Jeff Rennicke, Bayfield, WI – Executive Director
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, Bayfield WI – Co-Director
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.”
Board of Directors
Erica Peterson, Bayfield WI – Board Chair
Serving as a Park Ranger on Stockton Island many years ago, Erica has recently recycled back to the area after meandering through related fields elsewhere. “Friends” is an opportunity to give back to the Park for all its beach walks, bog smells, wild storms, eagle sightings, and night skies,” she says, and in turn, “help steward its vital future.”
Mark Weller, Waunakee WI – Vice Chair
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, Washburn WI – Treasurer
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.
John Boyle, Bayfield WI – Recording Secretary
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.
Dan Wilczek, Bayfield WI – Corporate Secretary
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.
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!
Katherine Jenkins, Washburn WI
In 1994 Katherine visited the Chequamegon Bay region as a potential transfer student to Northland College. During this visit she was mesmerized by Lake Superior and spent hours on her first night under shimmering northern lights. The Apostle Islands, primarily Stockton Island, has served as wilderness home over the years in a variety of educational roles: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Ranger, Apostle Islands School teaching fellow, Apostle Islands School Professor, sea kayak guide, and general Apostle Islands enthusiast. Katherine shares her skills and experience in environmental and outdoor education to promote the mission and vision of the Friends.
Ron Haupert, Bayfield WI
Ron and Jan live on the Lake Superior shore near Bayfield WI and enjoy wonderful sunrises all year. Before retiring, Ron was a computer technologist focused on large databases and storage systems integration. He traveled extensively worldwide teaching and implementing the latest database and storage system solutions. They have sailed and boated in the Apostle Islands and around the Bayfield Peninsula for 30 years. They continue to spend their summers and winters locally, exploring and appreciating the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and working with volunteer organizations in the area.
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.
Bob Gross, Washburn WI
Bob Gross is a photographer and designer based in Washburn, Wisconsin. He has lived in the Chequamegon Bay area since 2006 and currently serves as the director of marketing with the Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau. Bob is dedicated to protecting wilderness and wild places, including the Apostle Islands, through his landscape and wildlife photography, and has spent a great deal of time traveling in remote places to collect images of the natural world.
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 Director of Digital Content and Technology for a family-owned media company with television stations across the midwest and elsewhere. And when he wants to get “off the grid” and back to nature, he says there’s no better place than the Apostle Islands.
Bob Jauch, 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.
Walt Pomeroy, Mechanicsburg, PA
Although Walt lives in southcentral Pennsylvania, Bayfield and Lake Superior are close to his heart. He lived in Bayfield in the 1970s and worked for a number of environmental organizations and then worked for a Great Lakes Basin agency. He also worked for the Bayfield Heritage Association in the mid-1970s, directing the fundraising campaign that successfully purchased the “old” Bayfield County Courthouse in Bayfield (essentially empty at the time) so it could be renovated as the HQ for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He spent a summer working for the Park Service photographically documenting all buildings, shorelines and historical sites on the Apostle Islands. He enjoys any-season returns to Bayfield. After leaving Bayfield he worked for almost 2 decades for the National Audubon Society.
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 support provided by:
Lynne Dominy, Superintendent|
Myra Foster, Chief of Interpretation and Education
Julie Van Stappen, Chief of Planning & Resource Management