Alex Wenthe, Owner/Ecologist. I started at Quercus as a technician after graduating from UW-Madison with a degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation. Working with Jim, I gained valuable on-the-job training and found a passion for ecological restoration. After a few years, I made the tough decision to leave Quercus and work for the WDNR State Natural Areas Program. Alongside a team of other passionate biologists, I helped preserve and restore high quality natural areas around the state. A few years later, I was tasked with coordinating a new program within the WDNR, coined the “Landowner Lottery”. In this role, I traveled around Wisconsin and provided ecological restoration and rare species management advice to private landowners (not a bad gig!). Inspired by all the dedicated colleagues and landowners I had met, I returned to UW-Madison to complete a master’s degree in Ecological Restoration with the Department of Botany. In 2018, I returned to Quercus as an Ecologist and felt like I never left (except for trying to find tools in the new shop). Being fortunate to practice ecological restoration in many different settings, public, private, and academic, it is clear to me that Quercus is a unique company. I am proud to be a part of it.
Ecological restoration has transcended into my personal life as well. It has taught me that we all live together on a beautiful planet, full of unbelievable things, and we are more connected to these things than we may ever know. So when I’m not working, I enjoy traveling to new places and experiencing whatever the world has to offer alongside my lovely wife, Tori, and two sons, Ollie and Max.
Jim Elleson, Founder, Senior Vice President. I got my start in restoration at the feet of my grandfather, who worked out of the Wisconsin Conservation Department’s Forest Protection Headquarters in Tomahawk, and my uncles who farmed in western Wisconsin’s Coulee region. I took a detour for a 20-year career as a mechanical engineer, helping people use less energy in homes, offices, and factories. Working on my own land in the town of Vermont led me to a deeper understanding of what it means to take care of the land, and I started taking classes and educating myself to broaden my ecological knowledge. I started Quercus Land Stewardship Services in 2003, and since then we’ve been steadily increasing our land management capabilities.
I love seeing the impact that we have on our customers’ properties, and I’m proud of our dedicated, professional crew who make it happen. Since I recently stepped down from the owner and chief executive roles, I’m looking forward to more opportunities to get out on the river or primitive camping with my grandkids.
Brittany Pierpont, Vice President. I received my Bachelor’s in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Conservation and Resource Management from Carroll University. I have been with Quercus since 2012 and have advanced training in Wildland Fire management. I enjoy restoring Wisconsin’s native ecosystems and seeing the transformation each site goes through as well as communicating with landowners to discuss their goals and the potential their land has. One of my favorite things is discovering hidden gems like uncommon plants, birds, and incredible rock outcroppings. When I am not working, you can find me on the landscape enjoying the Driftless area dreaming about the potential of restoration everywhere I go. My favorite activity is trail riding and horse camping with my trusty steed, Smokey.
Jaya Elleson, Burn Crew Leader (seasonal). I have been with Quercus since 2004. I am a certified Emergency Medical Technician and first aid trainer, and have a Bachelor’s in Biology and Environmental Studies and have extensive training in Wildland Fire management. I like to canoe, kayak, hike and ski, and want to keep working to preserve natural areas so there are more places to canoe, kayak, hike and ski!
Jake Michaels, Senior Project Manager. I joined the Quercus crew in 2013. I graduated from Carroll University where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Working with Quercus has afforded me some invaluable experiences and advanced training in Wildland Fire management. I’m grateful to be employed in a field that allows me to direct my passion for Nature into a productive purpose. When I’m not working I spend time outside enjoying the fruits of our daily labor at a slower pace. I also enjoy a variety of water and snow sports, and I’m especially fond of wind-driven activities.
Bill Ishmael, Prescribed Burn Specialist (seasonal). I joined Quercus in 2016 following my retirement from the WI-DNR where I worked for 30 years as a Wildlife Biologist, primarily in SW Wisconsin. I received a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology (1979) and Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology (1984) from UW-Madison and am a Certified Wildlife Biologist with The Wildlife Society. I have extensive experience in wildlife population ecology, wildlife damage abatement, public lands management, invasive species control, and habitat restoration. I enjoy working in the outdoors with people who share the common goal of restoring and enhancing native vegetation communities that support a diversity of wildlife. When not working with Quercus, you can find me fishing or kayaking (or both) on the waters of southern Wisconsin.
Rob Schubert, Senior Project Manager, Botanist. I joined the crew in late 2017. Originally from southeastern Michigan I have worked throughout the Great Lakes and upper Midwest region including Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. This work allows me to apply my interests in botany and the art of sawyery at a professional level. I have always had a love of nature and the outdoors and often spend my free time hiking, canoeing, and botanizing along the Wisconsin River and throughout the Baraboo Range. When not working or otherwise spending time in nature I enjoy cooking a nice meal, local stout, a good book, and catching up on my sleep.
Brent Johnson, Project Manager. I began working with Quercus in the summer of 2018. I hold B.S and M.S degrees in Conservation Biology, which I earned at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Upstate New York. I love living and working in the Great Lakes region and am excited to be contributing to the restoration and enhancement of many Wisconsin landscapes. I am also particularly interested in the conservation of rare and endangered species and have experience in wildlife population management. In my free time, I can usually be found exploring various natural and cultural attractions in the Madison area, fishing, reading, or playing board games.
Kevin Mason, Project Manager. I joined the Quercus crew in the summer of 2018. My childhood summers often involved trips to national parks and I gained an affinity for the outdoors early in life. I graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in Environmental Studies. I spend much of my time outdoors, hiking and backpacking as much as possible. When I’m not outside I enjoy playing music and sharing good food with good people. It’s a pleasure to spend my days working with this team.
Anna Rzchowski, Project Manager. I joined the Quercus crew in the fall of 2018. I graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Conservation. Through my work with Quercus, I love having the opportunity to participate in restoration projects and exploring so many beautiful sites across Wisconsin. When not working, I enjoy running, hiking, riding my horse Leo, and exploring new places across the globe.
Jaidyn Hranicka, Project Manager. I began working at Quercus in early 2019. I graduated from University of Wisconsin-Platteville in December of 2018 with a degree in Reclamation, Environment and Conservation with an emphasis in biology. Wisconsin is such a unique state and it’s a privilege to get to work at some diverse sites while contributing to the restoration of Wisconsin’s landscapes. I’m grateful to be able to accomplish this working at Quercus. In my free time, I enjoy being with my family, hiking, fly fishing, music, traveling, and learning about plants.
Kailey Goethe, Crew Leader, Executive Assistant. I joined the Quercus crew early summer of 2019. I hold a Bachelors degree from UW-Madison in Biological Aspects of Conservation and a Professional Science Masters degree in Conservation Biology through UW-Stout. Facilitating a healthy human-nature connection is something I strive to do. My love for nature has been with me for as long as I can remember, and as I’ve grown, my passion and yearning for environmental stewardship grew right along with me. Helping restore sites in Wisconsin to help uphold healthy wildlife and ecosystems is such a privilege. In my free time I enjoy live music, kayaking, yoga, traveling, spending time with loved ones, and any creative activity I can get my hands on.
Christian Pearson, Shop Manager, Crew Leader. I joined with Quercus in the summer of 2019 after pulling up my roots in Iowa and transplanting to Wisconsin. I studied Geology at Iowa State University before serving two terms with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. I am grateful to continue to fight the good fight and work for our natural landscapes with Quercus. In my free time I enjoy hunting, tracking, canoeing, fishing, art and bushcraft.
Jackson Pertzborn, Crew Leader. I joined Quercus in 2019 after receiving my bachelors in Forestry Ecosystem Restoration and Management from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. I feel fortunate to have a job where I’m encouraged to continue to study botany and ecology. Working to restore native ecosystems relieves my compulsion to be active outdoors, and caters to my desire to protect native plant communities and ecosystem services. Apart from land stewardship, my interests include making music, moshing, and the turbo team.
Shala Brehm, Crew Leader. I started working with Quercus in the spring of 2020 after 2 years of seasonal wildlife technician work in Utah, Oregon, and Texas and 2 years with the Wisconsin DNR wildlife department. I have a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from UW-Madison. I joined Quercus to immerse myself in restoration and begin work on the land I grew up on in Beaver Dam, WI. Though I said I would never return, there is something that ties me to that land. I’d like to think if my grandpa had known, the woods would be in a different condition than it is today. Education is important to conservation and an area I see myself getting more involved in. I am proud to work for a company that encourages education of its customers and staff. I also enjoy working where I can let my hair get out of control, it means I’m working hard.
Karlee Ketelboeter, Crew Leader. I joined Quercus in early 2021. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville in December of 2019 with a degree in Reclamation, Environment and Conservation. After a seasonal position out in Montana doing wildland restoration work, I made my way back home to Wisconsin. I feel very lucky to be able to work outside in the beautiful natural places this state has to offer! When I’m not working I’m usually spending time with friends and family, hunting, hiking, or enjoying various other outdoor activities.
Kaley Lee, Office/HR Manager, Restoration Specialist. I started at Quercus in February 2021. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology and a minor in Geography. Befores Quercus I worked in the plasmapheresis therapeutic and diagnostic industry within a plasma center for 7 years, where I held multiple management positions. While working within a plasma center, I found that I had a knack for business management, so I went back to school to earn my Master’s degree in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2017. After earning my degree and some inner growth, I decided to chase my deeper passion for conservation/restoration within our beautiful state of Wisconsin, where I found my place within the Quercus family! In my free time I enjoy hiking, kayaking, fishing, weightlifting, running, oil and acrylic painting, reading, traveling, and a cold beer on a hot summer day! My favorite quote is “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean.
Abby Olson, Crew Leader. I started working with Quercus in December 2021. I graduated from UW-Stevens Point in Spring 2019 with a degree in Natural Resource Management minoring in Conservation Biology and Water Resources. I have been working in ecosystem restoration since graduation and I enjoy seeing how every project progresses to a more diverse and healthy ecosystem. I am happy to have a career that allows me to be a part of every aspect of restoration from beginning to end. I’m grateful I get to make a difference by working in beautiful natural areas. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, camping, snowmobiling, traveling, reading, and music.
Kevin Winston, Crew Leader. I joined the Quercus Crew in early 2022. I studied at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, where I double majored in Ecosystem Restoration & Management, and Wildland Fire Science. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, which didn’t foster a very outdoorsy lifestyle, but I have been lucky enough to find this passion for our natural resources, and be able to do what I can to help preserve and restore damaged ecosystems, learning every step of the way. There is so much that our world has to offer us, and I’m so grateful to be working with a team that shares the same attitudes towards trying to make it a better place, one project at a time. In the end, I can’t believe I get to play outdoors for a living. When I’m not working, I usually spending my time hiking, kayaking, biking, playing guitar, or getting distracted by birds.
Emma Czarnecki, Crew Leader. I received my bachelor’s in Environmental Sciences and a minor in Sustainability from UW-Madison. I joined the Quercus crew in early 2022. Originally from Milwaukee, I’m passionate about urban ecology and making nature accessible to all. I love being in this career because the environment is ever growing and I’m constantly learning new things. When I’m not in nature searching for bumble bees, I enjoy cooking and eating delicious foods, traveling, gardening, and doing DIY projects.
Chayse Toay, Restoration Specialist. Joined Quercus in Spring 2022.
MaryBeth Barker, Restoration Specialist. I joined Quercus in late October 2022. I completed my bachelor’s degree at UW-Madison, majoring in conservation biology, environmental studies, and sociology. When I first moved to northern Wisconsin as a youngster, I fell in love with Lake Superior, and being able to walk around in the woods all the time made me realize that I cared a lot about restoring Wisconsin’s ecosystems and keeping them healthy. I like identifying plants and looking at bugs under the microscope, and especially love participating in prescribed burns. In my off time I like to read, write, hike, snowboard, or make very detailed playlists on Spotify. I’m happy to be working as a restoration specialist at Quercus where I can learn diverse methods of restoration, and learn more about the bigger picture of land management and ecology.
John Zwick, Restoration Specialist. I joined the Quercus team as a winter seasonal in October 2022. I graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in History and a certificate in Environmental Studies. After school, I worked on a trail crew with the U.S. Forest Service in Cordova, Alaska where I discovered my passion for conservation work. Through my job at Quercus, I’m learning how to read landscapes and better understand the ecological processes at play, as well as developing practical restoration skills. In my spare time, I enjoy backpacking, paddling, hanging out with my dog, and looking for cool historical sites in the woods.
Ty Hougan, Restoration Specialist. Joined Quercus in Fall 2022.
Kristina Weld, Restoration Technician. Joined Quercus in Fall 2022.