Citizen oversight membership

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.

No appointments were made in 2023 for the current term in anticipation of the committee structure being revised starting in 2025.

Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC)

To contact the citizen oversight committee, use this address and your message will forward directly to the BOC Chair: [email protected]

Photo of Jess PaulsonAs a native Minnesotan, I have always felt connected to the natural world. I grew up having a paddle, fishing rod, or rifle in my hand enjoying all facets of our state’s many natural resources.

My passion for the outdoors was further deepened when I spent several summers as a teenager on a remote island in the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods. This guided me to my college focuses in environmental studies and outdoor education. My education led to internships with the Chippewa National Forest (U.S. Forest Service), Natural Resources Research Institute (University of Minnesota, Duluth) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua program. Early in my career, I was able to be a part of different natural resource management, conservation, and education initiatives across the state.

I stayed in natural resources conservation and environmental education throughout the pursuit of my masters in education. I have led groups and taught in a variety of outdoor settings while working for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (National Park Service), Springbrook Nature Center (City of Fridley) and the Three Rivers Park District.

Living near a national wildlife refuge gave me another natural resources entity to connect with. I have been an on-call wildland firefighter for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge for over 10 years and in 2017 I became a U.S. Fish and Wildlife kayaking and canoeing instructor. My connections with USFWS led me to complete my master's thesis work in native species conservation and environmental education.

For the past six years I have been a science advisor at the Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences Academy (JGESA). JGESA is a public 6th-12th grade environmental science project-based learning charter school located on Cedar Lake near Maple Lake. As a part of this teacher-governed school, I sit on several committees related to personnel, finance, operations, as well as serve on the school board.

I am excited to be a part of the oversight committee where I can apply my experience and knowledge gained over several years of being a part of aquatic conservation efforts and environmental education outreach programming.

Fisheries Oversight Committee (FOC)

Committee liaisons

Brad Parsons
Fisheries section manager

Shannon Fisher
Fisheries populations monitoring and regulations manager

Judi Hart (Squaw Lake)

Photo of Judi HartI was born and raised in Peru, Ill. This is where my angling addiction started at the age of 4.

I vividly remember walking down to the Illinois River with Grandpa Hart, armed with cane poles, bobbers and bait balls made from Kellogg's Corn Flakes we prepared the night before. My Uncle Joe was another great influence. He was an avid fisherman and hunter. Many days he would pick me up and we would go to a small pond to fish bluegills.

As I grew older, I found Illinois did not have many angling opportunities. Getting to a decent fishing spot always involved some extensive traveling. Then, some good friends purchased a resort in Itasca County in the late 80's, and I found myself driving up to Minnesota often. A job opportunity presented itself for me, and I decided to make the move to Minnesota in 1993.

Living in Squaw Lake, I am an active member of my community. I currently hold the elected position of supervisor for Max Township in Itasca County and have served as chair of Squaw Lake Ducks Unlimited for 15 years. I recently stepped down from that position but continue to volunteer on the committee. I work for the U.S. Postal Service and am the postmaster in Cohasset. These positions have trained me to be knowledgeable in budget operations, decision making, problem solving and community relations.

I have fished many lakes in northern Minnesota for several different specie,s and I feel my contribution to this work group will be beneficial moving forward. Sharing our opinions with others can aid in the overall tasks that we will be addressing.

It is a great honor to be appointed to the Fisheries Oversight Committee. I would like to help preserve our natural resources for future generations and create angling opportunities to inspire more Minnesotans to get outdoors and fish!

Kevin Maki (Saginaw)


Mark Sewald (Dayton)


Thomas Wood (Rochester)

Photo of Thomas WoodThomas was raised in Winona. After high school, he worked as the fishing instructor and cabin counselor for the Minnesota Elks Youth Camp in Nisswa for several years. He then moved out west to be with his spouse, Randi, spending about 10 years in a small town in northeast Nevada.

His love of his family and the state of hockey brought him back to the cold north. He is currently residing in Rochester with his spouse and their furbaby, Magnolia, a St. Bemoodle. Thomas and his family also harbor in their saltwater aquarium a pair of clarkii clownfish, Clark and Ellen, and several rainbow anemones along with Goggle, a yellow watchman goby and Lawnie, a lawnmower blenny.

He and his family enjoy time fishing the Mississippi backwaters and spending time at the family cabin on Lake Vermillion near Cook. When there is ice, more than likely you will find him in a warm ice shack somewhere in the state.

Wildlife Oversight Committee (WOC)

Committee liaisons

Kelly Straka
Wildlife section manager

Jamie Gangaware
Wildlife operations manager

Committee members

Nathaniel Albrecht (St. Louis Park)
Bruce Babcock (Greenbush)
Mark Gutierrez (Vadnais Heights)

My name is Mark Gutierrez. I am a transplant from New Mexico and have been in Minnesota for 11 years. I majored in agricultural business and agricultural economics, graduating with an master's degree from New Mexico State University. I work for the Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, a farmer-led, farmer-run organization focused on educating about soil health. I previously worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in statistics and crop insurance. I enjoy the Minnesota outdoors and love fishing and hunting.

Katrina Pulham (Rochester)
Reuben Ustimchuk (Andover)
Naomi Walker (St. Louis Park)

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