Mackinac Straits Staff and Board Members

To contact any one of the board members below, please email

Ed Pike, Chair –
Ed retired from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to Harbor Springs. He is a long time member of Petoskey Regional and Michigan Audubon Societies, and past president of Straits Area Audubon Society. He became licensed as a bird bander while researching barn swallows and piping plovers, then served on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Piping Plover Recovery Team and chaired the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Piping Plover Recovery Team. For 25 years, he has volunteered to study nocturnal migrating raptors. During that time, he has banded more than 2,000 owls of nine species: screech, northern saw-whet, long-eared, short-eared, boreal, great gray, barred, great horned, and snowy. Throughout, he has shared his field experiences and data with the public both on field trips and with programs. In 2004, recognizing the importance of raptor migration in the Straits of Mackinac, he secured a grant from Michigan Department of Natural Resources to conduct the first paid count of spring hawk migration at the Straits of Mackinac. He served as principal volunteer hawk counter here from 2011 through 2013 and as principal volunteer waterbird counter in fall 2015.

Sue Stewart, Secretary –
Sue lives in Harbor Springs and serves as chair and C.E.O. of Irish Boat Shop.  Susan is a retired Forest Service research social scientist who moved from Chicago to northern Michigan in 2012. Her involvement with Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch began in 2016, and in 2017 she volunteered one day a week to help with the volunteer fall migration count.  Susan finds data collection almost as compelling as raptor migration.

Steve Wagner, Treasurer –
Steve graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Mathematics cum laude. He is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon the National Mathematics honorary fraternity. He retired to Alpena, Michigan from CNA insurance company with his last position being a Data Modeling Director involved in modeling, analyzing and mapping catastrophe exposures for the company. He made extensive use of Microsoft Access, Excel, and SAS (data modeling software) and also knows SQL, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Project. He brings in depth knowledge of the property casualty insurance industry including working with independent agents and customers. Steve served as treasurer for the Michigan State Alumni Club of Chicago, where he monitored budget and expenses for their signature fund raising event Sparty Ball. While in Chicago, he was Vice President for the condo board in the building where he lived. He also served as President of the Michigan State University College of Natural Science Constituent Alumni Board and is presently Treasurer of the Thunder Bay Audubon Society.

Steve Baker –
Steve is a retired Veterinarian from Indian River and has been observing raptor migration in the Straits of Mackinac since the early 1980s. He was the principal volunteer spring hawk counter and organizer from 2011 through 2013 and a volunteer waterbird counter in fall 2015. Baker also actively volunteers with several Audubon societies and land conservancies, leading field trips and giving programs. He enjoys botanizing (especially for native orchids and ferns), kayaking, hiking, and trying to learn the dragonflies.  Steve is out at the count site more than anyone outside our official counters.

Kathy Bricker –
Kathy began a career as research limnologist with the University of Michigan Biological Station, then switched to non-profit environmental advocacy. She served as first executive director of Little Traverse Conservancy in 1979. She lived in Washington, D.C. for nearly 20 years, working with Population Environment Balance, Federation for American Immigration Reform, U.S.ENGLISH, and Ocean Conservancy. Since retiring to Cheboygan County in 2006, she helped establish the Cheboygan County Recycling Program and EarthWeekPlus, was president of Straits Area Audubon Society, and served on the board of Burt Lake Preservation Association. She and her husband Jim tour with programs about birds, snakes, the arctic tundra ecosystem, and “Raving About Raptors” covering the work of MSRW.

Bert Ebbers –
Bert has owned and run Great Lakes Ecosystems consulting company since 1986.  His work centers on wetland issues, including determinations, delineations, permitting, and mitigation.  He also is involved in conservation planning, environmental impact analysis, and surveys for a wide array of state and federal listed plants and animals.  He holds a BS from Western Mich. University in Biology and Anthropology and an MS from Illinois State University.  Bert has authored or co-authored a number of published scientific articles and reports to agencies.

Russ Edmonds –
Russ retired from a large manufacturing company where he worked as an Environmental Engineer.  He has been involved with hawk watching around the Great Lakes for 45 years, has volunteered at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, in Duluth Minnesota, for over 20 years and has been a member of the Hawk Migration Association of North America since 2004.  Russ has also logged many volunteer hours teaching middle school students about aquatic invertebrates in the local streams in Indiana over the past ten years.

Josh Haas –
Josh is an entertaining speaker with a passion for all things birds. His specialties are hawk identification in flight and birding by ear. He has a background counting migrating hawks for the Detroit River Hawkwatch where he honed his skills and developed a love for teaching visitors unique ways of telling the shadowy specs ap extensive background counting migrating hawks for the Detroit River Hawkwatch where he honed his skills and developed a love for teaching visitors unique ways of telling the shadowy specs apart. This, his experience in bird photography and videography, and his goal for making hawks accessible to everyone spawned his movie “Hawks on the Wing” teaching viewers hawks in flight through the use of video and audio commentary. Josh’s passion started with raptors but he can be found birding and photographing in all seasons, often with his wife, daughter and newborn son. Josh donates and sells his imagery, teaches lessons and workshops, and leads bird photography trips around the Midwest. He serves on the board of Hawk Migration Association of North America.

Melissa Hansen –
Melissa is currently the Conservation Easement Stewardship Coordinator for Little Traverse Conservancy.  She has worked in various stewardship and education roles at the Conservancy for over 23 years, after graduating from MSU. She has been involved in promoting birding for youth through creating a Bird Discovery Box and partnering to offer after school and field trip programs. Melissa has previous experience on the Raven Hill Discovery board, participated in the Land Trust Alliance’s Advancing Conservancy Excellence program, and serves on the Leadership Little Traverse program steering committee, which began after graduating from the LLT program in 2012. “Raptors are amazing creatures and the Mackinac Straits, a magnificent area. MSRW is doing critical conservation work. I am excited to be part of such a wonderful organization and serve on the board, with particular interests in promotion, education program development and Raptor Fest”.

Gayle Kirby –
Gayle has been a birder by osmosis all her life, having grown up under the same ornitho-philian roof as her mom, birder extraordinaire, Bev Kirby.  Gayle graduated summa cum laude with an Electrical Engineering degree from Michigan Technological University, and has worked in the petroleum and automotive industries for ~30 years, working first as an engineer, and morphing into an IT professional.  Having recently been given the “opportunity” to become downsized, Gayle has chosen to go back to school to pursue a Master’s of IT in Cybersecurity.  After attending many hawk watches and a Raptor Fest, Gayle has recently gotten more involved in MSRW by helping implement operational process efficiencies utilizing IT business solutions for non-profits.

Dave Mayberry –
Dave owns a landscape design and service company. For this, he travels frequently to Mackinac Island where he has observed the spring raptor migration for many years. He serves on the governing committee of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch where he heads the merchandise program and creates the public information kiosks at the hawk and owl research sites.

Jackie Pilette –
Jackie serves as District Manager for the Emmet Conservation District, which provides natural resource education and outreach for landowners.  She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment in Environmental Policy and Behavior. She spent several summers as a student at the University of Michigan Biological Station as a student, Resident Advisor, and Teaching and Research Assistant. Her career launched with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians where she was the Wetland Specialist in the Environmental and Natural Resources Departments.