Our staff is small, but our reach is broad. The combined experience and vision of our staff, partnered with the exceptional hands-on efforts of our volunteers, make it possible to live out our mission.
Kristin received an AS in Landscape Horticulture from MATC; a BS in Botany from Concordia University; and a MS in Environmental Science from Concordia University. Since 2007, as the director of the Mequon Nature Preserve, Kristin is living her dream – giving back to the community she grew up in and a career that she is passionate about. With Kristin’s leadership, MNP offers a series of educational programs to students K5-college and have helped over 10,000 low income children annually experience the outdoors and learn about nature ‘up close and personal’ – free of charge. It is rewarding to be able to go into work every day knowing that you are helping children who have never experienced the world without concrete learn about nature and all its wonders. Kristin interacts with members of MNP’s surrounding communities to continue to be a guiding example of restoration by returning an urban/suburban area to the woods and wetlands it once was. Kristin and the staff at MNP create an environmental educational conservancy and natural habitat that inspires and cultivates stewardship, encouraging visitors to get off the path. Kristin is married to Michael Gies and has two children, Gavin and Adia.
Director of Education and Research
Jason received a BS in Life Science Education from Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN in 2002, and a MS in Environmental Education from Concordia University – WI, Mequon, WI, in 2015. After graduation he began teaching in 2002 at Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills, WI. At Lakeside he took on many roles: teaching biology and human anatomy / physiology, serving as the head coach of the wrestling program, coaching varsity and junior varsity football as a defensive coordinator, advising the school’s Affinity Club (a service organization) and taking care of Lakeside’s internal courtyard and ponds. In June of 2011 Jason joined Mequon Nature Preserve’s staff and now serves as the Director of Education and Land Restoration. During the school year he takes thousands of students on nature walks in his new, 438 acre classroom. When not teaching kids, he spends his time performing land restoration tasks in the prairies, wetlands and forests of MNP. Jason now lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Becky, and his two young children, Madelynn and Sawyer.
Director of Development
As Director of Development, Kay communicates the Mequon Nature Preserve’s mission to interested constituents and is strategic in developing resources to support programming. She connects with donors and volunteers, gives tours and plans the Center’s events. After a number of years in the corporate world, Kay moved to the non-profit arena focusing on fund-development. Charitable giving gives Kay the opportunity to listen to donors and help them reach their philanthropic goals. Kay understands the interconnectedness of all things and values land preservation and education. By focusing on MNP’s relevant mission, Kay believes she is making a difference in the lives of those who partner with the Preserve. Natural space offers a variety of gifts including educating adults on relevant topics, giving children a hands-on opportunity to learn science, and walking through the peaceful woods, prairies and wetlands. The surrounding communities are blessed to have this sacred space within reach. Kay has a BA in Sociology and Ethnic Studies and a MA in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She lives in Mequon with her husband, Pete, and two children, Seth and Shai.
Director of Restoration and Operations
Cory has been in the Green Industry for over 20 years. He graduated from MATC with a degree in Landscape Horticulture in 1998. He has been an ISA Certified Arborist for over 15 years. Cory is a past president of the Wisconsin Arborist Association and has served on a number of committees over the past 20 years. Prior to his position at MNP he owned and operated Second Nature Landscape Company. Cory enjoys family vacations to Colorado with his wife Andrea and two boys Caleb and Ryan.
Many of you have already had the privilege of learning from Nici Perez, or perhaps her three charming daughters Noa, Rae and Mia. Nici and her family have been volunteering at MNP since 2013, donating countless hours to restore the land, inspire children, and execute special events. In December 2014, Nici graduated from Concordia University. In 2015, she was hired part time as a paid intern. She proved to be a strong candidate for our education team. As such, in 2016, Nici was hired full time as an education manager, thanks in large part to a grant from Bader Philanthropies.
Marketing and Development Assitant
Bruce has been the Facilities Manager for the Mequon Nature Preserve for the past two years. He worked in the printing trade for 37 years before his retirement. He also retired from the Air Force Reserves after 25 years of service. In his spare time, Bruce enjoys spending time at his cabin in Crivitz. You can also find him at every Packer event. He is known in Green Bay as the “ACME PACKER.” Bruce, in his unique Packer attire, has even appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and on ESPN. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Packer Fan Hall of Fame. Bruce is married to Vicki and has two grown children. He is the proud “Papa” of four granddaughters.
Louise is commonly known as an African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) or Sulcata tortoise. Her native range would be the southern half of the Sahara Desert in Africa. The Sulcata tortoise’s lifespan can range anywhere between 50 to 150 years, but most captive individuals live to around 50. Most of her diet is various grasses and vegetables. Fruits are ok but should make up a very small proportion of her diet. (Strawberries are her favorite treat!)
These tortoises were pretty common in the pet trade but many places have stopped selling them because so many owners look to give them up after a few years. Why? Besides the fact that they can outlive their owners, the Sulcata tortoise could grow over 30″ long and weigh over 200 pounds!
Tilia is the newest addition to the family at MNP. After her training, Tilia will become the first on-staff conservation dog in the state of Wisconsin and will also be a conservation ambassador, joining MNP staff on field trips at the preserve.