14006 Discovery Lane • Manitowish Waters, WI 54545 • 877-543-2085

Meet Our Staff

Administrative and Facilities Staff

John Heusinkveld

Executive Director

John Heusinkveld comes to NLDC having served as the Assistant Director at the UWSP Treehaven outdoor education center since 2001 where he coordinated and taught educational programs and instructed university water ecology courses on area lakes and streams. Prior to that he served as Assistant Director at Upham Woods Environmental Education Center from 1996-2001.  He has worked at the Boston School Forest in Plover, WI, for the WI DNR as a specialist on the Pike Wild River Project, as a manager at a home for developmentally disabled youth, as a houseparent and earth science educator in New Hampshire, as a retail manager of sporting goods stores in Iowa and Wisconsin, for the Iowa DNR restoring wild Peregrine Falcons, and for The Nature Conservancy in Iowa working on native prairie management.  He holds a Bachelors degree from The University of Iowa and a Masters from The University of Wisconsin.  John enjoys camping, fishing and flyfishing, canoeing, hunting, skiing, cooking and most outdoor pursuits.  He has a daughter in college, and a yellow lab, Rosie. 

Contact John at john@discoverycenter.net with 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 at karla@discoverycenter.net for questions regarding: Memberships, Registrations, 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 at lynn@discoverycenter.net 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 at ryan@discoverycenter.net for questions on: Trails, Buildings, and Grounds Maintenance

Annie McDonnell

Naturalist/Office Manager

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 at annie@discoverycenter.net for questions on: program information, office management, bookkeeping, 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 at licia@discoverycenter.net for questions on: School Programs, Drop-in Activities, and Acoustic Bat Monitoring

Emily Heald

Water Program Coordinator

Emily joined the Discovery Center team in March 2017. She has a B.S. from Northland College in Natural Resource Management. She also has an M.S. from the University of Minnesota Duluth in Integrated Biosciences, where she worked on a whole-lake manipulation project right here in Vilas County. It was during this time that Emily found her love for living in an area surrounded by lakes. Emily is inspired to work at the NLDC where all staff members and volunteers have immense passion for their work.

Contact Emily at emily@discoverycenter.net for questions on: Water Program Events, AIS Coordination, Citizen Science, and Lakes Research


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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