Eli Mansfield, Chair
Eli grew up with an affinity for the outdoors in a small Indiana town. The majority of his young life was spent fishing with his father & brothers in the ponds & rivers near home. Summer & winter trips to his grandparent’s in Florida were spent surf casting from the state park public beach. It wasn’t until college, when Eli began devoting time to hone his hunting skills, that he realized public access to outdoor spaces is not always easy to come by.
After graduating from Purdue University, Eli moved to Minnesota where he earned his Master’s in Public Health Policy & Administration from the University of Minnesota. The abundant hunting access to public lands in his new state brought a sense of gratitude and responsibility.
“There was not a lot of public land where I grew up. I was lucky enough to hunt with great friends who owned farm ground back in Indiana. Once I moved to Minnesota and began hunting every free minute on public land, I realized I owed a debt to those who worked to make this a possibility.”
Eli began to find opportunities to volunteer with local groups and eventually found alignment with the ethos of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Within BHA he met members who encouraged him to continue to pursue public land adventures all over the country. Although Elk hunting in the mountains has become an annual event, Eli would chose bird hunting with his Wirehaired Griffon, Leo, any day.
Eli continues outdoor pursuits throughout many states each year and encourages everyone to share in that journey.
“I’m very fortunate to have great hunting partners and an incredible wife who help me get the most out of life. We do it through adventures and memories we are making across this country on land that belongs to you & me.”
Chance Adams, Vice Chair (Events & Operations)
Chance grew up on the edge of the Chippewa National Forest in Northern Minnesota. He spent much of his childhood running around the woods without realizing the treasure he was exploring. Once he moved away for college, Chance quickly realized he needed to be around the forests of Northern Minnesota and returned home to finish his education degree at Bemidji State University. He has spent the last 16 years teaching social studies courses at TrekNorth Jr. & Sr. High School while leading outdoor adventure trips for students.
Currently Chance enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and of course waterfowl. Being from Northern Minnesota, fishing and hunting are part of everyday life. However, when not hunting and fishing, Chance can usually be found canoeing in the BWCA or enjoying the long Northern Minnesotan Winters.
Greg Kvale, Vice Chair (Policy)
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, Treasurer
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.
Joe McCartin, Board of Directors
Joe is a native Midwesterner with a passion for habitat, public land, and the North American Conservation Model. He works hard to pass on the hunting and angling traditions he inherited to his kids. His first love is ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting over his English Setter. He, also, loves holding conversations with Spring gobblers and ducks, foraging for mushrooms, traditional archery, pond hockey, and fishing for everything from muskies to native brookies. Joe previously served on the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's policy council, the Union Sportsmen's Alliance, and was a habitat volunteer for many years with Trout Unlimited.
Currently a lawyer representing injured and disabled workers, he has also worked as a union pipefitter, organizer and lobbyist. He worked on massive energy retrofits, ground welds on pipelines, helped hundreds of workers form their first union, and walked many miles up and down the marble halls of the U.S. Capitol. He moved to Minnesota for law school and put down roots, eventually starting his own law firm. Equal to his passion for the outdoors, is his fight for working people. Joe hopes to bring a balanced and pragmatic perspective to conservation issues that respects all stakeholders, responsible development, and the jobs that come with it, while advancing BHA's core mission and values.
Ryan Heesch, Board of Directors
Ryan is from Red Wing, MN, and growing up, he spent as much time on the water fishing and boating as he could. Some of his fondest memories were fall trips with the family to the Mississippi river's backwaters chasing ducks with his uncles and cousins. After high school, Ryan moved west, first to Utah, where he spent winters working for Alta Ski Resort. It was in Wyoming, however, that his love of public land really took shape. Living in Jackson Hole, he worked as a fly-fishing guide during the summers while backpacking, hot springing, rafting, camping, and climbing as much as he could. His falls were spent in the mountains hunting Mule Deer and Elk, or on the sage flats stalking speed goats. In winter, he continued to indulge his love of skiing.
Ryan lives in Minneapolis and attends St. Catherine University, where he studies nursing. He aspires to work as a flight nurse. Ryan has recently started bow hunting and loves to still hunt whitetails in SE MN. During the summer, he is sure to get his drift boat wet as many days as he can, loving to embark on multiday river trips for bass, trout, and musky. However, his favorite camping spots are deep in the BWCA, and he plans at least a couple visits a year.
Ryan is passionate about developing a community of outdoor enthusiasts here in Minnesota to assure our public lands are available for future generations.
Mike Verhoeven, Board of Directors
Mike is an avid outdoorsperson, and jumps at any opportunity to get outside. He works as a lake biologist, and is currently conducting research on aquatic plants at the University of Minnesota. Over time, his interests have begun to focus on introducing others to the outdoors and advocating for public policy that favors good stewardship and conservation of natural resources; these interests drew him to get involved with BHA.
He grew up in New Prague, about an hour SW of the Twin Cities. As a kid he spent his time after school hunting, fishing, and trapping. Under the mentorship of two grandfathers with a passion for hunting, he had opportunities to hunt elk in Colorado, black bears in northern Minnesota, and ducks in southern Minnesota from a young age. His adventurous mother showed him the wonders of the Superior National forest via canoe. Mike and his wife, Kristin, live in St. Paul now and enjoy getting out at every opportunity to explore and harvest the bountiful outdoor resources that Minnesotans enjoy.
James Wood III, Board of Directors
James grew up in a the small town of Benld, Il. He was introduced to the outdoors before he could walk going camping with his family. James was introduced to hunting and fishing by both his mother and father chasing squirrels and rabbits in the fall and winter and catching bluegills and catfish during the summer. It wasn’t until James was in High School that his real passion for hunting developed. You could find James hunting almost every weekend either chasing rabbits with his beagles or sitting in a goose pit or duck blind on the river. When James started college his passion was full force taking him all over the Mississippi flyway chasing ducks and geese. After college James moved to central Wisconsin and real life slowed his hunting down dramatically. Then when James and his wife Michelle had their third of three kids and they all started asking about the outdoors, James was lucky enough to be able to take them camping and then on hunting adventures with him. Now James enjoys time upland hunting all over the Midwest with his pointer Rebel and being able to take his kids with him on many occasions. Working in the outdoor industry has allowed James many opportunities to discover new public hunting areas throughout MN and WI. Any free time James can get he is either camping with his family or running dog trials with Rebel.
Neal Jacobson, Board of Directors
Neal, a lifelong Minnesotan, was introduced to the outdoors at an early age. Some of his foundational outdoor experiences include camping and fishing with his grandparents in the state parks of northern Minnesota, deer hunting with his uncles, a boundary waters trip with his dad, and exploring the west with his parents and sisters. Neal grew up in Minnetonka with parents who modeled the importance of political awareness and engagement. He graduated from Bethel University with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science. After graduation, Neal pursued an active, outdoor job, eventually leading to a driving career at UPS, where he has worked for the last 19 years.
Keng Yang, Board of Directors