Who We Are
Pictured from left to right: Kayla Zacharias, Christina Anderson, Jennifer Thieme, Jim VandenBrook, Kate Brunner, Penny Pohle, Chris Schlutt and Kim Warkentin.
The Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WI Land+Water) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, membership organization that supports the efforts of 450 Land Conservation Committee (LCC) supervisors and 350 conservation staff in 72 county Land Conservation Department (LCD) offices. We provide training, develop conservation standards, promote youth education, issue grants, build partnerships, and provide advocacy for our members.
Wisconsin is its land, waters, and people. How Wisconsin citizens conserve and maintain the state’s limited land base and soil productivity, as well as its lakes, streams, and groundwater, will determine the future of our economy and quality of life. It is our mission to support the county LCCs and LCDs to help landowners and users meet their objectives while protecting our common economic and environmental infrastructure - land and water resources.
We have eight staff members in our Madison office, but the entire organization includes the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, eight Committees & Area Associations, Advisors, and many volunteers who all collaborate together to progress towards our mission.
WI Land+Water Staff Members
Christina Anderson, Program Initiatives Coordinator
Christina Anderson works with agency partners and stakeholders to better understand nitrate transport to develop tools for communities struggling to provide safe drinking water. Christina has worked with Department of Natural Resources training citizens to monitor water quality in Wisconsin streams through the Water Action Volunteers Stream Monitoring program and at River Alliance of Wisconsin mapping invasive species, monitoring with volunteers, and assisting program directors with outreach and fundraising campaigns. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from UW – Eau Claire in Geology and a Master’s degree from UW – Madison in Water Resources Management. In her free time, Christina enjoys camping, paddling, and hiking with her husband, two kids, and two crazy beagles.
Kate Brunner, Standards Oversight Council Program Manager
Kate comes to us with 20 years of private sector environmental consulting experience, working on soil and groundwater contamination issues. She started her career in the Milwaukee area, took a 14-year detour to New York and is now back in Wisconsin with her husband and 2 energetic boys to be closer to family and nature. She has now pivoted her career toward conservation advocacy. Kate initially worked with WI Land+Water in 2017 on the Food, Land and Water Project and has returned to the association full-time as Program Manager for the Standards Oversight Council. For fun, Kate enjoys cooking, reading, biking, running, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Elliot Meyer, Communications Specialist
Elliot Meyer joined the WI Land+Water team as their Communications Specialist in 2017. Before moving to Madison, Elliot previously worked as the Press Assistant for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Elliot has a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Randolph-Macon College. In his free time, Elliot loves to stay active by swimming, backpacking, and biking, but also enjoys relaxing with a fresh cup of coffee paired with a good podcast.
Penny Pohle, Conservation Training & Membership Services Coordinator
Penny Pohle joined WI Land+Water to coordinate membership services, work with the state area associations, maintain statewide directory of county staff and land conservation committees, and coordinate training for conservation staff and officials. Prior to her new position at WI Land+Water, Penny worked for nearly 20 years at the Sauk County Conservation, Planning, and Zoning Department (formerly Land Conservation Department), with primary duties in education/event planning and coordinating recycling programs. In her free time, Penny enjoys Badger football and basketball games, biking, boating, disc golfing, and family activities.
Chris Schlutt, Training & Outreach Program Coordinator
Chris has been with the association since 2000 and assists in the development and implementation of its training program, which includes planning and executing the annual conference and working with the Statewide Interagency Training Committee developing a coordinated approach to building a statewide team of well-trained conservation professionals. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University and a Master's of Arts degree in Environmental Planning from the University of Toledo. Chris enjoys spending her time reading, biking, home food preserving, working at Heartland Farm Sanctuary and spending time outdoors with her husband and two dogs.
Jennifer Thieme, Standards Oversight Council Program Manager
Jennifer manages the activities of the Standards Oversight Council, including their team approach for developing and revising the technical standards that contribute to soil and water conservation in Wisconsin. Prior to joining WI Land+Water, Jennifer managed the biological monitoring program in northwest Ohio for The Nature Conservancy. She earned her Masters of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from The Ohio State University, and her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from Carroll University. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys hiking and backpacking, birding, beach time at her favorite Great Lake, and volunteering with other forward-thinking non-profits.
Jim VandenBrook, Executive Director
Jim received a BS in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked as a County Conservationist in Vernon County, WI and Soil and Water Conservationist in Trempealeau County in the early 80’s and then 26 years with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as Grants Manager for the Soil and Water Conservation Program, Groundwater Section Chief in the Agri-chemical Management Bureau, and Water Quality Section Chief in the Land and Water Resources Bureau. He was a member of the Wisconsin Land Information Board, and served on the Dane County Regional Planning Commission. Jim’s entire professional career has been devoted to land and water resource management AND Wisconsin.
In February, Jim skied his 33rd American Birkebeiner.
Kim Warkentin, Operations Manager/Youth Education Director
Kim manages the operations of the organization and directs the Youth & Education Committee focusing on programs geared toward educating youth on conservation through the Wisconsin Envirothon, Conservation Poster & Speaking contest and Youth Conservation Camps. Kim has a diverse background in managing issue advocacy campaigns working on issues such as parks, schools and the Tillamook Rainforest to name a few. Previously, she has managed numerous non-profit organizations, grassroots coalitions and campaigns. Kim has a degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa, served on the Regional Transportation Authority as a representative for Fitchburg, WI, is President of One Wisconsin Institute and is the Vice-President of her neighborhood association. Outside of the office, Kim enjoys organic gardening, making organic skin care products, circuit training and spending time outdoors exploring parks, biking, hiking and canoeing with her husband and young son.