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Our Staff



Amy Thorstenson is Golden Sands RC&D's Executive Director and the Regional Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Coordinator for Portage, Marathon, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood Counties. Amy has worked for Golden Sands RC&D since 2002, primarily working on AIS issues.  Amy holds a BS in Water Resources, and an MS in Natural Resources from the UW-Stevens Point. Her thesis work on milfoil weevils was published in 2013 by the Journal of Aquatic Plant Management. Amy and her registered therapy dog, Mija, enjoy visiting schools and libraries to help children learn how to read. 

Contact Amy at: Amy.Thorstenson@goldensandsrcd.org


Joel Kuehnhold is Golden Sands RC&D's Assistant Director, Grazing Specialist, and Forester.  Joel holds a BS in Agricultural Education and an MS in Special Education. Joel owns Lonely Oak Farm, a highly diversified grazing operation near Milladore, in the heart of the Mead Wildlife Area. Prior to coming to Golden Sands, Joel was the agricultural education instructor in the WI Rapids Public School Dist, where he taught sustainable ag, renewable energy, organic farming, food processing systems, wildlife management, and forest resource management. Joel serves in an advisory role for several organizations and foundations working to build local sustainable food networks. In his spare time, Joel enjoys camping, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends.

Contact Joel at: Joel.Kuehnhold@goldensandsrcd.org 


Chris Hamerla is the Regional Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Coordinator for Green Lake, Marathon, Marquette, Taylor, and Wood Counties.  Chris received his BS in English from UW-Stevens Point. He has been working with AIS since 2008.  He was one of the first Water Guard Deputy Conservation Wardens, a position that focuses on public outreach, education, and enforcement regarding WI AIS laws.  Chris brings his knowledge from being a Conservation Warden and a previous AIS Coordinator to this position with Golden Sands RC&D. Chris's interests include snorkeling, fishing, hunting, cooking, and photography.

Contact Chris at:  Chris.Hamerla@goldensandsrcd.org 

Denise Hilgart is the Administrative Manager for Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D). Denise owns and manages a beef grazing business with her husband.  Their farm is active in promoting pasture walks, created and implemented grazing plans, nutrient management plan, and a comprehensive nutrient management plan, as well as a conservation stewardship plan and others.  She is a member/producer of Farmshed as well as an active member and Financial Officer of Auburndale Food Cooperative.  Denise enjoys working with small businesses to conquer business challenges as well as the passion to maintain a balance in human and sustainable ways to care for farm animals, land and water.

Contact Denise at:  Denise.Hilgart@goldensandsrcd.org

Anna Cisar is the Regional Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Coordinator for Waushara, Waupaca, Marquette and Green Lake Counties. Anna received her BS in Environmental Science and minor in Chemistry from Carroll University. Prior to joining Golden Sands RC&D, she was working with a regional planning commission assisting in lake and stream surveys- including AIS, and assessing watershed data, and writing lake management plans. In her spare time, Anna enjoys camping, kayaking, running, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Contact Anna at: Anna.Cisar@goldensandsrcd.org