2022 Festival Guides

Introducing Our Festival Guides:

Amy Lipson

Amy joined Little Traverse Conservancy in April 2021 in the new position of Conservation Specialist. A native Michigander, Amy and her family have vacationed in northern Michigan for three generations.

Amy hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she attended the University of Michigan and met her husband, Joe. She studied plant biology there and realized she wanted to pursue a career in conservation while working for the university greenhouse.

Anne Fleming

After many years working as a communications consultant for Little Traverse Conservancy, Anne joined the staff in 2015. A northern Michigan native, she was an education intern with LTC in 1992 and discovered that land trust work was where she wanted to be. After college, she worked summers in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, teaching at the Montessori School of Duluth, followed by graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.

From Wisconsin, Anne and her husband Kieran landed in Traverse City, where they both worked at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

Barbara Landen

Barbara Landen is a long-time summer resident of the Les Cheneaux Islands and has participated in Plein air painting in this area with a group of artists for several years. In addition, she has taught classes in pastel and silk painting through the Les Cheneaux Arts Council and in Cincinnati, her hometown, and participated in workshops in Plein air in Florida and Michigan.

Brad Von Blon

Brad is a Stewardship Technician with the Little Traverse Conservancy. He’s previously worked as a naturalist in Ohio & West Virginia but especially loves the Northwoods, where mosses and lichens are abundant! Brad received an AS in Wildlife Resources Management from Hocking College and a BS in Fisheries & Wildlife Resources from West Virginia University. He enjoys learning about our outstanding flora anytime he can but prefers bringing folks along to learn together!

The Utech (aka “Bird Boys”) Clifford & Duane Utech

Clifford (age 16) and Duane (a lot older) Utech, aka “The Bird Boys,” have been living and birding in the Les Cheneaux area for years and consider the Munuscong Wildlife Area the hidden gem of the Eastern UP. In the past year alone, they’ve discovered such treasures as the Gold-Winged Warbler, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Upland Sandpiper, LeConte’s Sparrow, Virginia Rail, Black Billed Cuckoo, and Black Tern. Avid listers and photographers, the Bird Boys are always excited to introduce birders to the wonders of the Mighty Munuscong!

Clyde Hart

  • Maryland Institute, College of Art
    1979, BFA in Painting, w/ Honors
  • Tyler School of Art
    1981, MFA, Painting, w/ Alumni Award
    Two years were teaching Intermediate drawing.
  • Suzanne Gross Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
    1981 to 1991
  • DeBell Design, Washington, DC
    1998 to 2010

Dr. Craig Perdue

Dr. Craig Perdue is a Master Falconer, bird trainer, and instructor with over 30 years of experience developing innovative techniques for falconry, birds presenting behavioral challenges, and providing exposure to free-flighted birds. He has a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management and a Ph.D. in Philosophy motivated by his concern with environmental ethics. He founded Shadow Speak in 2004 to promote a new relationship with the natural world. He is the author of Paleofalconry: Falconry Under Primitive Conditions and has designed and led dozens of workshops and programs for both adults and children interested in wildlife and seeking a deeper connection with nature.

Dave Ewert

Dave Ewert has worked on many topics ranging from forest and prairie management to Great Lakes islands and many bird conservation and research projects, including stopover sites in Les Cheneaux and Kirtland’s Warblers on the Michigan breeding and Bahamas wintering grounds. In addition, many enjoyable hours have been spent with migrating birds in the Cedarville area. He has been fortunate to work with the American Bird Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and on the University of Michigan Biological Station and Central Michigan University faculty.

Derek Shiels

Derek began work with Little Traverse Conservancy in May 2014 and transitioned to Stewardship Director in 2017. The stewardship staff oversees the wise care of Little Traverse Conservancy’s working forest lands and nature preserves and monitors each conservation easement.

He holds a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Grand Valley State University, a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Taylor University, and a Master’s in Biology from Central Michigan University with an emphasis in Plant Systematics.

Dr. Duke Elsner

Dr. Duke Elsner grew up in rural southwest Michigan, working on a family farm. He has studied insects, especially butterflies and moths, for over 50 years. Duke worked for Michigan State University as an Extension Agricultural Educator in the Grand Traverse Bay area for 30 years, most recently specializing in educating the public on pollinators and butterflies.

Dr. Jason Garvon

Dr. Garvon is a professor of biology at Lake Superior State University and the President of the Faculty Association. In addition, he is the advisor for the LSSU Chapter of Ducks Unlimited and a former member of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Council.

He grew up enjoying the outdoors, including hunting and fishing, completing his formal education focused on wildlife, and finishing with a Ph.D. in Wildlife Science. Then worked at LSSU with students on wildlife-related senior thesis projects and grant funding for Piping Plover Conservation.

Elliot Nelson

Elliot Nelson is an Extension Educator for the Michigan Sea Grant Extension. His role is working with coastal communities and businesses in the Eastern Upper Peninsula to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes, Lake Superior, northern Lake Michigan, and northern Lake Huron issues. His district includes Chippewa, Mackinac, Luce, Schoolcraft, Alger, and Marquette counties. Nelson’s focus areas include environmental literacy, aquaculture, water and birding trails, and coastal ecosystem restoration. He obtained his M.S. in Biology with MSU and M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment with the University of Michigan.

Jennifer (Jennie) Braatz

Jennie is a new resident of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Originally from Northern Virginia, her love of nature found her exploring the forests, fields, and wetlands of the Washington D.C. area with open eyes and a curious heart. A love of nature grew into a passion for connecting others of all ages to nature in the many places she has called home. She lives in Pickford, Michigan, with her family, where they live and grow together as they embrace a simple life full of joyful experiences.

Jeff Dykehouse

Jeff Dykehouse retired in 2020 after a 36-year career with the Mackinac State Historical Parks, where he was the Curator of Nature History. As a biologist, he worked as an interpretive naturalist, environmental educator, research biologist, and audiovisual specialist for several of Michigan’s State and National Parks. Jeff has been a “birder” all his life and has had a master Federal Bird Banding permit for over 40 years.

During that time, he has banded thousands of birds, including nine species of Michigan owls. Jeff and his wife Laurie (a retired science teacher) live on the shore of Lake Huron near Cheboygan, where he spends as much time as possible kayaking the Straits of Mackinac.

John Sarver

John Sarver was a program director in the Michigan Energy Office for 35 years. He managed utility, industrial, commercial, and residential energy efficiency programs and efforts to promote solar and wind energy at different times. John is a Board Member of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Assoc. and has previously served on the boards of Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the National Association of State Energy Officials. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

Ken Drenth

Ken and another partner have owned a 600-acre parcel, surrounded mainly by state land, for more than 35 years. It is probably one of the most extensive tracts of wildland, privately owned, east of I-75. It includes an 80-acre lake created when beavers, probably hundreds of years ago, decided to dam the creek that crosses the property. This lake is now home to several beaver houses, an annual home to families of loons, and also an eagle’s nest on its shoreline. In addition, the upland portion of the property has become the home of almost every mammal native to Michigan, both large and small. It is truly an outdoor paradise for those loving nature at its finest.

Kevin St. Onge

As the EUP STEM Region director, Kevin works to improve STEM education in Chippewa, Luce, and Mackinac Counties. The EUP STEM Region connects K-12 education, higher education, business/industry leaders, government agencies, and non-profits to engage in collaborative efforts supporting the four MiSTEM Pillars. Kevin had experience as an environmental scientist in the private sector before becoming a science teacher in the EUP. He then began working at the EUPISD as the EUP Math and Science Center director before the formation of the EUP STEM Region.

Maureen Stine

Maureen is a Certified Heritage Interpreter with the National Association for Interpretation, a Certified Professional with the National Recreation and Park Association, and a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. She holds facilitator certifications with national and state environmental education projects, including Project W.I.L.D. (Wildlife in Learning Development), Project Learning Tree, Project W.E.T. (Water Education for Teachers), Flying Wild, and all seven units of the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support (M.E.E.C.S.). She is also a Certified Environmental Educator with the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (M.A.E.O.E.) and was the first individual in the State of Michigan to achieve this certification on October 16, 2016.

Maureen’s website: Natureology


Melissa (Martinie) Simon

Melissa I. (Martinie) Simon serves as a Manager of Mine Engineering for Carmeuse.  She leads a team of mine engineers who provide technical support to Limestone and Dolomite quarries.

Michael Carlson

Fascinated by birds since the age of seven, Michael has led field workshops for birding festivals in Michigan and Canada and bird tours in Ontario, Texas, and Arizona. He is an expert in identifying bird sounds. Michael lives in Royal Oak, MI, where he works as an environmental consultant providing avian surveys and regulatory compliance.

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy joined the Conservation District in the summer of 2013 as the District’s MAEAP Technician. Mike served in that role until 2017 and now serves as the Executive Director. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree from Lake Superior State University in Conservation Leadership and a master’s degree from Slippery Rock University in Parks and Resource Management. Mike has held previous positions with Michigan State University Extension, Montcalm Conservation District, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Lake Superior State University.

Norma Storer

Norma’s parents, like most people who lived in the tiny town of Ellsworth, MI, were first-generation Dutch immigrants. Like most other immigrants, they brought with them to America their culture, including their art and religion. The art or craft of “iris folding” originated in 20th-century Holland long after Norma’s grandparents had immigrated to the United States. However, her interest in Dutch Iris Art, where designs are created using patterned paper cut from the inside of envelopes, prompted her to explore and become very proficient in this craft.

Pat (Moira) Wilson

Pat (Moira) Wilson is a self-taught lover of flowering wildlife. From the first time of walking with her mother, the interest began. She revisits a few of her most loved spots in our unique area, influenced by our location along the Niagara Escarpment.

Pete Griffin

Pete joined the US Forest Service in 1973 as a wildlife biologist. Then, as a District Ranger on the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska, in 1999, he started recording short natural history vignettes for radio. The essays documented his exploration of the rainforest and incorporated Pete’s experiences growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (yes, he’s a Yooper).

Following retirement in 2010, he now tells natural history stories aboard Disney and Princess cruise ships in Southeast Alaska (33 cruises as of 2019). Onboard, he performs stage shows for hundreds of passengers at a time, featuring stories, facts, and photos about common and not-so-common Alaska wildlife.

Rob Routledge

Rob Routledge is a Professor in the School of Natural Environment at Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He has extensive knowledge and skills across plant and wildlife biology and ecology, forestry, and ecological monitoring. Over the years, he has explored significant portions of the Eastern Upper Peninsula with a keen interest in ferns, lichens, mosses, sedges, and site-specific rarities.

He has a B.Sc. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management (Lake Superior State University, ‘95), M.Sc in Wildlife Biology (Laurentian University, ‘00), B.Ed. (Nipissing University, ‘09), and currently teaches a wide range of courses from wildlife management, wildlife, and terrestrial ecosystem surveys, to ecosystem classification and wetland conservation. His continual learning philosophy reflects his strong appreciation and passion for education.

Dr. Robert Haack

From 1986 through 2015, Dr. Robert Haack worked as a forest entomologist with the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Insect Unit, located on the MSU campus. Since 1992, he worked almost exclusively on the exotic bark- and wood-boring insects, such as the pine shoot beetle, Asian long-horned beetle, and emerald ash borer.

He recently worked with the International Forestry Quarantine Research Group on treatments to minimize the threat of live wood-boring insects being transported in wood packaging materials such as pallets and crating. He is also interested in firewood and plants as pathways for the international movement of forest pests. He retired from the USFS in late 2015 but is still active in forest entomology research.

Sarah Reding

Sarah Reding retired from a 28-year career with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, leading the Conservation Stewardship and Outreach education programs. She is trained as an Interpretive naturalist, Environmental educator, and guide. Sarah has been a birdwatcher most of her life, getting her inspiration for birds on a high school trip to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Additionally, Sarah leads kayak and hiking trips for Woods and Waters in the Les Cheneaux Islands. She loves to share the natural world with all ages.

Shaun Howard

Shaun works for The Nature Conservancy as the Protected Lands Project Manager. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University.

Steve Baker

Steve Baker is a retired Veterinarian from Indian River, Michigan. He has been birding for 45 years and enjoys botanizing (especially orchids and ferns), kayaking, hiking, photography, and learning more about dragonflies.

Steve Brower

Steve is a landscape architect who grew up in Aldo Leopold’s Burlington, Iowa neighborhood and discovered the same wild landscapes as Aldo, 60 years later. During graduate school in the 1970s at ISU in Ames, IA, Steve brought students to visit Aldo’s siblings (Marie and Frederic) still living at the Leopold Compound and hear their stories about the Leopold Legacy.

This led to further interviews with the siblings, writing the National Register of Historic Places Nomination for the Starker-Leopold Historic District, and stimulating the Leopold’s’ writing about their youthful experiences. In addition, Steve is the president of a new non-profit organization, Leopold Landscape Alliance, that has purchased the two adjacent Leopold Childhood Homes overlooking the Mississippi River.

Sue Bakkila

Half the year, Sue runs a small design and photography agency in Grand Rapids, and the other half, she runs Woods & Waters as a kayak guide. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Aquinas College with majors in Geography, Communication Arts, and Studio Art. An avid photographer (who shoots with a Nikon, Fuji, DJI, and iPhone), she loves stopping to take a picture. Or twenty.

Tim Galloway

Tim Gallaway is a kayak coach, builder, and expeditionary. His deep passion for traditional kayak skills has led him to compete in The Greenland National Kayak Championships in Nuuk, Greenland, in 2018, to teach at numerous paddling events around the USA and Canada, and on much long solo kayaking trips through the Great Lakes watersheds. An amateur filmmaker and vlogger, Tim has shared his travels to Greenland and the shores of Lake Huron and Superior in an ongoing series on Youtube.

Wil Reding

Wil retired in 2018 from teaching Environmental Studies at Western Michigan University and Biology at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. His company Rent A Rambling Naturalist has provided interpretive naturalist programs worldwide since 1988. He believes his interest in the natural comes from growing up on a farm in southeast lower Michigan. He follows the statement of John Muir, “I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature!”

Page is currently a work in progress. More names will be added soon.