The Hawk Ridge staff consists of
employees, volunteers and contractors.
grew up in Greenfield, WI where her
childhood days were filled with explorations
of any nearby forest, field, or pond.
The connections she made
had a lifelong impact on her career
interests. She attended the University of
WI - Stevens Point to complete degrees in
Wildlife Management and Biology with a minor
in Conservation Biology. A whole new world
in the outdoors was revealed to her through
the hands-on courses, field trips, and
enthusiastic professors. She vividly
remembers the excitement she felt seeing her
first Sandhill Crane and Pileated
Woodpecker. From that point on, she was
hooked on birds and couldn't wait to see and
learn more. Janelle spent three summers
helping out with Ph.D. bird research
projects at Great Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park
in TN, the grasslands of southwestern WI,
and the Shawnee Nat'l Forest in IL. Her
passion and concern for birds and the
environment were heightened as she witnessed
population declines due to habitat loss,
cowbird parasitism, predation, etc.
This led her to the
next phase in her career in the field of
environmental education. Janelle's journey
began by spending a year teaching at four
Audubon Centers in NM, CT, VT, and ME. In
2003 she began a graduate naturalist program
at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
in Minnesota. From Wolf Ridge she continued
her graduate work and completed her M.Ed. in
Environmental Education at the University of
Minnesota Duluth in 2005. Janelle worked for two
years for the Bureau of Land Management as
the Education Coordinator at Yaquina Head
Outstanding Natural Area on the Oregon
dedicate her time and share her interests
for bird conservation and environmental
education as the executive director. She
hopes to promote stewardship for Hawk Ridge
and help others establish their special
lifelong connection to nature.
Jessica Chatterton was born in Idaho but grew up in Duluth just below Hawk Ridge. After spending 10 years in Minneapolis her love of Lake Superior and the northern forests prompted her return to Duluth in 2006. She received her BS in Biology and Chemistry from UMD in 2010 where her main focus was on plant biology. After working as a lab tech in the Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics Lab at UMD for 5 years she moved on to a position as a field technician for the Natural Resources Research Institute conducting amphibian and bird surveys where she currently works seasonally in the spring and summer. She first came to Hawk Ridge as a volunteer in 2011 and enjoyed it so much that she progressed to Naturalist the next year, and is currently the Operations Director. She also volunteers her time in the Hawk Ridge office year round as well as helping with Spring Owl Monitoring and counting Nighthawks in the fall.
Frank Nicoletti grew up in New York State along the Hudson
River where he started watching raptors at
the age of 11. His passion for raptors and
other birds fueled him to work at various
locations including Cape May and Sandy Hook
NJ, Braddock Bay NY and in Israel. From 1984
until 1996 he traveled throughout the
country and conducted various raptor related
projects which included nesting surveys,
tracking winter raptors and migration work.
He arrived in Duluth in 1991 to count
raptors and to witness the invasion of the
Northern Goshawk and he conducted the count
until 2005. After moving to Duluth
permanently in the fall of 1996, he
conducted the first spring count of raptors
migrating north in Minnesota along the West
Skyline Parkway of Duluth. Frank continues
to study raptors and has been concentrating
on boreal forest owls and managing raptor
banding sites. He has published a number of
papers on birds and has helped with many
authors working on books and articles.
He lives just north of Duluth with his wife,
Kate and dog Chester. Frank’s excited to
take on the fall
migration as our new director of banding.
Although Karl Bardon has
traveled around the country doing various
field projects with birds, his favorite jobs
are those spent counting birds. The road to Hawk Ridge has included
such diverse projects as radio-tracking
eiders in the Arctic, studying trans-Gulf
migration from an oil-platform off
Louisiana, and nest searching for Tapaculos
in the temperate rainforests of Chile. When
it comes to counting birds, Karl’s specialty
has been waterbirds, having spent many
seasons as the waterbird counter at
Whitefish Point, Michigan, and Cape May, New
after witnessing the awesome migration
through Veracruz, Mexico as an official hawk
counter in 2006, he has decided
raptors are pretty
Karl is back for his fourth season as a
raptor counter and also the passerine
||Cory Ritter was born and raised in southern Wisconsin, and he earned his bachelor's degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Since graduating in 2008, Cory has worked a variety of field jobs ranging from conducting point count and territory mapping surveys to passerine banding and, of course, hawk counting. Cory has counted hawks in Pennsylvania and at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory in Michigan, and he is returning for his third season here at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.
Chris Neri grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and got his start in raptor banding by working with owls at Cape May, New Jersey. He banded hawks and owls in the Goshute Mountains of Nevada, where he started the Flammulated Owl research program. He has banded hawks in the Manzanos Mountains of New Mexico with his partner, Nova Mackentley. Chris and Nova are the spring and summer owl banders at their home in Whitefish Point, Michigan. He is returning for his second season at Hawk Ridge.
Nova Mackentley is from upstate New York, and graduated from Oberlin College where she majored in Biology and Dance. Hawk Ridge was one of her first field jobs, working as the owl bander in 2003 and 2004. She moved on to Whitefish Point as an owl bander, where she met her partner Chris Neri. Nova has worked at Cape May Bird Observatory and in the Manzanos Mountains of New Mexico as a hawk bander, and also worked radio-collaring ocelots in Texas for 3 seasons. During the spring and summer seasons, Nova and Chris continue their owl banding research at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.
Annmarie Geniusz grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She graduated from University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, summa cum laude with a B.A. in Geology and Studio Art. She has been a volunteer bander and banding assistant to Frank Nicoletti at Hawk Ridge for three years. She helps band passerines, diurnal raptors, and owls. She received certification as an assistant bander at Braddock Bay Bird Observatory in New York state. Her love of the outdoors comes from childhood summers spent camping, fishing, and chasing frogs in northern Wisconsin. Her love of birds began at Hawk Ridge, visiting the Overlook. She is married to Hawk Ridge Volunteer Stephen Bockhold and has four adorable cats. Annmarie is super excited to be working as Hawk Ridge’s Owl Bander this fall!
Kati Kristenson developed a deep love of the outdoors while growing up in Grand Marais, MN. It was there that she learned to love canoeing, hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, sparking, camping, blueberry picking, and exploring in general. However, it was not until she became a naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, MN that her love of birds began. It was there that she learned how to band song birds and work with educational raptors. Kati became intrigued with Hawk Ridge after a visit to Hawk Ridge with Wolf Ridge naturalists during her first year at Wolf Ridge. Seeing a wild raptor up close in one of the naturalist’s hands and watching it be released back to the wild got her hooked on wild raptor education. After working at Wolf Ridge for a couple years Kati moved to Duluth to work on her masters of environmental education at UMD. While living in Duluth, Kati hopes to spend as much time working and volunteering at Hawk Ridge as she can in order to teach and learn more about the amazing lives of song birds and raptors. This fall you will see her at the Hawk Ridge Overlook as a substitute naturalist and volunteer.
Gail Johnejack grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin and has lived and worked in many places. Her exploration of nature began early - during backyard bird watching, family camping trips, and from her mother’s passion for environmental education with children. Following a degree in Hydrology, she worked for the US Forest Service for 13 years as a hydrologist and botanist. After a break for two children, she taught preschool at a nature center where she hiked, danced, explored and created with young children. Here she found her love of sharing nature with others. During four years in Alaska with her family, she worked in the schools and developed and taught youth gardening through Parks and Recreation. She moved to Duluth to go back to school and earned a Certificate in Environmental Education at the University of Minnesota – Duluth in 2011. Volunteering and working as a naturalist got her started at Hawk Ridge and she is now in her second year as Education Director. In this role, she coordinates and teaches education programs during the fall migration, develops and provides educational opportunities for students of all ages at other times of the year, and gives presentations to various groups. Working with raptors and people at Hawk Ridge is, for Gail, “Livin’ the Dream.”
has lived in Duluth her entire life, most of
that time spent looking up at Hawk Ridge.
Her love of the outdoors and of birds began
at an early age when her mother would take
her outside to watch kettles of hawks over
their home. This love of animals transformed
into a desire to educate. As a result, Sarah
spent two years volunteering at
the Lake Superior Zoo as a docent,
then working as the Junior Docent Coordinator
and now as their Volunteer Coordinator.
During her time at the zoo, she was able to
handle some wonderful little birds. After
staring into their beady little eyes, she
decided it was true love! This is Sarah's
fourth year up at the ridge as
staff; she was a
interpreter in 2007,
naturalist in 2008 and she is thrilled to be part
of the team as a
naturalist/count interpreter again this
||Margie Menzies: One part educator, two parts naturalist, and two parts bird nerd! Who says slow and steady wins the race? After years in the formal classroom, this educator has abandoned the indoors for the great outdoor classroom. Margie is the naturalist at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center up the North Shore in Schroeder, MN during the summer. There where she provides programs, camps, and bird banding; returning to Duluth for mail, laundry and grocery shopping! During the rest of the year she is a freelance naturalist and education consultant working on a variety of projects. She has also worked at Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. She has a BA from Bethel University, and a MA from University of St. Thomas. Providing naturalist programming for the general public furnishes many colorful and meaningful experiences with every day on the job. She loves birds, learning, and sharing the natural world with people of all ages. This is her second season at Hawk Ridge as a Naturalist.
Erik Bruhnke has had a love for birds since he was a child. Graduating from Northland College with a Natural Resources degree back in 2008, Erik has traveled the country doing a wide variety of bird surveys. His field experiences (all bird surveys) have taken him throughout many of the northern states; including North Dakota, South Dakota, the mountains & coastal regions of Oregon, and bushwhacking throughout northern Minnesota & northern Wisconsin.
Erik has taught people about raptor identification and migration throughout the past five fall seasons at Hawk Ridge as the count interpreter, and assists the raptor count during the spring migration. He is returning for his sixth fall season at Hawk Ridge. Erik has taught field ornithology multiple times at Northland College. He is a board member of the Duluth Audubon Society, and has led field trips & spoken at many nationally-recognized birding festivals. His bird photography has won wildlife photo competitions both locally and nationally. Erik’s passion to educate others about birds has led him to create his own business of leading birding trips, called Naturally Avian. His biggest aspiration with Naturally Avian is to inspire conservation and environmental awareness through his birding tours, wildlife photography and public presentations. He is a Board Member of the Duluth Audubon Society, where he coordinates weekly birding trips offered to the public and helps spread the word about birds.
Beth Miller grew up in
Duluth about two miles from the Ridge as the
hawk flies, or about three miles as the bike
rides. She has visited Hawk Ridge since
about 1973, riding over on bikes with
friends during junior and senior high
school. (Never skipping class to do this, of
course.) Inspired by the "old" John Denver
song "The Eagle and The Hawk," she caught
the raptor bug in the early 1970's as a
result of these early visits to the Ridge.
She has been passionate (or obsessed) about
raptors ever since.
Beth has volunteered at the Ridge since the
volunteer program began in 2002, and joined
the staff in 2006. She got her B.A.S. in
Education from UMD too many years ago to
mention, and her M.Ed in Educational
Media/Technology from St. Scholastica in
1993. She moonlights as a fourth grade
science teacher in one of Duluth's public
schools, teaching science to fourth graders
for the last 16 years. She teaches her
students that migrating hawks are a
perfectly good reason to drop everything,
grab some binoculars and got outside to
check out the flight. Students have been
known to summon her from her from the
teachers' lounge if they spot a good hawk
flight during lunch recess, because spotting
a good hawk flight is worth extra credit in
Brian Scott has progressed from visitor to Hawk Ridge for the first time in August 2011, to volunteer in the fall of 2012, to naturalist substitute for the fall of 2013. Brian’s hometown is Chesterton, IN and he graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN with a BA in biology. His first environmental education experience was at the Dunes Learning Center, located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. He has also taught environmental education at the N.E.E.D. Collaborative, which is located in the Cape Cod National Seashore in Truro, MA. Brian is looking forward to another amazing fall of learning about raptors and viewing raptor migration from Hawk Ridge!
Katie Swanson grew up in Rochester, MN and moved up to Duluth in the summer of 2007. She attended school at UMD and completed her bachelor’s degree in Outdoor and Environmental Education. She started her involvement with Hawk Ridge as a volunteer, while attending school as well. After volunteering, she developed a deep passion for bringing education about these amazing creatures to the visitors of Hawk Ridge. She continued to work with Hawk Ridge as a naturalist and completed the position of administrative intern for one season while working on an internship to finish her degree. She continues to work as a naturalist and has also taken on the role of volunteer coordinator. Through working with birds and Hawk Ridge, she wants to continue to develop her knowledge about the natural world and spread the passion that she has to volunteers, staff and visitors at the ridge.
||David Stieler: I am originally from Albert Lea, MN, where I spent my childhood playing amongst the corn and soybean fields that are so prevalent in southern Minnesota. It was a large change when I first moved up to Duluth to go to college and get my undergraduate degrees in Biology and English. But now, after having spent seven years on the North Shore, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I am currently a graduate student at UMD completing an Environmental Education degree.
Working with birds of prey has been a theme in the past years of my life, starting with volunteering at the Rocky Mountain Raptor program and progressing through working with education birds at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, and now with wild birds at Hawk Ridge.
Jenni Stafford grew up in Peoria, IL. She graduated from Bemidji State with a degree in biology. Her love of raptors began when she was able to see Barred Owls in her backyard as a young child. She later worked with educational raptors at Wildlife Prairie Park in Illinois where she got to learn about the birds first hand. This will be her first year at Hawk Ridge.
Hawk Ridge has been one of my haunts ever
since I was a little girl. I grew up in
Duluth running and biking through the area
and enjoying the view. Now, it's a pleasure
to be up at the overlook in a different
context learning and enjoying the birds
together with the birding community. After
college at St. Olaf I spent
three years living
and teaching in Finland, Europe. In 2006 I
moved to Finland, MN, to teach, learn, and
play at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning
Center with my husband, Matti. Some of the
learning opportunities included bird banding
and identification and how to handle the
education raptors. I jump at any chance to
handle and learn about birds, little and
big, and to be out in the fresh air learning
Looking towards Lake
Superior from the
overlook at Hawk
Ridge I see Lakeside School, where I spent
playing endlessly on the playground. After
high school in Duluth I ended up in Saint
Paul at Macalester College studying Hispanic
Studies and Political Science, but during my
summers I worked in the North Woods leading
canoe trips in the Boundary Waters. After
college, my home moved further north and
much further east to Joensuu in North
Karelia, Finland. Throughout those four
years I acquainted myself with the woods
studying plants, animals, rocks, stars,
mushrooms, and Finnish wilderness skills and
ways of hiking and camping at an outdoor
school. In 2009 I moved from Finland to
Finland, MN with my wife Kaitlin to
reacquaint myself with my
new home with two years as a
naturalist at Wolf
Ridge Environmental Learning Center. There I
worked with education raptors and fell in
love with bird banding. I am now returning
to Duluth after ten years to complete the
Master of Environmental Education at
the University of
Minnesota Duluth, and you will surely
find me at the overlook
sharing my love of birds both large and
small with whoever comes to listen.