215 County Hwy. W • Manitowish Waters, WI 54545 • 877-543-2085

Meet Our Staff

Administrative and Facilities Staff

Azael Meza

Executive Director

Azael Joined the Discovery Center team in December 2013. Originally from Mexico, Azael and his wife Lisa have enjoyed the adventure of living, playing and raising a family in the Northwood’s since 2001. Azael is passionate about conservation photography, and also loves skiing, snowshoeing, paddling and hiking. Azael has a BS degree in Communication Science from the Western Institute of Technology in Guadalajara Mexico, and he is thrilled to bring together his experience as a grant writer, program manager and facilitator to further the mission of the Discovery Center.

Contact Azael for questions on: Charitable Contributions, Volunteer and Partnership Opportunities, Community Outreach, and Programs

Karla Wotruba

Membership & Development Coordinator

Karla joined the Discovery Center team in October 2014. She and her family moved to the Northwoods in 2012. Together, they participate in many of the outdoor activities the area has to offer, including hiking, camping, paddling, and downhill skiing. Karla has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and enjoys rooting for her Wisconsin Badgers. She is inspired to work for a non-profit and to share the beauty and peacefulness of the Northwoods with other families.

Contact Karla for questions regarding: Memberships, Registrations, Receivables, Payables, or General NLDC Information

Lynn Wildes

Facility & Event Coordinator

Lynn joined the Discovery Center team in May 2012. Lynn and her husband moved to the Northwoods from southern Wisconsin in 1996 and love living and raising their family here. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a degree in Speech Communication and Public Relations, and is excited to use her marketing background to help the Discovery Center fulfill its mission and service opportunities.

Contact Lynn for questions on: Weddings and Cabin/Site Rentals

Ryan Wahlgren

Grounds / Trail Coordinator

Ryan grew up in Boulder Junction, and has spent the last six summers building docks and decks in the Northwoods. He enjoys the outdoors as much or more than any man up here, and is an avid musky and walleye fisherman, and tournament angler. Ryan took the job here because he loves being part of a great place for kids to expand their outdoor experiences and education.

Contact Ryan for questions on: Trails, Buildings, and Grounds Maintenance

Annie McDonnell

Administrative Assistant

Annie joined the Discovery Center in October of 2016. She earned a B.S. from Montana State University and moved to the Northwoods in the fall of 2014. She enjoys all of the outdoor activities that the area has to offer including; skiing, paddling, hiking, hunting, fishing and biking. Annie is motivated by the unique programs and experiences that the Discovery Center offers all of its guests and visitors, and is excited to be a member of the NLDC team. 

Contact Annie for questions on: program registrations, billing or front desk questions.

Program Staff

Licia Johnson

Naturalist/Interpretive Services Coordinator

Licia joined the Discovery Center team in spring 2007 as a seasonal Environmental Educator. In December 2007 she was appointed permanent staff. Licia graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, WI in May 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Conservation and Geography. In addition to teaching, Licia is the coordinator for the Center's outreach programs.

Contact Licia for questions on: School Programs, Drop-in Activities, and Acoustic Bat Monitoring

Emily Anna

Naturalist/Program Volunteer Coordinator

Emily joined the Discovery Center in May 2015 as an Environmental Education Intern and returned in April 2016 as a Naturalist.  She graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries & Wildlife Management, but discovered her love for environmental education during her Discovery Center internship. In addition to teaching, Emily coordinates environmental education volunteers.

Contact Emily for questions on: Nature Nook, Drop-in Activities, Program Volunteer Opportunites

Heather Gerth

Bird Banding Station Coordinator

Heather joined the Discovery Center in June 2013 as the Discovery Center's Research and Monitoring Coordinator.  In July 2016 she got married and moved to Duluth, MN, but continues to coordinate the Discovery Center's Bird Banding program part time.  Her love for the Northwoods was cultivated while earning a Masters in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Environmental Education through a UW graduate fellowship program at Conserve School in Land O Lakes, WI.  She also has Masters in Zoology from UW-Madison where she studied the effects of climate and residential development on birds in the Appalachian Mountains. 

Contact Heather for questions on: Bird Banding. 


Our Mission

Our mission is to enrich lives and inspire an ethic of care for Wisconsin's Northwoods, through the facilitation of connections among nature, people and community.


Our Location

215 Highway W in Manitowish Waters, about one mile north of Highway 51 and County W

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