Staff and Leadership


Scott Fulton, President

Scott Fulton, President

Scott, a biotech entrepreneur by day, lives in Middleton, WI, and has been a member of the Empire-Sauk Chapter since 2002. He enjoys all aspects of TPE, but is especially interested in outreach, communications and organizational development. 

Jerry Newman

Jerry Newman, Vice President and represents the Prairie Bluff Chapter.

Jerry is retired from a varied work life of management, farming and sales. "Retirement freed me to pursue my interests in history and photography and it wasn't long until I realized how well prairies completed that package. Photographing prairies, their flora and fauna and also the people who care for them has proven to be a satisfying creative outlet. It is equally satisfying to put the camera down and engage in the necessary work of caring for prairies. I hope my work and my photos can awaken and inspire others."

Alice Mirk, Treasurer

Alice Mirk, Treasurer and represents the Glacial Prairie Chapter. 

Alice was one of the original founders of The Prairie Enthusiasts over 30 years ago. She has a background in public policy, legislative action and grant writing in a career with the State of Wisconsin that spanned 25 years. In her career she managed budgets, planned and managed projects, planned and performed quality assurance and quality improvement activities, and managed staff state wide. In the early years of development of the Prairie Enthusiasts, she was treasurer, board member and membership coordinator.

Jim Rogala, Secretary

Jim Rogala, Secretary and represents the Coulee Region Chapter.

Jim is an aquatic ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He spends much of his free time restoring hill prairies on his property.  "I find TPE to be perfect outlet for sharing knowledge among those of us dedicated to prairie and savanna restoration." 




Board of Directors

Gary Eldred Gary Eldred represents the Southwest Chapter and is a past president of TPE (and Emeritus Director).  Gary is one of the founding members of TPE.
David Hamel

David Hamel represents the Prairie Sands Chapter. 

A long-time activist, David has served on the board of directors of The Wisconsin Nature Conservancy, (Madison) Capitol Community Citizens, Madison Rivers and Lakes Commission, Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin, and is a founding director of The Madison Trust for Historic Preservation and the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. 

David and wife, Shelley, live with some Karner Blue butterflies on 120 diverse acres in Marquette County where they retired after careers in engineering, manufacturing, yacht skippering, and truck driving.

Rich Henderson

Richard Henderson represents the Empire Sauk Chapter.  

Rich is an ecologist with the Wisconsin of Natural Resources Bureau of Integrated Science Services (formerly Research). Rich has 33 years of experience in natural area inventory, assessment and management of prairie, sedge meadow, oak savannah and oak woodland ecosystems.  Rich is a past president of TPE and an originator of the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area, which includes more than 50,000 acres of grasslands in Dane and Iowa counties in southwest Wisconsin. Henderson also has served as the leader and motivator of several projects for The Nature Conservancy, namely the prairie preserves known as Spring Green, Schluckebier, and Black Earth Rettenmund.

Evanne Hunt Evanne Hunt represents the St. Croix Valley Chapter.  Evanne is a technical communication professional concentrating in technical writing for computer software applications. "Prairies and oak savannas are our rainforests, our redwoods, our coral reefs. But, because they are in our backyards, we don't "see" them. They are just as worthy of our concern and protection."
Mark Leach

Mark Leach represents the Chippewa Savannas Chapter.

Mark studied Botany at University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently lives in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Deanna Pomije

Deanna Pomije represents the Many Rivers Chapter as a remote liaison, as she lives one hour north of the Twin Cities. 

She has worked in Soil Conservation in MN & WI for 18 years.  She feels a spiritual connection to prairies and promotes their preservation and enhancement.  She is glad TPE is there; where she can meet other prairie-minded people. 

Jim Rachuy

Jim Rachuy represents the Northwest Illinois Chapter. 

He is a grassland ecologist and computer scientist. He is a long-time member of The Prairie Enthusiasts and a founder of four conservation organizations in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. He and his wife Rickie live in rural Stockton, Illinois.

Stephen Winter

Stephen Winter represents the Minnesota Driftless Chapter. 

He’s a relatively new transplant to Minnesota, having moved there in 2011 to work as a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.  For many years Steve’s professional and personal activities and interests have focused on the ecology, management, and restoration of grasslands.  However, his current job has him immersed, so to speak, in the ecology of big rivers and he enjoys the work he does with waterfowl, aquatic vegetation, and bottomland forests. 

Steve’s previous involvement with non-profit conservation organizations includes service on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Prairie Plains Resource Institute, the California Native Grasslands Association, and the Rio Grande Valley Audubon Society.



Chris Kirkpatrick

Chris Kirkpatrick, TPE Executive Director.  

Chris has worked for TPE since 2012, and previously spend 10 years as the Director of Land Protection for the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation in northwest Illinois. He has previously served on the Board of The Prairie Enthusiasts from 2004-2006. Chris has a Bachelor's of Science from the University of Dubuque majoring in Environmental Science and Biology.

For more on Chris, see the summer 2012 newsletter.

Joe Rising

Joe RisingTPE Communication Coordinator. 

Joe seeks to keep the TPE communication channels open and productive. Feel free to contact him with your questions, concerns and suggestions. Communication has always been an integral part of Joe’s non-profit and advocacy work. He has written for numerous publications and professionally. He enjoys working for the prairie and supporting the enthusiastic, caring and committed TPE membership.

Jerry Pedretti

Jerry PedrettiBookkeeper.

Jerry grew up in Genoa, WI, along the Mississippi River. He is a small business owner and handles his family's bookkeeping, and is the Town of Genoa Clerk for the past 15 years.