Board of Directors
ACRES board members govern the organization, providing oversight and strategic direction.

Steve Hammer, President
Carol Roberts, Vice-President
Joe Conrad, Vice-President
Norm Cox, Secretary
David Schnepp, Treasurer
Craig Bobay
John Clark
Pam George
Connie Haas-Zuber
James Haddock
Ashley Motia
Mark O’Shaughnessy
Angie O’Neill
Angie Quinn
Dawn Ritchie
David Van Gilder
Michelle Briggs Wedaman

 

 

 


Staff Members
ACRES staff members ensure the protection of this land every day.

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Jason Kissel
Executive Director
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Jason loves nature, and in particular, trees. At the age of five he declared that his life’s vocation would be caring for trees. He stayed true to this vision by earning degrees in forestry and ministry, serving as curator of trees for the North Carolina Zoo, and natural resources administrator for the City of Indianapolis. In 2006 he became ACRES’ executive director, which means he ensures ACRES’ land, funds, members, volunteers, and employees receive the attention and resources they need to thrive.

Jason’s favorite preserves are the ones that have been undisturbed the longest. Preserves with a century or more of time to function undisturbed provide a glimpse into the unique, healthy, and diverse systems that Forever will offer all ACRES’ properties.

Jason appreciates the reminder by Abraham Lincoln of the enduring quality of land:

“Laws change; people die; the land remains.”


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Heather Barth
Director of Fund Development
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Heather wants to know why you protect land. From donor cultivation to writing grants, she listens to your dreams and goals for investing in this work. She pays careful attention, because her job is to connect you to possibilities to realize your personal aspirations with ACRES Land Trust.

“From a very young age, I was instinctively drawn to trees. Even in the dead of winter, I could be found high up in a tree, book in hand, taking in a bird’s-eye-view of the natural world. I spent most of my childhood with my feet firmly planted in the canopy and I continue to find solace in natural settings.”

Her fondest memory is of walking trails with her daughter, then a toddler, listening to leaves rustling in the wind and imagining the secrets the trees were sharing of everything they had seen throughout their decades, sometimes centuries, of existence: Settlement, storms, development and all the creatures who lived among and enjoyed the company of trees, themselves included.

Heather’s early work experience in customer service opened a door into the world of philanthropy and continues to provide the foundation for her passion for working with members and donors. Her position with ACRES is the perfect marriage of her personal core values of preserving natural areas and her experience as a professional fundraiser.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir


acres-3Lettie Haver
Outreach Manager
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Lettie shares our stories. She aims to inspire and welcome you to this work and to the ACRES community. To do this, she works with staff and volunteers who write, edit, speak, create, photograph, host, teach, design and in so many ways continually share what it means to protect the land we all love for future generations.

Lettie brings to ACRES training and support from a variety of teachers. Most recently, she served as a public librarian with the Allen County Public Library’s Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center. Practicing yoga and meditation deepens her appreciation of the natural world.

On the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve, she met a mink. At Mengerson Nature Preserve, she shared muddy trails with her daughters when they were toddlers. In the back of Hammer Wald, she found a giant sugar maple bathed in light.

As a child, Lettie felt most at home in open, natural spaces. At some point, like many of us, she lost touch with this sense of belonging and is astonished to find herself celebrating the natural world with you.

“Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us.” – John Muir


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Evan Hill
Land Management Specialist
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Evan works the land you love. Whether his day entails marking property boundaries, creating and maintaining trails, or leading interns in our battle against non-native invasive species, he spends much of his time caring for the land.

From a very early age Evan was fascinated by the complexity of nature.

“I grew up chasing frogs and snakes in my grandparents’ pond and building forts in the neighbor’s woods. I never imagined then that I could have a career doing such similar things.”

Evan’s background in wildlife and habitat management is rooted in a Wildlife degree from Purdue University. Twice a summer intern with ACRES, he also acquired wildlife experience with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

“My favorite ACRES preserve would have to be Spurgeon. The wetlands, topography, old growth trees, and species diversity that this preserve has to offer puts it at the top of my list. One of my fondest memories in a preserve, though, happened in Evelyn and Wendell Dygert Nature Preserve. I had found a great spot to eat my lunch and was biting into an apple when I spotted a fox not 30 yards away trotting towards me. It came within 15 yards, looked up at me, and then disappeared into its den.”

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” – John Muir


acres-7Casey Jones
Director of Land Management
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Casey directs the management of our land. He determines how, when and what kind of non-native invasive plant species are eliminated. He works with a team of “ologists” – geologists, biologists, hydrologists and more – to make informed decisions. He establishes if a preserve can be open and where trails go to protect sensitive areas while encouraging your appreciation of the natural world. He guides our restoration and reforestation projects and he meets with families and individuals who want to protect their land with ACRES.

Like many of us, Casey had formative encounters with wildlife as a child. He continues to seek these experiences as an avid birder.

He brings to ACRES experience in the field and a background in art and design.

Flowers Creek and Wayne Township Prairie may not be Casey’s favorite preserves, but he invests plenty of sweat equity in restoring the Miami County and Kosciusko County properties along and near the Eel River.


acres-16Tina Puitz
Volunteer and Office Manager
[email protected]

Tina keeps ACRES running. She protects land by keeping our financial resources moving in and out of the organization to the good folks who share in this work. She also connects ACRES’ most precious human resource, our volunteers, to the work they love to do. She serves staff, volunteers and ACRES members alike.

To ACRES, Tina brings experience serving others and a deep respect for living things.

“Whether it was cutting the grass, helping in the garden, taking long walks or enjoying time together camping and exploring the lake in our rowboat, my parents had a connection to nature and living things, which they instilled in me.  Because of this, I have always believed nature is a gift from God. I can’t imagine protecting land for any better reason than simply because God created it.”

One of Tina’s favorite preserves is Edna W. Spurgeon Woodland Preserve: “My exploration of the preserve was made all the more special on a hike with my daughter. Several large trees were across the trails and we loved every minute of climbing over and under them. The rolling hills, dappled sunlight on the ground, beautiful trees reaching to the heavens. What a fitting preserve for ACRES’ first.”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax”


dsc_0416-3Kelly Shepherd
Contractual Outreach Specialist
[email protected]

Kelly’s job is to reach out to community groups and organizations to share ACRES stories and inspire folks who love natural areas to get involved in preserving land. She recognizes that as a nonprofit, the more community interest ACRES receives, the more land we can preserve together.

Kelly has unknowingly been preparing for this job her entire life. As a teacher for over 30 years, she has a lifelong love of learning and experiencing life. She has been an independent contractor as a tutor and yoga teacher since taking early retirement from teaching – and she sees this freedom as an adventure every single day.

“I have always loved the outdoors: hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing and, most recently, fulfilling a white water rafting experience from my bucket list. As a child, I went target shooting with my dad whenever possible just to be in nature with him. WONDERFUL memories, I loved it!”

Kelly’s recreational interest in natural areas recently met the value of preservation: “When I was a child I played in the woods adjacent to our addition every day. I recently discovered this land is GONE.” Kelly’s childhood woodlot had been developed into an office building. Today, this building sits empty.

Robert Frost ends his most famous poem saying, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I— I took the one less traveled by,” to which Kelly adds: “And I am filled with joy traveling down this new road!”


Administrative & Facilities Volunteers
Volunteers serve ACRES in many ways. A few folks serve in weekly roles.

Mary Anna Feitler
Membership Secretary

Louise Pomeroy
Administrative Volunteer

Sue Diefenbach
Recording Secretary

Dave Brumm
Office Facilities

Webmaster
[email protected]