Our Board and Staff

Oak Heritage Board of Directors

This crew of nature-loving individuals works hard to ensure that conservation moves forward in southeast Indiana. They lend their professional skills, their wit and wisdom, and often their muscles to protect land, build trails, restore habitat, and get people outside, spending time in nature. We hope to see you at an Oak Heritage event or nature preserve soon!

Kate Johnson, President

What you do for work? What do you do in nature? I teach philosophy at Hanover College. Two of my courses are Philosophy of the Environment and Animal Philosophy. I also taught Ecofeminism in the past, and would love to do it again sometime. My husband Don Carrell and I live on ~40 acres, and we try to raise most of our food with a vegetable garden, chickens, goats, and sheep. I also enjoy my flower garden. We are letting the majority of our land return from being overgrazed when we bought to natural habitat. It’s been fun to watch the transformation.

Where do you call home? We live in Hanover, my kids went to Southwestern Schools, but our address is Madison.

Why do you join the Oak Heritage board? Of the many things to feel bad about right now, the way we treat the natural world is one of the most abiding and most serious. Rather than just feel bad, I’d like to do something about it with some like-minded people. I like the local, grassroots feel of Oak Heritage Conservancy.

Eric Dodge, Vice President

Eric grew up camping, fishing and exploring the outdoors in Oregon.

His parents stressed how important it was to protect and preserve wild spaces and he believes very strongly that we get a little poorer as a community when a natural area is lost or spoiled.

Eric moved to Madison in 1995 to teach economics at Hanover College. He immediately began exploring the trails below the College and in nearby Clifty Falls State Park.

He enjoys camping and hiking with his family. He’s enjoying serving on the Board and helping protect natural areas in southeast Indiana.

Glene Mynhardt, Secretary

What you do for work and for fun in nature? I teach various biology courses at Hanover College, including my favorite – entomology. I enjoy macrophotography and am always on the lookout for insects that inhabit our local natural areas.

Where do you live? I live in Jeffersonville (Clark County)

What inspired you to join the Oak Heritage board? I want to be part of something that will help connect me and my students to local efforts related to conserving and enjoying our local biota. As a Biology professor at Hanover, I also feel a strong urge to keep Daryl Karns’ legacy alive and am really honored to be part of the group.

Sara Hare, Treasurer

Sara has taught Sociology at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany for the past 20 years. She lives in Madison with a yard that borders Clifty Falls State Park. She love hiking there and also love to kayak, cook, and travel.

Why did you want to join the Oak Heritage board? I think it’s important to work with others to conserve our natural environment. We need to make an effort to leave areas of natural beauty for our descendants.

What do you love about southeast Indiana? I love the beauty of the natural world – the rolling hills and mature stands of trees — in southeast Indiana. I also love getting out in nature by kayaking on the nearby rivers and streams. The Muscatatuck River and Otter Creek in Jennings County are both beautiful and challenging paddles when the water levels are good.  

Jamie Schantz, Stewardship Chair

What do you do for work and for fun in nature? I’m retired. My husband and I have three grown children and three grandsons. I’m active in two quilt guilds and one rug hooking group. I joined the board of Batesville Memorial Public Library and found that I loved helping with projects, like our new outdoor Reading Garden with native trees and plants. I love to garden and enjoy all types of needlework.

Where do you live? We’ve lived outside of Batesville, Indiana (Ripley County) since 1975.

You’ve been a member for years. Why did you join the Oak Heritage board? It sounds contrived but to save the woods. My family all spend time together walking the woods. My mother used to take us for walks and taught us all the wildflowers. I worry that their habitat is dwindling.   

Richard Stoll, Planned Giving Chair

What you do for work and for fun in nature? I left the corporate world as an IT manager and now work part-time as a Handyman.

For fun my wife Jennifer and I enjoy restoring wildlife habitat at our farm in Versailles Indiana. It’s an ongoing process planting native prairie grasses\wild flowers and shrubs to create pollinator and Quail habitat which are in steep decline.

Where you spend your time? I live in Cincinnati, Ohio but spend most of our time in Indiana down at the farm.

Why did you join the Oak Heritage board? I have a passion for preserving green space and restoring land to benefit wildlife, pollinators and the ecosystem. I want to join the board the help with outreach, membership recruitment, fundraising and cultivating donors to make Oak Heritage a stronger and financially sustainable organization.

Emily Engelking

Emily is a young professional from Seymour, Indiana, where she works for the Jackson County United Way as their Engagement Director. She works with both fundraising and community engagement for United Way, and is eager to use these skills to advance our conservation efforts. Emily served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine as an English teacher in a small town in the western part of the country. During her time in Ukraine, she worked with children, as well as adults, and discovered her dedication to serving others. She is pursuing a Masters of Public Affairs with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

What made you want to serve on the Oak Heritage board? During my time at Hanover College, I interned for Oak Heritage. This was my first taste of what a nonprofit is and how they worked. I learned so much that it truly inspired me to work in the sector. Conservation is something I’m deeply passionate about and I want to be able to further that mission to the best of my ability.

What skills/expertise/perspectives are you excited to bring to our conservation work? I’m excited to be able to bring what I’ve learned through my nonprofit work to further the organization. Specifically, I’m looking forward to helping with the new outreach programs and bringing my fundraising expertise to the board.

What’s your favorite way to spend time outside? I really enjoy kayaking and visiting as many National and State parks as I can!

Jason Brownknight

Jason is a professional ecologist with twenty years experience in the conservation world. He has helped conserve over 7000 acres in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. He will help take Oak Heritage’s land preservation and habitat restoration work to the next level. Jason grew up in southeast Ohio and is eager to get to know our flora and fauna in greater depth.

What made you want to serve on the Oak Heritage board? I am passionate about the enhancement, restoration, and preservation of ecological landscapes across this great planet. I strongly believe both fee-simple purchase of land and conservation easements are effective tools in the effort to protect natural resources and habitats. I hope to utilize my passion, skills, and experiences to help Oak Heritage continue to fight the good fight.

What skills/expertise/perspectives are you excited to bring to our conservation work? I have diverse background and have experience with; organizational leadership including strategic planning and non-profit organization operations, GIS applications, wildlife management, environmental education, grant writing, and overall land stewardship. I have excited to bring all of my skills and passions to help further Oak Heritage’s conservation work.

What’s your favorite way to spend time outside? Anytime outside is a favorite time for me, but I must admit there is nothing I enjoy more than exploring for salamanders with my family.

Interested serving on the Board? Take a peek at our Strategic Goals, and think about how you can help Oak Heritage achieve its goals. Then get in touch to start a conversation about helping make conservation happen in southeast Indiana.

Our Staff

Jack Sutton, Executive Director

Jack’s zest for the great outdoors has shaped his entire life. A graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture, he has devoted his career to creating outdoor spaces that connect people to nature while preserving and protecting public lands. For more than three decades, Jack’s focus has been on conservation, parks, and recreation through his early work with Georgia State Parks and as Planning Director and Executive Director for Great Parks of Hamilton County, Ohio. In his spare time, Jack enjoys hiking, kayaking, and cycling as well as enhancing pollinator habitat in his own back yard. A native of southeast Indiana, Jack resides in Aurora, Indiana (Dearborn County) with his wife Beth and their Golden Retriever, Ruby.

Summer Interns – 2022

Our two summer interns are working as a team, and leading the effort to create a wooded hiking trail at Hilltop Farm and Nature Preserve.

Matthew Fitzsimmons and Lana Bell

Matthew Fitzsimmons – Matthew is studying Environmental Sustainability at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana. Through this internship, Matthew is looking forward to creating spaces for people to get outdoors, learn about their local environment, connect with nature, and embrace the beauty of the natural world. Matthew shared with us that he is, “passionate about all things Earth: preserving it, restoring it, and of course enjoying it!” Matthew likes to spend time outdoors cycling, exploring with his dogs, and listening to music. 

Lana Bell – Lana is pursuing a degree in Environmental Geology at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. In addition to learning how to build safe and enjoyable nature trails, Lana’s goals for the summer include understanding land management strategies and the use of GIS technology to map new and existing hiking trails. Upon graduation from Hanover College, Lana hopes to work for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife. Lana is a member of the Hanover Women’s basketball team and in her free time, she enjoys hunting, fishing, kayaking, and camping.