Ruth Oppedahl


Ruth Oppedahl
Executive Director
(608) 261-4384
[email protected]


With staff and board, Ruth helps build an inspiring vision to create a vibrant and durable Foundation which financially supports Wisconsin’s lands, wildlife and waters. Ruth is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs and impact of the Foundation. Before coming to the Foundation, worked for seventeen years as executive director for land trusts in Dane and Bayfield County.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: The Lower Wisconsin River
Favorite outdoor activity: Canoeing or kayaking
Favorite Wisconsin wildlife species: Black-capped chickadee
Commitment to conservation in Wisconsin: “I like that we are in the heart of conservation with Aldo Leopold, John Muir and Sigurd Olson all influenced by their experiences in Wisconsin. I love the diversity of landscapes from the Mississippi Bluffs to the sandy beaches on Lake Michigan.”


Lauren Koshere (Photo by Eamon Coyne)


Lauren Koshere
Donor Relations Coordinator
(608) 261-4381
[email protected]


Lauren supports the Foundation’s development efforts by contributing to donor communications and by connecting personally with our members across the state. Before coming to the Foundation, she held fundraising and marketing roles at Minnesota Public Radio, Island Press in Washington, DC, and American Prairie Reserve in Montana. As a writer, Lauren has focused on topics from nature to baking to the Green Bay Packers, and has had creative work published in the Wisconsin State Journal, High Country News, The Leopold Almanac, the Center for Humans and Nature’s City Creatures Blog, and others. She has an MS from the Environmental Studies program at the University of Montana and a BA in English from St. Catherine University.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: Anywhere a river meets Lake Superior on the South Shore (ask about the rock in my wallet)
Favorite outdoor activity: Hiking and walking, plus anything on or near water
Favorite wildlife species: Bison. I discovered how amazing they are while living and working in Yellowstone in college, but love knowing Wisconsin was part of their original range.
Commitment to Wisconsin conservation: Ever since my childhood in Washburn County, the special places and people of Wisconsin have shaped who I am. I’m thrilled to act on my love of Wisconsin by helping others become a part of the Foundation’s work to support our state’s waters, wildlife, and public lands.


John Kraniak


John Kraniak
Membership Director
(608) 264-9240
[email protected]


John Kraniak has served as membership director of the Foundation for the past 10 years. He maintains the Foundation’s database, handles membership renewals and mailings to members.  When he is not working at the Foundation he enjoys gardening, walking, bicycling, and hosting a weekly program of swing and jazz on WORT-FM.




Michelle Milford
Outreach Coordinator
(608) 261-4392
[email protected]


Michelle’s primary responsibility is to assist Christine Tanzer with field trip program coordination, and she is also responsible for international trip planning. Additionally, she connects members with the Foundation, promotes the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund, and performs business administration tasks. Prior to her position at the Foundation, Michelle used her zoology degree working as an animal caretaker. She is currently working toward earning her Masters in Sustainability.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: Copper Falls State Park
Favorite outdoor activity: Hiking
Favorite Wisconsin wildlife species: This is a hard question! Because I rehabbed a litter of kits, I will always be fond of raccoons. I love any species of woodpecker too.
Commitment to conservation in Wisconsin: “As an Illinois native, one of the main reasons I chose to stay in Wisconsin after graduation was for the diverse, plentiful and accessible natural places Wisconsin offers.”




Diane Packett
Birdathon Coordinator
(920) 219-2587
[email protected]


Diane coordinates activities for the Bird Protection Fund, including the Great Wisconsin Birdathon and fundraising field trips, and compose the Bird News You Can Use electronic newsletter. Diane’s M.S. research in migratory bird stopover ecology at Purdue University was funded by the birdathon of Amos W. Butler Audubon Society, so she’s excited to give back to the birdathon program. Before coming to the Foundation, Diane worked as GIS analyst for The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia and as a researcher collecting and analyzing bird data for several state, federal and private agencies. Diane currently volunteers with the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative of the Wisconsin DNR.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: My favorite areas are the small parks and nature areas around my Oregon, Wisconsin home because of the vital role they play in conserving nature in our urban-agricultural area.
Favorite outdoor activity: Obviously birding, followed by hiking
Favorite Wisconsin wildlife species: Zebra swallowtail butterfly
Commitment to Wisconsin conservation: “Wisconsin has a great diversity of landscapes and habitats that are home to an equally diverse array of wildlife. I believe that natural areas should be preserved not only for their intrinsic value but because to lose them would be to lose our souls.”


Nora Simmons Communications Director Natural Resources Foundation


Nora Simmons
Communications Director
(608) 266-3138
[email protected]


Nora manages the Foundation’s communications and media relations. Nora moved to Madison from Keystone, Colorado, in October of 2016 and is very excited to live in another state where people are devoted to protecting and celebrating their wild and natural spaces. Her background ranges from political communications and nonprofit development to magazine publishing and event management.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: All the bluffs, cliffs, and waterways, but especially Peninsula State Park in Door County.
Favorite outdoor activity: Hiking, cross country skiing, and paddling.
Favorite Wisconsin wildlife species: Tie between the beaver and the saw-whet owl – so cute!
Commitment to Wisconsin conservation: “For me it’s all about connecting or reconnecting people to their inherent love for the outdoors. Everyone turns back into a kid when playing and exploring outside and it’s that pure child-like curiosity about life and love for the natural world that fuels a passion for, and commitment to, conservation both in our local communities and around the world.”



Christine Tanzer
Field Trip Coordinator
(608) 264-8548
[email protected]


Christine T. coordinates the many facets of the Foundation’s vibrant Field Trip Program. Passionate about showcasing Wisconsin’s amazing natural treasures, she has organized more than 2,000 field trips since her start at the help in 1997. Prior to the Foundation, Christine worked on various bird research projects around the globe, including spectacled eider and emperor gees in Alaska, waterfowl nesting in Canada, and the decoy rearing project to reintroduce trumpeter swans to Wisconsin.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: Rolling hills of the Driftless Area
Favorite outdoor activity: Canoeing in the Lower Wisconsin River in the summer, and cross-country skiing Blue Mounds in winter
Commitment to Wisconsin conservation: “Wisconsin is a truly special place with a strong conservation ethic and a unique diversity of habitats and wildlife. I am committed to creating a field trip program that provides opportunities to experience wildlife and wild lands in a meaningful way. It is my hope that people find a connection with the land that inspires them to continue Wisconsin’s conservation legacy for generations to come.”


Caitlin Williamson director of conservation programs in iceland with NRF


Caitlin Williamson
Director of Conservation Programs
(608) 266-1430
[email protected]


Cait oversees the Foundation’s programs focused on protecting Wisconsin’s public lands and waters and threatened wildlife species, working closely with field conservationists to ensure that the Foundation has the most significant impact possible on Wisconsin’s natural resources. Cait’s work encompasses conservation science and planning, partnership development, and capacity building. She received her M.Sc. in environmental conservation from the UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and is a founding member of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. Her previous work includes consulting on environmental and sustainability programs in the private sector, researching human-wildlife conflict on local and global scales, and designing and implementing strategic plans to address the conservation of biodiversity.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: Europe Bay Woods State Natural Area in Door County. Red pines, boreal forest, norther dry-mesic forest, and Great Lakes sand beach and dunes. What a gem!
Favorite outdoor activity: Everything!
Favorite wildlife species: Eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
Commitment to Wisconsin conservation: “I love the sense of wonder I get each time I go outdoors. I want to ensure that future generations have the same opportunities that I’ve cherished, such as hearing wolves howl in the Chequamegon National Forest, and witnessing thousands of birds converge on Horicon Marsh during fall migration.”

Camille Zanoni cropped


Camille Zanoni
Development Director
(608) 264-8922
[email protected]


Camille leads the Foundation’s development efforts and helps raise support for Wisconsin’s priority conservation needs through annual, endowed and planned giving.

Favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin: I love Wisconsin’s beautiful oak savannas, and the wilderness areas of the Northwoods.
Favorite outdoor activity: Backpacking and canoeing.
Favorite Wisconsin wildlife species: Turtles.
Commitment to Wisconsin conservation: “I find great inspiration in connecting people to the conservation causes that matter most to them and feel a deep responsibility to steward our lands, waters and wildlife so that future generations inherit a Wisconsin as diverse and healthy as the one we enjoyed in our lifetimes.”