul. Mark’s other recent film production, “Flush in the Wild,” follows an Iraq war veteran, MN BHA board member Erik Packard, on his first grouse hunt, helping Erik find peace from his PTSD in the wild.
Mark was BHA’s 2016 Sigurd F. Olson Award recipient, which recognizes outstanding effort by a BHA member in conserving rivers, lakes or wetland habitat. And Mark’s efforts have played a key role in the Minnesota chapter’s efforts to stop sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area watershed.
Lukas Leaf, Board Member
Lukas is an avid, passionate outdoorsman and chef born and raised in Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2005 with a BS in Graphic Design. Lukas was formerly Executive Chef at Al Vento restaurant in South Minneapolis and is now the chef for Modern Carnivore and a Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers board member. His father first introduced him to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) when he was 13 and has been hooked since. Since that first Boundary Waters trip, Lukas has been privileged to introduce many people to the beauty of the BWCAW through many camping, hunting and fishing trips. He spends his free time fishing, foraging, hunting, camping and cooking his way through the great Minnesota outdoors. Lukas now works as the Sporting Outreach Coordinator for Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters and has appeared in their two films, Fish Out of Water and Flush in the Wild.
Hans Erdman, Habitat Watch Volunteer
Hans Erdman (of Isanti, Minn.) is Minnesota BHA’s first Habitat Watch Volunteer—for the Superior National Forest (lands outside of the BWCAW) along with the Pat Bayle and Finland State Forests. Born in Elmira, New York, and raised in Ithaca, Hans developed his love for the outdoors at summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains (1964-’65). He started fishing at 10 years old and took up hunting when he was 18, mentored by a family friend and, later, his father- and brother-in-law.
Hans majored in Environmental Conservation at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. In 2015 he retired after 26 years as a park ranger with Anoka County and, then, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Today Hans uses his free time to pursue trout in the Lake Superior watershed (usually the Chequamegon and Superior National Forests), along with panfish with his grandkids, but is planning to teach his granddaughters fly-fishing.
Hans is also the founder and Director of the Backcountry Trail Patrol Association, a volunteer mountain bike, ski and snowshoe service organization dedicated to protecting trail users and forest resources through service and backcountry safety education. The patrol serves the Chippewa, Superior and (primarily) Chequamegon-Nicole National Forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where he’s been qualified as a USFS Volunteer Backcountry Ranger since 2004.
David Lien, Board Member
David grew up in the small northern Minnesota town of Grand Rapids and started fishing at the age of four. He shot his first squirrel when he was eight, was hunting ruffed grouse at age eleven and started deer hunting the next fall. At thirteen David killed his first deer, with a rifle handed down to him by his grandfather, WW II/U.S. Navy veteran John Boyce.
In college, David was offered an Air Force ROTC scholarship at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and went on to graduate with a BA and second lieutenant bars. After completing his service and additional schooling (BS and MSA), David started a second career working as federal examiner for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)—an independent financial regulatory agency of the Federal government responsible for chartering, supervising, examining, and insuring Federal credit unions.
In addition to his volunteer work with Minnesota BHA, David served on the national BHA board for eight years. He’s a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, a life member of BHA, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and Trout Unlimited, and in 2014 David was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.”
David’s worldwide travels have taken him to 39 countries on each of the seven continents. In addition, he has tackled some of the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains, including Mount McKinley in Alaska and Mount Everest in Nepal/Tibet. He turned back at 25,200 feet on the north/Tibet side of Mount Everest during May 2006, whereas two of his fellow expedition members died during their summit attempts.
David is the author of six books, including: Age-Old Quests II: Hunting, Climbing & Trekking and Hunting for Experience II: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation: http://outskirtspress.com/huntforexperience.
Erik Packard, Board Member
The founder of Veterans for the Boundary Waters, Erik Packard has been going to the Boundary Waters his whole life, with his family first taking him as an infant. In 1996, at the age of 17 years old, he joined the United States Army. Packard served in the United States Army Reserve for 14 years and served two combat tours in Iraq. After his last tour in Iraq, he began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. After many treatments, he discovered Voyageurs Outward Bound School’s program for veterans. After his trip with VOBS, Packard began fighting to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining and has been sharing his story to help protect this Wilderness.
“The Boundary Waters changed my life. After I returned from combat in Iraq, my father, who introduced me to the Boundary Waters, was losing his battle with cancer. I could not find my place ‘back in the world.’ I began to struggle with PTSD, alcohol, depression and suicide. On the insistence of my wife and friends, I went back to Boundary Waters for the first time in several years. That trip started a healing process … I [also] learned about the dangers facing the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mines proposed in the watershed … To share my story and connect with other veterans … I founded Veterans for the Boundary Waters … The Boundary Waters and places like it are one of the reasons I pledged my life to this country. The Boundary Waters is a rare commodity in this world, and without a doubt it is a place that is worth protecting.”
Joe was born in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and started fishing with his dad and brothers at 3 years old, and was hunting small game as soon as he was of legal age. These days Joe spends a lot of time hunting in Montana, but also hunts Minnesota’s broad expanse of public lands. Joe says: “I hunt almost everything I can. Deer, bear, elk, grouse, rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, waterfowl and dove. My favorite fish to go after is trout.” He hunts via all methods (sans trad bow) and also traps. Today Joe lives in Ham Lake, Minnesota (bordering the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area), and works as a sales rep. for a local construction company. He adds: “My favorite way of hunting is to throw my camp on my back and disappear into the mountains for days at a time. Our large tracts of land are what makes this possible. Without them I am not sure I would have the love for hunting that I have now.”