MCF is a conservation organization made up of anglers, hikers, hunters, paddlers & others who are dedicated to the enjoyment & ethical use of our natural resources.

Since 1936 the Minnesota Conservation Federation (MNCF) has been an advocate for the natural resources of our great state. We support the enjoyment of our outdoor places and wildlife through outreach and educational programs ensuring that the resources and outdoor traditions of states citizens will be available for future generations.

Minnesota Conservation Federation has federally recognized 501C3 tax-exempt status.

MCF provides a vehicle for all members to have a proactive effect on sound conservation policy. We have been the Minnesota affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation since 1936. Our affiliation is mutually beneficial as we work to develop national and global conservation policy.

The Conservation Pledge

We pledge as Americans to save and faithfully defend from waste the natural resources of my country, its air, soil and minerals, its forests, waters, and wildlife.

Our Mission, Core Values, and Goals


The Minnesota Conservation Federation’s mission is to encourage the knowledge and connection of Minnesota’s citizens to the fish, game, non game, lands, minerals, and waters that are theirs’ to conserve, protect, and respect through advocating for the intelligent management of these life sustaining resources and engaging Minnesota’s diverse citizenry in our shared outdoor traditions. 

Core Values: 





Engage with the diverse citizenry and geographies of MN. 

Expand opportunities for involvement with and enjoyment of MN’s natural resources. Participate in coalition building regarding pertinent conservation issues and lead when necessary.

Meet our Staff and Board

Brad Gausman- Executive Director 

Brad has been the Executive Director of MNCF since June of 2020. Prior to this role he served as treasurer for MNCF and program coordinator for the Conservation Leadership Corps program. He holds a degree in Environmental Studies and Sociology from Hamline University in St. Paul MN. Prior to working with MNCF he spent time flipping pancakes at Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis and worked several years in retail specializing in stereo and turntable sales. 

Brad lives in Minneapolis with his wife Amelia, son Harvey, dog Lena, and cat Harvey.  He enjoys visiting his family’s cabin in central Minnesota and exploring the rivers and lakes near the metro and points statewide during both hard and liquid water seasons.

Lance Ness- President

Although born in North Dakota Lance has called Minnesota home for most of his life.He grew up in North Minneapolis during the 1960’s and found a home fishing Bassett Creek and lakes surrounding the metro area. Family ice fishing trips on Medicine lake were an annual tradition. Not coming from a hunting family, Lance found an outlet for his hunting interests by joining with friends and experiencing hunting opportunities in the Lake Winnibigoshish area of northern Minnesota. 

Lance has been involved in and held leadership positions with a vast array of conservation groups in Minnesota. An incomplete list includes the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, The Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance, Anglers for Habitat, National Wild Turkey Foundation Twin Cities Chapter and many more. Highlights from his time in conservation include the formation of the youth waterfowl program with the MN Waterfowl Association, passage of the Outdoor Heritage Amendment, and being awarded Outdoor News Person of the Year in 2007.

Lance makes his home in Golden Valley and enjoys spending his quieter moments at his cabin near Grand Rapids.

Diedre Hayden- Treasurer

Originally a Texan, Diedre Hayden couldn’t be happier to live in Minnesota. Diedre works as a CPA and has a master’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University. Diedre lives with her husband, 2 kids, and dog in Woodbury, but on weekends you can usually find them out hiking and exploring Minnesota’s state parks.

Diedre’s love of the outdoors began as a child with her father taking her on camping trips and she wants to continue that tradition with her children. She is passionate about making the outdoors accessible to everyone in the most sustainable way possible. She hopes to use her professional experience to further the goals of the Minnesota Conservation Federation and preserve the natural resources of this beautiful state for future generations.

Theo Byrnes-Board Member

Theo Byrnes is the founder and owner of Paddle Bridge Guide Collective.  The company’s mission is to be more than just a local outfitter, but to educate and share experiences in order to create an active and sustainable river community. 

Theo’s love for the outdoors was ever-present but really blossomed as a young man.  At the YMCA’s Camp Menogyn, he participated in a progression that culminated in a 40 day Hommes Du Nord canoe trip.  He then went on to guide for both Camp Menogyn and Camp Icaghowan.  

These days, Theo enjoys time exploring the outdoor spaces in his hometown of Minneapolis with his two dogs Blu and Barry.  As a new hunter, he’s developed a passion for both bow & rifle hunting in the past three years.  Through hiking, hunting and foraging, he feels most at peace while exploring the vast and beautiful public lands of Minnesota. 

Karl Greeden-Board member 

Karl grew up on a farm in east central Minnesota and has had a lifetime passion for hiking, camping, and bird hunting. His educational background in Chemical and Environmental Engineering has led to a professional career in sustainability focused organizations. As a founding partner in two startup companies, he hopes to bring his experience in growing organizations to help MnCF grow so that it may better help the people of Minnesota to connect with the land, water and air that we all share. Karl currently resides in Minneapolis with his partner Danielle and their Italian Greyhound, Gamay.

Aaron Hebeisen-Board Member
Aaron grew up in Mora, MN hunting, playing hockey, and loving anything to do with wildlife. This passion led him to a B.S. Degree in Animal Ecology/Wildlife from Iowa State. He has worked for USDA on disease research projects such as Bovine Tuberculosis and CWD. He has also conducted angler surveys for the Minnesota DNR on the St. Croix River, and mentored new adult hunters in the DNR Learn-To-Hunt Program. He is also a board member with the Minnesota Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, who advocate for public land and water access within the state. He enjoys deer, elk, and turkey hunting, and has recently started exploring the rabbit hole that is waterfowl hunting.
Aaron currently lives in Lake City, MN with his wife Olivia and works as the hunting boot specialist in Customer Service with Irish Setter Boots. He enjoys taking new hunters out and teaching them about conservation and wildlife ecology, while helping them experience the outdoors through a new lens.

Michael Happ-Board member 

Born and raised a farm kid, Michael developed a love of the land early on, whether it was through baling hay, managing pasture, or helping with controlled burns. Because he couldn’t always be hiking in the Northwoods, he got his nature fix by keeping an eye out for his favorite animal, the elusive great blue heron. Michael spent several years working on federal conservation policy in Washington, DC, first with the National Wildlife Federation and then with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Now back in Minnesota, Michael uses his firsthand knowledge of how policy decisions are made for the betterment of the people, places, and species we all know and love through his work as a Program Associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.  

Steve Maurice-Secretary

Raised in New Hampshire where he primarily fished for trout and hunted squirrels, ruffed grouse and deer. Steve graduated from the Univ. of NH with a BS in forestry and MF at Yale School of Forestry with interest in forest recreation. After some short research jobs and time in the Army Reserve, Steve started in 1972 with the Soil Conservation Service in Woodsville, a soil conservationist. After about three years he transferred to Malone, NY as a District Conservationist where he worked primarily with dairy farmers. After 10 years in NY, he transferred to Fairmont , MN and worked 20 years primarily with large corn, soybeans and hog producers with erosion control , nutrient and manure management, wildlife habitat including many wetland and prairie restorations. Steve retired in 2004 and remains in Fairmont.and continues his involvement with Martin County Conservation Club, and became more active with the Heritage Acres Interpretive Center. He started attending MCF meetings about thirty years ago and has had positions of second vice-president, president (5 years) treasurer and secretary.

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