Forest Health Team Adds Two Specialists

Art Kabelowsky, DNR Forest Health outreach and communications specialist or 608-335-0167

Photo of Erika Segerson-Mueller and Carter Hellenbrand.

Erika Segerson-Mueller and Carter Hellenbrand, newly hired invasive plant program specialists with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Forest Health team.

Carter Hellenbrand said he decided to pursue a career with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when a high school field trip sent him deep into the weeds, pulling buckthorn at Badfish Creek Wildlife Area near Oregon, Wisconsin.

On the other hand, Erika Segerson-Mueller’s respect for the DNR dates back to her youngest days.

Both have recently started work with the DNR’s Forest Health team as specialists in the forest invasive plants program.

Segerson-Mueller’s father, Pete Segerson, spent his entire career with the DNR, mostly as a fisheries operation supervisor and manager. He’s now retired, but his daughter is carrying on the family tradition of public service.

“I’ve always wanted to work for the DNR,” said Segerson-Mueller, who will be based in Oshkosh. “I don’t have a science background, but that wasn’t necessary (for this position).”

Segerson-Mueller will focus on the administration of the Weed Management Area-Private Forest Grant Program, mostly in outreach and grant reporting. She will also provide external partner support of Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, invasive plant outreach and education materials and organization of invasive plant training for Forestry staff.

Segerson-Mueller earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a master’s degree from Edgewood College in Madison. She previously worked as an English teacher at Menasha High School and spent more than five years in the bicycle industry.

Segerson-Mueller, her husband, Bryan, and their rescue Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix, Hero, enjoy hiking, mountain bike trails, backpacking campsites and canoeing.

Hellenbrand, who grew up in Stoughton, will work out of the Forest Health Lab in Fitchburg. He became interested in invasive plants when a high school field trip brought him and some friends to Badfish Creek.

“Our job was to identify (buckthorn) and pull it up by the roots,” Hellenbrand said. “It was a lot of work, but I thought it was quite fun. All we had around us were roots.”

Hellenbrand recently graduated from UW-Madison, receiving a degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Geographic Information Systems. He also earned a certificate in Engineering for Energy Sustainability.

Hellenbrand will focus on mapping and reporting field data collected by contract and partner organizations, contract administration for survey and control projects and invasive plant technical support for Forestry staff.

Hellenbrand took part in an internship with Eco-Resource Consulting of Madison, learning about invasive species control and restoration techniques.

“We traveled all over Wisconsin, but more in south central or southeast Wisconsin, along the lakeshore,” Hellenbrand said. “We worked mainly with private properties or parks.”

Hellenbrand enjoys playing sports such as hockey or golf and has started up the hobby of building terrariums and paludariums.

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