Aaron Hebeisen, 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.
Erik Packard, Treasurer
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.”
Erik Jensen, Board of Directors
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.”
Greg Kvale, Board of Directors
Greg grew up in an outdoor family in southern Minnesota. His father introduced him to the outdoors when he was very young with trips to the BWCAW and other public lands and waters. When not, outdoors his favorite place is in the kitchen.
A combat wounded Vietnam era veteran Greg dedicated his professional career to natural resource protection and management as a forester and real estate specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. After retirement Greg started an appraisal business and worked with the DNR, The Nature Conservancy, DU, PF, Trust for Public Land and other conservation organization in acquiring and protecting over 10,000 acres of public land and 15 miles of shoreline.
Greg is a co-founder of Anglers for Habitat, and a co-founder and instructor for the Minnesota Waterfowl Associations Woody Camp for youth for over 25 years. A board member and local leader of many conservation organizations Greg has been involved in conservation issues both on a local, state and national level for decades.
Ellen Candler, Board of Directors
Ellen was born and raised in South East Idaho and grew up fishing, rafting, and backpacking with her family in the rivers and wilderness of her home state. She followed her dad into the mountains on elk and moose hunts and took up deer and duck hunting when she was twelve. Like many young people, Ellen stopped hunting when she left home, but was re-introduced to it through the Minnesota DNR’s adult learn to hunt program. Fly-fishing has always been a passion and continues to push her to new rivers.
Today, Ellen enjoys exploring Minnesota’s fly-fishing opportunities and discovering Minnesota public lands with her husband Mike and dog Raleigh. She is rediscovering fly-tying as a way to learn the rivers and streams that she fishes. She looks forward to taking trips in the Boundary Waters and learning more about Minnesota’s outdoor opportunities through hunting and fishing.
Ellen spent several years in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan while she completed a BS degree from Michigan Technological University in Wildlife Ecology and Management. She is currently a Conservation Science PhD student at the University of Minnesota researching the extent that hunter derived food sources, such as hunter bait piles or hunter gut piles, influence the scavenger community.
Mark Norquist, Board of Directors
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 of Directors
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.
Dan Born, Board of Directors
Dan was raised in Mankato, Minnesota. His family has managed a 300-acre farm on the Minnesota River there since 1888. “I was raised by a family whose connections to hunting, fishing and the land run deep,” he says. “This is where myself and generations before me learned to hunt.” His father and grandfather were his hunting partners/mentors growing up. “My father is a lifelong fisherman and waterfowl hunter, and when he married into my mother’s family he became a deer hunter,” Dan adds.
“I don’t think I have missed more than 2 or 3 deer hunts in the 25 years I have been at it,” Dan explains. Their farm property supports agriculture, mature wood lots, duck sloughs and acres of prairie grass. Besides hunting “The Farm,” he also makes it out west each year to pursue pronghorn and elk. Dan hunts with a rifle, and both compound and recurve bow. He’s also partial to walleye and panfish, but is “a mediocre fly fisherman, at best,” he says.
Dan served in the Minnesota National Guard from 1997-2005 as a Reconnaissance Scout and completed a year-long deployment to Kosovo in 2003. He earned a B.S in Archaeology from Mankato State, in 2005, and a M.S in Geography from Saint Cloud State in 2009. His thesis focused on soil microfossil analysis of a 9,800-year-old bison kill site in northwest Nebraska, where up to 600 bison were killed with spears and butchered by the Alberta Paleo-Indian people.
Then he went to work for the U.S. Forest Service doing archaeological and environmental surveys across 13 western states before becoming lead Archaeologist for the Northern Hills Ranger District in the Black Hills National Forest. Dan left the USFS in 2013 and returned to Minnesota, where he’s worked as an environmental consultant and analyst for oil, natural gas and windfarm energy infrastructure projects. He currently lives in Northfield with his wife, three kids and dog. Dan now works at the corporate office for Indian Motorcycle, coordinating with their dealerships and motorcycle owners on a variety of concerns and projects.
Dan says whitetail deer makes up about 80% of his families red meat consumption each year, followed by pronghorn. He also hunts wild turkey and occasionally adds a rabbit, squirrel or pheasant to the pot. In addition, he plans to start waterfowl hunting. Dan also continues to hunt with his dad. “It’s really special to me that I’ve gotten to … introduce my dad to hunting pronghorn on public lands in Wyoming,” he adds. Dan joined BHA because it keeps him connected with public lands and “is another way for me to continue to advocate for the resource.”
Minnesota BHA board member, David Lien (a former U.S. Air Force officer) said: “Not unlike the U.S. Army units that were dispatched to protect some of America’s first national parks from poachers and other scofflaws, Dan and Jamie served our country and helped protect our great public lands estate for future generations of hunters, anglers and others. We’re privileged to have them onboard and we need many more like them.”
Chapter co-chair, Aaron Hebeisen, adds: “The breadth and depth of unique skillsets and innate selflessness that Jamie and Dan bring to BHA—combined with their strong commitment to protecting and perpetuating America’s great public lands hunting and angling heritage—is representative of the tireless work ethic and high values embodied by BHA members as a whole.”
Jamie Carlson, Board of Directors
Jamie was born in Illinois and raised back and forth between Illinois and Minnesota. He eventually relocated permanently to Minnesota, living with grandparents on Leech Lake before moving to Rochester, where he spent most of his childhood. Jamie’s first hunting/angling mentors were his dad, grandpa and uncles.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a fishing pole in my hand,” Jamie says. “I spent most of my summers on Leech Lake and fished almost every day of those summers. I started fishing for perch and rock bass and would catch them by the stringer full under the boat lift on my grandparent’s dock. I started duck hunting up on Leech Lake as well, and that developed into deer hunting and small game.”
He primarily hunts with a rifle and compound bow, and has been transitioning to a muzzleloader and trad bow. “Today I try to spread my hunting time out to hunt as much and as many different species as I can,” Jamie adds. “I hunt all over Minnesota and in the past ten years I have started making trips out west to Wyoming and Colorado.” Jamie currently lives in Burnsville and was a registered nurse (RN) at the VA medical center before switching over to working as an operating room (OR) nurse.
Jamie also served 14 years in the U.S. Navy/U.S. Army. He has spent years learning how to cook and prepare wild foods, and says: “I hunt for everything that’s edible. I love eating wild game and fish and spend a lot of the spring and summer foraging for wild ingredients.” Jamie shares his culinary skills via two blogs: Outdoor Life’s Cast-Iron Chef and his own YouHaveToCookItRight.com.