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.

Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC)

Nikki Bentley, chair (Shoreview)

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)

Committee liaisons

Brad Parsons
Fisheries section manager
651-259-5229

Shannon Fisher
Fisheries populations monitoring and regulations manager
651-259-5206


Committee members

An asterisk (*) denotes a member of the BOC.

Craig Pagel (Duluth)

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.

Karl Anderson (Greenbush)
 
Faith Connors (Princeton)

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.

Christopher Crutchfield (St. Paul)

Photo of Christopher CrutchfieldI am an African American attorney and a life-long Minnesota resident. I am currently the deputy director for Ramsey County Community Corrections. I am also an adjunct professor of litigation at Inver Hills Community College.

I have been involved in outdoor education since the mid 1980s. For the past 25 years, I have directed Underground Railroad re-enactments and other outdoor youth education programs. In addition, I was past president of the Audubon Center of the Northwoods (now Osprey Wilds Environmental Center) and continue to serve on its board of directors.

I have been married for 21 years and have five children. I live near Lake Phalen in St. Paul and have a small cabin on Turtle Lake in Browerville. I just love Minnesota, and I just love to fish. Every year I travel all over the state (from Lake of the Woods all the way down to bluff country) fishing for trout, walleye, crappie and northern pike.

Jared Cuevas (Minneapolis)
 
Kirk Duholm* (Eagan)
 
David Engels (Menahga)

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.

Lindsay Hewitt (Minnetrista)

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.

Felix Martinez-Paz (St. Paul)

Originally from Puerto Rico, Felix Martinez Paz joined the Casa de Esperanza Community Engagement team in 2017 as men & boys engagement coordinator.

As coordinator, his job is to help, support and create stronger connections with organizations and individuals doing direct work in our communities. He also creates and facilitates safe positive spaces for young men and boys – places where they can learn and discuss topics from healthy masculinity and gender-based violence to resources and tools to become allies and first responders of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Felix is an active member of The Men and Masculine Folks Network and participated in Casa de Esperanza engaging men campaign “Te invito.” Felix works with Latino students of high schools and middle schools in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district providing support, resources and facilitating conversations on healthy masculinity, teen dating violence, mental health and LGBTQ+ Latino realities.

Felix has more than 18 years of experience in management, finance and direct services serving and working closely with the Latino community in Minnesota.

Jess Paulson* (Zimmerman)

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.

Cathy Piepho*, Vice-Chair (New Richland)

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.

Courtney Schurhammer (Rochester)
 
Danny Vue (Buffalo)
 
Thomas Wood*, Chair (Rochester)
 

Wildlife Oversight Committee (WOC)

Committee liaisons

Mike Larson
Interim wildlife section manager
651-259-5237

Jesse Roberts
Acting wildlife operations manager
651-259-5169


Committee members

An asterisk (*) denotes a member of the BOC.

Burl Haar*, chair (Afton)

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.

Tamara Barum (Farmington)
 
Denise Bornhausen (Minneapolis)

I like to say that I'm a DNR/Becoming an Outdoors Woman success story. While I grew up in Iowa camping and fishing, my outdoor education truly began when the Hunting and Fishing Library hired me as a project manager. They produced how-to books, and one of my first projects was a deer hunting book. But I had no hunting experience. So my boss sent me to one of the first BOW workshops at Gunflint Lodge to learn. From that first workshop, I was hooked.

Since then, I've attended many more workshops, became a long-time BOW steering committee member and volunteer instructor and met some amazing outdoor women and mentors. They’ve introduced me to pheasant hunting and shooting sports, and I continue to serve as a volunteer instructor for Women Learn to Shoot events and the Beyond BOW Learn to Pheasant Hunt Weekend.

The Bird Bustin' Babes (my sporting clays team), in partnership with Metro Pheasants Forever, launched Clays for a Cause in 2014 as a fundraiser for habitat preservation in Minnesota. To date we’ve raised over $50,000 for 1200-plus acres at seven WMA/WPAs in central and southwestern Minnesota. Our efforts have been recognized by Pheasants Forever as volunteer partners of the year in 2018 and even snagged us an opportunity to attend the Governor’s Pheasant Opener as women hunting mentors.

I've previously joined my employment and passions together (and improved my family’s fishing skills) as the business manager for famed fishing and outdoor photographer Bill Lindner. Helping him capture and share the beauty and bounty of Minnesota only increased my commitment to protecting and preserving our outdoor heritage. I bring additional budget and finance experience to the oversight committee from my employment as director of financial operations for Morsekode, a modern creative agency in Minneapolis.

Karli Cich*, Vice-Chair (White Bear Lake)

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.

Phoebe Cole (Warroad)
 
Peter Hunt* (Excelsior)

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.

Eric Johnson* (International Falls)

First and foremost, I am an outdoor enthusiast and an advocate for conservation of public waters and lands. As the owner of multiple water-based outdoor businesses and a life-long resident of Northern Minnesota, I spend most of my time in the outdoors either working or playing.

As owner and operator of Voyageurs Outfitters, Inc. (a full-service outfitter in and around Voyageurs National Park), I have been providing lake services for over 10 years. I hold a U.S. Coast Guard issued 50-ton Captain's License and Tankerman's Credential which are required to operate the vessel that delivers fuels to cabins and resorts on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border on the Coast Guard governed waters of Rainy Lake. I am also employed by the National Park Service and captain the "Voyageur," a 49-passenger tour boat in Voyageurs National Park.

I am involved with several non-profit organizations across the state so I spend a significant amount of time to help community development and land and water conservation efforts. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time on the water fishing, boating, socializing and taking part in the splendor of Voyageurs National Park and Rainy Lake.

Dorelle Landsteiner (Minneapolis)
 
Brian Smith (Brooklyn Center)
 
Naomi Walker* (St. Louis Park)
 
Brent Walz (Rochester, MN)

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.

John Wells (St. Paul)
 
Andre Xiong (Oak Grove)

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.

Mai Pa Nhia Xiong (Brooklyn Park)

My work experience entails duties within the finance department of senior living non-profit organizations over the last 10-plus years. However, my passion is spending quality time in the great outdoors with my brothers.

I have only been hunting for the last 16 years and angling off and on for the last 10 years. However, it is within these opportunities that I find the most peace. Since realizing this, I have volunteered with the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association, Midwest Hmong Outdoors and am currently a fire arm safety instructor.

In becoming a member of the WOC, I intend to put forth my passion, by giving back and preserving our great outdoors for future anglers and hunters.