The Game and Fish Fund Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC) is composed of a chair who is appointed by the DNR commissioner, the chair of the Fisheries Oversight Committee, the chair of the Wildlife Oversight Committee and four additional members from each committee.
Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC)
Steve Okins, Chair (Willmar)
To contact the citizen oversight committee, use this address and your message will forward directly to the BOC Chair: [email protected]
Fisheries Oversight Committee (FOC)
Fisheries section manager
An asterisk (*) denotes a member of the BOC.
- Craig Pagel, chair (Duluth) *
- Karl Anderson (Greenbush) *
- Nikki Bentley (Shoreview) * [alternate]
- Faith Connors (Princeton)
- Kirk Duholm (Eagan) *
- Jess Edberg (Ely)
- David Engels (Menahga)
- Lindsay Hewitt (Minnetrista)
- Samantha Lee (Coon Rapids) *
- Mark Owens (Austin)
- Cathy Piepho (New Richland) *
- Courtney Schurhammer (Rochester)
- Thomas Wood (Rochester)
Wildlife Oversight Committee (WOC)
Interim wildlife section manager
An asterisk (*) denotes a member of the BOC.
- Burl Haar, chair (Afton) *
- Karli Cich (White Bear Lake) *
- Phoebe Cole (Warroad) *
- Garry Hooghkirk (Duluth) *
- Peter Hunt (Excelsior)
- John Schnedler (Richfield) *
- Muffie Taggett (Golden Valley)
- Naomi Walker (St. Louis Park)
- Brent Walz (Rochester, MN)
- Matt Weegman (Houston) * [alternate]
- John Wells (St. Paul)
- Karen Wortman (Bigfork)
- Andre Xiong (Oak Grove)
About Steve Okins
I have been working in government finance for over 40 years as finance director of Granite Falls and Willmar.
I also have volunteered on the League of Minnesota Cities on its Fiscal Futures Committee so I am familiar with the legislative process and have done some testifying before the Legislature on numerous occasions – most recently for the city of Willmar local option sales tax.
I have previously served on both the wildlife oversight committee and budge oversight committee and was chair of the wildlife oversight committee during my last year of membership.
I am a site steward for the Cedar Mountain Scientific and Natural Area and a member of Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.
About Faith Connors
I have worked with budgets while serving on the Princeton PTO Board, and I am responsible for presenting an annual budget to our board as the Cub Scout committee chair.
I am very interested in the long-term conservation piece and what the long-term plan is to preserve our beautiful natural resources.
I have a son who loves fishing and our three other children also love being outdoors. We live on a lake and love boating, swimming, fishing and water skiing all summer long. I want to see our lake protected for future generations.
As an educator, I am also interested in how we will involve the next generation of anglers. With funds being stretched thin, recruiting new anglers and educating the general public on how they can help with conservation efforts seems imperative.
Having four kids, I understand families and the time constraints they are under. I know that they also cherish our natural resources and for that reason I do believe that the future is bright for Minnesota. There are challenges but there are also a lot of dedicated people who love the outdoors.
About Jess Edberg
I am a born-and-raised Minnesotan who loves taking advantage of the state’s bountiful natural resources.
From sitting in the deer stand to trolling for lakers and canoe-camping to hiking, I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors year-round – especially ones that include my two chocolate labs.
I currently serve as the executive director of the Dorothy Molter Museum, which allows me to share some of our state's rich history of using and managing our natural resources to visitors from all over the continent. I also have two decades of experience as an educator both in the field and in the classroom teaching wildlife ecology specific to the Great Lakes Region to people of all ages.
Participating on this committee provides an opportunity to understand the complexities of managing Minnesota's natural resources and to contribute in a meaningful way.
About David Engels
I have worked as a senior strategic planner for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, HQ Washington D.C., and senior strategic planner for the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, HQ Washington D.C. (Retired). I have provided management and oversight for budgets in excess of $9 billion as well as program and project administration and review.
I am deeply concerned with providing a strong basis for the continuing demands DNR and DNR programs face as we attempt to counter reduced numbers of sportsman, cyclic revenues and frequent political shifts in resource importance.
As a side note, my previous term on the wildlife oversight committee has provided me with a relatively high level understanding of DNR programmatic budgeting and funding.
About Lindsay Hewitt
I am an attorney currently working for a small firm in the Twin Cities. I was raised in Tennessee and now call Minnesota home.
I love being outdoors any chance I get and visiting state parks. I fell in love with fishing for muskellunge so much that I found a home on my favorite muskellunge lake to have quick access to fish for them whenever I have spare time.
I am a member of Women Anglers of Minnesota.
About Samantha Lee
I recently graduated from Hamline University with a bachelor of arts in environmental studies, focusing on water quality.
I am born and raised in Minnesota and take frequent backpacking trips to the Superior National Forest in my free time, with always making a point of getting to Cascade Falls.
I have also served a term with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa. With all of the time I’ve spent there and with Minneapolis Parks and Recreation learning about the licensure and things relating to fish, I feel like I have a good understanding of what programs need more or less funding.
I am serving on an oversight committee with the experience and knowledge I have with fish licenses and other programs relating to the lakes.
About Craig Pagel
Craig Pagel was born in Rochester and hunted and fished the Mississippi and trout streams of southeastern Minnesota before moving to Duluth to attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has lived in northern Minnesota since.
While living in International Falls, he was one of the fishing guides who founded the Rainy Lake Sportsfishing Club. He worked for a regional utility company for 31 years in positions in budget analysis, customer service and government affairs. His last career was as the president of a trade association for one of the largest industries in northeastern Minnesota before retiring in 2017.
He continues to spend time at a hunting shack he has been part of for 45 years and fishing streams and lakes in northern Minnesota. He has lifetime sportsman’s and deer hunting licenses. Since retiring, he volunteers for hospice and has taken up watercolor painting. Most importantly, he enjoys time with his two sons and their families, who he adores.
About Cathy Piepho
Cathy has been open-water fishing since she was 6 years old and just recently discovered a passion for spearfishing and ice fishing.
Fishing has been therapeutic for her, from the comradery of other people who enjoy the sport to the peacefulness of waiting for the bite and soaking up nature’s beauty. She is also a member of Women Anglers of Minnesota.
She is currently employed at Steele County as the treasurer/finance director and has 15 years in public accounting.
She wants to help others discover their passion for fishing and feels that she can help make a positive impact to the sport with her experience in her professional career and love of fishing.
About Burl Haar
I was the executive director of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for 21 years. A significant part of my duties included budget development and administration.
Prior to that, I served as deputy commissioner as well as assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Public Service (now Deptartment of Commerce) and had similar duties in those roles.
I also served on the board of directors for the Lower St. Croix Valley Fire Protection District from 2002 to 2014. While on the board, I served on the finance committee and was the chairman of the finance committee for the majority of those years.
I have a Ph.D. in economics and have taught various economics courses over the years. I am currently teaching courses on statistics, research methods and organizational management at St. Mary's University.
I have always been an enthusiastic outdoors person and have benefited in many ways from that experience. The majority of that outdoor experience has taken place in my home state of Minnesota. I have a tremendous appreciation for what a special place this state is and for the wonderful resources and opportunities it offers its citizens.
In order to "give back" a little, I have served as a firearms safety instructor for the last 10 years or so. I am also a master naturalist through the University of Minnesota's Extension Office program, and a Scenic and Natural Area (SNA) site steward at Spring Creek Prairie SNA near Red Wing. So I am doing what I can to contribute to the enhancement of outdoor resources and to the experience of those who use them.
About Karli Cich
I was a project manager assistant for Great River Greening and had to budget projects through grant funding and donations. In my current role with Shakopee Mdewakaton Sioux Community, I have to help create yearly budgets for our natural resources and restoration projects throughout the year.
I am interested in serving on these committees because I have a passion for the outdoors. I obtained my degree in ecology to help preserve and restore Minnesota's ecosystems for future generations.
My father got me into hunting, fishing and the outdoors very early on. My family has encouraged me to through camping at Minnesota's state parks. My passion has led me to centering my career on restoring Minnesota's landscapes.
This role would help me to play an active role in my state's natural resources and commitment to its citizen's outdoor recreation. I want to ensure that funding for our state's natural resources is helpful and ecological sound to preserve game populations across the state.
About Peter Hunt
As vice president of operations at Berghuis & Hunt Inc., a business and technology consulting firm, I am involved in all aspects of financial and operations management of our firm.
While I was president of Minnesota Safari Club International, I was also responsible for the financial management of the organization.
I have been heavily involved with conservation issues for the past 10 years. Minnesota has fantastic wildlife and public land resources. We are also blessed to have the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
In order to recruit new hunters and anglers, we need to lower the barriers to entry, reach out to under-represented groups, increase opportunities and ensure that we have healthy and vibrant wildlife populations.
About Muffie Taggett
As a child, Muffie Taggett spent many summers and falls in the woods and water around Mellen, Wis. Those memorable experiences created a lifelong love of the outdoors; grouse hunting in the fall, trout fishing early spring, with plenty of hiking, canoeing and camping in between.
As a graduate of the University of Wisonsin-Stevens Point, Muffie had hoped to make Forestry her career, but a "temp" job in advertising at General Mills somehow lasted 34 years!
Muffie recently retired from General Mills as manager, creative content production. In her role, she led teams that marketed, advertised and socialized global brands. Throughout her tenure, Muffie had a reputation for strong fiscal oversight, generating significant efficiencies through innovative operations that balanced cost saving and creativity.
Her start-up agencies, AdHoc (advertising) and Studio G (digital/social content) broke new ground for GMI Brands and received multiple awards and recognition from the ad industry.
Muffie's current "employment" is marketing her passion for conservancy and the environment, with a strong desire to inform/influence decisions critical to managing our natural wealth. She hopes to educate people about their recreational impact on nature and help them develop a conservationist ethic to minimize that impact.
Like most good Minnesotans, Muffie loves all things winter and is in her fifth year as a volunteer carnivore tracker for the Wisconsin DNR, conducting snow track surveys of the gray wolf population north of Clam Lake, Wis.
Muffie looks forward to continuing her outdoor education as a member of the citizen oversight committee. She promises to bring a diverse point of view (she is from Wisconsin after all) and a playfully sarcastic sense of humor to all meetings and decision making.
Muffie currently lives in Golden Valley with her black labs, Lucy and Dawg.
About Andre Xiong
I have a lifelong interest in wildlife, conservation and supporting governing bodies such as DNR.
I am a very recently recruited hunter so I bring perspective from having seen wildlife as a resource for its intrinsic value, having not hunted a majority of my life. But as a hunter for the past four years, I've come to see wildlife from that point of view also, and I feel my experience gives me a good balance where people often end up taking one side or the other.
I am a government employee of nearly 10 years so it is important that our organizations, such as the DNR, are by the people, for the people. It is important for organizations to have clarity and involve the public but also important for the people to be more active when given opportunities to be involved, such as participation in oversight committees.
About Brent Walz
As first assistant Olmsted County attorney, I am responsible for the office budget. I work with county finance to ensure compliance with county policies and make reports and budget requests to county administration and the county board.
As part of the county attorney office management team, I assist in setting priorities for the office and developing and implementing strategies for achieving those priorities. I am also a member of the Olmsted County Executive Management Team, which does broad program overview, sets policy and makes recommendations to county administration and the county board.
I am a member of the Civil Law Committee of the Minnesota County Attorney's Association and, in that role, provide review and comment on pending legislation. In the past, I served on the board of directors for the First Alliance Credit Union, where I provided assistance, direction and oversight for the organization.
I'm a life-long outdoor enthusiast with a particular interest in hunting and birdwatching. I am concerned about chronic wasting disease in the state's deer herd and have reviewed and provided comment on the CWD response plan.