Board of Directors

Katie Bittner – Chair


Katie Bittner is a co-founder of WisCorps and the current Board Chair.  Katie started working with corps programs in 2003 for Conservation Corps Minnesota and then the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps to help engage youth and young adults in conservation.  Her passion and work for conservation corps continued and in 2009 as she worked with Matt Brantner, Willie Bittner and other dedicated individuals to revitalize the conservation corps model here in Wisconsin.

In addition to WisCorps,  Katie is involved in many nonprofits and organizations around the area and is passionate about community, sustainability and engagement.  She is the Vice-Chair of the Sustainability Institute, sits on the La Crosse Library Board and holds a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management. Katie loves spending time with her family, exploring, traveling, being outside, gardening and helping the community as well as being a part of the WisCorps family.

Brenda Haug – Vice Chair


Brenda is a founding member of the Board of Directors of WisCorps.  She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from UW-La Crosse in Recreation Administration, and has spent most of her career with non-profit organizations in the La Crosse area.  Along with 14 years with the La Crosse YWCA and 14 years as Executive Director at the Hixon Forest Nature Center in La Crosse, Brenda has served on many Boards and committees.  She is currently a Realtor with Cindy Gerke & Associates and in her 21st year as an Ambassador for the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

Brenda has her children and grandchildren close by, so is able to spend time with them – putting them to work in her gardens and other DIY projects, which are endless, and also loves adventurous travel.  She and her siblings are working together to keep the family farm sustainable for future generations.

Buzz Bocher – Treasurer


Buzz is a founding member of the Board of Directors of WisCorps.  He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from UW-La Crosse in Recreation Management, with an Outdoor Leadership emphasis. Buzz taught in UW-La Crosse’s Recreation Department for a few years and then was an instructor in UW-La Crosse’s Environmental Studies program for the last 16 years, and has very recently retired.

Buzz is also owner and president of the Institute for Experiential Education, a business specializing in using the environment and adventure programming for therapeutic, teambuilding, self esteem enhancing and related issues.

Buzz is married and has a 24 year old son, and participates in all sorts of outdoor activities, including bicycling, fishing, kayaking, camping, gardening, and skiing.

Steve Simpson – Secretary


Steven Simpson is Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He formerly taught outdoor recreation and environmental education in Asia, at both National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University.

Steve is a former editor of the Journal of Experiential Education and currently a partner with Wood N Barnes Publishing, a publishing company specializing in books about experiential education. He has written four books, including The Leader Who is Hardly Known and Rediscovering Dewey.

Tom Melnarik


Tom Melnarik spent 14 years working for the state-run Wisconsin Conservation Corps program as both a crew leader and regional director. He currently works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a Soil Conservation Technician and most recently has been designing and overseeing construction of fish hatcheries in Mole Lake and Lac Du Flambeau Wisconsin.

Tom credits his prior experience with the original WCC program and the mission of youth conservation corps as his main incentive to serve on the WisCorps Board. He is a strong supporter of service to Wisconsin communities through conservation projects that build character in youth. Tom lives in the Rhinelander area and enjoys fishing, hiking, canoeing ,hunting, softball , volleyball and travelling to the National Parks.

Maria F. M. Ludwigson, J.D.


Maria currently serves as Legal Counsel for Gundersen Health System. She is responsible for legal and risk management matters relating to Gundersen Health System including certain affiliates. Prior to joining Gundersen, Maria worked as the Special Contracts, Legal and Regulatory Affairs Manager for Fairview Pharmacy Services, LLC, a division of Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2009. Prior to law school, she worked for the U. S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General in Chicago, Illinois. Maria graduated with honors, cum laude, from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in English Literature in 2005.

In addition to serving on the WisCorps, Inc. Board of Directors, Maria also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of GROW La Crosse, a Wisconsin non-profit aimed at connecting children and healthy food and nature through school gardening and farm experiences. She and her family live in the Coulee Region and enjoy getting outside during every season!

Bradley Bowe


Bradley joined WisCorps in 2016 as a Board Member with an interest in connecting with other conservation groups in southeastern and central Wisconsin. He currently works for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as a project manager overseeing construction project in the Milwaukee area. He graduated from University of Wisconsin – Platteville with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with emphasis in Municipal, Environmental, and Transportation. He and his wife live in Milwaukee and enjoy traveling and spending time outside!


Kristen Bouska

kristenKristen is an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey ecology. Over the past ten years, she has worked for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, American Rivers, U.S. Forest Service, Lower Brule Community College, and South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks. Kristen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin of La Crosse, a Master of Science degree in Biology from Kansas State University, and a Doctoral degree in Environmental Resources and Policy at Southern Illinois University.

After living in many places across the country, Kristen and her family are happy to settle in the beautiful La Crosse area. She and her husband spend most of their free time actively encouraging the development of a land ethic in their two young sons through gardening, hunting, fishing, and exploring the outdoors every chance we can.