Meet the director candidates for 2017–2018

Our Board of Directors is responsible for planning, coordinating, communicating and managing the activities of our organization. At our annual member meeting, members elect directors for the coming two years.

The board usually meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 5:30 pm at the Lakeview Branch of the Madison Public Library, 2845 N. Sherman Ave. All meetings are open to members and the public. To confirm the time or request an agenda, or if you’re interested in joining the board or helping out on a committee, contact Jan at (608) 215-0426 or

Directors Jan Axelson, Jim Krause, Paul Noeldner, Dick Walker, Anita Weier, and Dorothy Wheeler are in the middle of their 2-year terms and thus aren’t up for re-election.

Here are statements from the six announced candidates for six positions with terms that will end at our member meeting in January, 2019:

Timothy Baker

Since moving to East Madison in 2008, I have found Cherokee Marsh to be a great place to walk and explore nature with my wife, Beth, and two small children, Della and Dorothy. Before that, as a Middleton resident and regular fisherman, I was interested in the marsh as an obviously important component of the lakes and wetlands system that defines the Madison area.

Concerned about the health of the marsh, especially in the face of potential development, I joined the FOCM board in 2010. It is my intent to help the FOCM strengthen efforts to educate the public and advocate for the health of the marsh ecosystem. I am especially interested in native plants, birds, and aquatic life. I also serve on the City of Madison Committee on the Environment and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including birding, fishing, hunting, and native plant restoration.

Janet Battista

I am a founding member of the Friends of Cherokee Marsh. The Friends have been influential in resisting new development encroaching on the marsh, in bringing Madison school children to experience the marsh, and in supporting efforts to restore the many native ecosystems within the marsh. I hope to continue on the board to try to maintain and extend these achievements.

Dana Erlandsen

As a Northside resident who regularly walks, paddles, and skis in Cherokee Marsh, the Marsh is part of my life in all seasons. I would like to keep using my experience with other nonprofit organizations and as a lawyer to benefit Cherokee Marsh. I have worked to help to the Friends increase awareness of the Marsh, as well as to help protect and restore the Marsh so it can continue to serve as a haven for plants and animals, a filter for the watershed, and a bit of serenity in our neighborhood. I am proud of the work we have done—establishing the Fund for the Marsh, paying for buses so school children can learn about the marsh, leading public hikes and paddles, removal of invasive plants—and look forward to doing more.

Russ Hefty

I developed a love of nature thanks to my parents who shared their love of plants and birds with me. We took family vacations to see Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons, Devil’s Tower and other remarkable places that sparked my interest in conservation. As a teenager my first conservation action was salvaging native prairie plants from a nearby stone quarry, and transplanting them in our yard. A conversation between my parents and Wayne Pauly at the Dane County Fair led me to volunteering at the Madison Audubon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary near Arlington. This eventually led to me becoming the first college student intern at Goose Pond Sanctuary.

I received a Horticulture degree with an emphasis on natural resources from the UW and started work for the City of Madison as a season conservation ranger in 1980. From 1991- 2016, I was privileged to lead Madison’s conservation parks as the Conservation Resource Supervisor. Cherokee Marsh has always been one of my favorite parks as it offered the opportunity to restore native plant and animal communities on a large landscape scale like no other place in Madison. I have led efforts to save the peat wetlands along the Upper Yahara River
for the past 15 years. More recently we’ve worked on restoring a large oak savanna / prairie complex and our efforts were rewarded when red-headed woodpeckers nested there for the first time in decades.

In January 2016, I retired from the City of Madison Park Division after 34 years of service. Serving on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Cherokee Marsh has allowed me to stay involved in protecting this very special resource.

Lesleigh Luttrell

It would be an honor to continue to serve on the Friends of Cherokee Marsh board as the organization begins a second decade of working to protect, preserve and restore the marsh. I have lived on the Northside for more than 30 years, and have been involved with a number of organizations, including Friends of Lakeview Library, NESCO and the Sherman Neighborhood Association. I know how important the Marsh is to people of all ages and how lucky we are to have this resource on the Northside. The families who join our first Sunday walks, the school children who go on field trips to the Marsh with transportation paid for by the Friends, the keepers of the Marsh and the watershed who benefit from the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Fund—these are what make my work on the Friends Board rewarding. Not to mention the benefit of free nature recreation that allows all of us to enjoy the birds, mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians that make the Marsh their home. I thank you for your support.

Mary Manering

As a Madison native and a 36 year resident of the Cherokee Marsh area, I am pleased to submit my name as a candidate for the Friends of Cherokee Marsh Board.  It is important to me to be involved in activities to improve the health of the marsh in order to provide necessary habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for those who treasure everything the marsh and neighboring lands have to offer. My commitment to the environment is demonstrated by my participation in a number of organizations including: 20 year naturalist at the International Crane Foundation, water quality monitor with the Rock River Coalition, former naturalist with the Madison Metropolitan School District leading tours at Cherokee Marsh, kestrel nesting box monitor with the Madison Audubon Society and assisting with the restoration of prairies and savannas in Dane County. I welcome the opportunity to be a Board member of the Friends of Cherokee Marsh to further my goals to protect and improve the Marsh and to be involved with efforts to expose more people to the Marsh and the importance of the natural world in our lives.

To keep the terms balanced, we have one announced candidate for a 1-year term that will end at our member meeting in January, 2018:

Don Hammes

I have had a life long love of nature that began as a child and continued with my studies at the University of Wisconsin. Throughout my adult life I have devoted myself to protecting and enhancing Wisconsin’s natural resources. I am a member and past president of the Dane County Conservation League. I am a member and past vice president of the Yahara Fishing Club.

I am a founding member of the Friends of Pheasant Branch, and I am a founding member and advisor to the Friends of Cherokee Marsh. I am vice chair of the Sierra Club of Wisconsin – John Muir Chapter. I am a former director and wetlands committee chair of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. The Cherokee marsh is very important to me. I know it is a beautiful wetland that is essential to the health of Lake Mendota and the Yahara River. The flora and fauna of the marsh are outstanding. I would like to be a director on the Friends of Cherokee Marsh board so that I can use my knowledge and skills to help protect and enhance this wetland gem.


Due to time and scheduling conflicts, Director Justin Sargent will be ending his time on the board with us in January. We thank him for serving with us and will miss his insights and good humor.



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