Bart George, East Side Co-Chair - Spokane, WA
Growing up on a small farm in Iowa, Bart spent most of his childhood exploring the hardwood forests, pond fishing, and hunting deer, turkeys and every type of small game. He attended Simpson College in Iowa where he wrestled his way through college (literally) and earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology.
Bart’s first wildlife management position out of college brought him west to the state of Washington, which provided big country, big game and big opportunities. Bart is currently a Wildlife Biologist for the Kalispel Tribe in northeast Washington, where he spends most of his days in the field. Whether surveying caribou from a fixed wing aircraft or snowshoeing into the wilderness to set hair snares and game cameras; Bart loves the fact his work and play are one in the same.
You can typically find Bart wandering around the eastern Washington or northern Idaho wilderness with his hounds. He is an avid hunter, guide and houndsman, and is deeply passionate about wildlife conservation and restoration.
Max Cole, West Side Co-Chair - Seattle, WA
Max was raised on Colorado's front range where he grew up rock climbing, mountain biking, and skiing. His passion and knowledge of wilderness areas were influenced by his father who is an avid adventurer and uncle who worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). He received a degree in Finance from Seattle University and currently lives in Seattle with his wife and dog (Sage).
When not on or planning his next bow hunt in the west, Max enjoys fly fishing, trail running, mountain biking, and skiing. Max is a strong believer in BHA's opportunity to protect public lands through raising awareness to the public and outdoor recreation community. He joined BHA in 2016 and was the previously the West Side Secretary.
Mike Lithgow, East Side Co-Secretary - Spokane, WA
Mike is a fourth generation resident of Pend Oreille County in northeast Washington on the border of Canada and Idaho. After high school he attended Western Washington University’s Huxley School of Environmental Studies where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy and Planning With college in the rearview mirror, Mike traveled around Europe and southeast Asia before attempting to live in Seattle. The fast paced lifestyle, endless traffic and packed trailheads brought him back to his home on the dry side of the state. In 2010, Mike received a graduate degree in Public Administration and since has traded his study time for time in the woods.
When not working as the information and outreach coordinator for the Kalispel Tribe, Mike is playing the upright bass in the band Scotia Road, and recreating on the public lands of the west. Fly fishing, bow hunting, waterfowl hunting and horseback riding are some of Mike’s favorite outdoor hobbies. Mike enjoys the recreational opportunities and solitude that the back country offers.
Michael Collins, West Side Secretary - Ferndale, WA
Michael is from Bellingham, WA and has lived in Washington State for his entire life. At an early age he developed an affection for the mountains, woods and wildlife surrounding his home. To feed this urge, he learned to fish and spent afternoons after school and weekends chasing salmon and steelhead on the Nooksack, Skagit and Vedder rivers. He moved to Seattle to pursue a career in the private sector after graduating from Western Washington University with a BA in Political Science. Currently Michael works in regulatory compliance in Aerospace and Medical Device manufacturing. In his free time, he enjoys chasing deer, elk and bear in the backcountry.
Michael became involved in BHA because he believes in its mission. He believes that public lands belong to the public in perpetuity and wants to ensure access for future generations. Michael lives in Whatcom County with his wife and two young boys.
Bob Mirasole, Treasurer - Spokane, WA
Bob comes from Southern California, growing up in the 1960's. Stomping around theSan Bernardino Mountains and the Mohave Desert, hunting whitetail deer and jackrabbits. The only lotto that he won was in 1970, military draft. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and landed in the Pacific Northwest at Fairchild AFB in Washington State, just outside of Spokane. Bob retired from the Department of Defense after 38 years as a senior fire officer. Most of Bob’s conservation work was devoted to hunting and fishing, leaving no trace and ensuring camps he utilized were left better than he found them.
He joined Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in 2013 and attended the Boise Rendezvous; he was immediately hooked on the BHA mission and conservation programs. During his retirement he always has a fishing or hunting trip on the radar. As an avid fly fisher, you can find Bob chasing steelhead and salmon in the Clearwater Basin of Idaho or in his home waters, the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene and the upper St. Joe rivers, where he fishes for cutthroat trout. Bob enjoys the solitude of the next river valley that the backcountry offers.
Aaron Hansen, Board Member - Vaughn, WA
Having parents spread across the country, Aaron spent his school year in rural mid-Michigan and his summers and school breaks in western Washington. It didn't take long to realize the beauty of the mountains, from about 4 or 5 he was hooked on camping, day hikes, fishing and just watching the wildlife. As the years went on and his love for the mountains became inseparable, he moved to Washington at the age of 12.
Not being able to be in the mountains every second was acceptable, as long as he could see them. To Aaron there's always been something soothing about the mountains. As the years moved on and camping gave way to backpacking, day hikes became multiple day trips in the back-country, fishing alpine lakes or rivers, wildlife viewing turned into hunting, and romance turned into a family. Aaron now spends 50 weeks a year working as a collision tech and family man, working hard so he can take his 2 week vacation every year, to go on his annual elk hunting trip with his brother.
Although Aaron can't always be in the mountains, he is always thinking about them. He belongs to multiple conservation groups and, after learning about the threats to public lands, he started his own organization and website. When Backcountry Hunters & Anglers came looking for board members in Washington, he jumped at the opportunity to pursue his passion and effect change on a grander scale in a positive way!
Brandon Ellsworth – Bonney Lake, WA
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Brandon grew a fondness for the outdoors in the state’s central deserts and northern mountains. While fishing filled his early adolescence, Brandon spent his teenage years scouting, skiing, and otherwise recreating, instilling a passion for the pursuit and enjoyment of wild places. After attending college at Purdue University, he entered the Air Force and commissioned as a pilot. McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, WA was his first duty station and what Brandon refers as his “Love at First Sight” with the Pacific Northwest. Follow-on assignments took him to Las Vegas, NV, but the call of Washington never left. In 2014 he and his wife returned to settle in the Bonney Lake area.
Brandon is an “Adult Onset Hunter” and fully appreciates many of the barriers fledgling outdoors people face. With the acquisition and training of his first labrador, he tiptoed into hunting with waterfowl and upland game pursuits throughout Nevada, Utah and California. After spending several seasons in duck blinds, Brandon recognized the need for not only preservation and access to the wetlands in which waterfowl thrive, but the mentorship necessary to get more into the outdoors. Follow on years expanded his desire to be hunting and fishing the backcountry of the american west and ensure those areas would remain publicly accessible for as long as possible. In 2016, Brandon was introduced to the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and immediately joined as a life member.
Brandon is currently an international first officer for Delta Air Lines, a C-17A Instructor Pilot in the Air Force Reserves and a self-described hunting, fishing and outdoors addict, with no intention of recovery.
Cameron Lankhaar, Board Member - Sultan, WA
Carmen Vanbianchi, Board Member - Twisp, WA
Born and raised on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington where she spent her childhood in the woods, Carmen always knew that she wanted work outdoors as a wildlife biologist when she grew up. To realize this dream she attended Humboldt State University studying wildlife management and conservation, and after graduating worked in the US and Canada on various wildlife biology projects, focusing on carnivore biology. Spending so much time tracking, trapping for research, and studying wildlife naturally led Carmen’s interest to hunting, and in her early twenties she set about teaching herself to hunt.
Carmen eventually settled down in the Methow Valley of Washington and received her MS degree from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, researching Washington lynx habitat. Currently, Carmen spends most of her time working as a field biologist or scouting nooks and crannies in the mountains in anticipation of fall mule deer hunting.
As someone who works and plays on public lands, Carmen feels a deep responsibility to help protect them. For this reason she is rolling up her sleeves and joining BHA in the fight to “keep public land in public hands”.
Lauren Ling, Board Member - Spokane, WA
Although a native Washingtonian, Lauren has spent the last 25 years living on the Front Range in Colorado. As a child, she spent much of her time exploring the west on road trips with her mom, camping in the nation’s national forests and hiking. Driven by a desire to connect with her food, she began hunting as an adult and it has quickly become her passion.
Lauren recently moved back to her home state, lured by the abundance of public land and water. She has a small farm outside of Spokane where she lives with her horses, dogs and cat, enjoying the flocks of turkeys and herds of deer that visit daily. Despite her day job as an accountant, Lauren is happiest when in the woods whether she is hiking, scouting, or hunting. Lauren volunteers with the Inland Northwest Search and Rescue team as a handy excuse to spend more time in nature and practice survival situations. She is passionate about protecting our access to public lands and being an advocate for ethical hunting practices and laws.
Ryan Los, Board Member - Wenatchee, WA
Ryan grew up spending time outdoors hunting and fishing with his dad and grandfather. Ryan was introduced to conservation at an early age by his parents and grandparents who were involved in conservation organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Steelheaders, and Ducks Unlimited. Many weekends were spent volunteering as well as tagging along to conservation focused meetings and banquets. He attended Western Washington University, as a student athlete, and over the years earned a BA in Environmental Studies. With a plan of going into fish and wildlife enforcement Ryan took a job with the Washington State Patrol to gain experience in law enforcement. Now, with young kids of his own, the move into that career has yet to transpire.
You can find Ryan and his family exploring central Washington fishing, archery hunting, shed hunting, in a duck blind or involving themselves in any number of available outdoor activities. Ryan is passionate about conservation and protecting the wild areas and species he grew up to love for his kids and future generations.
Dustin Coy, Board Member – Rock Island, WA
Dustin grew up in Central Washington, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, snowboarding, and rock climbing. Shortly after getting married to his wife Samantha, they moved to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. He and his family relished the Puget Sound’s beauty and bounty by salmon fishing, crabbing, and hunting blacktail deer. Missing the mountains and four seasons, he moved back to Central Washington where they continued to grow their family. Dustin and his wife have seven children and a small farm in Rock Island, Washington.
He always takes time to appreciate the beauty of Washington state’s terrain and wildlife through either a camera lens or by packing a bow or rifle around in the mountains. Dustin builds traditional bows and is a 4H club leader for archery. Conservation has become more of a concern to him as he has matured while pursuing his hunting passion. “Having public spaces and wild places is imperative. Our kids depend upon us to work to keep public lands in public hands.”
Matt Nesbit, Board Member – Kennewick, WA
Matt grew up in northern California before attending Oregon State University in the Fisheries and Wildlife program which opened his eyes to all that the Northwest could offer. Upon graduation he immediately took a Fisheries Biologist position in eastern Washington. Matt’s work is focused on spring Chinook survival in the Columbia and Snake rivers. He has done juvenile salmon survival studies from the Idaho headwaters to the Columbia River estuary as well as adult salmon studies from the estuary to Bonneville Dam. The project that Matt is most passionate about is public outreach with local elementary students as part of the Salmon in the Classroom project. This project involves classes raising salmon from eggs and a complete curriculum for the classroom. For his part, Matt gives classroom presentations on fisheries research in the Northwest and dissects adult salmon for the kids. When the classes have raised their salmon for release in the Columbia River, Matt PIT tags them and tracks their progress down through the hydropower system and reports their progress back to the schools involved.
Matt came to hunting at an older age but has a true passion for hunting and spending time in the backcountry or any expanse of public land in Washington and Idaho. Matt Lives in Kennewick with his wife and two daughters.
Matt Little, Board Member – Fern Prairie, WA
Matt is a passionate public lands hunter and angler who grew up in Minnesota and has been working on conservation from a sportsmen’s angle ever since. Matt started his career in DC working on wetlands issues and then became senior advisor to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and, later, a bipartisan congressional coalition, on national conservation policies. In 2003, Matt moved to the Pacific Northwest to be a Park Ranger at Crater Lake National Park. He then took the helm at various conservation groups, including the National Wildlife Federation and SW Washington’s Cascade Forest Conservancy. Matt loves to find the middle ground on natural resources issues and has served on many resource advisory groups in Oregon and Washington. Matt currently works at Social Venture Partners in Portland and lives just north of Camas, WA in a sportsman’s paradise with his wife Paula and two little hunting and fishing companions, Brooke and Sabrina.