Secretary | Director
Jill’s passion for water and wildlife began with exploring the Sleeping Bear Dunes shoreline
on Lake Michigan. The legends and magnificence of the dunes, along with scavenging for ancient Petoskey stones, forever instilled in her a sense of wonder.
However, it was witnessing thousands of dead alewives, a migrating fish not native to Lake Michigan,
wash up on the lake's shores
that gave her a deeper sense of conservation. A thriving shipping industry and the man-made Welland Canal
had allowed the alewife to bypass Niagara Falls, a natural barrier, and alter the most extensive freshwater system on the planet. Having devastated Lake Michigan’s native
fish populations, the invader population collapsed in the summer of 1967 and an estimated 20-billion dead alewives choked the shoreline.
Michigan’s battle with invaders, from purple loose strife and garlic mustard, to zebra mussels and the pending entry of Asian carp, was a mainstay topic for Jill when she delivered boater education classes years later. As Director of Education for the Clinton River Watershed Council in metropolitan Detroit, Jill engaged boaters in best management practices for reducing the transport of invasive species into Michigan’s inland lakes and waterways.
The watershed council also had a comprehensive river stewardship program and Jill provided training and facilitated 2,000 students, teachers and mentors in performing chemical analysis and macroinvertebrate identification. For Jill, nothing was more wonderous than wading in a creek and scavenging for dragonfly nymphs. Why? Because often the challenge was engaging otherwise disinterested, teenage girls in viewing what they considered “gross water bugs”. It was the dragonfly nymph’s eyes, when recognized, that sparked gasps and giggles of wonder. Upon this visual recognition, minds opened to how the nymphs transformed and took flight as ferocious dragonflies.
Participating teachers often told stories of how, years later, when students returned for visits, the conversations were, “remember that day we went to the river?” Many of those teachers participated in river stewardship for over ten years. Jill dreams of a day when the Mill Creek Watershed Coalition collaborates with local stream teams and schools in offering a river stewardship program.
Currently, Jill works for the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and oversees the day to day operations of the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District. Her favorite duty is oversight of grant programs and assisting cities, businesses and educators in developing waste reduction projects. A rewarding part of her job is facilitating the annual student art contest celebrating Earth Day. Jill serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Recycling Association, chairs their education/marketing committee and serves on an advisory group for the Missouri Environmental Education Association.
Jill arrived in Missouri in 2010 and immediately volunteered with the Newburg Children’s Museum. She initiated a stream team from that group with the help of her fellow Master Naturalists. Residing in the Mill Creek valley for several years, Jill considers this jewel one of her most favorite places ever. Jill and her husband, David Haile, currently reside on a farm in Osage County.