Luke Weingarten, Chairman
Luke Weingarten lives in Raleigh. Every day, he wonders how he got so lucky to be raising two incredible boys and a dazzlingly brilliant girl with his amazing wife and partner, Kerin. He works as an independent insurance agent with a growing local agency focused on building lasting relationships with a wide variety of personal and commercial clients. He has a BFA from East Carolina University and a MBA from DePaul University. Prior to the insurance industry, Luke was a teacher. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses as an adjunct professor of management at DePaul’s business school in downtown Chicago. Simultaneously, he was an on-site and online test prep and professional development instructor with Kaplan. His initiation into the classroom, however, was as a certified ESL teacher in Nagasaki, Japan. Before all of that, you could find him grinding it out in various studios and workshops from North Carolina to Alaska honing skills as a studio artist and craftsman.
Luke grew up in and around the water but did not really start hunting until moving to Wisconsin where he convinced some friends to take him into the marsh chasing ducks. From that moment on, actively participating in the outdoors and procuring for his family the sustainable resources found there has all but consumed him. When something becomes so crucial to your way of life and impactful to your worldview, it is not hard to find a passion for both sharing and conserving what drives you. BHA and the individuals that generate its organizational power are easy allies that effortlessly align with Luke’s ethos. He sees it as nothing less than an honor to supply a little more ink onto the indelible mark BHA is making on America’s public lands and the fabric of the nation.
Tyler Ross, Vice-Chair & Mountain Regional Director
Tyler lives in Leicester with his wife Britney and two sons, Jameson and Brennon. Tyler received his bachelor's degree in natural resource conservation and management from Western Carolina University. Tyler is an avid bowhunter and conservationist who spends a lot of his free time scouting public lands, hiking with his family or flinging arrows. Tyler works as a director for a local soil and water conservation district where he works with landowners and land managers to put sound conservation practices on the ground. A few years ago, at the behest of some of his friends and trends he was noticing locally, Tyler started a website, trueconservationist.com, as a platform for heeding the call of our conservation heritage. Tyler is also very involved with other conservation groups in the area, especially those working to address habitat issues on public lands.
Aaron Towns, Secretary
Aaron Towns lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laura, and their two kids. While growing up in Memphis, TN, he was not exposed to hunting. After relocating to Charlotte in 2008, a couple of friends introduced him to the hunting lifestyle, and he never looked back. After becoming completely obsessed with hunting and conservation, he wanted to find a way to give back to the outdoors while impacting others’ lives. In 2017, he founded Mission Outside, an organization that hosts camps to introduce kids to hunting, fishing and conservation who otherwise wouldn't have exposure to this great lifestyle.
When he is not spending time with his family, working, hunting in the Carolinas or talking about hunting, he can be found planning his next Western public lands trip. After going on his first public lands Colorado elk hunt in the Flat Tops Wilderness, he made it his mission to protect public lands, water, and the wildlife that call them home. His goal is to be a voice for the public lands while increasing, or at a minimum, helping ensure the same amount of public land opportunities exists for many generations.
John Smith, Treasurer
John lives outside of Raleigh with his wife, daughter, and Labrador retriever. In 2012, John graduated from NC State University with a degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. Currently, he works for a software company that provides solutions and services for investment advisors. John grew up in Gastonia, and was active in a local Boy Scout troop where he established his love for the out-of-doors. Today he enjoys fishing and hunting and spending time with his family and friends.
Chuck King was born and raised in Bessemer City, NC; a small town in western Gaston County. He has been an avid sportsman his entire life thanks to the efforts of his dad and grandfather. His desire to be outdoors continues to grow daily. Chuck's outdoor career started wading the creek behind his grandparent's, sore lipping creek chubs. It has gotten moderately out of hand since then. Chuck returned to live along that creek after spending 5 years at the coast in Wilmington. At some point in time he got lucky and found a gal that wanted to backpack through the mountains more than go shopping so he made her his wife. She has put up with a lot and continues to do so. He’s sure she has convinced herself that the outdoors is a mistress that she is in constant competition with.
Chuck is an outdoor generalist where his time is spent hunting whitetail, chasing small game, trolling for crappie, longing for spring gobblers, and down-rigging for stripers. This list is not all encompassing but you get the idea. Chuck was fortunate enough to have a grandfather that introduced him to Cape Lookout National Seashore when he was 14. That place and dragging finger mullet in front of flounder have been embedded in his soul ever since. His fledgling conservation pursuits are the culmination of an oblivious journey to an obvious epiphany. He was raised by a quail hunter who talks of the good ol' days while his shotguns draw dust. He's spent days casting baits to marine resources that are on a sharp decline. He has laid down to sleep on various pieces of ground and thought "Man, it'd really be shame if anything ever happened to this" without realizing that was a potential outcome. Chuck's goal now is to try to give back as much as he has taken and encourage others to do the same. Maybe it'll make a difference, maybe it won't but Chuck feels a sincere obligation to try his best anyway.
Kirk Port, At-large
Kirk Port was born at the edge of Catskill Mountains Park in New York’s mid-Hudson River Valley. Many after-school hours were spent traipsing through hills right outside his front. With his Boy Scout troop, he backpacked and canoed his way through the Catskills, Adirondacks, and the interconnected lakes of Maine. His love of the outdoors and exploring has never faded. In the last seven years, he has backpacked a section of the John Muir Trail, ascended the summit of Mount Whitney, explored the Sawtooth Wilderness, and trekked through Switzerland and Bhutan.
A family move brought Kirk to Raleigh at the start of high school. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he has had a long career in finance in the clinical research industry. He is an avid mountain biker and was a competitive amateur road cyclist for 30 years. Kirk considers himself an adult onset hunter. Having never fired a shotgun until a friend asked if his chocolate Labrador retriever puppy was gun shy, he soon acquired his first shotgun, took the North Carolina hunting safety course, and at age 40 purchased his first hunting license. Not too long after, a Gordon Setter joined the party. Without access to private lands, he quickly learned how important public lands are to spending days afield. He is now planning his first elk hunting trip on public lands in the Gunnison basin with his Colorado cousins.
Kirk discovered BHA several years ago and found its ethos congruent with his long-held environmental and conservation values. He wants to do everything in his power to make sure that current and future generations of Americans continue to have access to public lands. As Woody Guthrie sang, “This land was made for you and me.”
T. Edward Nickens, At-large & BHA North American Board of Directors
For more than three decades, T. Edward Nickens has reported on conservation, the outdoors, and Southern culture for some of the world’s most respected publications. He reports across North and Central America, with more than 1,000 bylines from the Arctic Circle to the Honduran rainforests. He is editor-at-large and columnist for Field & Stream, a contributing editor for Audubon, a contributing editor and design judge for Garden & Gun and a columnist for Our State. His work has appeared in Smithsonian, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal and many others and they have been collected in numerous “best of” anthologies. His books for Field & Stream have sold more than 300,000 copies. He splits time between Raleigh and Morehead City with one wife, two dogs, a part-time cat, the occasional sightings of two grown children in college, 11 fly rods, three canoes, two powerboats, and an indeterminate number of duck and goose decoys.
Jacob Lishen, Marketing Manager
Based in Raleigh, NC, Jacob lives to be in the outdoors. Born and raised across the south, he’s rooted in everything from whitetail hunting to bass fishing and takes conservation, public land opportunities, and game management to heart. A past fishing, hunting, and adventure guide, he’s traveled the country pulling the best of the world back here to NC with him as he’s transitioned his love of the outdoors into the creative space as a founding member of Land Limited; an outdoor adventure media house that supports organizations in the greater outdoor community.When he’s not working on marketing or creative projects, you can find him hunting or scouting any of central NC’s public lands, working on active conservation or land management projects with local non-profits, and occasionally making trips to the coast to chase redfish and flounder. With a goal of opening up more public land opportunities and fighting for the ethical pursuit of the opportunities, animals, and adventures we all love, Jacob is proud to represent NC BHA and lead the charge for marketing, communications, and social media.
Marty Bartram, Armed Forces Initiative Coordinator
Marty was born on Fort Bragg and spent most of his childhood in Washington state. He was raised in a very outdoors-friendly family where fishing and camping dominated family activities. Though hunting was not a family tradition, Marty could always be found in the woods surrounding Mount Ranier with an air rifle; hunting frogs, grouse and just exploring. After letting college interfere with his education, Marty joined the Army at 21 years old (1988), totally ignoring both his recruiter’s and father’s advice to go into a medical field and demanding to go to the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantryman.
Marty participated in operations in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Mozambique, and Haiti and spent three years in various African countries conducting psychological operations activities in support of Special Operations Command Europe. Marty retired in 2008 and has worked at the United States Army Special Warfare Center and School ever since.
Marty is also an ordained minister and certified gunsmith. Marty uses his 20 years of coaching wrestling and his military leadership experiences to help coach and mentor others. Two of his favorite quotes are, “Change is inevitable growth is optional,” and, “Focus on what you can do not on what you can’t.” Marty freely hands out the secret to wrestling to anyone that asks.
Marty is married to his wife, Leah, and they have four children and two grandchildren.
Phillip Widener, Regional Director for Triangle and Coastal Plain
Phillip Widener lives outside of Raleigh, NC with his wife Shelby. He works as an electrical engineer at a local design firm. Phillip received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. Prior to his engineering career, he spent 5 years in the military in the Naval Nuclear Program.
Phillip was born in Eastern North Carolina, but his outdoor experience began when he moved to Northern Florida. From catching bream with his grandfather, largemouths with highschool buddies, or attempts at redfish with his now brother-in-law, Phillip’s outdoor awakening happened on the water. When he got out of the military, he moved back to North Carolina with his wife. There, a friend told him about squirrel hunting, and he decided to try it out for himself. Squirrels, as it turns out, were the gateway to all other forms of hunting. He now hunts or has plans to hunt any legal game in the state of North Carolina.
Hunting, though, forced him to reckon with the deeply ingrained sense of loss he felt for our lands and waters. Since he was a child, he was aware of the effects people had on the world around them, but always thought “What can I do?” Finding BHA turned out to be the answer to that question. BHA has given not only him, but also many others, a say in the course of conservation history. He feels incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to contribute in some small way.
Jordan Linger, Regional Director for Mountains and Piedmont
Jordan was born in Maryland and raised in North Carolina. He grew up fishing rivers, creeks, and streams with his dad from North Carolina up to Maryland whenever he wasn’t in school. His family then moved to Ohio during his sophomore year of high school, which is where he really got into hunting for small game and deer. Jordan moved back to the great state of North Carolina in 2010 and now shares his love of all things outdoors with his three children (Claire, Nora, and Nolan), his wife, Beth, and their two English Setters, Cal and Remi. He joined the BHA shortly after moving to Winston-Salem where he resides now. Preaching his love of the outdoors, public land and animals that reside there to anyone who will lend an ear. He learned a lot from his Dad and Grandpa who shared classic writings from likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold and Fred Bear. He loves old school ways of hunting. From traditional archery and muzzleloading while simply just sitting on the ground or still hunting just listening to the woods. While enjoying the classic styles and views of bird hunting with his two English Setters.