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Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Friends of the Apostle Islands is a community of sailors, paddlers, hikers, business leaders, beachcombers, lighthouse watchers, and more. What brings us together is a love for and desire to support these 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland shore that make up the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Our Mission is to promote an appreciation for and preservation of the natural environment and cultural heritage of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Our Efforts connect people with the history, beauty, and adventure of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; support the educational, recreational, and resource protection efforts of the National Park Service; raise funds to support park projects and events, and increase community involvement with the Islands.

Annual Reports

Icon showing paper and pencil

2022 Annual Report

2021 Annual Report

2020 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report

Staff

Jeff Rennicke – Executive Director – Bayfield WI

Skiing across glaciers in Alaska, river rafting in China, being touched by a grizzly in Kamchatka, Russia, Jeff has led a life of adventure. Still, for more than 30 years, he has called Bayfield and Wisconsin’s Northwoods home. Writer, photographer, speaker, and teacher, he says that there is “nowhere on the planet” he would rather be than among the Apostle Islands. “Their beauty, their stories, their very presence gives me hope,” he says, “and working with Friends is a way to preserve and share that hope and then pass it on to others.”

Jill Rennicke – Co-Executive Director – Bayfield WI

With her feet in the sand or a kayak paddle in her hand, Jill finds a sense of peace and well-being among the Apostle Islands. Through her training and years of experience as a Green Meeting planner, she strives to bring sustainability into every aspect of her home and work life. “Living and working in this caring community, and with Friends of the Apostles offers many ways to give back to others, and the earth, and helps keep the islands and our community connected.”

Ruth Oppedahl – Administrator – Washburn WI

Over 32 years Ruth has served as executive director for local and statewide conservation nonprofits. She has a master’s degree in environmental education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a BA in biology from Carleton College.

Board of Directors

Kelley Linehan – Board Chair – Bayfield WI

Kelley spent her childhood summers adventuring amongst the Apostle Islands with her family. Saturday evenings were spent in rapt attention at the campfire talks on Stockton Island, taking in the stories of the flora, the fauna and the geology of the islands. After a decade in Milwaukee, she heeded the call of the islands and now lives on an historic apple orchard in the Bayfield Fruit Loop. Formerly the Director of Marketing and Events for the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau, she currently works as a Strategy Director for an international healthcare communications agency.

Mark Weller – Vice Chair – Waunakee WI

So, who is the guy who leads the team to take killer shots of our famous lighthouses imbued with the Milky Way?  Mark Weller.  In his spare time, he is a full time artist and is recently retired as president and CEO of a telecom firm based near Madison.  Prior to that he was senior producer for news and public affairs at PBS Wisconsin.

Rick Charboneau – Treasurer – Washburn WI

Rick has been on the board since the end of 2013. He enjoys volunteer work including, in his younger years, serving in Peace Corps – Costa Rica and more recently volunteering for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. There, he gave lighthouse tours and advised campers for 3 weeks on Sand Island. As treasurer, Rick updates the board on the financial status of the organization and is part of the team that selects projects to fund and work on for the year.

Bob Jauch – Recording Secretary – Poplar WI

Former State Senator Bob Jauch is deeply connected to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore after representing the region in the State Legislature for 32 years. Mentored by his former employer Congressman Dave Obey, Bob dedicated his career to supporting policies protecting our natural resources and promoting the pristine beauty of Lake Superior and the National Lakeshore. Following retirement Bob became an avid photographer of Lake Superior to support the values and mission of the Friends. He and his wife live in Poplar.​

Dan Wilczek – Corporate Secretary – Bayfield WI

After practicing law for 35 years in Minneapolis, Dan and his wife, Liz, moved north to retire to their favorite place on earth — the shores of Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands. Dan first learned about the Friends by participating in volunteer projects on Raspberry and Michigan Islands, which were welcome opportunities to give back to the area that gives so much to those who visit. Having lived with MS for years, Dan is particularly excited to assist in the Friends’ work to enable all persons, regardless of ability, to experience and enjoy the islands in a manner that preserves the islands’ natural beauty.

Erica Peterson – Former Board Chair – Bayfield WI

Serving as a Park Ranger on Stockton Island many years ago, Erica recycled back to the area after meandering through related fields elsewhere. Erica views her efforts for the Friends as an opportunity to give back to the Park for all its beach walks, bog smells, wild storms, eagle sightings, and night skies and, in turn, help steward its vital future.

John Boyle – Bayfield WI

John and his wife, Megan, moved to Bayfield in 2016. Both native to Minnesota, they dreamed of someday living on the shores of Lake Superior. When a career opportunity presented itself they moved to Bayfield and have fallen head over heels for the South Shore. John is a relatively novice but ambitious sailor and spends his free summer weekends getting lost in the Apostle Islands. In addition to the natural beauty of the islands, he appreciates the rich cultural history which permeates the region.

Karen Graff – Kronenwetter WI

Karen lives near Wausau. Before retirement, she worked as a Senate aide for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold in central and northern Wisconsin, and previously was a legal secretary/paralegal. Karen’s work in the north kindled her love of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands, and this love affair led to volunteering for the Park in different ways. She especially enjoys giving summer visitors tours of the Park’s amazing lighthouses, and sharing the history of the lighthouses, the area, and the lives of the keepers and their families. Karen particularly enjoys August out on the islands!

Neil Howk – Bayfield WI

Neil Howk began working as a park ranger/interpreter for the National Park Service in 1978 and did stints at a variety of parks including Colorado National Monument, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (CO), Dinosaur National Monument (UT), and Wupatki National Monument (AZ). Between 1983 and 1991 he worked at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and also worked as a backcountry ranger at Gates of the Arctic National Park in 1987. He served as the assistant chief of interpretation at Apostle Islands from 1993-2016. He and his wife Susan operated a B&B in Bayfield from 1986 to 2018.

Mark Peterson – Bayfield WI

Mark has camped, hiked, kayaked, sailed and skied his way throughout the Apostle Islands and other national parks. He’s pursued his outdoor recreation passions on campus with a Ph.D. in park and wilderness management from Colorado State University and also in the workplace serving in leadership positions with the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the National Audubon Society.

Jon Okerstrom – Madison WI

Jon’s family tree is deeply rooted in in Lake Superior’s south shore communities. His great grandfather founded Port Wing and Bayfield was his first home so it’s no wonder he’s a passionate Friend of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Jon is an avid landscape and wildlife photographer, kayaker, sailor and conservationist. He is a partner with Mark Weller in the Friends photography initiative. In his work life, Jon is a Digital Product and Operations Manager for one of the largest television groups in the country. And when he wants to get “off the grid” and back to nature, he says there’s no better place than the Apostle Islands.

Annalee Mott – St. Paul, MN

Annalee is a Northland College student originally from St. Paul Minnesota. She is studying Humanities and Nature and hopes to empower youth though farm-based education. She also works for the Sigrid Olson Environmental Institute as the Youth Outreach Program assistant. Annalee has spent many summers exploring the shores of Lake Superior and is so thankful to finally call Chequamegon Bay home. Annalee is an avid runner, biker, backpacker, and reader, who loves jumping in the lake and does it as often as possible.

National Park Service

National Park Service support provided by:

Lynne Dominy, Superintendent
Myra Foster, Chief of Interpretation and Education
Julie Van Stappen, Chief of Planning & Resource Management

Photographers

Brilliant northern lights shown over water

Photo: Carol Toepke

Have you had your breath taken away by a photograph you’ve seen on our website? So have we. Friends of the Apostle Islands would like to acknowledge the skill and generosity of all the photographers whose work is represented on these pages. As beautiful as these islands are, we recognize the hard work, talent, and dedication that it takes to capture that beauty in a photograph and the big heart it takes to share your work with our viewers.  

Much of the beautiful photography on this site was provided by the individual talents of Friends staff and board members including:
    Still more great work was generously donated by Friends volunteers and members including:

    Along with those mentioned here, many other people have contributed photographs over the years. A big thank you to them as well.

    Prints of many of these beautiful photographs are available from these artists and, in many cases, print sales will benefit Friends of the Apostle Islands even further. For information on purchasing a specific photograph you’ve seen on these pages, contact us at info@friendsoftheapostleislands.com and you can enjoy the beauty of the islands and support our organization at the same time.

    And to all the photographers, our thanks and gratitude for your skill and generosity.