Steve Barg, Executive Director
Before coming to JDCF in 2013, Steve lived and worked in northeastern Illinois nearly his entire life. Steve began his career in conservation in 1986 at the Heller Nature Center, serving first as a teaching naturalist, later as the center’s director. From 1998 to 2003, Steve served as the Director of Education for Lake Forest Open Lands Association, where he grew their environmental education program and helped open the Lockhart Family Nature Center. It was there that Steve became interested in the public benefits of private land conservation, and this led him to pursue work in non-profit land conservation and restoration.
For the past ten years, Steve served as the Executive Director of Conserve Lake County (formerly known as Liberty Prairie Conservancy). Steve helped grow the organization from a local advocacy focused on the Liberty Prairie Reserve to a county-wide land trust that protects and restores natural areas and farmland for the benefit of people and wildlife.
Steve and his wife Susan have been married for 29 years. Susan is a licensed massage therapist and triathlete. They have a college-age daughter, Hannah, and together they enjoy camping, canoeing, bicycling, and spending time with their golden retrievers, Laredo and Glenna.
Paul Bane, Restoration Specialist
Paul grew up near Champaign, IL in the rural community of Sidney and went to Tolono Unity High School. As a young 4-Her, he helped start up a family meat business specializing in natural, pasture raised products. His love of nature stems from many vacations to northern Minnesota where his family would hike, camp, fish, kayak, and ski. Paul began college at Parkland Community College where he received an Associates’ in Science. He then transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where he received a bachelor’s degree in Forestry with a specialization in Natural Resource Management. Post college Paul got his first job opportunity with The Nature Conservancy where he learned more about restoration ecology. “Working for JDCF has been a great opportunity for me and I am enjoying every second of it! When I’m not controlling invasive plant species I enjoy playing and watching sports. My favorite teams are the Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, and St. Louis Cardinals. I also enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, and hanging out with friends,” Paul said.
Lindsay Foy, Education & Outreach Coordinator
Raised in Monroe, WI, Lindsay returned to the area in 2012 after working and attending college in northern California. She joined JDCF in January of 2015, and plays a role in planning and organizing events, educational programming, and other public outreach efforts.
Lindsay earned her degree in Anthropology with a Rangeland Resource Science minor from Humboldt State University, and continued taking courses in GIS and historic preservation to expand her skill set. She has cultivated a broad background in the natural and cultural resource management fields, including a variety of educational and outreach programs and fieldwork in archaeology, land stewardship, and stream monitoring. Her experiences and education ignited a passion for the protection, appreciation and community-based management of our shared resources. In her spare time, Lindsay enjoys gathering with friends and family, traveling, camping, hiking, canoeing and artistic endeavors.
Ryan Getz, Director of Land Stewardship
Ryan Getz, a native of Mount Carroll Illinois, joined the staff of JDCF as the Director of Land Stewardship in January of 2015. A strong farming background, mixed with a lot of work in his family’s forest, influenced Ryan in seeking a career in Forestry. He graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a B.S. in Forest Resource Management. After retiring from the US Army, Ryan spent three years as a civilian Military Environmental Specialist, working in Northern and Southern Illinois in the areas of land rehabilitation and maintenance, invasive species control, prescribed fire, and environmental law compliance. He lives in Galena with his wife Sandra, a school teacher, his two daughters, Sophia and Ella, and basset hound Molly. He enjoys playing music, hiking, home improvement, and fine woodworking in his spare time.
Jim Johannsen, Director of Land Preservation
In the summer of 2012, Jim Johannsen joined the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation as its new Land Protection Specialist. Jim works with JDCF staff, volunteers, and local landowners to establish new protected natural areas and ensure that the natural and scenic treasures of Jo Daviess County are here to enjoy for generations to come.
Jim graduated from Augustana College in 2011 with degrees in English and religion. Before coming to JDCF, Jim spent five years as an environmental educator at the Atwood Environmental Center. He later worked as Assistant to the Director at the Natural Land Institute in Rockford, Illinois, where he worked on conservation easements and other land protection projects. He is a founding board member and the first president of Friends of the Kishwaukee River, a citizens’ group dedicated to the preservation and safe use of the Kishwaukee River in Winnebago County. He spends his spare time reading, canoeing, writing, and gardening.
Deb Kelly, Communications/Operations
Deb Kelly joined JDCF in early 2008 following many years with the Equine Land Conservation Resource as the Director of Equestrian Partnership. She oversees the production of all printed and electronic communications—newsletters, press releases, informational brochures, and specialized reports. She is also the administrator of this website.
A graduate of Macalester College, Deb has lived in Jo Daviess County for over 20 years. When not in the office, she teaches riding lessons for a variety of clients. She lives at home with her husband Mike, Patches the cat, basset hounds Barney, Bosley, and Marilyn, and five retired horses. She also has two riding horses, Moxie and Ready.
Luke Koett, Restoration Specialist
Luke Koett grew up in Milledgeville IL, and graduated from Milledgeville High School in 2001. After high school he attended Sauk Valley and transferred to SIU Carbondale where he got his BS in Forestry with an emphasis in Recreation. Luke has worked in many different capacities and for many different agencies. Some of his favorite jobs were working for Sara Baer at SIU in a soils lab doing prairie research, building trails in the Shawnee National Forest, and being a Park Ranger at Cape Lookout State park on the Oregon Coast. He just recently started at JDCF and is looking forward to making an impact environmentally in the area he grew up in and cares about. Some of Luke’s favorite things to do when not working are Frisbee golf, mountain biking, and hunting. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, Ryann, and their three kids Trevor, Ava, and Freeman. “Long term goals for me are to raise my family where I grew up and have a long lasting career with JDCF,” Luke said.
Shauna McLane, Bookkeeper/Executive Assistant
Shauna McLane, born and raised in Elizabeth, Illinois, joined the staff in the fall of 2012. After going to school and working in Wisconsin, she moved back to Elizabeth with her husband, Dustin, who is also originally from Elizabeth. She has worked for a wide range of businesses—from a small, family-owned general contractor to a nationwide food distributor. She started her career as an administrative assistant and worked her way up to finance manager of a government contractor.
Shauna enjoys playing volleyball, hiking, camping, traveling, and spending time with her husband, their two children, and two dogs.
Christie Trifone-Simon, Director of Development
Christie Trifone-Simon joined JDCF in 2007, coming to the Foundation with a flavored background and experience base, having offered service to Iowa DNR (Parks and Fisheries), Army Corp of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a Soil and Water Conservation District in Minnesota, and the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.
For JDCF, Christie develops and administers a plan that interacts and builds relationships with donors. She works to increase the assets of the Foundation by conducting special events, securing business partnerships, and acquiring in-kind gifts that meet the needs of the Foundation. Christie enjoys spending her spare time with her family and loves to hike, bike, camp, fish, garden, and bake goodies!
Jessica Zimmerman, Development Coordinator
Growing up in the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River and experiencing wilderness areas from a young age, Jessica appreciates the importance of fresh water and healthy ecosystems. Her time outdoors led her to pursue an education in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh. Since college she has gained experience with wetland restoration, prescribed fire, forestry, stormwater management, outreach and education, and communications while working for the Riverbend Wildland Stewards, the Student Conservation Association, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, and 1 Mississippi. Jessica joined JDCF in December 2015 to continue her work in conservation. With her free time, she enjoys kayaking, camping, playing volleyball, reading, baking and knitting.