AIS Advisory Committee Members
AIS Advisory Committee Members
- John Barten, Delano
- Gary Botzek, Elk River
- Jerry Byron, Waseca
- Pat Conzemius, Blain
- Rachael Crabb, Minneapolis
- Jeff Forester, Minneapolis
- Jay Green, Mound
- Kenneth Grob, Park Rapids
- Tera Guetter, Detroit Lakes
- Barb Halbakken Fischburg, Detroit Lakes
- Gabriel Jabbour, Orono
- Dr. Michelle Marko, Moorhead
- Robert Olsen, Canby
- Greg Oswald, Ellendale
- James Stratton
- Paul Thiede
AIS Advisory Committee Ex-Officio Members
- Carol Altepeter, Brainerd
- Norman W. Deschampe, Grand Portage
- Michael Hoff, Eagan
- Douglas Jensen, Duluth
- Dr. Peter Sorensen, St. Paul
Committee member bios
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John Barten is the natural resources director of Three Rivers Park District. He has been involved in AIS management activities for over 24 years, including inspecting watercraft, providing educational programs, monitoring the spread of aquatic invasive species in area lakes and wetlands, and implementing control programs for invasive plants. In addition, he participated in developing AIS management plans for numerous lakes and served on various DNR committees to assess AIS risk and review management options. Barten has an M.A. in Aquatic Biology from St. Cloud State University and has served on the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District AIS Task Force since 1989. He is a resident of Delano.
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Gary Botzek serves as Executive Director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation. MCF represents local sportsmen’s clubs and individuals at the State Capitol on issues surrounding conservation, natural resources, fish and wildlife, and the environment. He owns his own company, Capitol Connections, located in Roseville. He and his wife Luci live in Elk River. Botzek was born and raised on a farm in Benton County and enjoys just about everything and anything out of doors.
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Jerry Byron is vice president of Alumacraft Boat Company. As a watercraft manufacturer and concerned citizen of Minnesota, Byron is committed to making a difference in the effort to contain AIS and educate the public about prevention measures. A resident of Waseca, he is a frequent participant in DNR-sponsored AIS stakeholders meetings, and an avid fisherman and waterfowl hunter.
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Pat Conzemius is the conservation director at Wildlife Forever, a national conservation organization committed to conserving America's wildlife heritage through education, management, and habitat preservation. Wildlife Forever has taken a lead role in AIS outreach and education in Minnesota and across the nation, working with multiple state, federal, private, and NGO partners. As operational lead for the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Threat Campaign, the partnership leverages funding and resources to purchase highway billboards, print ads, public service announcements, and ready-made outreach materials. Conzemius is an at-large member on the Great Lakes Panel for Aquatic Invasive Species, has participated with the Recreational User Best Management Practice guideline committee, and has been involved in Minnesota Asian Carp Coalition activities, including numerous DNR-hosted AIS Stakeholder meetings. A resident of Blaine, he enjoys many water-related activities including fishing, hunting, boating, snorkeling, water skiing, and jet skiing.
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Rachael Crabb is a water quality specialist with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB). She played an essential role in producing a Zebra Mussel Action Plan in 2010 which allowed the board to vastly expand its invasive species education program, boat inspections, and early detection monitoring throughout the waterbodies of the Minneapolis park system. Ms. Crabb has degrees in Geology from Beloit College and the University of Vermont, and has participated on a variety of AIS committees and task forces. She looks forward to helping shape AIS policy and being involved as the DNR and Minnesota citizens collaborate to create a successful AIS plan for the state. A resident of Minneapolis, her outdoor activities include boating, skiing, biking, and enjoying the lakes.
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Jeff Forester is executive director of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, formerly the Minnesota Seasonal Recreational Property Owners Coalition (MSRPO). Under his leadership MSRPO-MN Lakes and Rivers has been a key advocate in AIS work, and has committed substantial resources to educating the public about invasive species and advancing AIS efforts with legislative action. Forester is also a writer and has participated in Minnesota Asian Carp Coalition activities, and attended many DNR-hosted AIS Stakeholder meetings. A resident of Minneapolis, Forester enjoys a variety of water-related activities including fishing, boating, sailing, water skiing, and waterfowl hunting.
Jay Green is a software engineer and systems architect working primarily in the healthcare sector. He is an active member of Anglers for Habitat, an organization dedicated to preserving and improving aquatic habitat, clean water, and fishing in Minnesota. Green has served as a board member on several outdoor organizations, including the Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation and the Minnesota Sportfishing Congress. Since 2010, he has been an active participant in the AIS stakeholder meetings hosted by the DNR, as well as on a number of AIS committees and task forces sponsored by local government units. He currently serves on the board of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District. A resident of Mound, Green is an avid recreational and tournament angler, and also enjoys many other outdoor activities.
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Kenneth Grob is a retired engineer who currently serves as chair of the Hubbard County AIS Task Force. He has been actively engaged in AIS education, awareness, and prevention efforts for over eight years, both in Hubbard County and at the state level. Grob was president of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) for five years and has served as chairman of the COLA AIS Prevention Committee since 2004. He has participated on several DNR stakeholder groups, including shoreland rules and standards, water structure rules, and aquatic invasive species. Grob is currently a member of the Hubbard County Board of Adjustment and chairs the University of Minnesota Extension Committee for Hubbard County. He has an M.S. Degree from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. During his career, Grob worked with General Motors, Xerox, and Medrad, mostly in upstate New York and Pittsburgh. He grew up in the Houston County area of southeastern Minnesota, and is currently a resident
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Tera Guetter is the administrator for the Pelican River Watershed District, an organization dedicated to restoring and maintaining the health of waters in approximately 160 square miles of Becker and Ottertail counties. As a water resource manager, Guetter has a broad range of professional and personal experience with AIS issues, including research, public awareness, prevention, and education. She has served on a variety of committees for local governments units and lake associations, as well as the DNR’s AIS management committee. Guetter, who has a degree in Geology from the University of Minnesota-Morris, is currently serving on the Becker County AIS task force. She is a Detroit Lakes resident and seasonal cabin owner who enjoys boating, skiing, and many other water-related activities with her family.
Barb Halbakken Fischburg is a committed advocate who cares deeply about protecting Minnesota’s public waters. She is currently president of the Lake Detroiters Lake Association, serves on the executive boards of the Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations (MN COLA) and the Becker County COLA, and also serves on the Board of Directors of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates. Fischburg has participated in numerous AIS stakeholder activities sponsored by the DNR, local government units, and lake associations, and regularly attends of AIS forums, conferences, and roundtables. She was involved with the Minnesota Asian Carp Coalition from its inception and represented MN COLA in Washington, D.C. to advocate for increased federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
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As a resident on Lake Minnetonka for over 40 years, and the owner of four marinas and a boat manufacturer, Gabriel Jabbour has always participated in and contributed to lake-related issues. He currently serves on the AIS committee for both the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Jabbour has worked with the DNR on public access issues and helped the agency facilitate four AIS training sessions for lake service providers. He also has extensive involvement in local government, including serving on the planning commission and as mayor for the city of Orono. In addition, Jabbour worked with Three River Parks and Hennepin County to acquire the Dakota Trail, and was involved in helping Orono wok with the State of Minnesota to acquire and preserve the Big Island Veteran Camp, where he presently serves as custodian. He has participated in a variety of AIS stakeholder meetings and committees sponsored by the DNR and local government organizations. Jabbour lives in Orono, where he pursues pleasure boating in his leisure time.
Dr. Michelle Marko
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Dr. Michelle Marko is an assistant professor at Concordia College in Moorhead where she teaches limnology, ecology, environmental studies, and general biology. She helps students approach environmental issues, such as invasive species, by understanding the science behind the problem. Marko has worked as a research scientist in the area of aquatic invasive species for over 10 years, investigating the biological control of Eurasian watermilfoil, integrated pest management, and understanding the ecology of flowering rush. She has lived in several areas of the state, and is acutely aware of the threats imposed by invasive species and their potential impact on a region’s economy, ecology, and livelihood. Marko currently serves as a representative on the Long Lake Board of Directors and has been involved with several lake association and citizen-sponsored AIS committees. She has a Ph.D. in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota, an M.S. in Zoology from Colorado State University, and a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. Marko enjoys boating, snorkeling, and other outdoor activities across Minnesota.
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Robert Olsen is the Environmental Administrator for Lincoln County in South Western Minnesota. He currently serves as Supervisor for the Lake Benton Improvement District where he helps establish policies for managing AIS, specifically curly-leaf pondweed. He has participated in several DNR-hosted AIS stakeholder meetings, as well as AIS committees sponsored by local government units. Olsen Is a lifelong resident of Lincoln County. He lives near Canby and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including fishing and boating.
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Greg Oswald is the owner of Oswald Fisheries, Inc. and co-owner of Prairie Wax Worm Farms. He has spent 36 years in the fish industry, and has participated in a variety of AIS activities, including the Minnesota Asian Carp Coalition and DNR-hosted stakeholder meetings. Oswald has been president of the Minnesota Aquaculture Association since 2007 and has hosted the AIS HACCP every other year since 2003. He has a B.A. in speech/psychology from Mankato State and an M.A. in psychology from San Jose State. Oswald lives in Ellendale where he enjoys boating, sailing, and waterfowl hunting.
Douglas County Commissioner
Paul Thiede was just re-elected to his fourth term on the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners. During his tenure Crow Wing County has been recognized locally, statewide and nationally for its Land Services reorganization, zoning ordinance rewrite and water planning efforts. He is a member of the Mississippi Headwaters Board and has served on numerous other boards and commissions. During four terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives he served as vice-chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and was on the national board of a state legislative conference. He is an avid hunter and fisherman. Raised in Motley, Minnesota, he is a graduate of the University of Dayton and a former editor/owner of a weekly newspaper. Paul and his wife, Dee, spent the last nearly forty years raising a family of eight children on the shores of Upper Hay Lake near Pequot Lakes.
AIS Advisory Committee Ex-Officio Members
Carol Altepeter is the northwest and central region manager for Explore Minnesota Tourism. She has a long history of communicating about AIS to Minnesota resorts and the tourism industry as a whole, and is committed to making sure visitors to our state know and understand our AIS regulations and why we have them. Altepeter previously served on the Shoreland Standards Advisory Committee, the DNR Invasive Species Terrestrial Advisory Marketing Committee, and the DNR Fishing Roundtable. A resident of Brainerd, she is an avid woman angler with a special interest in connecting children to fishing and the outdoors.
Norman Deschampe is an enrolled member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and currently the Tribal Chairman of the Band, a position he has been elected to for the last 21 years. During Norman's career as Chairman he has served on many committees related to preserving the environment and protecting the rights of tribal members under the 1854 Treaty Authority to hunt and fish. As an avid outdoorsman Norman is committed to protecting our natural resources.
Michael Hoff is the Invasive Species Program Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Midwest Region. He began working on invasive species issues in 1975, and has focused primarily on invasive species activities since 2001. Hoff played a lead role in drafting Aquatic Invasive Species Action Plans for the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration and for the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association. He currently works on coordinating invasive species program activities with representatives from the governments of Canada and Mexico, as well as NGOs, tribes, and industries in the Midwest region. Hoff is leading efforts to use risk assessment products for regulatory and non-regulatory decision-making, and is helping to lead early detection and response planning for the USFWS in the Great Lakes region. He received a B.S. Degree in Fisheries Management from U.W. Stevens Point, and an M.S. degree in Biology from Tennessee Technological University. A resident of Eagan, Hoff enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, skiing, and running.
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Doug Jensen is the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator for the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program in Duluth. He has over 20 years of experience working on AIS issues, and is considered a national expert on the biology, ecology, and impacts of aquatic invasive species. With specialized experience in public communications, human behavioral science, environmental education and program evaluation, Jensen brings an outcomes-based approach to AIS outreach. He played an integral role in establishing the national campaigns for Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!, a behavior intervention campaign aimed at preventing AIS spread by boaters and anglers, and Habitattitude, designed to educate aquarists and water gardeners to prevent the release of aquarium fish and plants into waters of the state. He has participated in numerous DNR-hosted AIS stakeholder meetings, and holds leadership positions for many national and local AIS organizations including: the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council, the National Invasive Species Council, the Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, and the Great Lakes Panel on ANS. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Great Lakes Aquarium. Jensen has an M.S. in Education and a B.S. in biology and from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in Duluth where he enjoys boating and year-round fishing.
Dr. Peter Sorensen
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Dr. Peter Sorensen is a professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota. He is also the scientific director of the new Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, established in 2012 in collaboration with the Commissioner of Natural Resources (DNR). Dr. Sorensen joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1988 to study fish behavior, olfaction, and physiology. Since 1990, he has led research on the use of pheromones in controlling unwanted nuisance species such as sea lamprey, common carp, and the Eurasian ruffe. Dr. Sorensen received a B.A. from Bates College and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island. He has authored over 125 peer-reviewed publications and two dozen book chapters. Peter lives in St Paul with his wife Gail. For more information visit http://www.maisrc.umn.edu/.