ORA Board of Directors
President: Kurt Schroeder
Kurt Schroeder is Chief Operating Architect for HSR Associates and has been involved with ORA since its inception when it began as Human Powered Trails in 1999. Kurt is an outdoor, silent sport enthusiast who enjoys giving back to the community and improving the venues for activity. Kurt was elected President of ORA, yet he thoroughly enjoys working on the trails, driving the snowmobile- ski groomer and having people say-, “these trails are great”!
Vice President: Jed Olsen
Whether it has been by bikes, boards, or boots, I’ve been back and forth across the globe following one adventure after another. When it came time to raise a family, we paused just long enough to plant a few roots in the Driftless Area, and then started the adventures all over again, this time with kids in tow. La Crosse and the surrounding area offer all the recreation possibilities we could ever ask for accompanied by a warm welcoming sense of community. I love that I can pick my kids up from school, hit the woods, slopes, or water, and still have dinner on the table before Mom gets home from work. By serving on the ORA board, I have an opportunity to improve and highlight the beautiful place we call home.
Treasurer: Brian Burns
Brian is a sales representative for CPC Printing & Promotions, a niche printing company whose primary focus is magazines, catalogs and direct mail. Brian became involved with HPT/ORA in 2012 to act as a service project conduit for his son’s BSA troop. A fourth generation Wisconsinite, Brian firmly believes understanding our ancestor history provides us with a foundation to community pride. He and his family are 4 season outdoor recreationalists. His most rewarding achievement is skiing the Kortelopet with his then 13 year old son.
Secretary: Scott Cooper
Secretary: Scott Cooper Scott is a professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and became a member of the ORA board in January of 2014. He has been actively involved in grooming and maintaining the ski trails in Hixon Forest Park. Scott Cooper is active in endurance sports including cross country skiing, triathlon, kayaking, and biking. His top achievements include qualifying for the elite wave in the Birkebeiner and the Ironman in Kona Hawaii.
Marvin Wanders is the owner and operator of Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions, LLC that plans, develops, and manages real estate holdings from brownfields to repositioning of multi-family communities. Marvin is active in the La Crosse community and serves on many community committees and non-profit boards.
One of Marvin’s fondest pursuits is engaging in healthy outdoor recreation by serving as a founding board member of the Outdoor Recreation Alliance of the Seven Rivers Region Inc. Marvin believes our unique
resources that make-up the Mississippi River, Driftless Region Landscape, combined with our great community amenities is a strategic proposition for local company’s seeking to hire the best and the brightest. Marvin resides in La Crosse with his wife Michelle and their three daughters.
Ralph Heath is an author, consultant, and keynote speaker on innovative leadership, marketing, and wellness. Ralph was a founding member of Human Powered Trails, past president of Mississippi Valley Conservancy, and current president of La Crosse Promise. Ralph is a four-time Triathlon All-American, and two-time finisher of the Hawaii Ironman. Ralph is writing a follow-up book to his best selling Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes, and Thinking Big. He helps organizations with leadership, branding, and public relations through his company Synergy Leadership Group.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir. Whether it involves walking, bike riding, skiing or paddling, Mr. Muir’s words ring true for me. We live in an area that provides the very best opportunities for someone to experience these outdoor adventures. The Outdoor Recreation Alliance seeks to give more people more opportunities to experience the “John Muir effect”. This is why I am a board member.
Steve Nicolai is an avid biker who got involved when HPT was around, helped it transition to ORA and currently helps on the marketing committee. As the owner of Steve Nicolai Apartments, he understandS how having great recreation amenities is a major asset for residents as well as employers who are recruiting and retaining high quality staff. Steve enjoys serving on the City of La Crosse’s Neighborhood Revitalization Commission and the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce. You also can find Steve sparring and teaching martial arts when he isn’t being asked to fill-in as a drummer for local bands (has drum and will travel!). Most importantly, he describes himself as a family man who is grateful to live in the jewel and world’s-wonder of La Crosse.
Chris is new to the ORA board, and relatively new to outdoor recreation. Having only been in the La Crosse area for about 5 years, Chris has truly come to enjoy the vast opportunities available, including fishing, hiking, trail running, cycling (in almost all of it’s many forms) and just spending time with his family outdoors. Chris is a Career Advisor at UW-L and is proud to be a part of the La Cross community. For all of these reasons, Chris is proud to serve on the ORA board and help protect and promote the resources that we have available.
Being part of ORA is an honor. I have enjoyed outdoor recreation my entire life and now working to preserve outdoor recreational opportunities for future generations is a way of giving back that is very close to my heart. Outdoor recreation provides so many health benefits and by supporting more opportunities to participate in outdoor activities we will see a vibrancy in the local community that will strengthen it economically and from a whole person perspective. Environmental health and wellness can make a significant impact locally. I am excited to be part of such a group of outdoor minded individuals that works with local government to enhance those outdoor recreational opportunities.
I view myself as somewhat of a contrarian to many ORA board members. I have never done a competitive race (of any kind), I don’t own a kayak or mountain bike, and before getting involved with ORA I thought a “Fat Tire” only came in a bottle. With that said, I grew up in a small rural community where hunting and fishing was simply a way of life. That was the start of a genuine love and appreciation of the outdoors, and my focus has shifted into finding ways to instill that same appreciation in my children. I am involved with ORA because I believe ORA is the best organization in the Coulee Region to drive that mission. There are a finite number of places in the world blessed with the natural resources we have in the Coulee Region, and ORA is best positioned to provide the resources, education, and guidance to individuals and companies to enjoy what mother nature has given us.
Carol and her husband Bill own a sustainable farm in southeast Minnesota where they grow beef, pork, chicken and most of their own fruits and vegetables. Carol loves gardening, running, hiking, and snow shoeing on her farm with her two dogs. She also loves taking her grandchildren outdoors to play and explore.
My name is Jake Hegge and I am a physical therapist, running coach, and ultramarathoner. My hobbies and career are intertwined. As a physical therapist, I work in Grand Bluff Running and the La Crosse Wellness Center to make sure that the La Crosse community can continue their active lifestyles pain-free. I enjoy running the Hixon trails, Perrot State Park, and Kickapoo Valley Reserve. I am one of the race directors for the Hixon 50 a trail ultramarathon throughout the Hixon trail system. I am excited to be a part of the Outdoor Recreation Alliance to bring awareness to all of the amazing activities that this area has to offer. La Crosse has so much potential and I am excited to be a part of it’s growth.